BSA—Birmingham Small Arms—was once the powerhouse of the motorcycle industry. Back in the 1950s and 1960s, BSA had the widest range of models in the motorcycle industry from scooters to dirt bikes to top-of-the-line road bikes.The brand owned world championships in motocross, trials and road racing, as well as wins at the biggest racing events in the sport. In 1954, BSA took all five top positions at the Daytona 200. BSA riders won gold medals in the 1955 and 1956 International Six Days Trials (ISDT, now ISDE). Indeed, in those heady years, many experts said BSA was the most popular motorcycle in the world.
[Visit our Motorcycle History Page]As the 1960s began, BSA had blossomed into an international conglomerate, owning more than 30 companies. Its portfolio included Triumph and Ariel. In 1964 and ’65, BSA’s Jeff Smith captured the 500cc World Championship in motocross.As the decade ended, financial stress cracks were beginning to show at BSA/Triumph. The range of models shrank and despite the introduction of the 750cc three-cylinder BSA Rocket III and Triumph Trident models, things were not going well.Despite Dick Mann, Gene Romero and Don Emde taking first, second and third aboard BSA triples at the 1971 Daytona 200, BSA was heading for the financial kitty litter. By August 1973, BSA as a motorcycle manufacturer was history.Now, there is a glimmer of hope that this storied marque may be revived. An industrial giant based in India, Mahindra—known for its Moto 3 Grand Prix racers and beefy tractors—acquired 100 percent of BSA Company Limited shares via a subsidiary company, Classic Legends Pvt. Ltd. (CLPL) for £3.4 million ($4.13 million USD).Mahindra has been on a buying spree lately; last year it bought a 51-percent stake in the French-based Peugeout Motorcycles and a 76-percent stake in Italian car maker Pininfarina. Mahindra also acquired South Korean car maker SsangYong, SYM, and Reva Electric Car Company.Mahindra is no stranger to consumer motorcycles, already having their Mahindra Mojo and Centuro motorcycles on the market, as well as three scooter models, plus e-bike and e-scooter models.Is there a new line of BSA motorcycles in our future? Time will tell. Stay clicked to Ultimate Motorcycling for the latest.For our reviews of books about BSA, see:“Rider’s Library—BSA Motorcycles the Final Evolution”“Rider’s Library—The Scrapbook Series II BSA”
Hello everyone and welcome once again to Ultimate Motorcycling’s weekly Podcast—Motos and Friends.
My name is Arthur Coldwells.
This week’s Podcast is brought to you by Yamaha motorcycles. Discover how the YZF-R7 provides the perfect balance of rider comfort and true supersport performance by checking it out at YamahaMotorsports.com, or see it for yourself at your local dealer.
This week’s episode features Senior Editor Nic de Sena’s impressions of the beautiful new Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST that is loosely based around the original FXRT Sport Glide from the 1980s. Hailing from The Golden State, these cult-status performance machines became known as West Coast style, with sportier suspension, increased horsepower, and niceties including creature comforts such as a tidy fairing and sporty luggage.
In past episodes you might have heard us mention my best friend, Daniel Schoenewald, and in the second segment I chat with him about some of the really special machines in his 170 or so—and growing—motorcycle collection. He’s always said to me that he doesn’t consider himself the owner, merely the curator of the motorcycles for the next generation.
Yet Daniel is not just a collector, but I can attest a really skilled rider. His bikes are not trailer queens, they’re ridden, and they’re ridden pretty hard. Actually, we have had many, many memorable rides on pretty much all of the machines in the collection at one time or another.
From all of us here at Ultimate Motorcycling, we hope you enjoy this episode!