Tag Archives: BSA motorcycles

1970 BSA Starfire 250

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 6.35.30 PMI am a fan of small motorcycles, give me a 125, 250 or 350 and  I am happy as can be. When I find an old one I even get happier. Bikes like this BSA have a soul that modern bikes just can’t match.

I had a BSA 350 single and I absolutely loved it. It started easy (especially compared to my step dads Gold Star) handled so easily  (it’s like the bike knew where you wanted to go before you did). These classic British singles are true gems in the motorcycling world.

I found a really nice Starfire 250 on ebay today that if you have room in your garage and want a very cool and classic British single, here’s your chance.

Click on the pictures below for more info and more pictures

 

 

<a target=”_self” href=”http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?icep_ff3=2&pub=5574881880&toolid=10001&campid=5336495545&customid=1970+BSA+Starfire+250&icep_item=381753776360&ipn=psmain&icep_vectorid=229466&kwid=902099&mtid=824&kw=lg”&gt;Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 6.25.48 PM

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 6.26.04 PM

 

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 6.26.39 PM1970 BSA Starfire 250</a><img style=”text-decoration:none;border:0;padding:0;margin:0;” src=”http://rover.ebay.com/roverimp/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?ff3=2&pub=5574881880&toolid=10001&campid=5336495545&customid=1970+BSA+Starfire+250&item=381753776360&mpt=%5BCACHEBUSTER%5D”&gt;

1969 Triumph Tiger Cub and more…package deal

I found a very interesting collection of bikes on ebay this morning…Ok, it’s just a guy clearing out his garage. We’ve all had to do that over the years either because we ran out of room for the new motorcycles we wanted or more than likely because our wives were tired of having to look at what she considered junk and couldn’t get to what she was trying to get to.
Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 8.49.28 AM So, this guy has two interesting motorcycles and one that goes on the front bumper of a motorhome bound for Florida. First is a 1969 Triumph Tiger Cub, a simple little 250cc motorcycle. The Cub was unreliable, period. It had lubrication issues, bearing problems, a weak triple tree and of course Lucas electrics. But still an interesting little motorcycle.
Next up, a Honda VT500 Ascot. In my view this is the gem of the bunch. Truthfuly the VT500 wasn’t the most powerful bike of it’s era or genre, yet…it worked. Now I have to say, it has one of the most ugly headlight setups I have ever seen. I would instantly change it! Except the wiring harness would probably be an absolute nightmare…a good Saturday project.
Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 5.22.47 PMThe VT500 didn’t have all that much horsepower (54…That seems plenty for having a lot of fun?!) but what it did have was a nice tight chassis that gave the bike really fun handling. It was styled after the FT500 Ascot single (which I raced for years) but came with a 6 speed tranny, shaft drive and a little more comfortable ergo’s. My old friend Mike Eaton (one of the greatest surfboard builders ever!!!) had one. I got a chance to ride it on the twisty roads of Point Loma in San Diego and had way too much fun. This is a great bike.
Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 8.38.06 AMNext is a 1972 Suzuki Rover. Put it on the front of your motorhome and hang out at the KOA’s across the country on your way to visit the Grandkids in Florida. Actually, this could be a really fun little trail bike, however, it went over like a fart in church. Didn’t sell. But hey, everybody can use something to take up space in their garage. You could probably hide this little bike behind all the other junk your wife doesn’t know about (yeah right).

It’s a pretty interesting package deal. Click on the pics for more info and pictures. And by the way, this seller is by far the worst picture taker I have ever seen! Do not let him or her come to your wedding!!!

Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 8.12.05 AM
Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 8.12.55 AM
Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 8.13.11 AMTriumph Tiger Cub and more

1937 DKW SB200

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 8.47.44 AMA German company started by a Danish engineer. Dampf-Kraft-Wagen. Started in 1916 building steam powered cars. The cars didn’t do so well but while building cars they were also toying around with a small size two stroke engine and in 1919 took that little engine stuck it in a motorcycle frame and called it ‘Des Klein Wunder’…The Little Marvel.
In the 1920’s and 30’s DKW was the worlds largest motorcycle manufacturer. They were dominant in racing both on and off road. In 1931 they started using the split single motor, also known as the ‘Twingle’. A really cool design, essentially it’s one cylinder but with two pistons inside, one for intake and one for exhaust. It’s an incredibly efficient design.Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 8.55.00 AM

More history here for you…in 1932 DKW merged with Audi, Horsh and Wanderer and created Auto Union, today simply known as Audi. Then came World War 2. After the war was the ‘reparation act’, too much history to go into here about that but here’s what happened…the designs for DKW’s 125 two stroke were given to BSA for their Bantam model and to Harley Davidson for their Hummer. Both were mildly successful (I’m being generous here). After the war DKW moved the factory to West Germany and the original factory was taken up by MZ. DKW kept building both cars and motorbikes, the cars under the Daimler-Benz ownership, which was then bought out by VW. The last DKW 2 stroke automobile was built in 1966. Now you know you everything there is to know about DKW?
Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 8.49.42 AMThis morning I found a beautiful DKW SB200 on ebay, that sadly has become a museum piece. The seller says they have not started it but it does kick through easily. The bike is beautiful. I would hope that with just some minor tinkering it will be a runner. Yes, it would look great in your living room just as it is, but really, get it running , ride it and then park it in your living room after your ride, then roll it out the front door next Sunday and ride it again.
Click on the pics below for more pictures and more info. This is a very cool little motorcycle with a great history.

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 8.25.06 AM
Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 8.25.31 AM
Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 8.25.20 AM1937 DKW SR200

1971 BSA Thunderbolt

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 8.23.35 AMThere are a couple of motorcycles I regret selling or trading in for something else. One was because of youthful exuberance, the other, well I still am not quite sure why. The youthful exuberance was trading in my BSA Lightning 650 for a Kawasaki H2 750. The fastest thing on two wheels. When you’re twenty years old, you chuck the old mans bike and go for pure speed. Now, don’t get me wrong, I loved my H2 for a lot of years, but today I wish I still had them both.
The Lightning was temperamental, leaked oil and the electrics were, well…there is a reason why Lucas Electrics were called the ‘Prince of Darkness’ and the joke “why to the English drink warm beer? Because Lucas makes the refrigerators…”
Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 8.32.10 AMOk, there were lots of things you could do to deal with the electric issues, the marking it’s territory…oil leaks…not so much. None of that really mattered. The British Twins… BSA, Triumph Norton and others have a certain ‘Soul’. I can’t explain it. Maybe it’s because my formative years were spent on Brit Bikes and I know deep down what they feel like….for better and worse. The Germans, a little (?) sterile, the Italians, maybe a touch too macho and the Americans…just plain old King Kong pound your chest brash. I love them all, but my heart and soul still say “God save the Queen” And then I ride off on my Triumph.
BSA basically designed the Thunderbolt as a ‘Touring’ model. Compared to the Lightning the Thunderbolt was rather tame but in truth that was really a good thing. A little more relaxed steering, a more comfortable seating position, and a longer kick start lever (which made starting the bike easier) made the bike really quite comfortable. But, the real differences were in the engine itself.
Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 8.09.56 AMTake some of the performance aspects of the Lightning (the cams) and then simplify it with a single carburetor. smoother acceleration, lower maintenance (dialing in one carb is a lot easier than balancing and tuning 2!). But really, the single carb made the Thunderbolt a really easy motorcycle to ride. Plenty of power for it’s time, great handling what more could you ask for?? Well, that’s where it all falls apart.
Enter the Honda CB750. Twenty more horsepower, better braking (thanks to a disc on the front vs. the single sided drum off the older BSA Gold Star 500), electric starter…the list goes on. The Japanese manufacturers were here and way ahead of everyone else.
But still…the CB750 with all it’s attributes can’t match the soul stirring feeling of a British Twin. Bikes that move with just a thought, motorbikes that feel the road underneath you, a motor that gives you just enough vibration to let you know that it is alive. A BSA 650 is a bike that demands attention. Over the years there has been a running joke that if you ride a British twin for one hour, you have to work on it for two. It’s not true…but not too far off. But the time is well worth it
For most all of us that want a classic British motorbike, a Thunderbolt is a great choice. I really like the single carb..smoother power delivery than the twin carbs, a little less vibration but still that great feeling that a classic bike gives you.
I found a really nice one on ebay today. A 1971 that is not all original but is a runner according to the seller, looks good and the price is not too out of line in the real world. The Thunderbolt is a great bike…much easier to own than the Lightning of my youth.
Click on the pics below for more info and more pics

