The Classic Motorcycle

Same crowd at the top as every year...


The March edition of The Classic MotorCycle magazine offers a lavishly illustrated celebration of legendary machines, riders and races, and news, reviews and rare period images from the golden age of motorcycling.


Drawing on an archive stretching back to 1903, The Classic MotorCycle magazine provides an unparalleled insight into more than a century of motorcycle design, development, riding, racing and much more. This month’s issue includes:

Archive Photographs​

Racing to Monte Carlo in 1951, Pre-First World War tennis star Tony Wilding and more.

Ariels at the Anniversary​

Celebrating 70 years of the Owners’ Club.

Guzzis all my life​

Racer test and the man who raced them.

A subscription means you can enjoy all of this, plus plenty of other benefits such as making a major saving on the cover price and FREE postage.

It’s quick and easy to sign up and, whether you do it online or over the phone, our team is ready and waiting to get your new deal under way or extend your current package.
Pre-order your copy of The Classic Motorcycle April 2022 today!


Every issue of The Classic Motorcycle offers a lavishly illustrated celebration of legendary machines, riders and races, and news, reviews and rare period images from the golden age of motorcycling.


What to expect in the April issue…

The supremo of the Scouts


Rare Indian Model 101, reckoned as the best-ever little twin made (and possibly until then best-ever American motorcycle) by the folks from Springfield, Massachusetts.

In the style of…​


Beautifully built BSA ‘bitsa’ special, which bristles with all sorts of lovely touches and clever engineering, while looking like a US-spec Catalina.

Guzzis for the generations​


Two generations of the same family, on two generations of Moto Guzzis, set off for Spain and, er, snow… Not sure they were expecting that!

Bantam building​


What to do in lockdown? Rebuild a BSA of course, as ex-Grand Prix racer Steve Parrish did, as he explains in his own inimitable style.

Pre-order the April 2022 issue of The Classic Motorcycle magazine at Classic Magazines today!
World Exclusive – Stafford Classic Bike Show celebrates the life of Mike 'The Bike' Hailwood



The International Classic Motorcycle Show at Stafford County Showground on April 23-24 will celebrate the life of arguably the world’s greatest ever motorcycle racer.

In a world exclusive curated exhibition, Mike Hailwood’s son David is bringing together and showing some of the incredible, personal artefacts held in the Hailwood family archive, most of which have never been seen before outside of the family home in decades.

In support of an official new Hailwood book launching at the show, items on display will include the George Medal, awarded to Hailwood for bravery when he rescued fellow F1 driver Clay Regazzoni from his burning BRM at the South African GP; Dunlop cap worn by Mike on the podium after he won the 1978 Formula One TT; scale replica Manx Norton built by Norton engineers and awarded to Mike by the factory in the wake of his 1961 triumph; MV contract that he tore up in front of Count Agusta when he was told that he would be the number two rider in the team to Giacomo Agostini for 1966. These, and over 40 more items, will be on display for motorsport fans to view all weekend.


As if that’s not enough, in celebration of Hailwood’s epic 1978 TT win, ‘the comeback of all comebacks,’ the Stafford Classic Bike Show team have managed to track down some of the other top racers from the day, aptly named the Class of ’78.

In memory of his father and joining David Hailwood on stage will be Ian Richards, Helmut Dähne, Alex George and Chas Mortimer, legends in their own right. They will be talking with ace motorsport commentator Jack Burnicle about life on the edge, racing on the Isle of Man, that 1978 TT and of course, about the late, great, Mike Hailwood.


One more thing. There’s one person that’s as close as family to a racer and that’s the mechanic. The person that gets the machine over the line. David and the Class of ’78 will also be joined by Mike’s mechanic for that legendary ’78 race, Roy Armstrong, a British champ in his own right. The tales he can tell…

This is going to be one hell of a celebration about a true, great British legend, the one and only Mike ‘The Bike’ Hailwood.

Join us on April 23/24 and be a part of it.

To get your tickets or for more information please visit
...and some people call Steve McQueen "the King of Cool"...

Not hardly!
Only people who have not met Grandpaul.
Your Guide To… BMW K100



This was one of the last stories Rob Davies, a regular CBG contributor, wrote for us before illness took him. Right to the end, he was trying to convince himself of bikes he didn’t think he would like.

The late Rob Davies
Photography: Robin Horton, Ales Tomis and BSK Speedworks
Published: Classic Bike Guide – December 2021

Remember the story of the Ugly Duckling? Well, somethings get better with age… I hope. When I was a teenager in the 1970s, I don’t remember seeing a BMW – not a sniff. My mates rode BSAs or Triumphs, or one of the more exotic offerings pouring in from the Land of the Rising Sun. I have no doubt that there must have been a few BMWs knocking about, but we were working class lads and couldn’t afford a BMW, so it didn’t come across our radar.

