1958 Velocette Valiant

The Odd Man Out

| April 2014

1958 Velocette Valiant
Engine: 192cc air-cooled OHV horizontally-opposed twin, 50mm x 49mm bore and stroke, 8.5:1 compression ratio, 12hp @ 7,000rpm (claimed)
Top speed: 60mph (factory recommendation)
Carburetion: Two 16mm Amal Monobloc
Transmission: 4-speed foot shift, shaft final drive
Electrics: 6v, coil and breaker point ignition
Frame/wheelbase: Dual downtube steel cradle/51.25in (1,302mm)
Suspension: Telescopic forks front, dual shock absorbers w/adjustable preload rear
Brakes: 5in (127mm) SLS drum front and rear
Tires: 3.25 x 18in front and rear
Weight (wet): 255lb (116kg)
Seat height: 29in (740mm)
Fuel capacity/MPG: 3.6gal (13.6ltr)/55-70mpg (est.)
Price then/now: $265 (1957/approx.)/$2,500-$5,000

Stateside fans of Velocette singles are well aware of the marque’s early racing history at the Isle of Man, and its sporting 350cc and 500cc single-cylinder roadsters of the 1950s and 1960s. Less familiar here in the U.S. are the Birmingham firm’s more utilitarian models like the Vogue and Viceroy scooters, and the horizontally-opposed twin LE and Valiant.

Like most of Europe, England’s crippled postwar economy created the need for inexpensive transport, and most builders responded with small-bore singles. Velocette took a different approach with the 1948 LE. Powered by a liquid-cooled 149cc side-valve flat twin, the LE (the letters standing for “little engine”) found wide use among city police forces throughout the country. Civilian sales lagged however, since the LE was much more expensive than bikes like the 2-stroke BSA Bantam, also introduced the same year. For 1951 the engine grew to 192cc and the price was lowered, but other than the constabulary, the market for the little Velo remained flat.

While the LE remained in production as an econo-commuter and civic utility machine, Velocette conceived the Valiant as a sporting lightweight. Introduced at the Earls Court Show in 1956, the Valiant’s 192cc opposed-twin engine was based on the LE unit, but it was air-cooled instead of liquid-cooled and featured overhead valves. Rated at 12 horsepower and equipped with a 4-speed gearbox, the 260-pound machine had a top speed of 70mph.

Dave Mooney’s Valiant

Owner Dave Mooney of San Luis Obispo, Calif., has restored a number of British bikes over the years, usually with the help of his son Brett. Currently, his garage includes a show-quality Triumph Bonneville and a 1953 Vincent Rapide. “The Valiant was restored some years ago in England,” he says. “They don’t usually over-restore them, though; I just get ‘em back on the road.”

bike on highway

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