Mick ‘Bon­key’ Bow­ers

As we have al­ready stated, it’s quite ironic that Eric Bow­ers took de­liv­ery of the first ever BSA Ban­tam that came off the pro­duc­tion line in 1948 that his son Mick would be so heav­ily in­volved with in 1967.

Classic Trial - - MICRO MACHINE BSA BANTAM - Words: John Hulme with Mick Bow­ers • Pic­tures: Brian Holder, Mal­colm Car­ling and Yoomee Ar­chive

Bon­key

His early years were cen­tred on his fa­ther Eric’s bustling motorcycle deal­er­ship in Chapel-en-le Frith in the Peak District. Eric was a well-known motorcycle dealer and race spon­sor, win­ning the 1952 Club­man’s Ju­nior TT with Eric Hous­ley. This vic­tory would bring with it the in­tro­duc­tion to a BSA deal­er­ship, and the likes of the late great John Har­tle would also be sup­ported. Mick’s ap­pren­tice­ship would be served at Royal En­field be­tween 1958 and 1965, where both tri­als and mo­tocross would be en­joyed and the nick name ‘Bon­key’ in­tro­duced. He had been rid­ing in a mo­tocross meet­ing near Pem­broke and took a few days’ hol­i­day in the area on a farm be­fore re­turn­ing home. He was work­ing on his Villiers Star­mak­er­pow­ered Royal En­field when a farmer bet him he could not jump over a land­fill hole — which he duly did; the farmer said he was Bonkers!

Mick started work as a De­vel­op­ment En­gi­neer at Birm­ing­ham Small Arms in their Red­ditch base in the Mid­lands in 1965. Un­der the eyes of Sep El­lis and Clive Ben­net, who were the man­agers, his first job was to work on Ariels. Sep and Clive had both worked with Sammy Miller on his Ariel. This lasted for just two weeks be­fore he had the in­ter­view to work on BSA ma­chines! Yes it re­ally was that crazy work­ing for them at the time, as I found out when I spent some time talk­ing to Mick about the tri­als project.

BSA Over­alls

His first job, now wear­ing BSA over­alls, was to build up the very first four-speed Ban­tam model gear­box. He was also good friends with two fel­low BSA em­ploy­ees, the Martin broth­ers Brian and Michael. Brian was the Com­pe­ti­tion Man­ager and Martin an En­gi­neer. His ini­tial work in 1966 would see him heav­ily in­volved with the de­vel­op­ment of the BSA Ban­tam D14/4 model be­fore he would move on to look­ing af­ter the press fleet of ma­chines.

Both Sep El­lis and Clive Ben­nett were very good to Mick, of­fer­ing him help and en­cour­age­ment de­spite the mighty em­pire that was BSA slowly fall­ing apart be­fore their very eyes. Mick still re­flects on the happy times rid­ing ma­chines built in a once mighty and

proud Great Bri­tain man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­ity which brought with it suc­cess for him­self in both tri­als and mo­tocross on a va­ri­ety of ma­chines.

He left BSA on the 5th Novem­ber 1971. Over the fol­low­ing years he would still taste suc­cess in tri­als, mo­tocross and en­duro whilst also run­ning a suc­cess­ful off-road deal­er­ship un­til 1986 in the Mid­lands. He then re­turned to the coach busi­ness be­fore he re­tired. Mick can still be found on many week­ends rid­ing a motorcycle. Yes, as you have guessed, on a BSA spe­cial in tri­als!

1967 SSDT: Rid­ing up ‘Pipe­line’ at the end of a suc­cess­ful six days in Scot­land on the BSA Ban­tam.

2007 Reliance: I just won­der how many se­cret ‘mods’ are in­side this spe­cial BSA?

1968 Bem­rose: Mick was a reg­u­lar Class award win­ner on the 175 BSA Ban­tam tri­als pro­to­type, which he rode un­til 1971.

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