1,517-Mile 1970 Velocette Venom Clubman

It’s a Barn Finds British Bike Blowout here this weekend! Well, only two of them were highlighted so that’s not exactly a blowout, but it’s not every day that we see a 1970 Velocette Venom Clubman come up for sale. This one can be found here on eBay and it’s located in Shirley, New York. The current bid price is $8,800 and there is no reserve so it’s going to a new home.

Ok, if any of you are experts on these bikes, apparently the seller has been hammered with questions and comments about this bike either being an actual Venom Clubman or not being one. Velocette made several models and there have been questions raised as to whether this is a real Venom Clubman. The last year for the Venum Clubman was 1970 and this bike has had only one owner – and that owner’s son – up until a few months ago. That owner reportedly bought it as it appears here, so this is how it came from the factory.

I don’t know if I’ve seen a Velocette Venom Clubman in person but I’m betting that a lot of you have. I’ve seen the Thruxton and other famous models, which are somewhat similar and equally beautiful, but not a Clubman. Our big antique motorcycle show was canceled this year so I wasn’t there to see if one showed up. I’ve been a member of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America (AMCA) for years and it’s a great organization. They put on a huge national show at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in St. Paul every June, other than this year… There are always British bikes on display and Velocettes are usually in the mix.

One feature of the Venom Clubman would be the lower handlebars and it’s the look that a lot of bike builders and modifiers are going for now. It also had rear seat footpegs and a reversed gearshift lever. That this bike has fewer than 1,600 miles on it since it was made five decades ago is incredible.

That’s one big single! The 499 CC single-cylinder engine in a Venom Clubman would have had an Amal TT carb and slightly higher horsepower at 38-hp. They were known to do 100-mph. Unfortunately, the piston is stuck in the bore and the seller, who owns a motorcycle restoration shop on Long Island and is President of their local AMCA chapter, has had it soaking in Marvel oil for a few weeks. Bidders sure aren’t worried about it because the current $8,800 bid price is approaching NADA’s very good condition value. Have any of you owned a Velocette?

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  1. geomechs geomechs Member

    Wow! Now you’re talking! That thumper could thump its way right over to my place and I would give it a good home. Just like they say, this bike is a Clubman. I’m not sure about the ‘Venom’ part; I always thought the Venom moniker went along with the Thruxton which was the hotter version, and it went like Jack, the Bear. It looks like this one has a typical Amal Concentric carburetor while the Thruxton uses a massive Amal GP. Somewhat difficult to start, mostly because the kickstarter was too short, or the rider was too light, or both. I’m sure you need to be amongst us in the 200+ pound range to apply proper stomping power to that lever. I remember an owner who contributed the story of his Thruxton experience in Cycle Magazine over 50 years ago; he said that the kickstarter was: “at best a cross between a pipewrench and a Model T crank.” “Where did you get that funny muffler? I like the muffler, I said.” Close quote.

    Cycle magazine did a test on a Thruxton a few months later and the coverage on it was hilarious. They had starting difficulties and they complained about it to the American distributor “who loomed over us from an altitude of six-plus feet. He wasn’t impressed with our story of woe. He doesn’t even bother with the compression release. Two kicks and our ‘reluctant dragon’ came to life.” “‘Nothing to it,’ he said with a smirk. Nothing to it for him–we feel that he could have driven his start foot at least eight inches into the pavement.” Close quote.

    Looks like I got a little long-winded. I acquired the wretched remains of a ’37 350 Velocette (MAC model). It was so trashed that it would’ve done better as a parts bike for another project; the wheels were on the pickup of another local farmer’s combine. I had it stashed along with numerous parts for other bikes at a farm east of town. They suddenly got moved–to someone else’s place which (50 years later) remains undisclosed. I thought that it didn’t really cost me anything so was there any loss? But bikes like this come along and I start to think about it all over again…

    Like 5
  2. F Again

    There’s a Thruxton over in the next town, worth an annual pilgrimage.
    Deeply admire Velocettes but I do not weigh enough to reliably start one.

    Like 2
  3. TBAU Member

    Mr Leno loves the Velocettes as well. There’s a great episode on his YouTube channel about the Thruxton he’s own since new.
    And I appreciate that they’re only original once but making a longer kick starter arm doesn’t look like a huge modification.

