In 1861 the BSA Company (Birmingham Small Arms) was formed. It was formed by the group of gunsmith’s that had gotten together in the 1850’s to form a Trade Association and this is possibly the reason that the BSA logo was a stack of rifles.
In 1880 there was little demand for rifles so they started making bicycles instead and moved on to making motorcycles by buying in the engines. The first one that they built used a Belguin Minerva engine.
The first wholly BSA motorcycles were built in 1910, before then engines had come from other manufacturers. First engine was 499cc, producing 3.5hp from one upright cylinder, driving directly to the real wheel by belt.
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.
After WWII, the factory at Small Heath in Birmingham turned to solely producing motorcycles and in 1951 BSA bought over Triumph Motorcycles. That made BSA into the largest producer of motorcycles in the entire world. In 1953 BSA produced the 100,000 BSA Bantam.
When NVT Motorcycles Limited was liquidated in 1978, its management, then under William Colquhoun, formed a new company - BSA Company and bought from NVT the rights to the BSA Motorcycle brand.
In 1991 BSA Company was merged with another buy out company, Mike Jackson's Andover Norton International Ltd., to form a new BSA Group. BSA purchased the Norton Spares business from Norton Motors and this change to the cash starved spares business prompted a rapid and continuing growth in the sale of genuine parts. MZ (GB) Ltd was acquired and BSA Group became heavily involved with the renowned Norton F1 designers Seymour Powell in developing and launching the MuZ Skorpion, later to win the 1994 BBC Design Award. In December 1994 Colquhoun and Jackson's BSA Group was taken over by a newly formed BSA Regal Group and the company moved again, this time to Southampton.
Mon, 29 Sep 2014
Graham Coxon, British musician and lead guitarist for Blur, auctioning off seven of his personal motorcycles with proceeds benefitting NSPCC, the UK’s leading children’s charity. See the full press release from Bonhams below. The motorcycles will be sold as part of Bonhams Autumn Stafford Sale, an annual event taking place at the Classic Motorcycle Mechanics Show, held on 19th October 2014.
Tue, 26 Aug 2014
More than 2,000 attendees visited America’s Car Museum for its 3rd annual Vintage Motorcycle Festival ‘The MEET’ last weekend in Tacoma, Washington, where over 300 motorcycles and scooters were showcased on the Haub Family Field at LeMay. The event drew pre-1981 motorcycles and scooters from the U.S. and Canada, including an antique motorcycle display, swap meet, cruise-in and a 78-mile roundtrip tour from ACM’s Anderson Plaza to Mt. Rainier.
Wed, 06 Aug 2014
The 2014 edition of the LA Calendar Motorcycle Show continued its now 23-year tradition as the premier outdoor streetbike event in America with producer photographer Jim Gianatsis moving the show this year to the beautiful green lawns of the Malibu Golf Course among the twisty canyon roads in the Santa Monica Mountains alongside the Pacific Ocean. Highlighting this year’s exciting activities was the emergence of another new and soon to be renown custom bike builder to the sport for which the Calendar Show is known for cultivating. Taking Best of Show in this year’s Calendar Bike Building Championship was Calin Senciac’s Imagine Vehicles International / ImagineVehicles.com motorsports fabrication shop with an incredible custom billet aluminum designed chassis built by Terry Ward and the shop crew, housing a legendary 1979 Honda CBX 1047cc air-cooled in-line 6-cylinder engine.
Wed, 08 Jan 2014
Bonhams will be auctioning two oil on canvas originals from contemporary motorsports artist Robert Carter, January 9th at Bally’s Las Vegas Hotel and Casino. The title piece for this auction (pictured above) measures 48” x 60” and depicts AMA Flat Track star Jim Rice piloting his BSA to victory at the 1970 Santa Rosa Mile. Carter’s second original celebrates the Catalina Grand Prix of 1950’s fame. The oil on canvas piece is 36” x 60”. In addition to these two originals, some of Carter’s Giclee prints will be available.
Mon, 14 Oct 2013
There’s something distinctly cool about old British motorcycles. From the wire wheels, the minimal bodywork, and the exposed engines which give off a thunderous bark, I’ve always loved looking at old Triumphs, BSAs and the like from the 60s.
I’ve never owned one though. The reason is simple: old British bikes are needy little maintenance machines notorious for the odd oil leak.
Fri, 11 Oct 2013
On October 20, Bonhams will be auctioning off a collection of original illustrations by Bruce Smith from the 1960s and 1970s. Each one will be signed by Smith on heavy cartridge paper. The collection is comprised of cutaway illustrations of a 1963 Royal Enfield Interceptor 750cc, Chris Vincent’s 1964 BSA 650cc A65 Race Outfit, and a 1966 Greeves Racer, the largest of this series being 45cm x 62cm.
Tue, 04 Jun 2013
The 1967 BSA Royal Star 650 has a special place in the heart of the Piano Man, Billy Joel — it was the first motorcycle he ever had. As time went on and Joel’s career blossomed, the love for motorcycles only grew. In fact, Joel even has his own motorcycle shop.
Wed, 02 Feb 2011
Paul Teutel Senior of “American Chopper” fame is having a clear-out of his bike collection but the machines on offer are a far cry from the overblown customs he's renowned for building. Instead, they reveal a passion for vintage British machinery. One of his auctions is for a 1943 BSA M20 and it's currently at $4,500 (£2700) with a $5,000 (£3,080) Buy It Now price
Tue, 02 Jun 2009
According to the “King of Cool” himself, “The Fonz” (Henry Winkler) never actually rode any motorcycles during the ten year Happy Days television run. Winkler, never rode a bike in real life either, he has dyslexia, which made it difficult for him to co-ordinate the clutch, throttle and brake. Instead, the bikes (Harley Davidson’s, Triumph’s, BSA’s were used) were mounted on a piece of wood with wheels to make it look like he was riding, even though I am not shocked, I am a little disappointed…
You can watch the interview with Winkler, the famous motorcycle jump “The Fonz” made over 14 trashcans and a bonus “Jump the Shark” video after the jump. Get the Flash Player to see this player. “Jump the Shark”, as per Phoghat’s request:
Get the Flash Player to see this player.
Thu, 23 Apr 2009
Back in 1997, an unusual motorcycle appeared on the front page of the Bristol Evening Post. Unable to afford a costly traditional sidecar, bus driver Alan Iles of Bedminster opted to build his own, using a bathtub. Twelve years later, the 1959 650cc BSA is still going and has been ridden all over Europe to help raise money for Cancer research and various charities, for which he has raised thousands of British pounds.