The 1967 Velocette Venom Clubman Veeline – what a mouthful for what is an absolutely gorgeous machine.  This one lives in Australia, where I met it in 2004, and it ran as well as it looked. This is just about my favorite configuration of Velocette, barring the MkVIII KTT racer.  The Venom Veeline has a grace of line that even the Velocette Thruxton with a nose-cone fairing lacks. Doug Michenall, owner of Avon Fairings, created the mould for this line of fiberglass wind-cheaters specifically for Velocettes, and it shows. I have seen slimline Nortons use the same item, which looks great as well.

The Velocette Venom Clubman Veeline was a fast thing of beauty, and an excellent factory cafe racer. [Paul d’Orléans]
The Venom was Velocette’s sports model, built from 1956-70 as a development of the MSS 500cc swingarm model of 1953, which was a touring machine.  The history of the Venom goes back to the MSS Scrambler of 1954, which used the hot camshaft profile of the MkVIII KTT production racer, and larger intake port and carburetor.  Given the easy 100mph speed from the Scrambler, it seemed natural to build a sports roadster the same state of tune as the Scrambler, and thus the Venom was born.   It proved an excellent all-around motorcycle, capable of being ridden for hours on end at full throttle without breaking, or shaking itself to pieces.  The ‘square’ Velocette motor of the 1953-71 (86mm x 86mm) is remarkably smooth, and even a 1990s Cycle World comparative road test with several more modern machines dubbed it ‘the smoothest bike in the world’ when ridden at 65mph.

The proof in the pudding: in 1961 a Velocette Venom became the first motorcycle to average 100mph for 24hours. [The Vintagent Archive]
With an ultra-narrow crankshaft and very large main bearings, the lower end of the Venom is nearly indestructible, even when tuned for racing, as with the later Thruxton production racing version of the Venom (introduced in 1965).  The robust nature of the Venom was proven when an international team met at the Montlhéry speed bowl in France in 1961, including Managing Director Bertie Goodman, journalist Bruce Main-Smith, and French champion Georges Monneret and his son Pierre, with the intention of being the first motorcycle to circulate at 100mph for 24 hours.  The effort was successful, and has yet to be duplicated by any single-cylinder motorcycle, although larger, multi-cylinder bikes have repeated the feat.  What more proof does one need of a sound design?

Yours for only $1200 fresh off the boat in Los Angeles. A print ad from 1967, taken out by Velocette dealer Ernie Pico. [The Vintagent Archive]
Paul d’Orléans is the founder of He is an author, photographer, filmmaker, museum curator, event organizer, and public speaker. Check out his Author Page, Instagram, and Facebook.