Is This Motorbike Cursed? A BSA B50 Story

Story and Photographs by new Contributor Scott Rook

I had needed a BSA B50 for a few years. They have been the ultimate distillation of BSA’s unit singles that received World MX Grand Prix championships with Jeff Smith within the Sixties and have been the final aggressive manufacturing unit 4 stroke MX bikes within the early Nineteen Seventies. CCM and Cheney constructed particular framed purpose-built racers across the B50 engine that saved them aggressive into the mid and late Nineteen Seventies. The B50 additionally had the weirdest and probably the most superbly formed alloy fuel tanks ever conceived for a motorbike. It wasn’t precisely spherical nevertheless it wasn’t rectangular both. It was dubbed the lozenge. Triumphs had Pear formed tanks and Harley had Tear Dropped tanks, BSA got here out with a cough-drop formed tank. The B50 was additionally acknowledged as one of many final nice British singles in a protracted line of bikes that stretched again to the early teenagers and twenties. British singles received Grand Prix Championships with nice riders like Geoff Duke and John Surtees. Names like Comet, Manx, Goldstar, Venom, Thruxton and Victor have been all nice British singles. The B50 additionally carried out admirably in street racing and endurance racing, typically bettering bigger displacement bikes. I needed a chunk of that heritage.

The BSA D/R Package turned a inventory B25 or B50 right into a Dick Mann accepted filth racer. Not that Dick ever rode one professionally… [Scott Rook collection]

BSA provided the B50 in three completely different flavors, the SS or avenue scrambler model, the T or Victor Path for mild off-road responsibility, and the naked bones MX for critical off-road use solely. There have been traits that I preferred of every model of the B50. The SS mannequin had the bigger 8-inch entrance Conical drum brake. The T had a 2-gallon polished alloy tank in comparison with the SS’ metal one. The MX had the one seat and polished stainless fenders. Later MX bikes had a one into two exhaust on the suitable aspect of the machine that seemed just like the desert sleds of On Any Sunday. The varied B50s additionally had some warts. The street going bikes had an unpleasant electrical field underneath the fuel tank meant to be simply disconnected for off street use. In addition they had an enormous rectangular formed muffler that dominated the suitable aspect of the machine in addition to the hideous Lucas headlight and taillight that BSA / Triumph utilized in 1971-72. The B50 I needed was one thing that BSA referred to as the D/R package. This was a package that sellers might purchase to show an SS or T model right into a critical off roader. It had alloy levers, an MCM spark arrestor muffler that seemed extra just like the 60s Victors had, an MX single seat and a capacitor to exchange your heavy battery. BSA claimed that Dick “Bugsy” Mann accepted of the D/R package. If it was ok for Bugs then it was actually ok for me.

The BSA B50 as found and bought within the Fall of 2017 by Scott Rook. Not very good, however inexpensive, with good bones. [Scott Rook]

B50s hardly come up on the market in western New York. There was the odd B25 on the market on craigslist through the years, however I needed the massive bike. There occurred to be a B50 on the market about 3 hours drive from my home at a time once I had some more money to not solely purchase the bike, however do it like I needed. I made the journey with sufficient cash to purchase it at full value however negotiated it right down to an inexpensive quantity. My son got here with me, and we listened to the Led Zeppelin field set for the 6 hour spherical journey. I trailered it dwelling and christened the bike “Hammer of the Gods” in honor of our journey to go get it. I had visions of using the bike on the street to the closest filth path after which effortlessly transitioning into woods using. An enormous smile on my face your complete time. The bike was brown, and I most likely ought to have referred to as it the rolling turd as a substitute.

The rebuild began instantly. The night time I introduced it dwelling, I took it for a fast run across the block after which began taking off all of the stuff that had been finished to it through the years. Inside a couple of days the engine was out and the body was getting stripped for powder coat. We’ve got lengthy winters in western New York which turns into rebuild season. The aim was to have my Dick Mann accepted BSA B50 D/R prepared for spring. I despatched the engine to the foremost rebuilder of B50s within the U.S. Ed Valiket of EV Engineering. Every thing else I might rebuild myself. Rebuild season is a time of hope and optimism. All of the elements you could have gathered begin to come collectively to type this factor that has solely existed in your mind for years. Winter turned to spring after which summer time. The B50 wasn’t prepared. The engine was nonetheless in one other state as was the alloy fuel tank that I had despatched out to have the dents eliminated. By August all the things had arrived and the drive to finish the bike was in full swing. I took it out for its maiden voyage on August 2, 2018. The bike wasn’t completed however the one issues left to do have been extra beauty than practical.

Bummer. The curse begins within the Summer season of 2018 with a flat tire on the primary shakedown trip in Eden, NY. [Scott Rook]