History of the BSA motorcycle

The first wholly BSA motorcycles were built in 1910, before then engines had come from other manufacturers. BSA Motorcycles Ltd was set up as a subsidiary in 1919.

BSA motorcycles were sold as affordable motorcycles with reasonable performance for the average user. BSA stressed the reliability of their machines, the availability of spares and dealer support.

The motorcycles were a mixture of sidevalve and OHV engines offering different performance for different roles, e.g. hauling a sidecar. The bulk of use would be for commuting.

Postman on a BSAPostie on a BSA

BSA motorcycles were also popular with "fleet buyers" in Britain, who (for example) used the Bantams for telegram delivery for the Post Office or motorcycle/sidecar combinations for AA patrols Automobile Association breakdown help services. This mass market appeal meant they could claim "one in four is a BSA" on advertising.

Machines with better specifications were available for those who wanted more performance or for competition work.

Initially, after World War II, BSA motorcycles were not generally seen as racing machines, compared to the likes of Norton.

Harold Tozer and Jack WilkesHarold Tozer driving & passenger Jack Wilkes on a Works 500 BSA 1949

In the immediate post war period few were entered in races such as the TT races, though this changed dramatically in the Junior Clubman event (smaller engine motorcycles racing over some 3 or 4 laps around one of the Isle of Man courses).

In 1947 there were but a couple of BSA mounted riders, but by 1952 BSA were in the majority and in 1956 the makeup was 53 BSA, 1 Norton and 1 Velocette.

To improve US sales, in 1954, for example, BSA entered a team of riders in the 200 mile Daytona beach race with a mixture of single cylinder Gold Stars and twin cylinder Shooting Stars assembled by Roland Pike.

The BSA team riders amazingly took first, second, third, fourth, and fifth places with two more riders finishing at 8th and 16th. This was the first case of a one brand sweep.

The BSA factory experienced success in the sport of motocross with Jeff Smith riding a B40 to capture the 1964 and 1965 FIM 500 cc Motocross World Championships.

Jeff SmithJeff Smith 1965

It would be the last year the title would be won by a four-stroke machine until the mid-1990s. A BSA motocross machine was often colloquially known as a "Beezer."

BSA Motorcycle models

Pre World War II
1935 BSA Blue StarG14 1000 cc V-twin
Blue Star
Empire Star
Silver Star
Gold Star
as the WD M20 the motorcycle of the British Army in WW2

Post World War II
1957 BSA Golden Flash 650
1969 BSA Royal StarA series Twins (four-stroke, pushrod parallel twins)
A7 Shooting Star
A10 Golden Flash
A10 Super Flash
A10 Road Rocket
A10 Super Rocket
A10 Rocket Gold Star
A50R Royal Star
A50C Cyclone
A50W Wasp
A65 Star Twin
A65R Rocket
A65T Thunderbolt
A65L Lightning
A65S Spitfire
A65H Hornet
A65F Firebird Scrambler
A70L Lightning 750

Triples (four stroke, pushrod, three-cylinder engines) - The BSA Rocket 3/Triumph Trident were developed together. The Rocket 3 shares a majority of engine components and cycle parts with the Trident T150, but has forward-inclined cylinder barrels, BSA frame and cycle parts.

A75R Rocket3 750
A75RV Rocket3 750 - 5 speed
A75V Rocket3 750 - 5 speed
B series (Four-stroke single cylinder)
C25 Barracuda
B25 Starfire
B25FS Fleetstar
B25 SS Gold Star
BSA B31 single
B32 Gold Star
B34 Gold Star
B40 350 Star
B40 SS90
B44 Victor
B44SS Shooting Star
B44VS Victor Special
B50SS Gold Star 500
B50T Victor Trials
B50MX Motocross
C series (Four-stroke single-cylinder unit construction).

C11/C11G: 12 hp (9 kW) - 70 mph (110 km/h) - 85mpg - weight 250 lb (113 kg).

The C11 used a C10 motor fitted with an overhead valve cylinder head. The C11 frame was almost unchanged until 1951 when BSA added plunger rear suspension. Early gearboxes were weak and unreliable.

The C11G was available with a three ratio gearbox and rigid frame or a four ratio gearbox and a plunger frame. Both models had better front brakes than earlier models. This model was a common commuter motorcycle, and many survive today.

C12 (1956 - 1958). 249 cc OHV

Used the C11G engine, fitted with an alternator and swinging fork (known as swinging arm) rear suspension.

C15 Star
C15T Trials
C15S Scrambler
C15SS80 Sports Star 80

D series (Two-stroke single cylinder. See BSA Bantam for details)
D1 Bantam
D3 Bantam Major
D5 Bantam Super
D7 Bantam Super
D10 Silver Bantam, Bantam Supreme, Bantam Sports, Bushman
D14/4 Bantam Supreme, Bantam Sports, Bushman
B175 Bantam Sports, Bushman
Others (may include some export versions of models listed above)
B31 Twin (350 cc). This information is not available easily. B31 frame was used with a Triumph 3T motor to produce this BSA B31 Twin. Very few units were produced, probably prototypes.
BSA Barracuda
BSA Beagle
BSA Brigand - late 70s moto-cross style product by NVT with Yamaha 50 cc two stroke engine.
BSA Dandy 70
BSA Sunbeam (Scooters, also produced as Triumph TS1, TW2 Tigress)
BSA Starfire
BSA Rocket Scrambler
BSA Rocket Gold Star
BSA Fury
BSA Hornet
Winged Wheel (auxiliary power unit for bicycles)
T65 Thunderbolt (essentially a Triumph TR6P with BSA Badges)