1937 BSA M20 Military
Yes, BSA goes everywhere, including war. During the ‘Big One’ World War Two, motorcycles were a huge part of getting information and people around. The three great forces…Germany, Britain and America brought their motorcycles. Germany the BMW, America the Harley Davidson and Britain brought the BSA. Most all were side car units and extremely utilitarian. The motorcycle had to be strong (if you think the potholes on your local roads are bad, think about roads that have giant bomb holes!!!), reliable… (I don’t think the Auto Club would come to your rescue at that time and place), and be able carry a couple of soldiers, a machine gun or two and a bunch of hand grenades. These were sturdy motorcycles.
BSA first presented the M20 to the British war department and it was turned down. The BSA didn’t pass the durability test. After a few modifications the M20 was deemed sufficient. Yes it was slow, heavy and lacking in ground clearance, but it was durable and easy to maintain. The M20 was a simple 469cc side valve single cylinder motorbike that put out only 13 horsepower but mountains of torque, important when hauling a fully loaded sidecar or when traversing the mountains. The M20 motor was a very low compression unit because it often ran on very low grade fuel. It’s interesting that a motorbike that was at first deemed unacceptable became the widely used unit in the British military, over 126,000 M20 were in service during the war. The M20 was particularly useful in the North Africa campaign. The M20 was considered the true war horse of the second world war. The M20 has a great war history and there are great number of websites that tell the story so well.
After the war the M20 was kept in production for a number of years being ‘civilianized’. Because so many were built and maintained by the British military there are still many alive and rolling today, however few are still in military trim. I found one.
I found a really nice 1942 model M20 on ebay this morning, which is why I spent the time learning about it. The owner of this particular bike gives virtually no information about the bike except for ‘good condition, slight wear on the seat and original saddlebags’. There are a couple of phone numbers if you have questions…like, does it run?
Anyway, if you are a military buff and need a motorcycle that suits your style, this is a great choice. There is a lot of information available out there if you need to work on it. Click on the pics below for the contact info.