What's different between a Velo like this, and a bike like a Triumph 650 or A65 BSA or BSA B50, in terms of living with it and maintaining it?
I've had enough experience with BSAs that I feel like if I bought a pre-unit Gold Star, I'd be pretty familiar with how it all worked, with some exceptions for setting cylinder head spacing, but the clutch and tranny and gear train and such would be pretty standard.
Where does a bike like this catch you out ... ?
Here's my take on it. Performance will be similar to a decent 650 Bonnie. (obviously depending on state of tune). Once the Velo is properly built it should be VERY reliable and strong. They were designed by blokes who had won plenty of races, World championships etc with the KTT. The Venom still holds the record of over 100mph for 24 hours. The bike that did this in 1963 was a Venom, obviously well prepared, but nothing very different to a production line Venom. The Clubman was based on this bike's specs. Velocette rarely changed anything just for the sake of it, -if it worked, over many years it would be modified if necessary and used for later models, so most things were proven.
Velocettes handle brilliantly.
I think a Venom or Viper would be less 'fiddly' to keep going nicely than a Goldie. (I'm sure Goldie owners will dispute this!)
Personally I wouldn't put the B50 in the same class as the Velo. (I've had both).
The Velo has a weird clutch, which when setup correctly and adjusted correctly is light and strong, but can be 'difficult' if not setup properly. Countershaft sprocket is outboard of the clutch, making changes super easy.
Starting. Well, they do have a reputation for being hard to start. A combination of a big single with a lumpy cam, along with a very low-geared kickstart ratio. It can take a while to learn the technique.
But if everything is in order, it's okay.
Oil leaks. You will rarely find a leak-free Velocette. Some clever owners have got close, but the primary CC setup makes it very difficult if not impossible to seal using the standard Velo parts. The engine itself I think can be pretty well oil-tight.
Maintenance. Straighforward, - designed for 'the bloke in his garage' nothing special needed.
Most Velocette owners absolutely LOVE them, because they are brilliant, fast, long-legged, sweet handling things, full of character. Yes they have their little 'foibles' but there's nothing to be scared of!
Mind you I wouldn't mind a bigfin Goldie, -for a start they just look SO beautiful!
I'm sure others will have other views about Velos, as I said this is just my take on Lannis' question.