Fast-forward 50 years and the world has changed dramatically. Take styling, for instance. There were generally three styles of bike back in the 1970s. There was your straight-out-of-the-showroom standard bike, the hybrid or mongrel mix (that included Tritons etc.), and finally the occasional badly done chopper with extended forks and upswept pipes. These fab creations arose from the fallout of the 1969 movie Easy Rider, yet not a single whiff of a two-wheeled Teutonic master machine. Nowadays there are a plethora of bike styles, because customising motorcycles has truly come of age and the well-engineered – some may say ugly duckling – BMW air head and its successor, the K100 and K75, have slotted right in.

This two-tone blue colour scheme is unusual and rather snazzy with the red pin stripes; shame about the red battery – oh well. Panniers need to be stuck on if you’re off touring

This two-tone blue colour scheme is unusual and rather snazzy with the red pin stripes; shame about the red battery – oh well. Panniers need to be stuck on if you’re off touring

The model I wish to pay specific attention to is the K100 and its smaller sibling, the K75, unkindly nicknamed The Flying Brick. Fortunately, a very good pal of mine has a mint 1984 K100RS model, so I asked him nicely if he would allow me to take it out for a detailed evaluation. At the very same time, I would l look around for examples of how this Germanic beast has been transformed from a seemingly lacklustre mile-muncher into a piece of two-wheeled art.

What exactly was going on in the mind of BMW designers and engineers during the late 1970s, a time of intense competition from Japan? Certainly, they were well aware that their old, tried and tested, horizontally-opposed, air-cooled, boxer engine was coming to the end of its sell-by date. They’d squeezed all they could from the ancient design, and then there was more stringent emission regulations and all that jazz.

Honda had stormed ahead in the big bike game with the beautifully engineered flat four Gold Wing of 1974, and was very soon about to surpass that with, for what was at the time, the incredible six-cylinder CBX (1978). With rivals and the old-fashioned image of the boxer R models, the pressure was on the guys at BMW and they had to seriously put their thinking caps on. Josef Fritzenwenger came up with the seemingly off-the-wall idea of shoving a car-style four-cylinder engine into a motorcycle, but not across the frame like the Japanese. He and his pals built a prototype by placing a Peugeot 104 engine longitudinally into a bike frame, and so the concept gathered momentum. This design gave the guys two advantages over the across-frame arrangement. One was that the low slung engine would lower the C of G, and secondly, it would continue the German preference for shaft drive, by keeping a straight drive line to the rear wheel. You see, there is German genius and there is Japanese genius; they both arrive at the same destination – producing a great bike – via different means. Then, BMW designed its own sweet, durable engine and binned the Peugeot lump.

A belly pan may well have kept this part of the engine a tad cleaner

A belly pan may well have kept this part of the engine a tad cleaner

It was fuel injected, it was water-cooled like the cars and it had two valves per cylinder (later ones had four), while the double overhead camshafts were to be adjusted by the now widely used shim and bucket method. After five years of development, including 10,000 hours of dyno time and 400,000 kilometres of test riding, the K100 became a production reality for the European market in 1982/3, with the three-cylinder K75 range launched a year later. You could have the naked K100, K100RS with sporting pretentions, K100RT for full-on touring and work (emergency services) duties and later the LT, an even more fully dressed tourer. And in 1990 we saw the K1 – but that’s another story.

It was a smooth, sophisticated, ultra-reliable machine. It didn’t have the bling or pizzazz of rocket ships from Japan because it didn’t ape their style. It was German; understated, yet displaying top-notch build quality and the company did things their way, for the next nine years. ‘IT’S UNDOUBTEDLY THE WORLD’S EASIEST ENGINE TO WORK ON. ALTHOUGH IT MAY BE YEARS BEFORE YOU FIND OUT,’ read one advert.

The bike used a variation of the Bosch LE-jetronic system which utilises a black box computer under the seat, that by means of various sensors keeps a close eye and thus control on engine temperature, engine revs, throttle position, and the temperature and pressure inside the intake tract. The whole fuel system is kept nicely energised by a Bosch-built fuel pump hidden inside the 5.8 gallon aluminium tank. Bosch also supplied the electronic ignition as a true compliment to the injection system.

RT version had the perfect touring fairing and more upright position

RT version had the perfect touring fairing and more upright position

What is the performance like? The K100RS is not a bike designed for the track but it’s no slouch. The motor produces its 100bhp smoothly from low revs straight through to the red line at 8650rpm – not that most riders are likely to push it that hard. But if they did, a clever little device automatically retards the ignition to protect the engine – neat.

After being left out of the limelight for some decades, The Flying Brick Beemer has truly come of age and is now being appreciated and even sought after (prices are still low but climbing) by those in the know… add to that the fact that a growing generation of customizers have binned the functional yet not-so-pretty fairings, seen the raw ugliness beneath and transformed it into some really great custom bikes.

