A Look Back at the BSA Motorcycles

Born and brought up in UK, BSA was once world's largest motorcycle maker.

Birmingham Small Arms Company commonly known as BSA Company was founded in Gun Quarter of Birmingham city, England. Gun Quarter was served as a center for world's gun manufacturing. BSA Motorcycles was just one small division of this gigantic company. From military firearms to bicycles and from machine tools to even aircraft engines has been manufactured by BSA company. But this company was initially formed by group of gunsmiths in order to manufacture guns.

BSA began in 1861 and after 10 years they branched out to bicycle production. They manufactured standard bicycle parts in a large quantity within the gun factory at a cheap rate. In 1870, Mr. Otto designed an Otto Dicycle and was manufactured at BSA Company. After 35 years, company's first experimental motorcycle was constructed. In order to concentrate on rifle making, the company ceased bicycle production in 1887. But they used to produce bicycle components in large scale.

Bsa Otto Dicycle

Company started making motor bicycles along with bicycle products in 1910. And those entire motorcycles were sold out within three years. BSA launched their first 50 degree Vee-twin, 770cc engine capable of 7bhp in November 1919, the Model a. This motorcycle features Amac carburettor, chain drive transmission, 7-plate clutch and three speed gear box with kick start.

Bsa Vee Twin

BSA group owns Triumph motorcycles from 1951. But eventually company failed to succeed in the market and Norton Villiers Triumph was formed under the Government of Britain to rescue the British motorcycling industry in 1972. Soon after the formation, company has to face serious challenges from the Japanese bike makers like Honda, Suzuki and some other European makers like Bultaco and Husqvarna. Not only that, some poor marketing strategies and expensive projects leads to substantial losses to the company. For example the key started Japanese bikes displaced kick-started BSA motorcycles. In 1972 after the merging, a Norton 500 single was built with B50 based single cylinder engine. The final range of motorcycles from BSA was Gold Star 500, 650 Thunderbolt/Lightning and the 750cc Rocket Three.

Bsa Gold Star

The bankruptcy has led BSA to merge with Manganese Bronze company, Norton Villiers to become NVT, managed by Dennis Poore. Some of the Poore's policy has led to reduce the workforce of company to a great extend. And this results in the formation of co-operative in Triumph's workers at Meridian. This left Poore with neither BSA nor Triumph and Norton Commando has remained as sole NVT model.

In 1978 NVT was liquidated and BSA Company Ltd bought the rights for BSA Motorcycles Ltd. They again started producing motorcycles for military with Rotax and Yamaha engines under the BSA name. BSA later merged with Andover Norton in 1991 and also purchased Norton spares business from Norton motors. In December 1994, BSA Company was again taken over by a newly formed BSA Regal Group and moved to Southampton. After 3 years, they started exporting bikes to Japan with their hand built 400cc Gold SR. And in 1999, 500cc version of Gold SR was launched for American and European markets. But the hype lasted only few years and the demand for hand built models started declining. Not only that, their 1000cc prototype did not reach the production line and sales failed to reach the target. In the year 2007 Joe Seifet, the new owner of Norton Motors Ltd acquired BSA Regal's Norton Commando parts business.

Bsa Regal Gold Sr

Back in India an infringement of BSA Company's trademarks were used for BSA electric motor bikes the owners of BSA trademarks for bicycles. The cases were still on Madras high court. The company also started working with Ripe Motorcycles, a British company to produce all electric BSA John McLaren TAG 350 in 2014 and the very next year they came with BSA TAG 1000, with their intention to compete in motocross championships. And now in October 2016, Indian bike makers Mahindra Two Wheelers purchased BSA Co.Ltd for 3.4 million pounds.

Bsa Mclaren Tag 350

From the largest motorcycle manufacturer (when Triumph was part of BSA) in the world to a bankrupted company with many twists and turns, BSA has managed to hold their grounds in some manner. Now at the hands of Mahindra, they could regain their lost pride and prestige. Under the watchful eyes of Mahindra we can see those legendary motorcycles once again bearing the famous BSA badge.
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Last updated on 26-10-2016. Published on 26-10-2016.
Published by Bikes4Sale in category Feature
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