BSA: King of Marques


Images: Magneto for Influx

In terms of totemic British brands, you can’t get more classic than BSA. Evocative of all the positive aspects of Empire: industrial ingenuity & community, technological boldness and design brilliance, the motorcycles produced by the Birmingham Small Arms company in the mid 20th century remain chrome-clad motifs of a time when Britian was unashamedly proud of the goods it produced.

At this summer’s West Kent Run, members of the BSA Owners Club displayed some typically refined examples of the brand’s most famous bikes, including Gold Stars (like the award winning example above). These were the bikes that developed from the modified Empire Star that won the TT in 1937. This iconic bike was produced right up until 1963 and enjoyed success right up to then and beyond in the Clubman class at the famous Manx event.

And while BSAs might not be as sought-after amid the new generation of custom-building, retro-fetishising hipster youth that is grabbing hold of bike culture by the throat these days, the brand is redolent of a much more enduring, and subtle legacy than, we think, the Nortons, Triumphs and Tritons that have been so ubiquitously caffed, tracked and scrambled in the trendier environs of our cities.

This fascinating clip evokes how industries like BSA were at the heart of England’s image of itself, it lends a vital clue to why the bikes they produced are so perennially appealing for those of us who live in these islands. Cue Elgar.


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