    Like 3
  4. ken tilly UK

    My 1956 BSA Gold Star was an ex racing bike that had been crashed, repaired, and sold to me as a road bike. With it’s upgraded compression there was no way I was going to be able to kick start it, what with my smashed right ankle from an off bike experience with a Velocette 600cc Super Sport, so I used to bump start it every time with no problem. As for the Venom, I was offered a pristine example in exchange for my beat up 1951 Ariel Square Four (Squariel) but like an idiot I turned it down.

    Like 3
  5. BillC in MA

    Big singles are always accompanied with hard starting woes, Vello has the short kicker for one-upmanship in additional moaning. And of course we American he-men don’t need no stinkin compression release. But, the reality is, British kicker design requires use of a compression release, spark retard, a determined crank-through (not a jerky kick), and most important, well maintained (clean) points facesses, spark path, and a healthy condenser. And last but not least, if it starts hard, fix what is wrong.

    Like 2
  6. Howard A Member

    Anybody else believe the mileage claim? Just the wear on the parts is a quick giveaway. This old gal been ridden hard, and put away wet,,,,for years. Again, like the Greeves, I’ve heard of these, but a tough sell in Harleytown, even though, “Limey’s” were considered okay. It seems like the seller is getting a bit annoyed with all the “armchair” experts, and it looks novel, but don’t be fooled, this would be a challenge to ride. Gotta love the British, that tach drive, just stuck on the side, and the adjustable rear shocks, that have clearly been adjusted more for than 1500 miles. Mileage shouldn’t matter in something like this. If you’re brave enough to own one, it’s the bike proper, that you want.

    Like 1
    • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

      It does look a little tired-maybe from using genuine rubber products? But you nailed it en you said British bikes were begrudgingly respected by more than a few HD riders after our vets came home after Dubbya Dubbya 2 with some of these in tow and changed the paradigm of motorcycling in the US..

      Like 1
      • schooner

        This is Harley Country (I’m about 30 miles from the seller) but, as I’ve said before, most older Harley guys have a Brit Bike tucked away in their past. At 9 YO, my first bike was a 1938 Royal Enfield 125 Flea, smuggled home post-war in the belly of a B-17 by my step-dad.

        Like 3
  7. Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

    Scotty, didn’t anyone from your bike group point out to the germ watchers that motorcycling is the best practice for the times!?!!? We have face protection, gloves and safely keep at least 6’ distance..

    Geomechs, this bike obviously touched a good nerve with you like it has with many of us-and Peter Egan, the oft hilarious sage of all things motorized, educated many young male readers in high school study hall of the quirks and joys of Velocette ownership, God Bless him!

    Like 1
  8. Comet

    Now if I could only locate my Whitworth spanners. I wonder if those tires are perished?

    Like 2
  9. Bob McK Member

    Sold for $9,903.33

  10. ken tilly UK

    @Schooner. I sold two Royal Enfield Flea motorcycles about 6 years ago when I was involved with an auction house in South Africa and that was one TINY, well named, motorcycle. I believe they were used by paratroopers who used them to get away from the drop zone to a safety area and then abandoning them.

    Like 1
    • schooner

      Yes, the Flying Flea. I’m not sure if there was a civilian Flea pre-war or if they were all the paratroopers Flying model. Comparison with the other Brit 125s of the era they were all that small. But, when your up against the Cushmans in the neighborhood you’re king of the hill (grin).

  11. DaveMazz

    Maybe it’s me, but I have to wonder why the seller, who owns a motorcycle restoration shop, is getting rid of a bike with the seized piston still “stuck.” You think he would free up the piston and say “engine turns over.” Then there’s the suspect low-mileage claim. For $9,900, I hope the new owner knows what he’s getting, and I wish him good luck.

    Like 2
  12. Pat Gill

    There was a civy Flea, but most now claim active service and are olive drab!

    Like 1
  13. Richard

    Cheap for a Venom Clubman – and the ‘difficult’ starting is a matter of technique, not strength. They have a low geared kick starter and there is a definite starting procedure. Have a good carb, hot magneto or other ignition system and away she goes.
    (Past owner and restorer of a 1960 Venom here).

    Like 2

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