The Classic Motorcycle

BSA Beaver


Last but certainly not least, I sketched this BSA Beaver. I'd never seen this model before and it certainly was enough of a curiosity to me that I had to get it into the sketchbook. In 1978 Norton Villers Triumph (NVT) sold off the BSA name which it had acquired in 1972 when the original Small Heath concern ceased to be. The name was bought by Bertie Goodman, famous for his Velocette connection­s, who set up with Bill Colquhoun to revive the BSA name in Coventry. Together they imported Italian lightweigh­t machines and branded them ‘BSA.’ Three models were produced; the Beaver, Brigand and GT50, the latter being a trials styled machine. The target market was the young learner or commuter – however, going into the 1980s, the generation that grew up on Japanese 50cc 'Fizzies' and the like where now in the market for bigger motorcycle­s. On top of this Honda had cornered the small capacity commuter market with their reliable, small capacity machines. With all this against them, the revival of the BSA brand only lasted a couple of years and finding a survivor these days is rather rare. Despite the short-lived nature of the brand, the late BSAs were quite capable due to their Italian roots. This humble 50cc twostroke is made up of a plethora of Italian parts; most notable is the Franco Morini UC4 engine, a tried and tested power source. This was mounted in a good, lightweigh­t duplex frame, which incorporat­ed a cantilever rear fork with fully adjustable suspension. The forks were Paoli and all the lighting and switchgear were neat, little Italian components The Beaver – like the By-Van, Joybike and W1 – despite its decent specificat­ions, is another example of a business venture that didn't quite reach the hopedfor sales. Either these machines were too late to the party, or just too odd to appeal to the masses. This was my theme for the weekend – motorcycle­s that didn't make it to the big time.

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