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Bike Profile - Posted 4th May 2010

BSA A10
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Although the price of many classic bikes has risen through the ceiling recently, it is still possible to purchase a British 650 twin for something like sensible money. Just to prove it, here are two pre-unit Beesas we fell over last weekend...

The A10 was launched at the end of the 1940s so BSA could start a new decade with a new 650 twin. They revised their 500cc A7 engine, giving the new motor dimensions of 70mm by 84mm for 646cc. Designer Bert Hopwood took the opportunity to tweak various aspects of the motor - incorporating the rocker box into a single-piece, light alloy casting, for example. The new A10 kept the basic parallel twin layout with a 360-degree crankshaft and single camshaft at the rear of the cylinder block. The four-speed gearbox bolted directly to the crankcase.

Beige Flash doesn't have quite the same ring to it... BSA A10 - 1953

Initially the A10 was available with tele forks and a rigid rear end, although plunger rear suspension followed quite soon for 1951. The metallic beige colouring of the early A10s gave the model its popular name - the Golden Flash - which had positive connotations for anyone familiar with the legend of the BSA Gold Star. The A10 was altogether a more workaday model than its glamorous single-cylinder sporting counterpart, but it proved to be one of BSA's best-loved motorcycles in the long run.

That path needs weeding. BSA A10 - 1953

The specification was gradually improved throughout the years with a swinging-arm, all welded twin down-tube chassis arriving in 1954. Production continued through to 1962 when the A10 was replaced by the unit construction A65. A standard A10 outputs between 35 and 39bhp, although its low-rev torque delivery was more important to most riders than any notion of ultimate top speed. If it really matters, an A10 was certainly capable of exceeding 90mph, but what's more important was its ability to cruise in complete comfort at 60mph all day long. The plunger Flash made an excellent sidecar tug, while the swinging arm version steered better (and some would say was the more handsome machine).

BSA's drawing board could only do perpendicular. BSA A10 - 1953

The Bonhams auction at the Stafford Show in April 2010 featured two such machines, and while the bidding for pre-war and prestigious classics went sky high we were pleased to see that these A10s sold at affordable prices. One of these was a 1953 example, previously owned by just one person. This bike was purchased new from Godfreys of Croydon by the current owner: a long-time member of the Sunbeam Motor Cycle Club and member of the RAC/ACU Training Scheme from 1960-1986.

You can see one of the Red Arrows' aircraft reflected in the tank panel. BSA A10 - 1953
A10 stuff on Right Now......

The A10 came with its original order form, bill of sale and first logbook, while other documentation on file includes a programme and list of entrants for the 1955 Rallye de Paris, the first major trip it undertook. Usefully for an owner who'd like to ride it, the BSA service manual, service sheets, parts list and lubrication chart were also included in the sale along with a Craven top box.

Note ammetere carefully site so as not to distract the rider. BSA A10 - 1953 - Smiths Chronometric Speedometer

The BSA has covered approximately 45,000 miles and was restored in the 1990s, while more recently (in 2001) the crankshaft and bottom-end bearings were replaced. It was last taxed to the end of July 2002, and came with current V5C. The listing suggested that this A10 was an excellent candidate for restoration and, indeed, you would be something of an optimist if you thought it could take to the road immediately after an eight year lay-up. However, we reckon that some gentle mechanical fettling would get this old warrior back in action without too much expense, which makes its sale price of £3200 seem very reasonable.

Now *that's* a tidy path. BSA A10 - 1954

The other A10 which caught out attention was a 1954 swinging arm example. It had been purchased some years ago at the Netley Eurojumble as a rebuild project. As part of the refurb it was given a non-standard twin leading shoe front brake - a very useful modification for riding in modern traffic - although the original wheel and brake plate came with the sale so the new owner could return it to standard if desired. This A10 also came with the usual docs plus invoices gathered during the rebuild. It 'proved easy to start and it runs as nicely as it looks' which explains why someone was very happy to pay under £3700 for it.

These two bikes demonstrate that although the prices of classic and vintage motorcycles have risen dramatically in recent years, it is still possible to find roadgoing machines which won't break the bank and which are suitable for long distance or high speed travel. So if you're thinking of buying your first classic bike on a budget, and have been wondering if you're restricted to 125 two-strokes or 250 singles and such - the answer is to keep on looking, and be ready to bid…

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The next Bonhams Auction is in June 2010, in association with the VMCC's Banbury Run. See www.bonhams.com


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