BF Auction: VeloSolex S3800

Sold for $900View Result

We love interesting and unusual forms of transportation here at Barn Finds, and on that front, a cyclemotor (not to be confused with a motorcycle) just about takes the cake! Hailing from France and developed during the post-war boom, the Solex was meant to be an affordable way to get around but in a form that was uniquely French. We don’t often see these engine-equipped bicycles here in the States, as they weren’t imported in large numbers to our shores. The seller has decided it’s time to let someone new enjoy this unique bike and has offered it here as a Barn Finds Auction!

In an attempt to build a moped that stood out from the crowd, VeloSolex decided to forgo the usual layout of mounting the engine inside the frame with power being sent to the rear wheel via a chain. Instead, they built a relatively standard bicycle with the engine mounted above the front wheel. This design was not only unique, but it meant that if you ran out of gas or couldn’t find/afford fuel, you could still ride it like a conventional bike. The engine can be raised and lowered depending on whether you want to use it or not. It has a few drawbacks, namely the lack of a clutch, so getting used to disengaging the engine while already moving takes some practice. Considering they ended up selling millions of these cyclemotors, it clearly worked and was popular.

Solex, the same company that manufactured carburetors, saw a need for cheap transportation after WWII. While they didn’t have experience building mopeds or even bicycles, but they developed their first prototype in 1941. By the early 1950s, they were in full production and began to offer more features and larger engines. In 1964, they introduced a new square tube frame and added a rear drum brake.

This example appears to be an early 3800, which was introduced in ’66 and would become their most popular model. It still retains the old-style throttle lever. Later, the S3800s received a twist-style throttle and were offered in a wider variety of colors. Steve McQueen used one very similar to this example to get around the set during the filming of Le Mans. His 3800 sold in 2021 for an astonishing $66,000! You can check it out here.

You really don’t come across these bikes all that often, at least not here in the States. While a modern electric bike would be quieter and quicker, there’s just something charming about these cyclemotors. Fill up the fuel tank, lower the motor onto the wheel, start pedaling, and off you go! When you run out of gas, pedal to the nearest gas station, fill it up, and off you go again. Whether you want a quirky commuter bike or something unique to display, this VeloSolex looks like a great find that is ready for a new home. Be sure to bid and leave any questions you might have in the comments section below.

*Discounted Buyer Premium: 5% ($250 minimum)

Bid On This Auction

Sold for: $900
Register To Bid
Ended: Apr 5, 2024 1:00pm MDT
Winner: Bob W (Reserve not met)
  • Avatar photo
    Bob W bid $703.00  2024-03-31 07:06:50
  • Avatar photo
    Johnson bid $451.00  2024-03-30 11:17:35
  • Avatar photo
    Bob W
    bid $200.00  2024-03-29 18:23:34

Comments

  1. Avatar photo macvaugh

    What do you mean with the phrase “nk, lower the motor onto the wheel, sta”? Don’t these apply power to the wheel rim? With the moro remaining fixed in position?

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo GitterDunn

      The motor pivots by unhooking the lever (with the black knob) from the catch on the handlebar, and allowing the motor to tilt down. The friction drive-wheel will then be in contact with the front tire. Press the gray choke lever forward with your right thumb as you pedal, and release it as soon as the engine starts.

      Like 7
    • Avatar photo Solosolo UK Member

      Nope. My wife used to go to work on one back in 1960 when I met her. The engine runs all the time after the first start up of the trip. When approaching a stop st. the engine gets pulled up from the tyre by a hand lever and when moving off again the pedals are used for a few seconds before lowering the engine drive wheel onto the tyre again. That way the tyre lasts a lot longer. Speed was about 15 mph until one of her brothers made up an oversize drive “drum” and thereafter she was scared to ride it so the original was put back.

      Like 6
  2. Avatar photo Derek

    Fine machines. I had a 2200 and a folding 5000 – thePli-Solex. It – just – fitted through the racer’s cage so I could take it to meetings as paddock transport.

    20-odd mph is your lot. I used to get the odd race with another one.

    Like 6
    • Avatar photo Ricardo Ventura

      I had the opportunity to use one in the late 60s / early 70s.
      The most interesting thing is that it is front-wheel drive, making it a fun way to drive.
      And she was doing very well.

      Like 4
  3. Avatar photo Greg

    While a write-up regarding the history of the VeloSolex and multiple mentions of ‘you really don’t see these often’ is great, you might want to include some info regarding the actual bike for sale. Does it run? Anything missing? Anything broken? Any corrosion? How good/bad is the paint (hard to tell given the level of filth and quality of photos)?

    Regarding being able to pedal like a normal bike when out of fuel, that is DEFINITELY not unique to a VeloSolex. That is how every moped (MOtorized PEDal bike) operates. What IS unique to a VeloSolex is the friction drive.

    Any potential buyers: note the $500 buyer’s premium. A running, unrestored VeloSolex in reasonable condition can be had for sub-$1,000, so that extra $500 could VERY quickly price it out of the market!

    Like 2
    • Avatar photo Jesse Staff

      We are only doing a $250 minimum on this one.

