SwarfRat's 1964 BSA B-40 Restoration Project

Here's our second bike project, our BSA B-40.  These bikes were rather ubiquitous in the U.K. as inexpensive and extremely reliable transportation for many thousands of workingfolk.  (They also did quite a bit of duty as military bikes, and sidecar hacks for transporting the family!)  The torquey single-cylinder engine had a lot of pulling power right off the bottom-end, and with the lower compression ratio and milder cam and carb tuning, it would happily cruise all day long without complaint.

Nevertheless, the hopped-up Sports models won quite a bit in enduros, road-racing and trials events.  The engine had a lot of potential for its day.

Until the Japanese bike revolution, BSA laid claim to being the world's largest-selling brand of motorcycles.

It was our intention to include this sweet machine in our restoration DVD.

Sadly, copyright piracy has forced us to put that presentation on hold for the forseeable future.


This bike is now for sale on dBay. <sigh>


I'd wanted either a C-15 250 model, or the B-40 350 model as a good representative of a Brittish bike suitable for a demo project.

The B-40 is rarer on this side of the pond. That, coupled with the larger engine and a couple of other features that set it apart from its little brother sold me on it.



If you were a motorcyclist in the '60's this bike will undoubtedly bring back some memories.

In the mid-to-late '60's, my whole family was into off-road motorcycles.  My dad rode the C-15 version;   His brother-in-law rode a newer B44, known as the 441cc Victor model.  My mom rode a newer 250 BSA as did her sister, my brother had a 175 BSA Bantam, and I had a 500 Triumph, which I later traded for a 250 Greeves.  We obviously tended to favor the Brit Iron.  My brother and

cousin no longer ride off-road, but have Harley Road Kings, and enjoy

multi-state weekend rides. (scary.)

As I look back over all the bikes I can remember owning (something like 40, offhand) it seems at least a third were Brittish, and the rest mostly Japanese, with a scattering of Spanish, Italian and one lonely German/English hybrid - a 1974 ISDT Rickman Metisse Zundapp.

Of all my Brit bikes, only 2 weren't BSAs.


The little 'mushroom' behind the cylinder is a distributor-like platform for the points. This was done away with for the 1965 models, and so makes an easy identifier for roughly estimating the age of a unit-single BSA engine.

This distributor has a broken-off screw in the points cam.  Repairing it is going to be a fun project. (Not)

There are modern electronic ignition/lighting packages made for most post '65 Brit bikes, but

to the best of my knowledge, the older mushroom-distributor models are pretty much stuck with the standard Lucas (a.k.a. 'Prince of Darkness') ignition and lighting systems. 

All joking aside, Lucas parts, when properly set up and maintained, are up to the task, and really don't deserve their bad rep.

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