And I found out that the bike is quite nice to ride once you have got used to its quirks and differently styled switch gear. The clutch can feel heavy – especially if, like me, you are used to a nice easy-squeezy hydraulic type. The revs pick up slowly but once spinning past 2000rpm, that motor provides a delicious linear torque curve that just seems to pull and pull – and… you get the picture.

The K100 is certainly a lump to work on, and it sure looks like it should go into a car chassis and not a bike frame. In this pic we can clearly see the chain drive to the DOHC, fitted with K/sprint-race cams

The K100 is certainly a lump to work on, and it sure looks like it should go into a car chassis and not a bike frame. In this pic we can clearly see the chain drive to the DOHC, fitted with K/sprint-race cams


So, if you are looking for a classic tourer that wants to go willingly right around the world, or you want to go completely ape and convert it into a work of modern two-wheeled art, or simply to go to and from work on, then at current prices, the K100 has a lot going for it. It should start easily, run smoothly and not overheat, and, on the road, change gear cleanly and consistently. Expect a bit of smoke on start-up, especially if it hasn’t done much during the last 12 months, and go through all the electrical items. Actually, the neutral light didn’t work on my test bike. I can live with that, but if you think of buying one of the later ABS models, make sure that this device is working, because if it isn’t, you can spend a lot of money simply putting that right. A project can be bought for less than a grand, while clean examples were going for between £1500 and £2000; a later, mint K between £4-5000.

If the rear drive splines haven’t been greased for some years/miles, then they will require checking. Check the rear drive for play, then pop the bike onto the centre stand (check this for rot at the same time) and grab the wheel top and bottom and then at the sides and see if there is any click in the play. If there is, then the rear drive may very well need rebuilding – another expensive job. Under the front of the engine – impossible to see with the belly pan fixed – is a weep hole under the oil/water pump. If there is oil or coolant leaking from this, the pump will need rebuilding. There is a similar hole at the back where the transmission mates up. If oil is dripping from here, then there is the more serious issue that the interior seals have gone. If oil has got onto the otherwise dry clutch, it’s strip-down time.

BMW has always used long, soft-ish suspension on its motorcycles and although the K100rs has a tad less travel than the Boxer models, it is still rather plush and takes any bumps in its stride. I found the seat extremely comfortable – well, it is designed as a touring machine. I must add that the K exhibits less of the up-and-down thrusting of the rear end that can be noticed on other shaft-driven bikes, and this is mainly due to the slightly shorter suspension travel. The later Paralever swingarms are more refined. The forks offer no external adjustment, but the single rear shock has a typical ramp-type collar that allows the spring pre-load to be set at one of three positions. At its lowest setting, the rear end is soft, as you would expect, and compresses and moves around too much for hard cornering – not that I’m going to be doing much of that, I’m way too mature, ha. At its highest setting, the shock is well suited to carrying your pillion plus a few days’ worth of luggage.

Never actually been a great fan of painted wheels, but the Brembo front brakes are very good

Never actually been a great fan of painted wheels, but the Brembo front brakes are very good

The K’s fairing is a Marmite angular job that is probably never going to win any beauty contest but it does work (I usually ride naked – the bike, silly), but one interesting trick that BM employed to help keep things calm behind the windshield is the use of an adjustable airfoil right at the top of the screen. The foil creates a venturi effect that directs the flow so that the air that does hit the rider’s helmet is relatively free of disturbance.

How do they ride?

I arranged to take Tony Cooper’s 1984 model – a rare two-tone blue with red pin stripes – out in winter. After a period of rest but with a revitalised battery, the engine started well, gave a bit of smoke for a few seconds, and then settled into a good throaty tickover just under 1000rpm. I was given the quick tour of the controls and switchgear, turned on the dip headlight and made sure my scarf was snug. The switchgear on a BMW is nothing like a Japanese machine and I was finding the indicator controls particularly difficult. The switches are under the grips and out of sight on each side of the ‘bars, so you have to feel for them with your left or right thumb. Then you have to cancel, by pressing upward on a red button with the right thumb. Sounds easy, right? It isn’t, and it took a bit of getting used to.

Yes, that’s me on the move – 40mph, bang on

Yes, that’s me on the move – 40mph, bang on

On the positive side, the clutch was smooth and easy; I have never used a smoother gearbox in my life. Most gears change with a bit of a click or clonk… not the K; you simply move the lever and they slide into place – really. The seat was very comfy; firm, but the sort of firm that your bum can stand all day if required. The Brembo front disc was pretty good at hauling up all that metal, but the rear disc left a lot to be desired. Having said that, the later bikes were fitted with much improved braking and ABS.

