1972 BSA B50 MX
Getting thrown over the handlebars while trying to kick start your motorcycle is never fun. Kicking and kicking and kicking until all you can do is either fall down in exhaustion and frustration or hoping a willing (but no so smart) friend will take over the kicking. Welcome the world of big BSA single cylinder motorbikes. OK, I’m exaggerating a little, but not by much. The big BSA’s are tough to start, until you learn the trick and then one, maybe two kicks and you are off riding one the most fun big bore bikes ever made.
I have owned a couple of the BSA singles, a C15 and a 441 Victor. The C15 was a project bike that got stolen out of my garage and the 441 was sold after a short time because I was told I had too many motorcycles (wife at the time was unhappy that she couldn’t park her car in the garage?). I got the Victor in good shape and it took very little to get it into great riding shape…however, I couldn’t ride it until I learned to start it! After suffering a nearly broken ankle, a really sore foot, a throbbing knee and a lifetimes worth of frustration, I got my next door neighbor to help me bump start it.
Running start,2nd gear, dump the clutch…nothing except a short skid mark on the street. Try again, this time in 3rd gear…same skid mark. Ok, one last time…running start, 4th gear, pop the clutch…BOOM!!! I was so shocked it started I almost stalled it! I rode up the street and back laughing all the time, I LOVED IT!! Out of common courtesy, and a sense of obligation, I let my neighbor, who pushed me up and down the street many times, take the bike for a ride…he stalled it a block and a half away. He leaned up against a tree and walked back. We were back to pushing the bike, this time a block and a half. It was time to learn how to start this beast.
My next day off, I made a trip over to my friendly Brit Bike mechanic with the bike in the back of the truck hoping to get a lesson on how to start the B50. When I arrived and told Jack my story he chuckled for a moment, climbed up into the truck bed, onto the bike and two kicks later had the B50 barking happily. “How in the hell did he do that?” A five minute lesson later and I could start the big single with no problem. But could I do it at home when the bike is cold? A couple of hours later I tried ‘the technique’ and the BSA fired up on the second kick!
The next Sunday I had off I headed to Texas Canyon with my friend Tim, he on his CZ and me on the BSA. We rode through two tanks of gas each and I had so much fun on that Beezer. It has the torque of a locomotive, it actually handled well, and the sounds that big single made, well, set me off on a lifetime of loving big single cylinder motorcycles.
There is a lot of great history with the BSA B50 MX, it was the last of the big bore singles from England, it actually grew out of the C15 250, as a matter of fact, the chassis was the 250 chassis and they just stuffed the 500 in there…that’s why it is as light and nimble as it is for a big bike. Then there are the Cheney designs.
Eric Cheney, a successful racer in his own right, designed a chassis to work better than the BSA stocker for the British ISDT team, and the race winning B50 for John Banks and the BSA B50 that held the record for its class at the Isle of Mann TT. Interesting little tid bit here regarding Eric Cheney, he had no formal engineering education, he used to design frames in chalk on his workshop wall, ingenuity at it’s best. In 1973 production of the B50 ended, there were a few left overs that were rebadged as Triumphs and sold as 1974 models.
Today I found a really nice B50MX that if you are interested in vintage motocross on a classic four stroke this a perfect motorcycle for you. This particular bike was stored for a long time, it looks great, was serviced just this last October. It is a good runner and if you want to learn the secret to starting this beast without getting tossed over the handlebars, there is a great video on YouTube…the bike is well worth learning how to start…it is a blast to ride. Whack open the throttle in any gear and the front end comes up and the rooster tail you’re throwing…I pity the guy behind you!
Click on the pics below for more info about this bike and more pictures.