BSA Bantam 125, the utility cock inherited from Germany
BSA Bantam 125, the utility cock inherited from Germany
Anonim

Today we are going to take a trip to the past of these that I like so much. Specifically, we are going to investigate a little about the history of the BSA Bantam, a motorcycle that after World War II motorized a good part of Europe, just the part that was not on Vespa. Of course, behind this best-seller, of which according to some sources almost half a million units were manufactured, hides a history of reverse engineering and spoils of war on the part of the victors.

First of all we have to take a look at DKW, a German brand that in the thirties of the twentieth century, which dominated the competitions of the time with its powerful 250 cc twin-cylinder engines and supercharger. As a result of all this technology and an excellent racing department, at the beginning of the 1930s, it presented a 123 cc motorcycle with a single-cylinder two-stroke engine and a three-speed gearbox integrated into the crankcase. The DKW RT125.

DKW RT125

The simplicity of design and its effectiveness soon caught the attention of the German army (which was preparing for World War II) and it was immediately adopted as the Wehrmacht postal service motorcycle. Sharing a garage with the BMWs that have become so famous over time.

Of course, since the Germans lost World War II, the British Army laid hands on all the technology it could find, and among that technology were drawings of the DKW RT125. The North American army took the aeronautical engineers who would later take man to the moon. The Russians also took some crumbs of German technology. But let's go back to England, to BSA and to the blueprints for this new bike.

At the end of WWII BSA (Birmingham Small Arms) had to reconvert the military effort it had made to date by manufacturing weapons and bicycles to launch alongside paratroopers. Although during the war the company had not been sitting on its laurels, since in 1943 it acquired Ariel and in 1944 Sunbeam (both motorcycle brands) These moves had made them the leading British industry. So I imagine that when the military arrived back in Britain with the loot captured from Nazi Germany, the BSA bosses took a look at the DKW blueprints and quickly got down to business.

BSA Bantam D3

As in Germany, the motorcycle was quickly accepted into the British postal service (thus ensuring a good market). Among the citizens, the BSA Bantam D1 (so it was called) more than anything because it was a simple motorcycle, easy to maintain and relatively cheap when compared to the four-stroke monsters that other British brands made. For £ 60 you could get one of these BSA, which was roughly the salary of two months of work.

In the fifties displacement increased to 150 cc and finally to 175 cc. At the end of the sixties came the gearbox with four speeds. The chassis also evolved over time, going from the original rigid chassis to plunger-type shocks without swingarm, to the conventional swingarm with shock absorbers.

At this time the DKW RT125 was also made in the USA, under the brand name Harley davidson. In the USSR it was manufactured under the name of Moskva and in Japan the Yamaha YAI (red dragon) made after the war bore a striking resemblance to this bike. Even in the East Germany the DKW continued to be manufactured under the brand IFA and with the prevailing industrial manufacturing standards behind the Iron Curtain.

BSA Bantam D7

Believe it or not, the model was updated until production ceased in 1971. At which point some sources say that 250,000 units had been manufactured and others speak of 500,000. Be that as it may, the BSA Bantam earned its place in the history of motorcycles that launched Europe after the war. Let's see how many motorcycles are able to stay in production for more than thirty years with a few (few) mechanical updates.

Here are a couple of videos to give you an idea of ​​how one goes BSA Bantam.

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