      Like 2
  4. Avatar photo Ben

    I found 2 4600 (American version) in a dumpster, gassed em up and ran fine. Last tagged as a bicycle in 1975

    Like 6
  5. Avatar photo Bob Washburne Member

    I remember these, all over Switzerland & France in the 70s. May bid on this one, as I’m less than 100-miles away & it should fit easily in a Cayenne.

    Like 6
    • Avatar photo Harry Kritis Member

      Popular in Greece around 60’s as well!

      Like 3
  6. Avatar photo Rod Cherokee

    Part of my childhood memories. In high school in Europe we fitted a Solex engine to the back wheel of a conventional 70s “trottinette” or scooter ! Unforgettable fun.

    Like 5
    • Avatar photo Dominique Legeai

      Worth mentioning : 2 cycles motor, need to mix oil and gasoline, also: all the weight is up front, making it somewhat tricky to handle, requires practice for sure…..one more thing (very French)…notice the small foot rest between the pedals? Specifically designed for ladies to rest their feet on while cruising, all the while keeping their legs elegantly together. One must remember that « back then » ladies all wore skirts or dresses.

      Like 8
      • Avatar photo Terrry

        It’s why there used to be girls’ bikes, which had the step down frame so the ladies in dresses could step into the bike instead of throwing their leg over the top bar.

        Like 0
  7. Avatar photo Tony K

    I had a Sears Allstate version of one from the 60s that worked very well but the little solid drive cog eventually wore down and I sold it on eBay for cheap

    Like 1
  8. Avatar photo Hollywood Collier

    My buddy had one of these in 1972 in high school. He rode it 10 miles to school back then. It was cool and reliable…. but he said if it rained he had to call his big brother to come get him in his pickup. The friction wheel was worthless on a wet front bicycle tire. Only one i ever saw and like another poster said they were cheap back then. Thanks for the cool memories.

    Like 4
  9. Avatar photo GitterDunn

    The summer after High School, 2 friends and I flew to Paris, and while there, we decided to buy Solexes. They were just $85.00 ea. brand new – and because we bought 3 of them, the shop threw in fancy chrome engine protectors and saddlebags.

    We rode those things all over the Paris area for a month or two, then decided to ride them to London (a 2-day trip), where we stayed for another month or so, and ended up selling them all to a middle-eastern gentleman before returning to the U.S. They were rugged, simple and dependable little machines, and loads of fun!

    Like 8
  10. Avatar photo jack godin

    I had one on the 90s and every one that seen it wanted a to ride it. so much fun

    Like 2
  11. Avatar photo Nick Birdsey

    Yes, I found one of these in Vanuatu while on holidsy. I bought it, stripped it with minmal tools packed it into a suitcase and brought it home to nz. It ran fine. Lot of fun…

    Like 4
    • Avatar photo Aussie Dave Member

      Nick, I’m curious, how you got it into Kiwi land, in a suitcase?
      Custom’s turned a blind eye?, did you get a qualified person to fill out a dangerous goods certificate (I’m qualified btw) and even an engine empty of fuel and oil, needs to be certified .

      Like 1
  12. Avatar photo Jack Quantrill

    Redford, rode one of these in the movie “ Three Days of the Condor”, in Manhattan traffic!

    Like 2
  13. Avatar photo Craig Walker

    Mustie1 on YouTube has just finished a revival on one of these.

    Like 2
  14. Avatar photo wes johnson Member

    Yupper, it’s French. As always, the German’s had a better idea, the Zundap. Pedal to start then ran great. They even had sidewalks with bike/motorbike lanes. Had one, was great. lost license for enjoying to much german beer one nite, Rode this for a year to get back and forth to work. If one ever show’s up here it’s MINE!!

    Like 2
    • Avatar photo Gerard Planche Member

      Well, not always…! Solex sold over 7 millions of those until 1988, 4 years after Zündapp closed shop, having produced a fraction of that.
      The French have lots of ideas…but often don’t make it all the way to commercial successes.

      Like 1
  15. Avatar photo chrlsful

    want that hot heavy hunka metal below my butt rather than in frnt of my lap…

    Like 0
  16. Avatar photo bo

    CONDITION?????
    Wow, how can you forget that!

    Like 3
  17. Avatar photo Marshall

    Responding to an earlier post:

    Does it run? It ran when parked years ago..
    Anything missing? Nothing missing.
    Anything broken? Nothing aware of..
    Any corrosion? Could use a good wash.
    How good/bad is the paint: Original paint / good condition.

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo Marshall

      Contrition: Not bad for the age of the bike.

      Like 1
  18. Avatar photo Greg Millard

    As a teenager driving a 50cc Mobylette in France in the late 60s. Many Catholic nuns rode these -kinda side saddle – they were the only motorized vehicle we could overtake –

    Like 1
  19. Avatar photo John Muller

    My father bought one of these when I was around 16 or 17 and my brother rode it first and then graduated to a car, which left the Solex for my use. It was very fun to ride but I kept blowing the head gasket trying to get more speed out of it while riding with a friend who had an in-frame moped that was slightly faster and he was lighter weight than I was. We live in Michigan just outside of the “D” in the burbs. Great memories.

    Like 2

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