5,700kms on a B50 BSA in two weeks!

Old Bike Australasia - - OUT’N’ABOUT - Story & pho­tos Doug Fraser

I started rid­ing mo­tor­cy­cles with a mate Sav just over 50 years ago. A few years back he pur­chased a Suzuki DR650, popped in to see me and sug­gested I do the same so we could do a bit of out­back ad­ven­ture rid­ing as well as the usual road and trail rid­ing we were cur­rently en­joy­ing.

The idea crossed my mind for about two sec­onds and much to his dis­ap­point­ment I said ‘Stuff it, I’m go­ing to build the B50 I planned to build back in the early ‘80s when I col­lected most of the parts. Nine months later it was fin­ished and had com­pleted its first Red Plate En­duro.

We de­cided to leave af­ter the All Bri­tish Rally be­fore it be­came too cold, how­ever, our in­tended des­ti­na­tion, cen­tral Queens­land, was still flooded so a slight change was re­quired. Cameron Cor­ner sounded like a good idea, so one not-so-wet Mel­bourne morn­ing we de­parted and headed to the North-East of Vic­to­ria via ev­ery twisty road we could find. This in­cluded Reefton Spur, Eil­don-Jamieson, Mans­field­Tolmie then bush to Cheshunt for the first night and then bush to the Mur­ray and along the river to

How­long. From there it was ba­si­cally head North­West to Cameron Cor­ner via ev­ery mi­nor dirt road we could find, in­clud­ing a few we didn’t in­tend to travel on (read: lost). Cameron Cor­ner is one of a cou­ple of places in Aus­tralia where you can visit three states in less than five sec­onds by foot and, apart from the cor­ner store and a fun ride (the Dunes route), that’s about it. The bikes were run­ning well, our bod­ies were hold­ing up, so where to next? In­nam­incka sounded like a good idea. So off we went.

A fairly ca­sual day later found us there but still want­ing more. Birdsville was the next log­i­cal des­ti­na­tion but the flooded, fast mov­ing Cooper Creek meant a de­tour would be re­quired. This, how­ever, would stretch our fuel car­ry­ing ca­pac­ity to the limit. Sav had a 30L tank on his DR and I had 13L in the tank and five on the back (that’s the way I like trav­el­ling with him). Time for a change of plan: we headed South to Arka­roola in the Flin­ders ranges where we did a lap of the North and South ranges. Sav had sug­gested this and it seemed like a good idea to me so off we went. About a hun­dred km down the road it dawned to me that all our fuel con­sump­tion fig­ures were pred­i­cated on trav­el­ing North not South. It was as far to Arka­roola (the next fuel stop) as it was to take the de­tour to Birdsville. It was a long 450km and af­ter milk­ing Sav’s DR twice we just made it. I gladly paid $2.07 per litre.

The fol­low­ing day I en­coun­tered the one and only prob­lem I had with my bike; the bat­tery died – it in­ter­nally fell apart. Rough roads had taken their toll. No prob­lem: when I built the bike I kept the orig­i­nal Lu­cas Lay­out: Zen­ner, ca­pac­i­tor and points ig­ni­tion. Kick-start­ing, al­though a lit­tle awk­ward with 11 to 1 com­pres­sion as com­pared to the elec­tric start I’m used to, worked well. That was un­til my kick-start­ing foot slammed into a block of un­seen con­crete, re­sult­ing in one badly bruised foot; so it was off to Port Au­gusta for a new bat­tery and with a small mod to the wiring we were on our way again.

A few days later and many more dirt and twisty roads found us back home. All in all it was a great ride ...but I will ad­mit a warmer time of year would have been preferable.

Doug try­ing to find his billy for smoko. LEFT A cool start above Dan­don­gadale, north-east Vi­to­ria. ABOVE RIGHT A quick stop to top up the oil.

Sav hav­ing smoko in style.

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