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Bike Profile - Posted 21st April 2009

BSA Spitfire Scrambler
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The A10 is one of those British classic bikes which suits almost every occasion, from long-distance touring to the daily commute. This is one of its more glamorous incarnations...

It's mildly ironic that some of the best British bikes from the original industry were created entirely with America in mind, and BSA's A10-powered Spitfire Scrambler is an excellent example of this effect. The American scrambles scene demanded a suitable off-roader, and BSA obliged by tweaking their standard 650 A10 twin engine and housing it in a 'lightweight' frame (which originally was also scarily similar to the road-going version). Handlesbars got bigger, mudguards got smaller, exhaust pipes got higher, and by 1959 the model got a suitably butch designation: the Spitfire Scrambler.

Steve Wilson tells the entire story in the May 2009 issue of the magazine, and finds one of the few original Spitfire Scramblers left intact, but here's another one which popped out of the woodwork (just like buses, they come in pairs…)

Front mudguard spoils the lines for me... BSA Spitfire Scrambler

The problem with an absolutely pure Spitfire Scrambler is that it's darned hard to use in real life. If you want to ride a bike like this on modern roads for more than high days and holidays then little things like lights come in handy. It helps if you can hear yourself think, too! So when Mike at Lyford Classic Services began rebuilding his own Scrambler he made the decision to make it as user-friendly as possible while retaining the essential charisma of the Spitfire's unique character.

Lyford develop and supply an array of 1800-plus components for pre-unit BSA twins and singles, and many of these spares are designed in-house and manufactured exclusively for them.

Mike was able to test some of his new ideas on the Spitfire and has used it to showcase a selection of Lyford's special parts - so if there's something on the bike which you like the look of then give him a call to see if it'll fit your own Beesa.

Mike's project started life five years ago with a genuine Spitfire Scrambler frame, tank, gearbox, crankcases and such, although some of those items were destined not to make it to the final version of the bike if they made it too impractical for reliable long distance riding.

BSA A10s on

'It's running a standard gearbox' says Mike 'and those are standard footrests - much more comfortable than the original set which came with it. Left with open pipes it just sounds horrible, so those are our shorty silencers with baffles fitted. It's still good and loud, mind and gets regularly thrashed; I fitted the correct 357 Spitfire cam and it really does go like stink!'

Nice pipes though... BSA Spitfire Scrambler

Many of the items you can see on the Spitfire came straight out of the Lyford stock room, including the universal chainguard, the Gold Star scrambles rear mudguard and the neatly modified rear light cluster. The headlight is a custom item, and Mike opted to fit 12-Volt electrics in keeping with theme of making the Spitfire easy to use and up to date. He reckons this type of high-performance classic should appeal to younger riders or those who haven't had much previous experience with old bikes, but also admits that the combination of high bars and the single seat makes the Spitfire 'really comfy for chaps of a certain age - which is my age, of course!'

The Spitfire has clocked up a thousand miles since it was completed including a trip to France, and Mike aims to take it to the Continent again this summer. Mind you, he'll be wearing dark glasses and trying to go incognito: 'it attracts loads of attention; so much that it gets a bit embarrassing'. Sorry Mike: if you insist on creating such a handsome motorcycle then you're just going to have to put up with being mobbed by its fans…

And a nice tank transfer... BSA Spitfire Scrambler

Mike has now moved on to his next project, so it's likely that his Spitfire will be up for grabs later in the summer. He reckons that a standard-spec Spitfire Scrambler would go for in the region of £8000; with all its modifications and special parts this one is likely to be less attractive to collectors but far more suitable for anyone who wants a reliable ride on the wild side. If you've fallen for its charms then make the man an offer and see what he says.


Lyford Classic Services are on 01773 768900: a full catalogue of their range of components for BSA pre-unit A and B models, plus Gold Stars and Rocket Gold Stars can be sent free to the UK.


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