BSA Firebird Scrambler — Classic British Motorcycles — Motorcycle Classics

22 Апр 2015 | Author: | Комментарии к записи BSA Firebird Scrambler — Classic British Motorcycles — Motorcycle Classics отключены
BSA Prototype

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Years produced:

Total production:  Unknown

power:  52hp @ 7,000rpm

Top  105mph (est.)

Engine  654cc air-cooled parallel twin

(dry):  185kg (408lb)

Then:  $1,440

Price  $3,500-$5,500

Dual-sport bikes are new. By some accounts, BSA the category in 1965 with its 500cc A50 BSA Wasp and 650cc A65 BSA Three years later, the introduced the BSA Firebird Scrambler, its — and arguably best — variation on the

Trouble is, they forgot to it, and the Firebird stalled.

Every old has some history: sometimes benign, and sometimes it’s Sometimes the story is written in notes, title documents and bills. Sometimes it’s passed on from owner to — although many sellers to prefer saying as little as

Then there are the stories in the metal: the patina of worn from leathers rubbing on a gas rounded-off nuts attacked by wrenches; telltale boogers of oozing from a hastily primary cover. All these to the past indignities suffered by our old

Humble beginnings

Take Carpenter’s 1970 BSA Firebird for example. (I should confess up that I’m part of its history, I sold it to him.) I first saw the advertised in the local newspaper as a BSA Lightning “basket case.” the bike’s serial numbers, I tell it was a 1970 model but a 1972 engine in place.

The engine was also part of the and a quick look at the pieces the story. Punched in the back of the and primary was a three-finger-sized hole, the result of a snapped drive Likely, then, the old Beezer enjoyed the most fastidious program.

A good sprinkling of told of lengthy outside and the paint told another The original white headlight had been brushed black to tie in the hand-painted Lightning gas tank.

So there was the probable story: A chain had trashed the engine, and the owner had bought a 1972 parts bike and swapped out the The twist in the tale? He must fitted the Lightning’s gas tank, because the frame number revealed the bike’s true — A65FS — the designation for a Firebird

Birth of the ‘Bird

The A65 designation the Forgotten Firebird was built BSA’s unit-construction twin-cylinder engine introduced in 1962. The “square” dimensions of 75mm and 74mm … were in smooth, rounded casings to become known as the “power BSA steadily increased the performance of the new 650 around 34hp to a claimed in the twin-carburetor Lightning Clubman of A new, finned rocker was introduced in 1967, and this became the Firebird’s power

Street scramblers, as they called, were hot in the mid-Sixties: like the Honda CL77. T100C, TR6C and T120C, and the P11 were all designed to benefit the interest in offroad racing — few riders would ever take these heavy bikes into the desert. In a piece of marketing philosophy, BSA had street-scramblers in 1965: the 500cc A50 and 650cc A65 Hornet.

These stripped-down versions of the street and Lightning models with a of high- or low-level exhaust But BSA offered these heavy (though offroad styled) without lights or charging What were they

BSA Prototype

So when the Firebird 650 was launched in with both high and lighting, it was less a compromise a practical alternative to the Hornet, and it reasonably well. The 1968 sported the “peanut” fiberglass gas used on all twins that but with a 6in headlight instead of the 7in on the Lightning, and Cyclone-style waist-level pipes, one on either side.

grew even more in 1969 with the Firebird Triumph TR6-style pipes, high on the left and covered a “chicken wire” heat and a slender, single-braced front (A modern iteration of this system adorns the new Triumph All the 1969 twins used a fiberglass gas tank with sides.

For BSA’s 1970 the story gets a little and what happened next has to be put in the of BSA-Triumph’s fortunes at the time. A of issues came together to against the company. For starters, own marketing department had predicted a in motorcycle sales, leading to a in production when in fact the market (now taking than three-quarters of BSA’s was booming.

Further, a new computer-based production and parts ordering system had been installed and was proving leading to production delays. the factory was tooling up for the new P39 oil-in-frame planned for 1970. As a result of issues, BSA botched its marketing for the April-June sales season, more than 90 percent of sales are made.

Most books show the 1970 Firebird as essentially identical to the high pipes on the left, headlight and scalloped fiberglass gas But the Canadian sales brochure the Firebird with low “street” a fat chrome gas tank and double-braced (borrowed from the earlier model), and a lurid color of electric blue and white red pinstriping.

Firebirds were to other countries with the tank and high pipes, or the fiberglass tank and low pipes. It that every possible from the BSA parts bin was used at time, and the Firebird appears to been the “vehicle” for BSA to use up its stock of gas tanks, headers, mufflers and

BSA repeated its earlier production pas in 1971: The new A65 models, based on the P39 were late, and BSA missed the April-June sales season yet Barry Ryerson, in his book The of Small Heath, calls the “mechanics of failure” for BSA: U.S. sales seasons and a resulting cash-flow crisis to bankruptcy.

But when it finally arrived, the Firebird was one of BSA’s more offerings, reprising the 1969 left-side high-pipes. (Many the last two years’ BSA twins to be the Yet apart from a very brown and cream paint the rest was strictly Lightning, and the failed to reappear in BSA’s 1972 catalog.

By this the factory had taken considerable to reduce two major engine vibration and oil leaks. Quality and component selection improved, and faces were widened to sealing — but it was too late to save the BSA-Triumph was set to join with Poore’s Norton-Villiers company in a merger, but a mysterious run on BSA-Triumph allowed the sly Poore to snap up his at a rock-bottom price.

Poore’s major decision as owner of was to announce the closure of Triumph’s factory, initiating the famous of 1973. But that’s another for another time.

From the …

I can’t claim any credit for the Firebird’s present condition. turned the crusty, rusty case into the smart seen in these pages. And he the project isn’t complete The wheel rims would from re-chroming, the front hub use some paint and the mufflers are a tired.

But this version of the 1970 is so rare that it’s of study.

With no authentic, bike to use for reference, Gary cues for the paint scheme and designs from a 1970 BSA brochure, the latter reproduced by Art Store in Vancouver, British He found the correct gas tank at Engines in London, Ontario, and of the other parts Gary came from Motoparts in Alberta, and British Cycle in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

The is a fascinating piece of British history, reflecting the chaotic of the industry at the time. So is the Forgotten a factory custom, concept exercise or parts bin special? You MC

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