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 8.45.46 AM

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 8.32.56 AM
Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 8.33.46 AM
Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 8.33.46 AM

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 8.33.11 AM1971 BSA Thunderbolt

1957 Squariel…Ariel Square Four

Screen Shot 2015-03-01 at 6.17.08 PMA long time ago my step dads friend Stanley acquired an Ariel Square Four And for some strange reason he let me ride it. Now Stanley lived in a very remote area of Southern California where the roads were empty and all you had to contend with were deer and cows crossing the road at the most inopportune time…especially on a bike that had Fred Flintstone brakes!!!
My experience on bikes at that point had been desert racing on a Bultaco and going to and from school on a BSA 650…by the way, that BSA made me one of the cool guys pulling into the parking lot. After that the cool factor went away in about 26 seconds.

Screen Shot 2015-03-01 at 6.16.19 PMMy memory of Stanleys ‘Squariel’ was that other than being a four cylinder bike that was almost as old as me, compared to my Beezer, was pretty boring. It was smooth, had a boatload of mid-range torque (which the BSA had plenty but nothing like the Ariel) and it looked pretty cool.

Here’s some basic facts…it had a whopping 40HP, some estimates put it a bit higher but my experience with bikes of that vintage…40 was probably about right. When I rode the Ariel it topped out at just over 100mph. Plenty fast enough for a bike built in 1957. The bike was really comfortable, easy to ride and the more miles I put on it that day the more I just simply enjoyed it.

The Square Four didn’t require any extraordinary riding skills (if you were used to riding older British bikes), yeah the shifting was clunky, the brakes were…well, 1950’s British drum brakes…you really had to plan ahead for a stop and the handling was nice and easy.
Ariel was in some ways going after the Vincent. A bike with speed that literally left everyone in its wake. The Vincent had speed. The Ariel had easy ride-ability. The Vincent won that war. The Ariel however had so much torque that you could start from a stop sign in top gear and never change gears all day long. I even tried that. And while not entirely true…pretty damn close.

In 1958 Ariel was part of the BSA group and the Square Four was dropped in favor of a lighter weight 2 Stroke. That didn’t last long. In 1971 the Healy brothers took over Ariel and built 28 of the Fours between then and 1977. 28, that’s all. It put out 52 HP, top speed was a bit over 125mph and was actually lighter than a Honda 250. It may have had all that going for it but it couldn’t compete with the Honda CB750, the Kawasaki Z1 or the Suzuki GT750. All the history, the mystique, the heritage…it didn’t matter.

Interestingly though, square four motors did do quite well in GP Racing? The Yamaha OW60, AKA the RZ500. Unusual, yes. Successful? Yes But it was a stop gap measure to the V-4 motors. The problem Yamaha had with the RZ was not a problem Ariel had. The Ariel was easy to ride everywhere, the RZ was only good on the race track, hence the RZ never made it to the streets of the States…other than in the grey market.Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 7.26.33 AM

So, back to the Ariel I found on ebay this morning. Really, really nice. Very original and ready to ride. This is a bike that if I just wanted to have nice 100 mile ride on a Sunday or a casual getaway with the wife over a weekend…this motorbike would be on the short list. Actually on the long list…it ain’t cheap but for a bike with kind of heritage and cool factor…well worth it.

Click on the pics below for more pictures and info.

