Motorcycles

BSA Days

_IMG5575BSA M33.

I’ve been riding motorcycles since the mid 70s, but in all those years I’ve never owned a British bike. It’s time I did.

After looking at the alternatives, and there are plenty, I’m going for a BSA M33 or B33, a 500cc bike with a single cylinder engine. These were both made from 1947 to 1957 (M33) or 1960 (B33).

The bikes are fairly similar, but the main difference between the two is that the M33 was designed to have a sidecar attached. There are attachment points, or lugs, built in for the sidecar, and the frame is stronger.

I’m not after one with a sidecar. I quite like the idea but I have nowhere to keep one. Plus, every time I’ve tried riding a bike and sidecar I couldn’t keep the sidecar wheel off the pavement.

So far, I’ve joined the BSA Owners Club, and I’ve had lots of advice about these bikes from the members. Being in the club means we go out on bike rides.

We meet at the Super Sausage cafe at Potterspury on the A5 one Sunday each month, then take a twisty and convoluted route down the back roads to somewhere that sells tea and cake. Some of these bikes, fifty or sixty years old, are not too quick compared to modern bikes, but it doesn’t matter; they are in their element on the back roads.

My Yamaha, a mere 37 years old, is quick enough for modern roads, but I’ve often been finding myself riding more slowly, since I started my  relaxed trips out with the BSA Owners Club.

_IMG5501Turweston Airfield.

The last ride out took us all over the top edge of North Bucks beyond Buckingham. It was a route so twisty I can’t retrace it on the map, and a lot of the time it was on what we might have called cart tracks if only they were a bit wider.

We ended up at Turweston airfield, right on the border of Bucks, not far from Brackley. RAF Turweston, as it was, like many airfields in this part of the world, was an Operational Training Unit or OTU. They trained bomber crews. It opened in November 1942 and over the course of the war men were trained on various twin engined aircraft.

We arrived on a variety of motorcycles, most of them BSAs. We were going to the first floor Flight Deck Cafe, where we could drink tea and have a good view of aircraft taking off. The cafe is open from 9am to 4:30pm every day. There’s a lift up to the first floor.

_IMG5502BSA Owners Club, Beds, Bucks & Northants branch.

The man in the top photo is Chris. He has been a BSA man for many years. The bike is his BSA M33.

I bumped into him at the annual Ludgershall Bike Night. (I covered it here last year) He had ridden there on his M33. I had last seen him a few weeks before, when I told him I was after a B33 or an M33 for myself.

Then, he immediately offered me a chance to try his one out, so I could see what they were all about. Ludgershall was the first time I had seen him since.

I straddled the Beeza, and followed his instructions. I must confess, I couldn’t start it. Off I got, and to show me how it was done he started it with ease, twice.

I got back on, and failed again. But I’m sure it’s just a matter of technique; I’ve never owned a British bike, and it’s been a long time since I had a bike with a kickstart. I’ll be going round his house in a few days, then we can try again in a calmer atmosphere.

Riding an old British bike will be rather different from riding modern machinery. These machines were designed just after World War Two, and there have been many changes in Britain since then.

I’m looking forward to getting one.


Happy Birthday to the Wanderer!

Last week the North Bucks Wanderer had its first birthday, so in celebration of this milestone, I’ve selected some of the highlights from the last twelve months. There’s a link to each post in the heading. The photos here are from the posts, but might not be the first one you'll see. Enjoy!

Ludgershall Bike Night

CB1100R

On the first Monday in July last year, just about every sort of bike you can imagine was parked up alongside the High Street, in the ancient village of Ludgershall. There was over a quarter mile of motorcycles, plus a huge variety of bikes parked on The Green.

There were also a few, er, non motorcycle vehicles, but they were still quite interesting. Lots of photos at the link.

This year’s bike night hasn’t been widely advertised, but as far as I can see, it will be on Monday 1st July, from 5pm to 10pm. It’s a charity event, and proceeds will be to the local Air Ambulance. Ludgershall is near Brill, not far of the A41. Just turn up.

Life on Mars in Aylesbury

Detail  Earthly Messenger statue 01

Why is there a sculpture of David Bowie in Aylesbury, under the archway of the old Corn Exchange at the bottom corner of the Market Square? you’ll want to go and see it after you’ve read this post.

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Stony Goes Live

Here’s some of the highlights from last week’s 21st Stony Live festival. It was eight days of live events; music, drama, comedy, art, and more. I saw quite a few bands, lots of people and quite a few vehicles, and these are some of the photos I took. This year I tried to take photos of the audience, having photographed those bands before and got some good results. It’s been a fine week.

IMG_0269Not really part of Stony Live, but the closing moments of a football match in The Fox and Hounds on the first Saturday of the festival.

IMG_0271Bad Hombre in The Old George, on the first Saturday. I’d not intended to take photos that night, but, “Always carry a camera”

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Tea and Motorcycles on New Years Day.

Red classic car

On New Year’s Day  I woke up mid morning, and hurriedly ate breakfast, and got washed and dressed. It was a fair day for this time of year, and I wanted to get out on the bike.

My first stop was at Stony Stratford for the 10th Vintage Car and Motorcycle Show; free to enter, but donations welcome to Willen Hospice. Last year the show raised £4,850 for the Hospice. I’m mostly there for the bikes, though I found one or two other vehicles I liked.

Hand change Royal Enfield

When I left, I followed up the High Street what was possibly the oldest vehicle there, an 1896 Leon Bollée tricar. This two wheels at the front and one at the back tricycle was piloted by Jacqueline Bickerstaff, who I’ve recognised before at the Stony Stratford shows from my British Motorcyclist Federation days. The tricar is not a quick vehicle, but that's no surprise as it was first on the road when Queen Victoria was on the throne. I soon overtook her and left the town.

Stoke Goldington allotment

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