Classic Bike Guide
THE OTHER BSA UNIT SINGLES
Production of the C15 range continued until 1967, when the staid commuter and its mildly sporty SS80 stablemate was replaced by the altogether flashier C25 Barracuda.
The Barracuda was all-new, with a stiffer frame and a much more powerful big-fin engine producing a claimed 25bhp. This revved to 9000rpm with a 10:1 compression ratio piston, and was fitted with a ‘supersports’ camshaft and square alloy barrel with a valve clearance adjustment using elliptical cams, which was hard to set up and made the engine noisy. There was a very smart new fibreglass petrol tank, sculpted fibreglass side panels and a humped seat. It was a worthy rival to the Japanese 250s then hitting the market.
The front forks were BSA’s own items and similar to those fitted to the company’s A-series ‘power egg’ twins. There was a big chrome Lucas headlight and an optimistic 120mph Smiths speedometer, Girling shocks with exposed springs at the back, and a QD rear wheel. The problem with the Barracuda was that BSA didn’t realise how hard a teenager could hammer a motorcycle, and some C25 bottom ends did fail under the strain.
The Barracuda lasted just a year before it was renamed the B25 Starfire. The bike had been known as the Barracuda in the USA as well, but Plymouth cars already had a Barracuda model.
The front brake went full width and the high compression piston was retained, though inexplicably BSA decided to drop the valve lifter that had made the C25 easier to start. The tank was changed to steel in 1969, and a Triumph-badged version with a different tank and exhaust was also available, as was a less hairy version with a lower compression piston called the Fleetstar, sold to police and messenger services.
In 1969, the 250 (and the 441) got an excellent full-width TLS front brake borrowed from Triumph’s 500 twins, and rubber gaiters replaced the steel fork shrouds. The 1969/70 Starfire was as good as it got for a British 250, with modifications to the engine breathing helping with oil retention at high revs.
The Starfire was replaced in 1971 by the B25SS (Street Scrambler) with conical brake hubs and an oil-in-frame design.
The B25SS was also sold as a Triumph 250 with a slightly different petrol tank. The roadster version, the Gold Star, got a big conical hub brake in the UK but the off-road version – dubbed the Victor 250 – got a smaller brake, derived from one designed by motocrosser John Banks.
It’s an indication of the chaos at BSA-Triumph in 1971 that the advertising literature for the BSA range used a picture of a B25SS on the front cover with 500 Gold Star SS side panels.