Saturday, March 20, 2010

BSA 500 used in North Africa World War II

I found this picture of a motorcycle that I got in 1969 that I kept in my father's garage in the desert. Though it was very heavy compared to todays off road motorcycles it was a tank and almost indestructible. The metal plate protecting the engine was very thick and if I didn't notice a large rock(one foot in diameter it would bounce over it in the desert at that time as long as i didn't hit it with my front wheel first. It was a truly amazing bike. One time I was racing down a dirt road with my cousin on another motorcycle and since I was leading I looked back and laid the bike down in a patch of deeper sand on a dirt road. This could have been very serious because I was doing about 45 mph. However, somehow I climbed up on top of the sliding bike without getting my left leg pinned and stood crouching on the bike until it suddenly stopped and just rolled forward a couple of times acrobat style and outside of a few minor scrapes I just laughed with amazement that I was okay.
If you go to the following site and scroll down to the images it is the second from the left on the top row.

The one I owned for about 10 years or more was maybe the most reliable bike I ever owned in that it started in any weather hot or cold (115 degrees Fahrenheit to 20 degrees Fahrenheit). So literally any time I tried to start it it started either by the kick starter or by pushing it in 2nd gear. It didn't have an electric starter because those weren't common then when it was made. Also, it didn't have a battery that I can remember but only its magneto which generated the spark for the spark plug and the lights. So the lights only worked when the engine was running. Also the rear suspension didn't exist except for the coil springs in the seat so it was very important to stand up if the bump was very deep if you didn't want to fracture your spine. Also, if you looked at the picture the front suspension was very unusual  and there were no shock absorbers present on the bike. So as you rode it you had to protect yourself as bumps could be very unforgiving to a human body if traveling through the bush. So I can imagine the men who rode these through North Africa  in World War II had aching muscles  after driving through the conditions they rode through then.

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