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advice old British motorcycle

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Ian Skeldon 206/07/2021 11:40:48
540 forum posts
54 photos

Hi,

I have a hankering to buy an old British motorbike, BSA, AJS, Triumph etc. The intention is to take it out for short runs on dry days, I would prefer it to be four stroke and it would be nice if I could stick the boss on the back. I have a full MC licence so capacity and cylinder count can be whatever.

I would definitely want something that has some spares available as I don't think for one minute that I could make dynamos etc should the need arise. I don't wish to sell body parts to fund it, so nothing over 5k.

What would your recommendation be and why?

Thank you,

Ian

Oily Rag06/07/2021 12:03:34
avatar
460 forum posts
147 photos

BSA B50 - unloved but a delight to ride and work on. Last of the line when it comes to British 4 stroke singles. Because they are not fancied you can pick up a decent bike for £3k or so. I've just sold one with 12 miles on from new - 1971 and it was taxed and registered back then but had a genuine delivery mileage on it. Wentfor a little more than £3k though.

Martin

A Smith06/07/2021 12:14:54
55 forum posts
4 photos

Triumph Unit 500 twin. Later the better. Excellent spares support from multiple sources. (Somewhat easier to kick over than a B50 - just sayin'

Old School06/07/2021 12:29:50
390 forum posts
39 photos

What about a new Indian made old British bike probably no spares required.

Oily Rag06/07/2021 12:52:37
avatar
460 forum posts
147 photos
Posted by A Smith on 06/07/2021 12:14:54:

Somewhat easier to kick over than a B50 - just sayin'

Wimp!!

Dave Halford06/07/2021 13:50:40
1671 forum posts
19 photos
Posted by A Smith on 06/07/2021 12:14:54:

Triumph Unit 500 twin. Later the better. Excellent spares support from multiple sources. (Somewhat easier to kick over than a B50 - just sayin'

Once you learn the Triumph kickstart jump.

br06/07/2021 13:53:59
697 forum posts
3 photos

My Norton Dominator with the featherbed frame suffered engine failure many moons ago,

My pal grafted in a Triumph 650cc twin engine and it worked well. Handling was superb.

Always wanted a Harley WLCR.

bill

Mick B106/07/2021 14:11:54
2005 forum posts
116 photos

I'd like a late-50s pre-unit BSA A10 650 like I had from 1971 - 75, with a decent single-seater sidecar.

Make sure you get a DA10-series engine - the earlier CA10 series had a thin flange on the barrels base and it was occasionally known to crack. Other engine-construction features were also weaker, but I think the later series resolved all of them.

old mart06/07/2021 14:13:55
3316 forum posts
203 photos

I,m with Old School, one of the 500cc Indian Enfields is worth a look, and has brakes that will actually stop you.

Steviegtr06/07/2021 14:24:52
avatar
2225 forum posts
311 photos
Posted by old mart on 06/07/2021 14:13:55:

I,m with Old School, one of the 500cc Indian Enfields is worth a look, and has brakes that will actually stop you.

+ the later ones have a electric start. Cheap to buy plenty of backup spares. 500 Bullet.

Steve.

Oily Rag06/07/2021 15:58:15
avatar
460 forum posts
147 photos

Must admit that when I was working in India I had a RE Continental GT - nice bike with superb handling with the Harris designed frame and Pirelli Phantom tyres. The new RE 'Contraceptor' twin looks a very nice bike and I have heard good reports on their handling and performance; some criticism about plastic mudguards cracking and wheel spokes (stainless) failing.

The RE GT did a respectable 60 MPG, the B50 will do better as it is a considerably lighter bike (I got around 70+ MPG from mine with 'spirited' riding). Possibly the most memorable bike I ever had was a Suzuki RG500 disc valve square 4 cyl configured 2 stroke, it regularly failed to do much more than 20 MPG and on one memorable occasion did less than 15 MPG. It was a real suicide machine with lightening quick acceleration and a handling quality best described as being in the 'laxative' bandwidth. It would get into a vicious 'tank slapper' if you touched cats eyes at anything above 90 mph, to which the only way to get out of was to accelerate more! Exciting bike but, with a weight of 350lbs and in excess of 120BHP it should be. It made the 500 / 750 Kawasaki H1 / H2 triples seem like leisurely touring bikes.

dscn2544 (2).jpg

The 1971 B50

brands 1986 classic championship (2).jpg

The factory B50 racer from 1968 - here shown at Brands Hatch in 1986 Classic Series race, 1st place with Dave Deegans 2nd on a 500 Manx framed Triton.