Now I know for a fact that my inside leg is 31in (a useful thing to know, believe it or not) and when filtering through traffic, and stopping at lights, I could not put my feet flat on the ground. If you have short legs, and I won’t be rude, then you will possibly have trouble with the K and they are not light machines.

After some miles for photos, I was now used to all the controls, including the difficult turn switches, and was enjoying the bike. The power was not arm-pulling or even what I would term exciting acceleration, but the sort that grew strongly from 2000 revs onward. Filtering through heavy traffic was easy because the ‘bars are so narrow, and even though they are almost as low as clip-ons on the RS, the riding position is forward-leaning but relaxed.

Finally, I got to the motorway island, sped up the slip road and overtook the cars on the inside track. I was now much more confident with the BM, knowing that it had the power through the gears to take me rapidly into the fast lane, though I did occasionally go for a sixth gear… that isn’t there. Most traffic was content to stay within the speed limit, but I fully intended to spend at least a minute or two finding out what the BM could happily cruise at before dropping back to lawful speeds. I can confidently say that this bike can comfortably cruise at the ton – and no doubt all day, if you wanted it to. The downside is that even though fully faired, there is quite a lot of buffeting at high speeds. This may be down to the fact that the fairing doesn’t really extend to shoulder width and will definitely alter with different-sized riders and their chosen jackets/helmets. The RS has an adjustable screen but, in truth, does little.

Handling at fast and slow speeds was good on all types of road, and the suspension was good, too. My only gripe with the K100 is that the early 83/84 models have a fair bit of vibration from the engine into the footpegs – not the seat or grips. It comes in at about 2500rpm and stays until 3500 or thereabouts before smoothing out, whether you are accelerating or decelerating. However, as I mentioned earlier, the later models have rubber-mounted engines and four valves per cylinder, making it a different beast altogether.

I did some 10 or 12 miles on the M5 – I know, it’s not a lot but it was bloody cold and I wanted a hot drink. Altogether, I was out of doors for most of that day, and riding the K for nearly three hours, plenty enough time for a bright but wintry January day. There’s not many bikes you would want to do that on more than a BMW K series, yet the earliest are around 35 years old. But they are a classic, reliable, and will take luggage, and take accessories like heated grips – and there is a great spares supply out there. Another bonus is the average K series has been owned by more mature owners who are likely to have looked after them and had their machines serviced.

Prices for a K100 or K75 are at rock bottom, with MoT’d bikes for less than £1000. If you like using your classic, then there are few better ways than an RT or an RS. Or enjoy the naked bike. Or embrace the custom scene, as so many have. It’s been unloved for years; maybe now it is time to give the K100 and K75 some love.

Many thanks to Tony Cooper for the loan of his lovely K100RS.

And the race version... tasty, eh? I rather fancy a go on that

And the race version… tasty, eh? I rather fancy a go on that
BSA Bantham D3 – The little grey fellow



This relatively rare interim 148cc Bantam, between the 125cc and the 175cc, was still a useful step up from the popular D1.

Photographs: GARY CHAPMAN
Published: The Classic MotorCycle – January 2022

This particular diminutive BSA, a 1956 D3 Bantam Major 150, is unusual in a couple of ways.

Firstly, the 148cc variant, usually finished overall in Pastel Grey, was only made for four years, from 1954, so there are fewer about than the ubiquitous D1 125s, or the many later 175cc versions.

And secondly, for this Major’s current keeper, Alex Taylor, it’s exceptional, as his friends have gleefully noted, due to its smart finish. Alex, more than capable with the spanners, has a floating collection of classics, several of which have previously featured in these pages. While all have been stripped and refurbished mechanically, Alex tends to leave the cosmetics as found, with the resulting look either “patinated” or “ratty”, your choice.

The D3, previously restored for sale at Bonhams in the early 2000s, is very much the exception. Its only major deviation from standard is the green-covered dualseat, which suits it as well or better than the stock seat-cover’s two-tone grey.

Amal carb with ‘strangler’ choke/air filter, new tool and battery boxes for new frame, and 1956’s longer, less restrictive silencer.

Amal carb with ‘strangler’ choke/air filter, new tool and battery boxes for new frame, and 1956’s longer, less restrictive silencer.

The usual suspects

Alex is no stranger to Bantams. At the age of 19 he had ridden his original D1 from his Oxfordshire home to Fleet in Hampshire, with his leg in plaster propped up on one of the Bantam’s tin leg-shields. His current D1 (see TCM June 2020) takes him to Cyclemotor and VMCC meetings and runs locally.

He acquired the D3 from a high-end car and boat dealer in Hampshire, for a sensible ‘trade’ price as it was only an intermittent starter. The problem was a usual one with these little two-strokes – the electrics. On stripping, things were found to be mechanically sound, but the poorly designed centrestand, again as per usual, was chronically unstable. The D-shaped speedo was also u/s, but that was rebuilt (eventually) by a specialist local to the vendor.

