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Thursday, 28 July 2011

The thinking man's Goldie

Just been for a run on my Velo, and it reminded me that a well sorted Venom is such a civilised and effective bike. Mine was purchased a few years ago and although the engine was superb (having been rebuilt by Velocette 'god' Nick Payton), and the wheels were rebuilt, there was a lot of serious fettling to be done in order to make a daily user.

On receiving the freshly built motor, the previous owner must have got hold of a job lot of threaded bar, found a hacksaw and proceeded to fasten the whole bike together with it. The forks were shot, (as were the rear shocks), the exhaust didn't fit and the primary chaincase leaked like a sieve. There were numerous other little 'niggles' which would spoil the riding experience and a plan had to be made in order to make it into a really useable bike.

Large sums of money were deposited with Silent Stainless and in return, almost every fastener on the bike was replaced with exquisitely machined nuts and bolts that are custom made for the application. The ageing Woodhead Monroe shocks were sold on ebay (accurately described as 'knackered') and astonishingly made two thirds of the price of a pair of Hagons.

The forks were the biggest problem. The sliders were badly rusted inside and the tubes and bushes were worn out. Criterion Engineering made a superb job of re-tubing the sliders which involves removing and replacing the soldered lugs, and then made bushes for new hard chrome tubes. The damper was also rebuilt, and the result is probably the best front end I have ever experienced on a British bike. This was topped (bottomed?) off with a lovely TLS brake from Grove Classic Motorcycles.

Many more hours of sorting the chaincase, electrics, tank mounts, headlamp mounts and dozens of other small but usually annoying and/or time consuming jobs, and the bike was almost ready. It only remained to rid it of the most ugly seat in the world (Thruxton), to be replaced by a nice little shorty from R K Leighton and there you go - a Venom that does justice to its reputation.

Starting is not a problem. Forget all this bullshit about Velocettes being difficult to start, the simple fact is that if the engine is in good mechanical condition, the ignition sparks at the right time and the carb is good, it will start quite easily.

Clutch is also not a problem. In fact it's lovely. Granted, it's different to your common or garden BSA/Triumph unit. but with half a brain and a manual, it really isn't too difficult to understand, service and set up. If you can't get to grips with it, you've bought the wrong bike.

The Venom is superb, and well up to modern traffic in both the go and stop departments. Sweet gearbox, handles superbly with modern tyres and looks the business too. Compared to my (now departed) DBD34, it feels handbuilt and engineered, as though it was made with a little bit more care. In the real world it's every bit as quick, but without the drama that soon turns into irritation.

In my view they are seriously undervalued. Get one now before you can't afford it.


  1. Very nice! Looks as if it has been Thruxton-ised. But still at treat for the eyes. I have a '62 Venom and can't agree with you more about a properly sorted machine. Mine is a work in progress for proper sorting. Good luck with your blog - so far, so good.
    Jim A., Tucson, AZ

  2. Lovely looking Velocette. I spent many and hour at Geoff Dodkin's shop near Richmond, Surrey circa 1969/70.
    They always had superbly prepared road and race Venoms and Thruxtons in the shop.