WA Bicycle Number Plates

Bicycle registration is a bit of a hot button dog whistling topic these days. It’s been tried and dropped in WA in the past, but the relics of the experiment live on in a few club members’ collections. If they’re still hanging off a bike they could help establish the bike’s age or origin.

Perth to Sydney - 1933 Record Tandem Ride

There was no made road across the Nullarbor and at one stage they spent two days wheeling their cycle through heavy sand. Another section was pitted with camel tracks; sometimes the country was overgrown with brush and near the Madura Pass the jagged edge of limestone had been exposed by strong winds.

V.E.W. Components

Giovanni “Jack" Bazzano was born in Morano sul Po, about 50 km east of Turin in northern Italy. He arrived in Australia with his family including boys Charles (3 at the time) and Leo in about 1925. 

By 1934 he was in partnership with W.L. Morgan in the Velox Cycle Works at 356 Parramatta Road, Petersham. The partnership was dissolved in June 1934, with Morgan retaining the premises and the name Velox Cycle Works. Jack Bazzano moved to 6 Holmwood Street, Newtown, a big Victorian house. In 1934-1935 he set up a factory in sheds adjacent to the house which he named the Velox Engineering Works. Charlie, along with Leo became tradesmen producing VEW branded alloy bicycle components, including hubs that are reputed to be some of the earliest one-piece aluminium hubs in the world.

Jack competed in the 1934 Goulburn Sydney race (as an amateur for the Newtown club) and his sons Leo and Charles were prominent amateur cyclists. Charlie rode for Marrickville and swept the field for the 1945 NSW State Championship, when he was compared to the great Dunc Gray and he went on to win the NSW sprint title seven times. He competed in the 1948 Olympics and scored a fourth place in the sprint. He was beaten in the semi-finals by Reg Harris, who won a silver medal. He also represented Australia in the 1950 Empire Games (now called the Commonwealth Games) as a sprint cyclist finishing fifth in the sprint title with fellow team-mates Russell Mockridge and Sid Patterson taking the gold and silver medals. 

During the second world war, Velox was provided with a priority on aluminium that was higher than some munitions manufacturers so that they could make hubs whenever there was a shortage of them in the bicycle industry.

Velox never made hubs in anything other than aluminium, so even the most humble go-to-work austerity finished roadster bike could sport an all alloy one-piece hub that the most expensive British or European bikes could only dream of at the time.

V.E.W. made four different headstems and five grades of hubs; Roadster, Light, Continental, Special Continental and Zenith. The Roadster was a low flange model, the  Zenith, Continental and Special Continental were high or wide flange models with the Light model available in three flange sizes.

V.E.W. hubs were a mid level option on Malvern Star Five Star models from around 1951 with Harden Bacon Slicers as the premium offering.

An advertisement appearing in Sydney’s “Il Giornale Italiano” in December 1930 indicates V.E.W. also made handlebars and there have been rumours of seat posts as well. To date there is no evidence that either were ever produced 

Velox Engineering Works moved to Blakehurst, probably about 1946. They continued production of bicycle components until at least 1957. As the post war bike boom wound down during the 50's Velox diversified into the manufacture of letterboxes and mag wheels for boat trailers. Production of both lines continues to this day; Velox Engineering Works is still in business near Sutherland, south of Sydney.