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22nd May 2008

The BSA C Model Group
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Paul Wood is a fan of the pre-unit Beesa Cee series of classic bikes. Turns out he’s not the only person who likes them...

I have owned a BSA C12 250cc for over 50 years but I often felt I was the solitary owner of one of these dependable old sloggers of a BSA model. Surrounded by larger capacity bikes, I only occasionally saw another C-model at shows and rallies.

Rumours that the bar was open spread rapidly... BSA C Model singles

Surfing the Net one evening, I came across a site especially for BSA C-models. I then realised there were other owners of these bikes around the globe. Pete Rudge of Bournemouth had probably thought the same way. Just over two years ago Pete set up a website for pre-unit C models, the C10, C11, C11G and the swinging arm version, the C12. At the last count there were 298 members worldwide visiting the site to chat, seek and give advice on their favourite models. I was frankly amazed there were so many owners in USA, Canada and Australia besides the UK owners.

Eric's robot-dancing was always popular BSA C12 from the late fifties

Some are commencing or halfway through restorations, whilst others are regularly riding their bikes. One Canadian owner rode his C12 to the BSAOC International Rally in USA in 2006. He rode his 250 from Vancouver to the east coast of the USA, a distance of over 3000 miles which he covered in six days!

BSA’s pre-unit singles started life before the Second World War in the shape of the sidevalve 1938 C10, with its hand-change three-speed gear selection, rigid rear end and lightweight girder forks. The overhead valve C11 arrived in 1939 and the range continued to be developed through to the late 1950s.

The final incarnation was the four-speed C12, built until 1958, with telescopic front forks and swinging arm rear suspension. ‘The C12 offered a good compromise of speed and economy to the daily rider who sought value for money’ said Roy Bacon. ‘With the BSA spares system of the time it served its purpose well.’

The C-Model site offers all the information you’d expect from a dedicated single-model enthusiast group including technical specs and data sheets, engine and frame numbers, parts suppliers, and more.

BSA Stuff on Now...

Round about Christmas 2007 a suggestion was made to Pete that perhaps we should have a meet for UK owners and their bikes. Pete then took on the task of preparing a route around the New Forest, plus carrying out numerous road-recces to check the 70 mile route along mostly white roads through the beautiful forest countryside.

The shoulder-mounted flag makes the C-Model club easier to find in dense crowds.

The date was set for April 27th 2008, meeting outside the Ringwood museum. Seven members of the BSA C Model Group turned up, from as far away as Dudley and Croydon, the others being mostly local riders. Perhaps this was not a massive turn out, but this was our first get-together of complete strangers. Future rides are planned so we hope the old saying goes ‘large oaks begin as acorns’*.

One table each for these boys, and the biggest mug of coffee I've ever seen... Club founder Pete Rudge, on the right.

It was great to meet up with fellow owners to ride at the C model’s sedate pace along the kind of roads that this model was designed for. We all enjoyed sharing stories and comments at the halfway stop at the flying club, Old Sarum Airfield, discussing this once-popular commuter and Jack-of-all-trades bike.

Anyone owning or interested in BSA’s pre-unit C models can join us at:


*Actually the 1897 (American) version of this saying goes; ‘mighty oaks from little acorns grow’ while the 14th century old English version was; 'great oaks from little acorns grow'.


BSAs on Right Now...


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