1953 ? BSA M20S
Everybody that really loves vintage motorcycles needs, at one time or another, to own a classic British Single. The reason I say this is having owned a few, once you own one and if you are smarter than me, you’ll never be tempted to own another. They are difficult, temperamental, a little tough to find parts for and…so much fun to ride. Having spent time (and restored to rideable condition) with a BSA C15, A Gold Star (it wasn’t mine though, sadly), a 441 Victor (which was mine sadly) and a B50 MX (that too was loaned to me by a so-called ‘friend’), I developed an affinity for single cylinder motorcycles. The simplicity, the feel and sound,the uniqueness, and in my opinion the ‘high giggle factor’.
The single cylinder motorcycle has been a mainstay in motorcycling forever. Honda is having great success with the new 2012 CBR250 Single because singles work! Singles may not be the best choice for traveling across the country, though there are those have been brave enough to do it, but for commuting and Sunday rides, a single can’t be beat.
Now, being an old bike guy and enjoying the simplicity of the older bikes, I always look for motorcycles that have an interesting pedigree or history, this particular BSA M20 I found on ebay has both.
Here is the ‘Readers Digest Version’ of the M20’s history. The design started in 1936 primarily as a military side car unit. The M20 was heavy, slow and had less than optimal ground clearance, nonetheless, the British military bought all that BSA could make. The main reason for such support was the reliability of the machine, which at first was a bit dodgey but a few modifications by the factory took care of those issues, and the M20 became the longest serving motorbike in the British military…up until the 1970’s!!?? Want to know how valuable the M20 was?…The main factory was bombed out by the German Air Force, fortunately BSA had a number of other factories so production could continue.
Prior to 1951 the BSA M20 had a girder fork and a rigid rear suspension, after that point, the bike adopted the telescopic forks and plunger rear suspension.
A good number of the military machines were turned over to the civilian market…repainted mostly, but still set up for sidecar usage. These are great motorbikes for someone who is looking for a bike with a history. The M20 was well renowned for being indestructible and easy to start and ride. What more could you ask for?
I found a really nice example this morning on ebay. The owner says it’s a 1953 but someone else who did a bit of research says it is a 1957 based on the motor number. That’s OK, there isn’t any difference. This bike is completely stock and has been sitting for over 35 years in a garage with classic cars in Reno Nevada. No rust and just the right amount of vintage patina. The bike also comes with a box of spare parts. This is really cool motorcycle that you can start down the dark path of British singles with ease. Click on the pics below for more info and more pictures.