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Bikes, Pictures, Stories & more => Chat, Offtopic, Meetings & Everything Else => Topic started by: atomSchneider on 10.01. 2009 19:04

Title: A long trip on a BSA?
Post by: atomSchneider on 10.01. 2009 19:04
Hello,

I'm after a bit of advice from you people that know. I have been hearing a few BSA horror stories but realised that none of the BSA worriers had actually ever ridden one. So I must apologise for barging in with a question.

A few friends and I have decided we would embark on a trip from Birmingham to the south of France (and back again!) on old bikes. As we come from the Midlands I have set my heart on a BSA (though not one model in particular) but having told others about this plan many seem to think its a horrible idea.

I feel it is worth noting that we are fully aware that the bike would have some minor problems along the way and are giving ourselves a month to do the trip. We are only going to use A and B roads and will only ride for 3-5 hours a day.

I suppose I am asking: Do you think a BSA could take this kind of trip? Would I need to take a small garage worth of parts with me?

Any advice would be very much appreciated,
Cheers,
Adam
Title: Re: A long trip on a BSA?
Post by: LJ. on 10.01. 2009 19:28
Hi Adam... Forget the horror stories... As an owner of Four BSA's I can confidently say that you'll be okay and will quite easily manage a large distance if you have owned your bike for a good while and are fairly handy with a spanner. If your thinking of buying a vintage motorcycle a week before departure then forget it! You need to have *known* your machine over a good period of time.

An A7 or A10 would be a good choice of course, quite able to carry a heavy load with panniers,  top box and tank bags etc. What did you have in mind?
Title: Re: A long trip on a BSA?
Post by: atomSchneider on 10.01. 2009 19:55
Hi LJ,

Thanks for your reply - I would be looking to buy a bike within the next few weeks and we will be leaving in July. A few months enough you think? I can see I am going to have my work cut out!

As for model, I don't really know. Power isn't a major issue, we will be travelling light and have imposed ourselves a 40mph limit (the idea of the trip is to take a month out of fast paced life). Any BSA i should avoid? Are any notoriously unreliable?

Thanks for your help,
Adam
Title: Re: A long trip on a BSA?
Post by: a10gf on 10.01. 2009 20:53
Hello, and welcome.
Quote
Are any notoriously unreliable?
Not as such, but any 50+ years old machinery will need care, (as do the 50+ years old owners  ;)

Basically, after having done all thinkable maintenance and repair, it can last 50 km or 5000 km before something happens, that's the way it is. One can minimize the possibility of problems, but never eliminate it, this applies to a brand new bike as well, really. That said, I've done some great trips with my A10, will have no problem doing more (it would be much more up to my back condition than my A10s reliability).

Whatever bike you choose in the end, do not think you will not need power, long trips with a strugling engine are much more tiresome, and there will be situations where a little acceleration can get one out of situations, and keeping pace with traffic is much more relaxing than getting overtaken by cars all day, just my opinions after many km in France and Italy. But, as you mention, finding the roads best suited to ones travelling style is important, but there will always be less than relaxing stretches before actually getting to the ideal roads. Then think about the brakes, remember thay are not the best to start with, designed in the mid of the last century, extra weight on the bike + car drivers doing strange things at crossections and redlights, worsening the more south on gets (one gets quickly used to it!). Yes, as some other threads here mention, with any old car, motorcycle (or lawn mover or anything with a petrol engine!), watch out for petrol leaking. And make sure the lights and electrics are up to the job etc etc.

