Author Topic: A long trip on a BSA?  (Read 3791 times)

atomSchneider

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A long trip on a BSA?
« 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

Offline LJ.

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Re: A long trip on a BSA?
« Reply #1 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?
Ride Safely Lads! LJ.
**********************
1940 BSA M20 500cc Girder/Rigid- (SOLD)
1947 BSA M21 600cc Girder/Rigid-Green
1949 BSA A7   500cc Girder/Plunger Star Twin-(SOLD)
1953 BSA B33  500cc Teles/Plunger-Maroon
1961 BSA A10  650cc Golden Flash-Blue
1961 BSA A10  650cc Golden Flash-Red

atomSchneider

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Re: A long trip on a BSA?
« Reply #2 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

Offline a10gf

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Re: A long trip on a BSA?
« Reply #3 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.

A10 GF '53 My A10 website
"Success only gets you a ticket to a much more difficult task"

Offline jfligg

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Re: A long trip on a BSA?
« Reply #4 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  

Offline twintom

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Re: A long trip on a BSA?
« Reply #5 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*

Offline twintom

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Re: A long trip on a BSA?
« Reply #6 on: 10.01. 2009 21:43 »
Oh, here a clean proof  *beer*  cheers Tom

Richard

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Re: A long trip on a BSA?
« Reply #7 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

Offline LJ.

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Re: A long trip on a BSA?
« Reply #8 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.
Ride Safely Lads! LJ.
**********************
1940 BSA M20 500cc Girder/Rigid- (SOLD)
1947 BSA M21 600cc Girder/Rigid-Green
1949 BSA A7   500cc Girder/Plunger Star Twin-(SOLD)
1953 BSA B33  500cc Teles/Plunger-Maroon
1961 BSA A10  650cc Golden Flash-Blue
1961 BSA A10  650cc Golden Flash-Red

atomSchneider

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Re: A long trip on a BSA?
« Reply #9 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

Offline LJ.

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Re: A long trip on a BSA?
« Reply #10 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
Ride Safely Lads! LJ.
**********************
1940 BSA M20 500cc Girder/Rigid- (SOLD)
1947 BSA M21 600cc Girder/Rigid-Green
1949 BSA A7   500cc Girder/Plunger Star Twin-(SOLD)
1953 BSA B33  500cc Teles/Plunger-Maroon
1961 BSA A10  650cc Golden Flash-Blue
1961 BSA A10  650cc Golden Flash-Red

Offline stratcat

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Re: A long trip on a BSA?
« Reply #11 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.

TJ

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Re: A long trip on a BSA?
« Reply #12 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

Offline Lannis

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Re: A long trip on a BSA?
« Reply #13 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
1961 A10 Golden Flash
1969 A65 Firebird Scrambler
1955 M21 Commodore
1935 Matchless Model X Project
1990 Moto Guzzi California III
1983 Moto Guzzi 1000SP
1986 Yamaha TT225 trail bike
1966 Morgan 4/4

Offline fido

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Re: A long trip on a BSA?
« Reply #14 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!