The BSA Bantam
is a two-stroke unit construction motorcycle
that was produced by the Birmingham Small Arms Company
(BSA) from 1948 (as a 125 cc) until 1971 (as a 175 cc). Exact production figures are unknown, but it was over 250,000 and some estimates place the number closer to half a million.
Despite the Bantam being considered the archetypal 'truly British' lightweight motorcycle outselling all others, it was in fact a German
design, the DKW RT 125
, received as war reparations. The same design went into production in at least two, and perhaps four, other countries. Harley-Davidson
started producing their Model 125
in late 1947 (several months before BSA) and the occupiers of East Germany
, the U.S.S.R.
began building the Москва M1A
model even earlier, c.1946. In East Germany the machine was made at the original DKW factory by IFA, which later became MZ
and Japan also produced copies.
The BSA designers converted the design to Imperial measurements for manufacture in Birmingham
. This original Bantam, the D1, was released in October 1948 and continued in production for several years. It had telescopic forks, a rigid rear end, direct electrics, shovel front-mudguard and fishtail silencer, was available only in "mist green" and sold for £60 plus tax. Although the frame changed out of recognition (beginning with conversion to plunger and then swinging fork rear suspension), the engine remained a recognisable development of the original... Read More