VELOREX - A LITTLE HISTORY – A MIRROR OF COMMERCE IN EASTERN EUROPE SINCE 1938 TO PRESENT
Velorex is a name quite familiar to sidecar riders in North America since the 1950s. In 1938 the Czech brothers Franti and Mojmir Stransky started a bicycle repair shop in a small town in the northwest Czechia called Parnik. They named the business MOTO-VELO-SPORT. Velo is the Slavonic word for “bicycle.”
The brothers had knowledge of the MORGAN 3- wheeler that was produced at that time in England. They wanted to do something similar, but much lighter. Something like a hybrid between a car and a motorcycle for folks who have only a little money to spend for transport. In 1943 the first such vehicle did appear. A tubular frame construction covered with textile tissue and sporting quite a few bicycle parts. They called it “OSKAR”. The named derived from the Czech “kara na ose” which means cart on an axle.
When the war ended in 1945 means of motorized transport were more than scarce, so the Stransky brothers did see a high demand for the vehicles and stepped up production. As stability and power of the vehicles was too weak, the chassis were strengthened and that in turn asked for stronger engines. The brothers experimented with different engines, amongst them engines from the just restated JAWA production.
Start of the 50s, the Czech economy was restricted among communist lines. Factories became nationalized or grouped into cooperatives. In 1950, the Stransky brothers, too, had been forced in such a coop. The co-op comprised 6 different factories situated around Hradec Kralove a town of the Czech mountain region. All of them producing automotive and bicycle parts. The co-op’s administration was set up at Hradec whereas the 6 companies remained where they had been.
The co-op was called “VELO”, to be renamed two years later VELOREX, cleverly adding the export. And, indeed, export begun to be an important factor those days. Export, however, to only one predominant market – the Soviet Union. This market demanded motorcycle combinations from its Czechoslovak ally. For that purpose JAWA started with its 354 model mass production of 350cc twins that had sturdy been sturdy enough to carry a SIDECAR. The SIDECAR was developed and produced by one of co-ops firms, a plant in Zamberk. [The Velorex Sidecar is still produced in Zamberk, Czech Republic to this day].
The VELOREX SIDECAR sporting the JAWA label at this time, was born and the first mass produced type was called the 560. It was a real beauty that fitted the JAWA bikes as if both had been made from one design. Zamberk developed and produced a modified sidecar. Simpler to produce, but stronger at the same time. Between 1956 and 1990 Velorex did churn out 290,000 sidecars exported to 62 countries on 5 continents. It was type 562 and it was exported by the Motokov, the then state owned foreign trade body of the Socialist Czechoslovak Republic.
In the 90s, with the fall of the communist state, the co-op was truly dead as was to a good deal the market it had served. Still, with the enthusiasm of some people who privatized the ex-cooperative firms the name and not only the name, but the product VELOREX survives. Since 1990, VELOREX SIDECARS have been exported from Zamberk by the privately held VELOREXPORT Company.