Anyway, I think you will have a great time on the journey you are planning. France is a superb country. And, of course, I think all here can recommand an A10 or A7, just use a well maintained one. To give some inspiration: some France pictures here: http://www.a7a10.net/BSA/2002tour.htm
http://www.a7a10.net/forum/index.php?topic=411.0

e.
Title: Re: A long trip on a BSA?
Post by: jfligg on 10.01. 2009 20:58
Hi Adam
  I agree with LJ.  No problem just be sure the bike is WELL Sorted.  Some areas to pay attentions to are the tires, brakes, clutch and the electrical system.  I would propbably think a brike that has been riden over a fresh resto would be a good choice.  That way most of the bugs will be sorted.  Whether you go A65 or A10 is entirely up yo you.  I would tend to avoid a single,  They are easier to start.  If it was me I would choose a nice Gold Flash.  But as always its just my 2 cents worth.  Jeff  
Title: Re: A long trip on a BSA?
Post by: twintom on 10.01. 2009 21:40

Hello Adam,
this is Tom, a member from Germany. Your idea is a very good idea. I rode thousends of miles on my BSA A7 through Europe. Years ago a trip with friends on old Panthers to Klackheaton, its birthplace. Before Kempton Park London, a look in the Armoury road, i think you know in wot town ;).
Than to the home, you see it on the photo, of our friend -Whitworth- near Sheffield. A short sight seeing in the Peak District and than back home, to Dover and the ferry to France. Belgium, Holland, where my friends live,.. It was was a 10 days trip with the old bikes on yellow and white roads always over the small bridges.......... I love the plunger shot in the ass......... You see on the photo the trailer? There where the parts in. A adjustable spanner. Some nuts and bolts. 2 or 3 inner Tubes, my spare magneto and very important: wire ! We needed only the wire to keep together the parts, which don`t resists the vibrations. I think, with a good and prepared, of course, BSA A7 or A10,mmh of course!!  it will be an experience, you will never forgot in your live. Its not the rush, finish, relaxing on the beach, and back home.
ITS THE JOURNEY !!!... the moments . Oh God, its the same as you ride a living horse, you talk to it, you feel with it and you have always your ear on its hard..but don`t forget to feed it..
with attention...........
cheers Tom   sorry for my bad english  *beer*
Title: Re: A long trip on a BSA?
Post by: twintom on 10.01. 2009 21:43
Oh, here a clean proof  *beer*  cheers Tom
Title: Re: A long trip on a BSA?
Post by: Richard on 10.01. 2009 21:45
Hi adam
I must agree with the others
Although a single will easily make a trip like the one you plan to do they can be a little tiresome even the B33 (500cc) I took to the John Bull rally in Belgium was harder work than the A10 or A65.
But the milage should be fine and a month!
This year's John Bull is for me from Minety in Wiltshire 166 miles to Dover then ferry to Dunkirke then 150 miles to the camp site then the return trip 632 miles in all without the Saturday run out milage and thank goodness it is a bank holiday weekend which means I have four days instead of the usual three.
as per Toms post some basic tools Puncture kit tyre levers cable ties and a small pump a couple of spark plugs and a mobile phone
So get your bike ride it sort it then go for it.
Richard
Title: Re: A long trip on a BSA?
Post by: LJ. on 11.01. 2009 11:31
Quote
Although a single will easily make a trip like the one you plan to do they can be a little tiresome even the B33 (500cc) I took to the John Bull rally in Belgium was harder work than the A10 or A65.

Richard that is a good and interesting statement that I quite agree with! I dunno what it is... And as much as I do like my M21... I certainly feel much more exhausted after a long run with my 600cc M21. It must be the single cylinder pounding throb, like working with a road chisel all day whearas a big twin, especially a 500cc twin will be smooth and much more calming on the person riding.
Title: Re: A long trip on a BSA?
Post by: atomSchneider on 11.01. 2009 13:58
Hi all.

I can't thank you all enough for your help and advice (not to mention pictures!). Now 100% sold and very excited about getting to know an old bike.

The parts and tool list will also been invaluable, and I'm sure I shall be thanking you a few times come July.

