My B50SS is not the purists dream but it is a prime example of a practical bike with a story.
As most of the BSA’s of its era (ie the weird Triumph powered BSA police bikes seen in Australia, Africa and Asia) my bike was 1st Registered in London, UK on 7 June 1972 with engine/frame no JE15665 that indicates a 1971 build except the engine has the 1972 bottom end (extra main bearing) and 1972 chassis parts. BSA seem to have really lost the plot in their dying years.
The bike came with me to live in Canada, New Zealand and Australia and although laid up for 12 years it was regularly used a other times, which explains why over the years I have upgraded the electrical system (3 phase Alternator, Boyer Ignition), and motor (big bore CCM piston, CCM head and valves, bigger exhaust pipe and Mark 11 Amal) Being a prime form of transport for many years it makes you look for ways to improve and modernise. I now use it for entertainment and ride to work (I am getting old, not the bike) with less of the high speed runs that were a mark of it’s earlier lifestyle. I keep thinking maybe one day I may try to downgrade it back to standard with all its faults but not now. The use of early 80’s CCM parts did create a hybrid engine which has a bit more horsepower. CCM did build them like a BSA B50 on steroids which is a great testimonial to the basic design. I did have an oil cooler fitted which made the engine a bit less temperamental in 40 degree C temperatures but made it slow warming up over the cooler months and living now in the hills of Canberra I have done without. A recent modification was to use A65 damper tubes in the forks which makes the riding a lot less harder on the front end.
There are a few faults which still annoy me, like the ability to stretch chains to be unusable on average every 5000 miles when used two up for touring and lifting the front wheel. The advantage on the latter being front tyres last a long time on this model. As for the notorious hard starting of the motor I agree as it is always difficult to start especially when unused for a while where the oil migrates to the sump, fouling the plug when you spin the engine over. If you use it regularly the bike starts within a few kicks. I must admit soft boots and a wimp kick may see a bruised instep and a flying leap when it kicks back. You learn that you have to have a certain level of fitness when you own a B50. It has always helped me to be against a kerb to get the height in the swing as I am not very tall or heavy. I have a DirectHit fitted on the plug, which seems to help.
I can source spares over here in Australia even though there were few of this model sold here as of course many BSA/Triumph chassis spares are identical. I can seriously recommend places like K and M HD Motorcycles in Adelaide, locally Robbo’s in Canberra who seem to source the many odd items and the helpful guys at Britishspares in NZ.
The New Zealand connection dates back to the late 70’s when my wife and I were founding members with a tremendous group of riders of the New Zealand BSA Owners Club which is still going well.
The bike has seen a lot of countryside, touring all around the British Isles (including Eire), Eastern USA/Canada, all around New Zealand and much of Australia. The bike has been Australian registered in South Australia, Queensland and Australian Capital Territory with touring in Victoria and New South Wales and I still have the plates. As a touring bike there are few bikes which I have found as easy and comfortable to ride long distance (the wife has fallen asleep on the back). Sad the BSA name disappeared and even sadder that CCM didn’t see a market for a road version. Long live the Thumper Page.John Pugh, Canberra, Australia