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.
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.
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.