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Bike Review - Posted 10th June 2016
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BSA Lightweights: Beagle and Dandy

Richard Jones recently enjoyed an afternoon with the BSA Owners' Club at their open day. Small capacity machines were the theme of the weekend, meaning Bantams were much in evidence. But Richard found some other BSA lightweights, too...

The Beagle was one of several attempts by BSA to break into the flyweight market, in this instance with one of the other companies in the BSA group, Ariel. However whilst the ill-fated Ariel Pixie shared many engine component parts with the Beagle, fortunately for the BSA model their appearance could be described as radically different. The Beagle had a 75cc four-stroke ohv engine, unusual only in that the primary drive was by gears, which was mated to a four-speed unit gearbox.

BSA Lightweights: Beagle and Dandy

All of the above was suspended from a pressed steel frame featuring leading link forks at the front and a pivoted fork rear suspension. The deeply valanced mudguards, small tank and single seat made the Beagle look like a conventional motorcycle of the day, unlike its futuristic Pixie sibling, which may have explained its relative popularity to Ariel’s doomed offering. It stayed in production for about 18 months between 1964-1965 before disappearing the way of all things.

BSA Lightweights: Beagle and Dandy

This example was awarded the winner’s rosette for the small capacity class. Perhaps the judges were influenced by the addition of a diminutive Watsonian sidecar? What the extra load does to with Beagle’s claimed 5.5hp, 49mph performance would be interesting to know. The Royal Red and Ivory colour scheme would suggest that this one dates from 1965 and if you’re into flyweight motorcycles this may be one for you.

Second prize was awarded to this Dandy, another of BSA’s forays into the flyweight market but which survived with a longer production run from 1957 to 1962. First shown to the public at Earls Court in 1955, the Dandy was described as a ‘scooterette’ and appeared alongside BSA’s scooter, the Beeza. The frame was typical of mopeds with its pressed steel, step-through frame, pressed steel forks and rear pivoted fork, the latter element being formed as one unit with the engine and transmission.

BSA Lightweights: Beagle and Dandy

The 70cc two-stroke engine had its head and barrel forming part of the right rear fork leg with an extension bolted to the head studs to reach back to the wheel spindle resulting in a horizontal cylinder. The two-speed gearbox featured a pre-selector device operated from a handlebar-mounted lever although it was not as easy to use as the more effective twistgrip change employed by other mopeds and scooters. 1957 saw them on sale to the public and the following year saw revisions to the gear change, the stand and the rear brake but then all stayed the same except for colour changes until 1962 when it was dropped, apparently unmourned by the trade and public alike.

BSA Lightweights: Beagle and Dandy
BSA Lightweights (Maybe) on Now...

The Dandy had been introduced very swiftly to compete with the likes of the more popular NSU Quickly. As Bert Hopwood said, BSA managers “felt they (the Dandy and the Beagle) should be marketed as quickly as possible and certainly long before any real work had been carried out to assess their acceptability.”

BSA Lightweights: Beagle and Dandy

The Beagle and Dandy are obviously more than acceptable these days – they beat a Bantam into third place!

The BSAOC run many local and national events throughout the year which welcome BSA enthusiasts. See www.bsaownersclub.co.uk for the next dates

BSA Lightweights: Beagle and Dandy


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