The electrics were found to be a mess. This D3 was a Wipac battery version (the Lucas type had been discontinued for 1954), as opposed to a Direct Lighting variant; so its system incorporated a DC rectified circuit for the battery. Alex fitted a new ignition switch and a new coil, noting that the old one was an original. The heart of the six volt system on Bantams, until the 1967 introduction of alternator electrics, was the Wico-Pacy S55 Mark 8 generator, fitted since 1951, in effect a cross between a magneto and an alternator. Alex found this one in good order, but changed the regulator/rectifier for a modern Japanese one, and uprated to 12 volts.

The lighting system, fitted with a diode, once Alex had worked out the low/high beam settings, produced bright lights for evening rides to club meetings, “not like the original dog-end six volt ones”. The rectifier had cost £6, a 12 volt battery £12, and the ignition coil £25.

For a further £30 the brakes were relined with shoes which, like some other parts, came from Brit Bits in Dorset (Tel: 01202 483675). Alex welded up the centrestand, which is now one of the most stable Bantam ones I have encountered. This had involved another £11.50, for matching paint from Halfords, as like the D1’s Mist Green, the D3’s Pastel Grey finish had been applied to all cycle parts, centrestand included. The mid-1950s was still, just, the immediate post-Second World War era, when flamboyance was disapproved of in the still-austere UK, but the D3’s grey, with its naval overtones, was lightened by the red-lined, cream yellow tank panels and their cheerful Bantam Cockerel emblem – actively crowing in the 150’s case!

D-shaped Smiths speedo habitually ran up to 10mph optimistic, but this one had just been rebuilt.

D-shaped Smiths speedo habitually ran up to 10mph optimistic, but this one had just been rebuilt.

The D3 story

As everyone now knows – though the information was strictly embargoed in postwar Britain – the Bantam’s design was that of the German DKW RT125 (the ‘RT’ stood for ‘Reich’s Type’).Taken as war reparation, at BSA’s Studley Road, Redditch factory, this was simply restyled and mirror-imaged to give a British-style right-foot gear change.

The engines continued to be manufactured at Redditch (mostly by men), after the D1’s 1949-on phenomenal success, at a rate of 300 and soon 400 a week. The complete machines were then assembled at BSA’s Small Heath main works (mostly by women, paid about half the male rate, which helped keep the Bantam’s cost down…), with 90 built a day at their mid-1950s peak.

The Bantam was literally the most popular motorcycle in the world for a while, with 100,000 built by 1953. Works director Al Cave confirmed that 300 a week were still being made as late as 1968, and TCM’s co-founder Bob Currie put the final production figure at over half a million. The bottom line was price; the 1950 D1 cost just £80 including its optional speedo, rising to £95 for the De Luxe with plunger springing plus battery lighting. Bantams were not only cheap to buy but cheap to run, with 112mpg returned at a steady 40mph, significant since wages were low and petrol was still rationed when the D1 was launched – and would be again, briefly, during the 1956 Suez crisis.

But all that would have been no good without the Bantam’s ruggedness and relative reliability, as evidenced by both male and female world travellers’ phenomenal journeys (New Zealand to London, anyone?), by the Competition variant’s success, and by years of daily commuting to work.

D3’s forks had been strengthened from its 1954 start.

D3’s forks had been strengthened from its 1954 start.

However, there were always cries for more power, from the travellers, from those who regularly carried a passenger, and from keen young folk getting their first bike. For 1954, DKW, relocated to Ingolstadt in West Germany, produced a bored-out RT175 (its old factory, the Zschopauer Mottoradwerks in the East, simply reversed its initials to become MZ, and built their own IFA 125 version).

At Studley Road they held off going the full 50cc hop-up. But designer Bernard Hooper, later of Norton Commando fame, and Austrian two-stroke expert Herman Meier, did revise and enlarge the D1 for 1954 to produce the D3. They increased the bore of the 52x58mm 123cc engine to 57mm, giving 148cc. This capacity, incidentally, kept it in the same road tax bracket as the 125.

With increased transfer ports, flywheels of the thicker type only used previously when Lucas electrical equipment had been specified, and a larger 11/16in Amal 523/1 carburettor, the result was a power increase modest on paper, from 4.5 to 5.3 bhp@5000rpm, but with the result of noticeably increased performance. Retaining the same three gear ratios as the D1, a D3 moved up through them in smarter fashion, topping out at 52 as opposed to the D1’s 46mph, with a realistic cruising speed of 40 to 45mph; though headwinds still slowed things down.