Thank you all,
Adam
Title: Re: A long trip on a BSA?
Post by: LJ. on 11.01. 2009 14:24
Hoorah! We've convinced you... Now do keep us informed of what your after so that we can advise you of what to look for in the way of any problems. I can almost guarantee you'll thoroughly enjoy the experience of owning and riding a big BSA. The year before last I covered some ten thousand miles on my M21 and a similar mileage on my A10 the year before, this was doing a 'Round Britain Rally' collecting some 80 to 90 Landmarks during the six months from April to November. You really should consider doing that sometime.

http://www.roundbritainrally.co.uk/index1.htm (http://www.roundbritainrally.co.uk/index1.htm)
Title: Re: A long trip on a BSA?
Post by: stratcat on 11.01. 2009 17:27
I'd second LJ's suggestion.

A 500 twin (therefore an A7 *smile*) would be the best bet. Smoother than the A10 and any single. But seem to be less of them about for sale.
Avoid sporty versions of bikes, they tend to less relaxing. My super rocket always wants to go faster, so isn't as relaxing.

As others have said usual checks, tyres chains electrics etc. One spanner in the works could be the mag. Its one of those things that can just give up without warning, although the do tend to gradually go off (stopping when hot or hard/impossible to start). It may be worth having a good spare to fit just in case. I am not talking from experience, as I've never had a mag fail on me, but I know of others who have had problems.

Expensive, but maybe better than getting stuck.
Title: Re: A long trip on a BSA?
Post by: TJ on 11.01. 2009 19:38
Hi folks, ..... just to say Twintom, its CLECKHEATON not KLACHEATON,   it made this Yorkshire lad chuckle though *smile* *smile*..... surely  Klackheaton's somewhere down south !!!!!
Don't worry Tom your English is lot better than my German (ie non existant )

TJ
Title: Re: A long trip on a BSA?
Post by: Lannis on 12.01. 2009 20:19
I can second and third the suggestion that a BSA will make the trip without any big problems.

I've been doing it for years on mine.  In 2005, my wife and I flew from Virginia USA to England and rode a friend's A10 1000 miles all over southern England.  Much of that time we were loaded with 50 pounds of camping gear, which along with my 290 pounds and her 140 pounds, made a 480 pound payload (220 KG or 35 stone), and the bike never missed a beat.  We (as you plan to) stayed mainly on the A and B roads and never went much over 55 MPH.

In 2006 here in the States, we loaded up a BSA A65 650, a BSA 441 single, and a 1955 M21 single, each hauling over 350 pounds, and rode 2000 miles around the eastern USA, visiting the BSA International Rally, the Ohio Valley BSA rally, Niagara Falls, and all points between.  No problem with the bikes, rode on all sorts of roads.

Last year we were back in England, and my wife and I loaded 3 weeks worth of camping gear on a 1961 A10 (over 500 pounds/225 kg this time) and spent 18 days camping on the road in Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Cheshire, and the Isle of Man.  Our only problem was that we found that the rear axle hadn't been assembled properly (there was an extra spacer in it that didn't belong) and we had to replace the axle bearings on the road.  No big deal, we just stayed in the campsite another night while the part was delivered and put it in the next day.  Motor and all ran just fine, about 1500 miles total.

So I wouldn't hesitate for a minute to head on out on your BSA, whatever type you decide to get!

Lannis
Title: Re: A long trip on a BSA?
Post by: fido on 12.01. 2009 22:44
I would agree with the others, there is no reason why an old BSA should not be used for such a trip. You do need to have the  bike a while to know if there are any problems and get used to the fairly poor brakes. I would also agree that an iron head A7 would be a good choice for the modest cruising speed specified. Avoid the early rigid ones though  as you will want some comfort!
Title: Re: A long trip on a BSA?
Post by: atomSchneider on 13.01. 2009 11:44
Thanks for that Lannis, good to know that the weight won't be a big problem as it has been a major concern (was already planing on handing off heavy equipment to one of my buddies, who is riding an old MZ - though no need to tell him of this revelation!).