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 7.38.51 AM
Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 7.38.33 AM
Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 7.40.52 AM1957 Squariel..the Square Four

1970 BSA A50

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 8.15.36 AMFor some weird reason I apparently am on a BSA kick. I started my road riding life on a BSA, I restored a BSA C15 (which got stolen out of my garage while I was making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich) and my friend sold his BSA to another friend who then sold it to another poor unsuspecting soul. Such is the life of vintage (old) British motorbikes. BSA’s being hugely popular for some reason never reached the same level of sainthood that Triumph did???? I don’t know why.
I rode a 1969 Triumph Daytona 500, much like the BSA A50 but with better handling. Here is what I figured out about BSA motorcycles. They may have not had the quick, light, agile, quick handling of the Triumph (same company by the way) but the BSA was the sturdier of the two.
Think about this for a moment…when Triumph came out with the X75 Hurricane (which I lust for each and every day) it was the BSA motor. Craig Vetter made the perfect pairing.

So, back to the A50. This is a great motorcycle. This is a bike that I would have no problem throwing on a set of soft saddlebags, a tank bag and going for a nice long (2 weeks or more) ride. well, the saddlebags would however have to have a quart or two of Castrol in them….

500cc is plenty enough to get you anywhere you want to go. Most of the world rides around on 125cc! Your Pizza and mail in Mexico gets delivered on a 125cc motorbike! Robert Persig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance…which I still think is a crappy book and I don’t understand why people hold it in such high esteem?) took a cross-country trip on a 450 cc motorcycle two up. 500cc is really plenty.

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 7.59.02 AMChampionships were won on BSA’s…Dick Mann, Jim Rice, Keith Mashburn all winners on BSA’s yet BSA seemed to be the ugly stepchild compared to Triumph. BSA took chances that Triumph didn’t. Remember the ‘Ray Gun’ mufflers on the Rocket Three? The kinda flat gas tank and the grey frame on the Lightning? Still, BSA lead the troops but some did not follow. Too bad.Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 9.01.39 AM

I found a really nice BSA A50 on ebay this morning. Low miles, great condition (for its age) and a bike that would be so much FUN to ride.The seat is ugly but it can be changed easily enough, other than that…buy it and ride it.
Click on the pics below for more picture and more info. This is a very cool motorcycle

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 7.19.53 AM
Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 7.21.23 AM
Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 7.20.57 AM1970 BSA A50

1970 BSA Lightning 650

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 8.14.17 AMI started my street bike life on a Lightning 650. It vibrated, it leaked oil everywhere (we called it marking it’s territory…or also remembering where you parked it), and it was a bit unreliable. Some days it would run great, others…well, not so much. But…I loved the bike. Up until the day I traded it in on a Kawasaki H2. My step dad was not all that pleased (I think he was a high priest in the British motorcycle community back then) but he did give me some sort of a blessing?

The 650 Lightning was and is a great example of British Motorcycles. It may not have the name recognition of the Triumph Bonneville but if you put them head to head or wheel to wheel the BSA is right there. Just ask Dick Mann.Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 7.59.02 AM

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 8.12.31 AMBSA actually started out as a Gun Manufacturer..Birmingham Small Arms.In the later part of the 1800’s BSA started building bicycles it was just a natural expansion of their industrialization, from there it was motorcycles.By the mid 20th century BSA was the worlds largest producer of motorcycles! Also at that time BSA owned Triumph, Ariel, Sunbeam…they were huge. Busses, farm equipment weapons…an industrial giant. Then it all fell apart. But, BSA hung on until it no longer could. Most people I know in the Vintage Bike world would probably choose a Triumph over a BSA very time. The Triumph is quicker handling thats true but, the BSA is truly a roadworthy machine. A bit smoother, more comfortable and a chassis that is designed for riding distances.

I found a very nice A65 Lightning on ebay this morning that has a very good selling price and is in quite good condition. It has been gone through pretty thorouhly so should be an instant rider. Although, I would instantly get rid of those horrible ‘Buckhorn’ handlebars and put something far more appropriate, like a set of Euro Touring bars.
Click on the pics below for more pictures and info about this very clean BSA Lightning

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 7.45.58 AM
Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 7.45.15 AM
Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 7.45.41 AM1970 BSA Lightning 650