There was also, during 1954, a significant improvement to the engine. Up until then the Bantam’s main bearings, when thrashed, could be a weak point, as they had been lubricated solely by the oil in the two-stroke mix. Now there was positive lubrication for the left-side bearing from the gearbox, via drillings in the crankcase channelling oil to the bearing, with a catchment area and a drainway. The right-side crankcase seal was moved inboard of both main bearings and relocated against the flywheel. The left-side seal was moved 0.010in further outboard, the crankshaft being extended by that amount.

Alex Taylor with, finally, a smart ‘unpatinated’ classic!

Alex Taylor with, finally, a smart ‘unpatinated’ classic!

The big end, another D1 problem on long rides, was also uprated, now fitting rollers increased to ¼ x 3/8in diameter, with the flywheel recessed at the crankpin eye to take the larger rollers.

The 1954 cylinder barrel, now with a broader base, and the head, featured more generous finning for both the D1 and D3. The D3 came with plunger frame only, and a dualseat rather than a sprung saddle as standard, both implying two-up capability. The D3’s front forks were strengthened with thicker upper stanchions from the C10L single. Above the forks there was a restyled cowl-type mounting for the headlamp. The D3’s brakes were enlarged from 5 to 5½in.

The same shapely 1¾ Imperial gallon tank now sported chrome styling strips. The filler cap, incorporating a measuring cup for the 20:1 ratio oil, was moved from the left to the right side. The Bantam’s single petrol tap was on the left, and previously it had been all too easy to dump in the measure of oil, and before you’d had a chance to mix it by shaking the tank, find that it had gone straight down into the (open) tap and thence on to clog up the carb. Don’t ask me how I know this…

The D3 led a cleaning up of the original Bantam styling, with its quaint but old-fashioned massively valanced front mudguard fastened to the fixed fork tubes, and its pear-shaped ‘flat’ silencer. The front mudguard, now supported from the lower fork stanchions, was of a slimmer, more conventional style. The rims of the 19in wheels became chromed rather than painted as originally. The silencer was now a ‘cigar’ shape, with a finned tailpiece which could be unfastened so that, usefully, the internal baffles were now removable for regular decoking. But enough traditional features, like the forks’ corrugated bottom-end gaiters, the carb’s circular ‘strangler’ choke/air filter, and the centrally-mounted bulb-horn, remained, making the D3 a reassuring evolution rather than a ‘modernising’ revolution like the new 1965-on petrol tank. And at £102, the new 150 was in the affordable Bantam tradition.

D3 Bantam Major was a bored-out D1, but with strengthened forks, 1956 swinging-arm frame, and more go through its three gears.

D3 Bantam Major was a bored-out D1, but with strengthened forks, 1956 swinging-arm frame, and more go through its three gears.

In 1955, the spacing of the cylinder barrel studs increased to permit a larger diameter barrel spigot. This required a spacing collar between the left-side flywheel and main bearing to be deleted. Like many Bantam developments, the different crankcases and barrel involved were not interchangeable with the previous ones. No one ever promised Bantam restoration would be easy!

The D3 was selling well, and the 1956 season brought a major development, the new swinging-arm frame. Bantam frames had been all-welded from the start, but the new, heavy-duty tube rear section featured brazed lug construction. Weight increased, but not spectacularly, going up from the plunger-frame D3’s 217lb to the swinging-arm’s 228lb. And the price was just £2 more.

With non-adjustable Girling rear units and Silentbloc bushes for the swinging-arm, the new version handled well, with only the continuing low-set footrests limiting cornering angles. Comfort too increased dramatically. The Bantam characteristic of low-speed docility, rare in a two-stroke, was intact, and a new, longer, megaphone-type silencer, still with the finned detachable end-cap, delivered better performance; though at the cost of an exhaust note which a test in The Motor Cycle described as “disconcerting” – a harsh word by the accommodating standards of the 1950s motorcycling press. Styling saw a redesigned stepped dualseat, and the former suspended rectangular toolbox and exposed battery (where fitted) replaced with concealing triangular side-panels, echoing the larger BSA range.

Mid-year, the engine was modified internally. When the stud centres had been widened for 1955 and the spacing collar between the flywheel and main bearing deleted, it was now found there was a need to replace the collar by an oil drag fan to create turbulence for the incoming mixture.

D3 proved well up to the tester’s 14½st – probably the equivalent of two 1950s teenagers!

D3 proved well up to the tester’s 14½st – probably the equivalent of two 1950s teenagers!

A final change would come late in the 1957 season, when the process of improving lubrication to the mains was completed, with the left-side crankshaft seal repositioned inboard of the left-hand main bearing, with a rubbing diameter on the flywheel. An extra seal was also fitted, and both bearings lubricated from a catchment filled by oil from the primary chaincase.

And that was it for the D3, as Bantam development had moved to Small Heath in 1956, and after a stab at a 197cc version (too vibratory), they fell back on the trusted method of – following the Germans. Ingolstadt’s RT175W (for ‘West’) had 62x58mm, 174cc dimensions, while the new-for-1958 Bantam D5 Super featured the not-terribly-different 61.5×58, 172cc measurements.

