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BSA Round Tank

BSA Round Tank

For a long period in the inter-war years the giant BSA conglomerate dominated a booming motorcycle market in a way that no other British factory could claim to have done. Their attack on the lightweight 250cc singles market began in 1924 and was very much a new venture for BSA. It was known to be adifficult market, because over the preceeding years, the public had been treated to many poorly designed and underengineered budget specials from other makers.

As a reusltr, the little BSA was solidly conventional with a side-valve four stroke engine in place of the often unreliable two-stroke. It was strong enough to take all that the most uncaring rider could throw at it and it was cheap - less than £40. There was belt-and-braces lubrication, with a new-fangled mechanical pump as well as the old-fashioned hand pump, plus a sight feed to reassure the anxious owner that all was well. The oil contained in the front section of the cylindrical tank that gave the model its name, the BSA Round Tank.

The mudguards were surely some of the widest ever fitted to a motorcycle, capable of guarding against any conditions. Indeed, they were so wide that the front forks actually passed through them. All-chain drive was used, while the gearbox was operated directly by a long hand lever.

With such a concern for practicality it might see odd that the BSA factory chose not to fit a front brake. It was felt that, with a modest top speed, a back brake should be perfectly adequate. In fact, BSA's design coincided with the introduction of a new legal requirement that all bikes should be fitted with two independant means of stopping. The factory solved that simply by fitting, in addition to the footbrake, a friction block operated by a handlebar lever that pressed on the dummy belt rim on the rear wheel.

The resulting bike was a pleasant utility bike that did a great deal to establish BSA's reputation for quality and reliability. One was even used as part of a BSA publicity stunt, in May 1924, to climb Mount Snowdon in Wales in just over half an hour, alongside the mountain railway track. The stunt was such a success that the motorcycle sold in large numbers - some 35,000 - and was adopted by the Post Office for telegram delivery. This remained a familiar role for BSA lightweights for many years, right up to the era of the BSA Bantam and the twilight of a once-great British company.

BSA Round Tank

  • Years in production - 1924-27
  • Engine - single-cylinder side-valve four-stroke
  • Capacity - 249cc
  • Bore and Stroke - 63 x 80mm
  • Tyres - 2.25 x 24in beaded-edge type
  • Brakes - friction block on dummy belt rim (rear only - two independant systems)
  • Gearbox - 2-speed
  • Top speed - 43mph