Solex was a French manufacturer of carburetors and the powered bicycle VéloSoleX.
The Solex company was founded by Marcel Mennesson and Maurice Goudard to manufacture vehicle radiators. These were fitted to several makes of early cars including Delaunay-Belleville and buses of the Paris General Omnibus company.
After World War I the radiator business went into decline and the company bought the rights to the carburettor patents of Jouffret and Renée and named them Solex after their business.
Solex carburetors were until the mid 1980s used on many European cars including Volkswagen, Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Audi, Ford, BMW, Citroen, Opel, Simca, Saab, Renault, Peugeot, Lancia, Lada, Mercedes Benz, Volvo and Porsche. Solex carburetors have been made under licence by a number companies including the Mikuni company of Japan who supplied them to auto makers including Toyota, Mitsubishi and Suzuki as well as to various Japanese motorcycle makers. Mikuni originally entered into a licensed manufacturing agreement with Solex in 1960 and further developed many of Solex’s original designs.
The Solex brand is now owned by Magneti Marelli. The original Solex company changed its name in 1994 to Magneti Marelli France and on May 31, 2001, Magneti Marelli France partially bought its assets (including the trademark SOLEX) from Magneti Marelli Motopropulsion France S.A.S.
The Vélosolex has a small 49 cc motor mounted above the front wheel. Power is delivered via a small ceramic roller that rotates directly on the front wheel by friction to the tire.
The first prototype of a VeloSolex was created in 1941 and used regular bicycle frame such as those under the “Alcyon” brand and were powered by a 45 cc engine developed by Solex. VELOSOLEX were produced commercially and sold starting 1946 with a 45 cc engine without clutch, then later with a 49 cc engine.
More than 8 million were eventually sold, mostly in Europe. It was also constructed under license in many countries. Today the Velosolex is again manufactured in France. The trademark “VELOSOLEX” is the property of Velosolex America, LLC which markets the Velosolex motorized bicycle worldwide.