BSA Bringing Again Bantam, Lightning, and Thunderbolt Names

Indian-owned BSA, having already revived the Gold Star name, now has plans to bring back Bantam, Lightning, and Thunderbolt.

Indian-owned BSA, having already revived the Gold Star identify, now has plans to deliver again Bantam, Lightning, and Thunderbolt. (BSA/)

Final yr noticed the return of BSA as a motorbike producer after many years of slumber as its Indian homeowners, Mahindra, intention to get a slice of the success that rival Royal Enfield has loved.

India’s bike manufacturers, together with Mahindra, Hero, and Bajaj, are all concentrating on that middleweight, retro-style market that was Royal Enfield’s territory—additionally underneath Indian possession for many years—following a pointy upturn in Enfield’s fortunes each in India and globally. Hero has tied itself to Harley-Davidson and can launch its first H-D branded machine this yr. Bajaj has the same association with Triumph, and is predicted to launch a spread of Triumph-badged singles in 2023. Mahinda, in the meantime, has purchased a number of previous manufacturers, together with Jawa and BSA, and already launched fashions bearing these names.

BSA, now owned by Indian firm Mahindra, released the Gold Star in 2022.

BSA, now owned by Indian agency Mahindra, launched the Gold Star in 2022. (BSA/)

We have been pleasantly shocked by the primary BSA-branded providing, the Gold Star, after we rode it final yr. Packing a 652cc single that may hint its roots to the Rotax single that when powered BMW’s F650—though you’d battle to inform, given the retro-style, finned castings on the BSA’s cylinder and head that endow it with a convincingly old-school allure. Now it seems to be like the corporate has its eye on additional fashions, having utilized for trademark rights on a trio of basic BSA mannequin names.

<i>Cycle World</i> tested the BSA Lightning in 1968.

<i>Cycle World</i> examined the BSA Lightning in 1968. (Cycle World Archives/)

The trademark functions, made within the US, Australia, and New Zealand, cowl the titles “Lightning,” “Thunderbolt,” and “Bantam.” If granted, they’ll permit these badges for use on future BSA fashions, mimicking the lineup from the model’s postwar heyday interval. The US trademark functions specifically are fascinating, as current laws adjustments have restricted the scope for manufacturers to carry emblems on names they don’t use; candidates are solely meant to use for defense of emblems they’re genuinely planning to make use of within the close to future.

If BSA’s newest iteration retains true to the corporate’s heritage, then the Lightning and Thunderbolt names (most lately utilized by Buell, however these emblems having since lapsed), will probably be destined for twin-cylinder bikes. Within the Sixties, each have been 650cc twins, nevertheless it’s unclear what course Mahindra will take with the names sooner or later. Sticking to 650cc and two cylinders would rival Royal Enfield’s INT650 and Continental GT, in addition to the brand new Meteor 650, however BSA’s present Gold Star already fulfills that position to a big extent, regardless of being a single. The opposite possibility may be to maneuver up a capability class, creating twins to rival Triumph’s Bonneville vary, simply as the unique Thunderbolt and Lightning did. The Bonnie, additionally a 650 within the ‘60s, now sits within the 900cc to 1,200cc class.

BSA plans to bring back the Bantam.

BSA plans to deliver again the Bantam. (Cycle World Archives/)

BSA’s different trademark utility, Bantam, is clearly for a smaller-capacity machine. Since Mahindra additionally owns Jawa and its associated Yezdi model, promoting an array of retro-style bikes constructed round a 334cc four-stroke single, it could be a comparatively easy job to make use of the identical elements in a BSA-branded mannequin. The unique BSA Bantam was, in spite of everything, a reworked DKW two-stroke, constructed from designs awarded to the British agency as reparations after World Conflict II, so such platform sharing could be fairly logical.

BSA has but to broaden gross sales to the US, though its trademark functions make it very clear that it intends to take action. Within the UK, the place the Gold Star has lately come onstream, its preliminary gross sales are promising, with 253 examples offered in March 2023 to be the bestselling retro bike of the month, and shut behind outright high sellers like the brand new Honda CB750 Hornet (271 gross sales) and the outright primary, BMW’s R 1250 GS Journey (364 gross sales).