Wednesday, April 4, 2012

My Dads BSA

When I was born my old man worked at a place called the Scooter Shop on Wandsworth Bridge Road in London as a mechanic. A mate of his owned it. Our sole means of transport was a Vespa with a sidecar. When he wasn't commuting on it I would sit on my mums lap in the chair and dad rode us all over the place. It was the early sixties and we lived in a flat on Ladbroke Grove right opposite the Elgin pub. Fast forward a few years and the old man got hold of a fairly stock BSA from his brother, Keith who was a bike nut. Keith had all these old wooden 2 and 3 person fully enclosed sidecars down the side of his house that me and my brother used to play in. Sometime around 1969 or '70 dad went up west and saw the film we all know and love, Easy Rider. Pretty much as soon as he got home he started changing up the bike, over the course of the next few weeks it ended up looking like the glorious machine you see in the photo. He used to take me to school on it, I loved leaning back on that seat and feeling the wind in my face and hair, no helmet law in the UK back then. This is the only picture he ever took of it, it's on slide film and I have had it safely in my possession for over 30 years. I have taken it everywhere with me and have now finally managed to get it scanned. The bike got stolen not long after the photo was taken. Ladbroke Grove was well dodgy in those days. That broke my heart. Life got in the way, wife, kids, work, money and he didn't get another bike again for many years until in his 50's when he owned a 650 Honda Nighthawk, but that's another story. I don't know what model BSA it was, an A10 or 7 it looks like, that was the working mans bike in the '60's. Unfortunately dad is not around to ask as he passed away a few years back. I did ask him once or twice while he was still with us but he couldn't remember. "Just an old BSA" he would say. What I love is that while craftsmen were building amazing rigid frame, long fork, crazy paint choppers your average man on the street had not the skills, time nor money to do the same, yet they all wanted to be Peter Fonda. Most custom bikes, especially in the UK, looked like this. Change the seat, handlebars, petrol tank, pipes and headlight. Fit a sissybar and a long arse mirror and Bobs you uncle, a chopper. And all done on the pavement outside your flat with a few tools bought from Woolworths. Brilliant. Some things never change thank god.

Now, fast forward again but this time by about 42 years to a sunny morning outside Tri Co recently and Cory pulls up on this time warp, as found fantastic Honda 750 four. It stopped me in my tracks, bought a tear to my eye and a lump to my throat.
Coming soon.



  1. Excellent story, Matt. When I was growing up my Dad had a few old Kawasakis, (they're old to me, new to him) and then a late 80s FZ1. Now every time I see one, I think of those days. He sold it and started restoring cars, and didn't own a bike again until I was 18, when he bought a 52 K Model to restore. Fast forward to now, and he's on your typical old man full dresser Harley. But his eyes light up when I shop up with my old Hondas.....

  2. Excellent story Matt.
    I hope to see you at soon my friend

  3. Sweet story, makes me happy.