Where is the best place to start looking for the bikes? Classic Bike magazines? Owners club?
Title: Re: A long trip on a BSA?
Post by: tombeau on 13.01. 2009 12:28
Hi Adam,
Good to have you here.
I believe Birmingham has a very active branch of the BSA Owners Club;

Contact

Phil Bull
bsaocbirmingham@aol.com

Meets at:
The Blue Bell, Earlswood   
2nd Sunday 12pm

It would be a good starting place.
Often when people decide they're selling a bike, all they actually do is tell their mates and rely on word of mouth. Its good to get in that chain. Or by asking around someone might decide to sell. You'd also hopefully end up with a "known" bike.
Cheers,
Iain
Title: Re: A long trip on a BSA?
Post by: RichardL on 13.01. 2009 13:36
Though there seems to be an anti-eBay attitude amongst many members of the forum, I think it is unwarranted in terms of choosing a starting place for looking. At eBay.co.uk you will see a good number of A10s and A7s, versus what can be seen at the US eBay.com. Also, you see a variety on a national basis, not just according to local knowledge. From my own experience scanning eBay for BSAs, you can almost always arrange to see the bike in advance. An intelligent and careful buyer should not have trouble protecting himself when using eBay for this purpose. Nevertheless, a recommendation from a friend or a friend-of-a-friend may still be a preferred source, if you can get such a reference.

Richard L.
Title: Re: A long trip on a BSA?
Post by: A10Boy on 13.01. 2009 17:23
I totally agree, ebay is a great INSTANT ADVERTISING place, but no more than that.

I found my A10 on ebay, went to see it, liked it, did a deal with the seller, went back next day with the cash and rode it home. I think that's the way to use ebay.

Title: Re: A long trip on a BSA?
Post by: Lannis on 13.01. 2009 17:33
Hi Adam,
Good to have you here.
I believe Birmingham has a very active branch of the BSA Owners Club;

Contact

Phil Bull
bsaocbirmingham@aol.com

Meets at:
The Blue Bell, Earlswood   
2nd Sunday 12pm

It would be a good starting place.
Often when people decide they're selling a bike, all they actually do is tell their mates and rely on word of mouth. Its good to get in that chain. Or by asking around someone might decide to sell. You'd also hopefully end up with a "known" bike.
Cheers,
Iain


Excellent advice.  That's exactly how I've bought all of my bikes (they're all Guzzis and BSAs).  I let my friends in the club know what I am after, get the word around, and before long, bikes that might not have even been advertised anywhere start showing up.  Plus you know what you're getting, and someone who knows someone can usually vouch for the bike.

I don't use eBay for buying anymore.  It's like buying a camel in a Timbuktu souk; you'd better show up with a pistol tucked into the back of your belt, a complete knowledge of camels, watch your back, and be ready for anything.   They'll screw you to the wall in a second, and there's nothing you can do about it unless you're tougher and smarter than they are. 

Your friends in the club won't do you that way.

Lannis
Title: Re: A long trip on a BSA?
Post by: A10Boy on 13.01. 2009 17:50
The bloke I bought mine off was a member of the Classic Motorcycle club and obviously an enthusiast. Mine is a beauty, and without the advertising power of ebay I might have missed it.

I guess when you go to look at the bike, you need to look at the owner too, you can usually tell the genuine blokes. Any doubts walk away.
Title: Re: A long trip on a BSA?
Post by: RichardL on 13.01. 2009 19:06
I don't use eBay for buying anymore.  It's like buying a camel in a Timbuktu souk; you'd better show up with a pistol tucked into the back of your belt, a complete knowledge of camels, watch your back, and be ready for anything.   They'll screw you to the wall in a second, and there's nothing you can do about it unless you're tougher and smarter than they are. 

Your friends in the club won't do you that way.

Lannis

Correct me if I'm wrong, we're talking near-original classic BSA motorcycles, not rat-rod choppers that might be sold by more questionalble types. If there is concern about being robbed for cash, don't carry it to the first meeting. If you're not comfortable evaluating the motorcycle on your own, take one of those friends from the club along with you; buy the lunch and beer, including for the seller. Also, this would help to allay any concerns of robbery (I think no more likely than daily life). Finally, my assumption completely without substantiation, is that the likelihood of running into thieves or, even, persons of unscrupulous sales intentions may be less in the UK than the US.

