On the German IFMA show of 1951, the Velmo-Motoren GMbH from Hamburg showed their hub engine, it was a complete engine, including fuel tank integrated in the front wheel hub. According to Manfred Nabinger, writer of a book on German cycle engines, it is assumed that the series production of this engine started one year later by the Nordapp Kraftfahrzeuge GmbH in Ladeburg am Neckar. Difference to the model showed on the IFMA were another name, “Nordapp”, and the fact that the fuel tank was now mounted outside the wheel hub. First as cylinder shaped tank in front of the steering head, later as a kind of saddle over the front wheel. The only difference between the Nordapp and the Velmo appears to be the name on the wheel cover. In Germany they were sold as Nordapp, abroad as Velmo. *
Of the dozens of cyclemotors made in England, France and Germany after WW2, the Nordap-Velmo Fahrrad-Motor is undoubtedly the most exotic. Its nickname at the time translates as the ‘flying tea plate.’
Though the Winged Wheel and the Cyclemaster were fitted into the rear wheel, this is the only cyclemotor engine to be built into the front wheel, and its elegant construction inside a neat engine housing was a superb feat of engineering.
Despite an advertising campaign with a fraulein in shorts and sandals happily mounted on her Velmo, it was not popular with the public, so was only in production for a few years. A number of factors affected sales. It was expensive to make, so was not a budget option compared with other well-made German cyclemotors such as the Rex. Obviously the front wheel is heavier than normal, so female riders would have found it heavy to steer compared to a bicycle. One limitation these days might be its reliance on just one brake – the backpedal coaster – particularly at speed (though this was normal on Dutch bicycles).
The fact that it is a ‘white elephant’ adds to its cult status and limited production means that they are rare today. This 1952 model, with the curious petrol tank ‘folded’ over the front mudguard, is the most sought-after. A motorised Empo Crossframe is also very unusual.
1952 Nordap-Velmo Fahrrad-Motor (32cc)
Supplied new on Empo Kruisframe (Crossframe) Bicycle
Frame No 10007
Torpedo Coaster Brake
Nordap was the German name; while the Velmo name was used for exports; in this case it was imported by the Dutch cycle maker Empo. This Velmo is fitted to a rare Empo Crossframe model, and both the engine and bicycle are in very good original unrestored condition, with the bicycle’s original transfers (decals) intact. Although it was possible to buy just the engine to fit to your own bicycle, this particular machine was supplied new as you see it now. It has a special ID plate numbered #10007, i.e. the 7th one supplied by Empo.
It has been in dry-storage for the past five years, and requires cleaning and servicing. But it is very well preserved, its chrome handlebars (bearing the Empo name) and wheels still shiny.
Engine: 1 cyl. two stroke
0,37 ps/4400 rpm.
Top speed: 25,9 km/h.
Weight: 8 kg.
Whereas most Dutch crossframes (and all British crossframes) had the slanted cross tube attached to the bottom ball head lug, the slanted tube on the Empo (and a few other Dutch makers) is attached to the down tube. The advantage in having a lower slanted tube is that female riders found the frame easier to mount.
The only other Nordap-Velmo I’ve come across is the one pictured above, which I owned in 2011 (subsequently sold to a museum in Europe). It was fitted to a 1949 Victoria bicycle and, as the fuel tank is fitted to the handlebar rather than over the front mudguard I assume that it is a 1951 model.
I was commissioned by a fashion magazine to provide some of my best bicycles and motorcycles for a fashion shoot. The Nordap-Velmo was one of the machines they chose. I spent the day with them for the photoshoot at Stanmer Park. You can see another of the machines I provided below (a Narcisse motorised tandem, now in a museum in Europe).
Nordap-Velmo info with thanks to – http://mo-ped.se/help/velmo51b.htm