Martin

Steviegtr06/07/2021 16:42:59
avatar
2225 forum posts
311 photos
Posted by Ian Skeldon 2 on 06/07/2021 11:40:48:

Hi,

I have a hankering to buy an old British motorbike, BSA, AJS, Triumph etc. The intention is to take it out for short runs on dry days, I would prefer it to be four stroke and it would be nice if I could stick the boss on the back. I have a full MC licence so capacity and cylinder count can be whatever.

I would definitely want something that has some spares available as I don't think for one minute that I could make dynamos etc should the need arise. I don't wish to sell body parts to fund it, so nothing over 5k.

What would your recommendation be and why?

Thank you,

Ian

Ian, have a look in my albums. There is my old 1959 BSA B33 Clubmans. I also had a Triumph tiger 100S at that time. All sold now. Would i buy again. Only to look at.

Steve.

Steve.

bernard towers06/07/2021 16:54:37
275 forum posts
82 photos

Spares are available for most old brit bikes BSA, Norton,Triumph Velocette and AJS seem the best catered for. A lot of the spares are cottage industry made, there is a lot less cheap foreign parts about now, they have killed themselves off by their reputation. I myself make chronometric internals and have done for 30 years thought it would die off before me but now I'm not so sure. Lockdown passed me by as so many people got round to that bike that had bee in there for 20 plus years. personally i would recommend 12v electrics and electronic ignition.

bernard towers06/07/2021 16:55:29
275 forum posts
82 photos

Best of luck by the way you can't beat the grin factor.

Luker06/07/2021 17:16:06
avatar
66 forum posts
79 photos

Any late 50's twin cylinder. Parts are interchangeable for the most part, kick start easy and have that lovely sound that only a twin can produce.

My Ariel 650 has BSA heads and rockers…

JA06/07/2021 17:53:56
avatar
1217 forum posts
73 photos

img_0809a.jpg

Had it for nearly 50 years and still use it. Better and more reliable than the car next to it. The car has long since gone (three strikes and you are out).

JA

Before someone points it out - the original engine is fully built and is under a bench waiting to be fitted (for over 20 years).

Edited By JA on 06/07/2021 17:57:16

David George 106/07/2021 19:53:14
avatar
1638 forum posts
497 photos

Triumph 500 Daytona was solid and easy to ride. My one was reliable and most parts can be found. Here is a picture of my Dresda Susuki 500 from when I worked at Dresda and raced.

Dresda susuki 500.jpg

David

colin brannigan06/07/2021 22:22:26
104 forum posts
17 photos

I would love to ride this machine again but at seventy one the body won't let me so I just sit and look at it, but I do have other machines that I can ride and they still bring a big smile to my face,

p1030272.jpg

Robin Dufton07/07/2021 00:01:54
34 forum posts
10 photos

I've always liked the look of the Sunbeam S7 Deluxe for the American styling although they're over budget. £5k is a bit tight for a decent classic bike as even Noddy bikes are £2k. I have my well used RGV250 up for sale at the moment for £6k, and mint bikes are over £9k, as classic bikes prices are through the roof at the moment.

Steviegtr07/07/2021 00:08:01
avatar
2225 forum posts
311 photos
Posted by colin brannigan on 06/07/2021 22:22:26:

I would love to ride this machine again but at seventy one the body won't let me so I just sit and look at it, but I do have other machines that I can ride and they still bring a big smile to my face,

p1030272.jpg

Wow that is nice. Looks like the Alloy barrel engine too. Swept backs & Goldies. Lovely. Be proud. One comes to Squires cafe just like that sometimes.

Steve.

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