No doubt this will bring a flurry of "oh, you naive lad"s from my friends on the forum, but I am taking the "think positive" side of this discussion.

Richard L.
Title: Re: A long trip on a BSA?
Post by: Lannis on 13.01. 2009 20:50
I don't use eBay for buying anymore.  It's like buying a camel in a Timbuktu souk; you'd better show up with a pistol tucked into the back of your belt, a complete knowledge of camels, watch your back, and be ready for anything.   They'll screw you to the wall in a second, and there's nothing you can do about it unless you're tougher and smarter than they are. 

Your friends in the club won't do you that way.

Lannis

Correct me if I'm wrong, we're talking near-original classic BSA motorcycles, not rat-rod choppers that might be sold by more questionalble types. If there is concern about being robbed for cash, don't carry it to the first meeting. If you're not comfortable evaluating the motorcycle on your own, take one of those friends from the club along with you; buy the lunch and beer, including for the seller. Also, this would help to allay any concerns of robbery (I think no more likely than daily life). Finally, my assumption completely without substantiation, is that the likelihood of running into thieves or, even, persons of unscrupulous sales intentions may be less in the UK than the US.

No doubt this will bring a flurry of "oh, you naive lad"s from my friends on the forum, but I am taking the "think positive" side of this discussion.

Richard L.

Richard -

I was not saying that you should go look at an eBay bike literally with a pistol in your belt.

I was comparing the VIRTUAL world of eBay with the physical world of a back-country bazaar.  On eBay, there are hundreds of scammers, who will shamelessly take you for everything you have if you drop your electronic guard, just as there are shadowy figures in a bazaar (not to mention the shills and shysters shouting at you from their awnings) that will physically take everything you have if you don't watch out.

At least for classic bikes and other expensive stuff, eBay is just more trouble for me than it's worth.  I'm sure lots of people continue to have mostly positive experiences, and more power to them!

Lannis
Title: Re: A long trip on a BSA?
Post by: RichardL on 13.01. 2009 22:17
Lannis,

I suppose, if I had thought more clearly of it, your intended figurative meaning would have been clear. Anyway, thanks for the further clarification. I can't say I've bought anything truly expensive off eBay, so I'm not qualified to speak, as such. Of the many low-to-moderate-cost things I have bought, I have only had one occurance wherein the item and deal was not exactly or better than expected, and then, it wasn't worth mentioning. I also think/hope that the people who have bought from me believe they have been well treated. For the record, I don't own any eBay stock and have not been hired to promote them. 

Richard L.
Title: Re: A long trip on a BSA?
Post by: LJ. on 14.01. 2009 10:41
There is no doubt that a good measure of luck is needed in doing deals on ebay. I had my measure last Autumn with my Star Twin, it was at a low price three hours before finishing, this was when I found it by causualy flicking through the pages at that time. I must admit I was nervous right up until I eventually got the thing started, a few days after getting it home. Before bidding I decided that it was a good buy even if I had to pull the engine out for a rebuild. I was prepared to turn and walk away if it was not what was expected when I knocked at the sellers door, somehow my courage dissapeard when he answered! As well as it all turned out, I dont think I'd want to go through it all again, no one gets that much luck!

Its been fun though and I made a web page telling all about it... http://www.ljswain.btinternet.co.uk/star-twin.htm (http://www.ljswain.btinternet.co.uk/star-twin.htm)
Title: Re: A long trip on a BSA?
Post by: Lannis on 04.02. 2009 17:51
There is no doubt that a good measure of luck is needed in doing deals on ebay. I had my measure last Autumn with my Star Twin, it was at a low price three hours before finishing, ...
Its been fun though and I made a web page telling all about it... http://www.ljswain.btinternet.co.uk/star-twin.htm (http://www.ljswain.btinternet.co.uk/star-twin.htm)

LJ, this is the reason why my A10 moved from England to the USA.  I can promise you that the $2,670 you paid for this bike would be doubled for an A7 in the same condition in the USA.  There just aren't that many!

Good deal!

Lannis