BSA Bantam D14/4 175cc
I got this bike from a friend many years ago as a box of bits and roughly reassembled it and then dragged it up to Orkney on the home made bracket bolted to the tow bar on the Van. The engine had been stripped to tiny bits and left to get full of crud, so that was the first thing on the list to sort out. Lots of stuff is still available for these little bikes, so a full gasket set was obtained, together with one or two bits that were missing. It's my intention to get it up and running 'as is' and then see if I can recover the original registration number from DVLA - I do have a tax disc from 1976, so that should help. I might get around to restoring it properly, but having done a Bantam before, I might just ride it in its present condition - the speedo shows just over 9000 miles and the condition of the 'wear and tear' parts seems to show that that might not be too far off.
The tin-ware is very sound but the chrome although acceptable, would require redoing if you were wanting concours. The problem with smaller bikes is that they cost almost the same to restore as a bigger bike but are worth far less, so unless you really MUST have an immaculate one, then they are best left alone - I might just do an 'oily rag' restoration as they can be quite attractive to many folk. It will go on my Classic bike insurance at renewal and will be Tax Exempt, so would just need an MOT - cheap transport!
The D14/4 was almost the last version of this once very popular bike and folks of my age usually had a connection somewhere to them. The original 125 D1 later grew to 150 (D3) and finally to 175cc (D5,D7, D10 as well as this D14) in rigid, plunger and swinging arm versions.
I have owned 2 plunger 125's and 2 plunger 150's - all 3 speeders, but this is my first 175 four speed version. I have gone through all of the cycle parts and everything looks fit to pass an MOT. The engine is now ready for connecting to a fuel supply - I still don't have the original coil, but there is a 6 volt one in a box somewhere. I still have the tools I bought in the 60's for compressing the clutch springs and removing the generator rotor.
Although many think that the Bantam was a truly British machine it was actually based on the DKW RT 125 machine - a design which was received as War reparations. The BSA designers made the engine a 'mirror image' of the German version with kickstart and gearlever on the right hand side and imperial fixings. This was the D1 and was released in October 1948. It had telescopic front forks, a rigid rear end and was only available in Mist Green for £60 plus tax. Although the frame changed considerably the engine remained recognisable throughout the 23 years of production.
Update 1st November 2013
On our return from our holidays, there on the doormat was a new V5C for the Bantam - a result!
After filling all of the necessary forms and supplying a copy of the 1976 tax disc I had, plus a letter from the Bantam owners club, the good old DVLA allowed me to keep the original 1968 G registration. I was quite pleased about that because I had the original pressed alloy plates which came with the bike. I've obtained the very few missing parts and hope to use the bike next season - we'll see what happens.
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