As time went on, the duo made a plan to manufacture an auxiliary motor for bicycles, even applying for patents in 1916 and 1918. But Goudard and Menneson would have to wait until 1940 before they could fit their 38cc prototype engine to their first VéloSoleX. The pair would have their luck changed in 1943 when legislation was passed for a new category of motorcycles fitted with engines of 50cc or less capacity. This paved the way for the company to mass-produce its new prototype, selling its first VéloSoleX unit in 1946. Patience and perseverance, in this case, paid off for the pair, because by 1953 they had sold around 100,000 units.
The bike’s design is quite minimalist, with a very simple frame that is not much more than a bicycle. The small 50cc two-stroke engine, mounted on the front fork drives the front wheel through a friction roller. Once pushed, the roller makes contact with the front tyre and drives it. The bike was also fitted with foot pedals so that the rider could assist the engine when riding up hills —something that was often quite necessary.
The VéloSoleX’s main quality though was in its ease of use and low maintenance requirements, which resulted in its tremendous global success.
In addition to their French factory, located in Courbevoie, the company also opened production facilities in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy and Denmark—allowing them to export the VéloSoleX to markets such as North Africa, Great Britain, United States, and Canada.
The VéloSoleX in the Museu do Caramulo is an S2200, manufactured between June 1961 and October 1964. The number of units produced in this time exceeded one million—astonishing.