Accompanied by what Owen Wright in the best book on the subject, BSA Bantam (Crowood Press), called ‘Middle-Aged Spread’, the new 175s were more powerful but less stylish; something had been lost.

D1’s cockerel tank emblem had been simply proudly posed, but D3’s was crowing!

D1’s cockerel tank emblem had been simply proudly posed, but D3’s was crowing!


Due to the proximity of the right footrest and that concentrically mounted kick-start pedal, I let Alex, with daintier trotters than my size 10s, make the two or three gentle prods that it took to bring the D3’s 6.4:1 compression ratio engine to life. I felt immediately at home on the green dualseat, and we snicked down into first and pulled away smartly.

The D3 proved delightful, the comfort and springing a real surprise after previously sampling Mr Taylor’s plunger-sprung D1. The plot was light, and wonderfully docile and unfussy as we circled for the camera on a quiet road. The engine leaked no lubricant, and on modern oil, did not smoke. But out on the A- and B-roads, picking up cleanly and eagerly through the three well-chosen gears to a comfortably brisk indicated 45mph, the little 150 was a real pleasure to ride, and it stopped well too. The high rasp from the silencer was anything but ‘disconcerting’ – it was keenly delightful.

But then, I’m a confirmed Bantamite. I once rode a 175 for a year or so dispatching in Central London, and the worst thing that happened was running out of petrol one time. That was after I’d taken another one down to Italy, shipped out for Greece and then Crete, and after a couple of months on that fine island, sailed again to Corfu, and from there to Dubrovnik and then Venice (on that ship I’d had to push it up the passenger gang-plank – try that with a BMW). Next I rode across Italy to Genoa, and shipped out again to Mallorca where my dad had retired.

D3’s larger 5½in front brake, with new linings fitted by Alex, worked well.

D3’s larger 5½in front brake, with new linings fitted by Alex, worked well.

The only trouble I’d suffered had been a boiled battery up by Delphi; I hadn’t been briefed about the alternator model’s problem of overcharging. Fear of recurrence meant that back on the Spanish mainland, I and the bike took the train from Barcelona to Paris, leaving the City of Light as dawn broke, and due to a traditional lack of funds, riding the 140-odd miles to the Channel port on just a tank of petroil and a café au lait.

As indicated by the electrics, all my Bantams had been late model 1969-71 B175s, the last, and as I considered, best and most practical ones. However, I now remembered the infinitely experienced Bob Currie’s judgement: “But for all the potency of (the late 175), it was a harsher and less forgiving machine than its forebears.” After the run-out on this well-sorted swinging-arm D3 Bantam Major, I think he may have had a point.

Enjoy more Classic MotorCycle reading in the monthly magazine.
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The 1¾gallon 1954 tank’s right side filler cap; with former left side cap, two-stroke oil could pour directly into left side petrol tap, clogging carb.

The 1¾gallon 1954 tank’s right side filler cap; with former left side cap, two-stroke oil could pour directly into left side petrol tap, clogging carb.
The Speedshop roars into action for a series of adventures on BBC Two



Photo: Mark Riccioni

Following a successful pilot, The Speedshop returns for 6×60 episodes with former Special Forces operator Titch Cormack designing and building bespoke motorbikes and cars from his “souped-up man-cave” on Poole’s picturesque waterfront.

This series sees Titch face a range of challenges. He’ll bring new life to broken and battered machines working alongside his two real-life friends – Billy, a mechanic and ex-Tank Regiment Commander who suffered life-changing injuries in an Afghanistan bomb attack, and engineering expert John, a former Staff Sergeant from the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.

The gang open the series by creating an adapted motorcycle sidecar for ex-Special Forces soldier Toby, who is paralysed from the neck down having been shot in Afghanistan. Despite needing a mechanical ventilator to breathe, he is determined to experience the joy of being back on a bike.

Later episodes see the crew explore further afield as they take on a Moroccan desert expedition with a veterans’ charity and devise an inventive solution enabling them to trek hundreds of miles across the stunning snowscapes of Iceland – on bikes!

Titch also pays tribute to the man who inspired his military career, his late grandad, Corporal William Cormack. The personal project sees him aim to ride a custom-built machine to the French beach where his grandfather landed during D-Day so he can pay tribute to the soldiers who fought so bravely during the Second World War.

Titch Cormack says: “The Speedshop has been a fantastic experience for the whole team – taking on projects and journeys that not only tested our mechanical skills, but pushed us into situations well outside our comfort zone. I’m immensely proud of what we achieved and lives we’ve changed over the last year.”

Clare Mottershead, BBC Commissioning Editor, says: “Titch and his team have infectious chemistry and a never-give-up attitude when it comes to taking on challenging builds and adventures. We’re delighted to be bringing such authentic new talent to our audiences.”

