Sunday, July 7, 2013


PART II of the 40th Annual BRITTIRALLI from

PART I can be read HERE.


Birmingham Small Arms.

In 1863 in the Birmingham area, Small Heath to be exact, some 14 gun makers , members of the Birmingham Small Arms Trade, got together and merged themselves into Birmingham Small Arms and what came to be known as BSA.
From 1881, BSA started to produce bicycles since gun demand had declined, and naturally this evolved into producing a motorized bicycle, an experimental one, in 1903. For that model, they used a Belgian 233cc Minerva engine, but before the end of the decade BSA were producing their own machines.

Advertisement circa 1885. 
At that time in England, £17 pounds was the rough equivalent of about US$600 in todays money.

 BSA Goldstar.

Originally sold as reliable alternatives to cars, BSA was popular among fleet buyers with the company claiming "one in four was a BSA".
In 1921 BSA pulled it's motorcycles off the race track after a couple of seasons of embarrassing failures, the circuit being used by manufactures of the day as proof of concept.
Then, in 1937, BSA created an experimental one-off prototype, and legendary racer Wal Handly was coaxed out of retirement to ride the bike at the infamous and difficult Brooklands track.
Handly won the race with his fastest time of 107.57 mph and  was presented with the traditional gold star pin given to the elite few who managed to lap the Brooklands circut in excess of 100 mph, the inspiration for the production of the BSA Gold Star.
After the race, designer Val Page went to work designing what would become the M24 Gold Star, a 500cc single cylinder capable of 90 mph and one of the first true super bikes of it's era.

 BSA Thunderbolt with a Joe Hunt Magneto kit.

The BSA Thunderbolt was made between 1964 and 1972 in the BSA factory in Armoury Road in Small Heath, Birmingham, EnglandAt it's peak, BSA was the largest motorcycle producer in the world, not because they were making millions of BSA's but by virtue of the fact that in 1951 they acquired Triumph Motorcycles. By 1970 the end was near and BSA motorcycle production stopped for good in 1973.

Another BSA Thunderbolt.

"Start dammitt".

"This fucking bitch".....said Jussi, as he was explaining just what a pain in the ass his BSA was, and just how much he loves her too. I don't think there's any amount of money that would buy this bike from him.
He bought his BSA Gold Star new back in 1956 to race in motocross. He's been coming to the Brittiralli ever since on it.

Jussi and Janina Froberg......

...who was awarded the trophy at last years Brittiralli.

"Brittihenkisen mies ja pyörâ-yhdistelmä"
A combination of British intellectual man and a bike.

A nicely restored BSA Victor 500 Scrambler.

And a sweet little BSA B50 Gold Star 500 SS (Street Scrambler).
Introduced in 1971, there were 3 versions of the B50, the B50 SS (above), the B50 T (Trail) and the B50 MX (Motocross). They were all powered by the same engine, a 34bhp OHV Single with a 10:1 comp ratio.

A lovely 1930-something BSA S31 Sloper, a 493cc OHV with twin-port cylinder head.

Not quite sure about this one, but it looks like an R17, a 3.48hp OHV.

 1939 BSA Silver Star.

A Royal Enfield J2.

Royal Enfield Interceptor.

File under "Unknown" or "Caution, Not For Human Comsumption".
Maybe if Ural owners put this in the tank instead of regular gas the bikes might run better and be more reliable. It can't make them run any worse then they already do.

Royal Enfield Constellation.

A Royal Enfield Bullet.
Introduced in 1931 as a four-stroke single cylinder, this model was the first to feature the Bullet name. I was hoping I might see a Fritz Egli "Super Bullet", but unfortunately, no one came to the rally with one.

A nice 1955 Matchless G80, looks like it could be a CS or "long stroke" version, a 498cc single produced from 1951 through 1955.

Karu MC president Heikki Mäntiniemi (r) and friend.

A man who likes Leopard print one-piece's?.
 Or a woman who rides a Norton Dominator Café?.
Or a man who rides a Norton Dominator who.....ohh, never mind.

Norton 750 Commando S.

A really peachy Norton Commando Café.

Norton Dominator Café.

Norton Dominator and Triumph Thruxton.

Norton Commando.

Norton Dominator.

The Brittiralli Norton and a Hesketh V1000.

The Hesketh, formed in 1980 by Alexander, 3rd Lord Hesketh, then went bust but the marque was maintained by Broom Engineering. Lord hesketh had a background in F1, being the last private team to win a Formula 1 Grand Prix, with James Hunt at the Wheel. The Hesketh V1000 was the first British bike with four valves per cylinder and twin overhead camshafts.

The Hesketh has gone through a series of convoluted dealings and sales, but today they are back in business.

Jussi and his new 2013 Norton 961 Commando.
Jussi came to the first Brittiralli in 1973 with a brand new Norton.  
For the 40th Anniversary of the Brittiralli and his 40th time coming to it he decided to treat himself to the new Norton.

An A.J. Stevens or AJS motorcycle.

AJS cars and motorcycles were made in Wolverhampton, England, by A.J.Stevens & Co. Ltd from 1909 to 1931. The firm was sold but the name continued to be used by Matchless, Associated motorcycles and norton-Villiers until 1969, and since the names re-sale in 1974, it continues to be used on two-stroke scramblers and some smaller capacity roadsters and cruisers.

Ariel, the original company, was started in 1870 by James Starley and William Hillman to make bicycles. The Ariel name came from the first "Penny Farthing" bicycle made, which was so light they called it the Ariel " spirit of the air". 
The first Ariel motorcycle was produced in 1902, and between the war and number of takeovers it all resulted in the 1930's of the first Ariel Square Four, designed by who else but Edward Turner. The Ariel Square Four is an air-cooled 4-cylinder unit with the pistons arranged into a square with 2 crankshafts geared to each other and is one of the most beautiful engines ever fitted to a motorcycle.

A nice Velocette, looks like a 1936 Sport.

There were 2 other bikes at the 40th Brittiralli that I shot that are not going to be included in this post. They're just too damn cool and between the 2 of them, would add another 40+ pictures to this article.

The first was this 1928 Raleigh, mostly all original. The story of how I got to meet the owner is a doozy. I have over 35 photos of this bike alone.

And the second was this lovely Ariel that does not have an Ariel engine. In fact, only the frame is Ariel, the rest is "other".
Any guesses on the engine and the tank before the next article comes out?. 
I'll shoot off a couple of sets of decals and postcards to the first couple of correct answers.

Meanwhile back in Rovaniemi Finland......

....Karu MC are having their 30th Anniversary Poronpurijaiset as we speak and I write, their annual club party that is legendary in Finland amongst bikers as THE best Biker Rally to go to in the year. I even met a guy who came all the way from Tasmania to be here just for this event.A full report on the event is coming in the next post on

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1 comment:

Charlie6 said...

Great pictures of Brit Iron and their riders....thanks Murph!