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Classic Volts: Turning a Velocette into a Hybrid

Custom Velocette Hybrid Motorcycle
We all know about hybrid cars, with gasoline engines and electric motorcycle share the duties of the powertrain. And Kawasaki promises to have hybrid motorcycles in its showrooms by 2025.

But the Japanese giants were beaten by a few London giants, and an antique Velocette is almost a century old. Because Rex Martin and Adam Kay’s Motorcycle without title created one of the most fascinating customs we’ve ever seen — with a modern 400W hub motor working alongside an old man two strokes Single.

Custom Velocette Hybrid Motorcycle

Rex bought a 1931 Velocette 250 GTP last year. The bike belonged to one of his clients, and Rex knew it well. So when the customer moved to the US, Rex parked the Velocette with the two-stroke Scott already in his garage.

After biking all summer, trouble struck: the big end gave up. Suspecting to run out of oil, Rex sent the damaged engine to Alpha Bearings, who stripped it and discovered that it had an improperly large head.

Custom Velocette Hybrid Motorcycle

While considering fixing the Velocette, Rex came up with an unorthodox but very practical idea. And it won’t involve any cutting, grinding or terminal damage to GTP.

At Untitled, Adam Kay electrified a Honda Cub, fitting an electric motor into the rear hub. Rex realized they could also add an electric motor to the Velocette — as a standalone power source.

Custom Velocette Hybrid Motorcycle

Adam assembled the components they needed: a hub motor and linkage wheel, a 72V 30Ah battery, a voltage controller and a new twist grip. (The electric motor’s throttle is to the left of the ‘bar’ and therefore needs to be rolled forward to accelerate, which must be a bit disorienting.)

Four days later, the new system was fitted, including the flexible part of integrating the rear brake disc and chainring with the new hub. At 18 inches in diameter, the new wheels are smaller than the originals, but the lowering of the wheels works well on urban streets.

Custom Velocette Hybrid Motorcycle

The battery is where the leather toolbox used to be and is visible to the left of the bike. Below the saddle are the voltage controller and transformer.

There was a hiccup during initial testing, but Rex is now used to the system. The Velocette has no magnet, and relies on a 6V battery to start the motor.

Custom Velocette Hybrid Motorcycle

One day, Rex started his trip on electric power, and switched to the gasoline engine when the large battery ran out — only to find out that the 6V battery was dead. It won’t happen again, we guess.

Rex currently uses his hybrid motorcycle for commuting and it’s perfect for the job. The handling is nimble, the seats are low and comfortable, and the electric range is 30 miles or so.

Custom Velocette Hybrid Motorcycle

There’s no speedo but Rex suspects his hybrid gets around 50 mph (80 km/h). He reports that acceleration in electric mode is quick: it’s also very quiet, and is almost drowned out by the rattle of the suspension and spring seats.

The whole project is completely off the wall, but on the contrary, is surprisingly realistic. It’s not a combination we usually see — but it’s a combination we’d like to see more often.

Motorcycle without title | Facebook | Instagram | Adam Kay Instagram | The picture of Gary Margerum

Custom Velocette Hybrid Motorcycle

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