Grant Wardrop, Executive Producer from GW Productions, says: “The Speedshop has grown from humble beginnings (my kitchen table!) to something far bigger than we could have hoped for. The real-life friendships, the humour and the team’s adventurous exploits have taken the series beyond engineering and we hope straight into the hearts of BBC viewers.”

Episode one will air at 8 pm on Sunday, 20th March on BBC2, so make sure to tune in.
Eden Camp Modern History Museum: Ukraine Appeal



Eden Camp Modern History Museum is working with Vets & Vans, a volunteer group, to launch an urgent Ukraine Appeal and are seeking to raise money and gather emergency aid for the millions of people displaced by the Russian invasion of the country of Ukraine.

More than two million people have already fled the country, many of whom left with just the clothes on their back and the few possessions they could carry. Tens of thousands have injuries or pre-existing health conditions, and temperatures across the region are still dropping below freezing.

The World Health Organisation has reported dangerously low oxygen supplies inside Ukraine, and vaccinations have stopped despite the fact that 40% of the country’s population have been vaccinated for Covid-19, and it had been battling a polio outbreak since last October.

As the number of civilian casualties and deaths continues to rise and hospitals are bombed by the Russian forces, aid workers and volunteers need urgent support for medical and health equipment, as well as home essentials such as food, clothing, and baby supplies.

The items with the highest priority are as follows:

  • Medical supplies of any kind (e.g. inhalers, first aid kits, oxygen)
  • Drystore food (tins/cans)
  • Ready-made meal pack (such as army ration packs)
  • Warm Clothing
  • Baby Food/Supplies such as nappies, clothing
  • Childrens’ Clothing
  • Childrens’ Toys

Eden Camp Modern History Museum’s Financial Director, Howard Johnson, along with a group of the museum’s volunteers will be joining Vets and Vans on an aid mission to the Poland/Ukraine border on Tuesday 29th March to deliver urgent support in medical supplies, food, clothing, and other items.

“Considering the period of history that Eden Camp Modern History Museum covers, the conflict in Ukraine only highlights the importance of offering help where we can.” Howard Johnson says.

“It was an easy decision for us to make to travel out with aid and support, and we would encourage as many local people and businesses to get behind us to deliver as much as we can to those who need it most.”

Once re-opened on 1st April, Eden Camp Modern History Museum will have a collection box outside the new Blitz display for cash donations towards the appeal. All money will go straight towards the Ukraine Appeal.

Any support from members of the public or local businesses is undoubtedly needed and would be highly appreciated, whether that’s sponsoring travel costs, providing vehicles, or donating supplies and food.
We thank you in advance for your support.

For further information or to donate please get in touch via the options below:

Eden Camp Modern History Museum, Malton YO17 6RT | 01653 697777
Pre-order your copy of The Classic Motorcycle May 2022 today!



The Classic MotorCycle is a lavishly illustrated celebration of legendary machines, riders and races. The magazine features the finest motorcycle photography, both period and modern, alongside detailed reports combining historical accuracy with an eye for nostalgia.

What to expect in the May issue…

Extra-magnificent Mach I (1)​

The excellent Ducati is sensational as standard. This ‘Evoluzione’ – not a special – is even better, carefully bettered in all departments.

Underground stationed (2)​

In the late 1960s, Royal Enfield moved its production underground. In the West Country. Read all about the remarkable story, by the men who were there.

Be in it, to win it (3)​

The National Motorcycle Museum is raffling two superb classics, a Speed Twin and a Triton, to be drawn at Stafford. We examine the sparkling pair.

Long-term family ownership (4)​

This 600cc fore-and-aft twin cylinder Douglas is 99 years old. It’s been in the same family for nearly 70 of those years. Now it’s going to be sold at auction.

Pre-order the May 2022 issue of The Classic Motorcycle magazine at Classic Magazines today!
Win a three-night getaway with Transylvania Trails!



We’ve teamed up with our friends at Transylvania Trails to offer one lucky winner a three-night getaway with two days of riding worth £669!

Transylvania Trails is an enduro adventure tour holiday company based in Romania and provides trips which are perfect for anyone who has a passion for exploring the world on two wheels – from thrill seekers to sightseers!

The giveaway will be valid for the 2022 season (trips run from April to November). The trip is for one person only.



What’s included?​

  • Motorbike (with mousses, handguards, skid plate, radiator guards, ventilator )
  • Fuel
  • Accommodation
  • Overnight stay outside the base in a different location
  • Breakfast
  • Spare bike
  • Tour guide
  • Assistance by a 4×4 vehicle
  • Trip souvenir
  • Airport transfers from Sibiu Airport


Enter your details below for your chance to win!

Competition closes April 1, 2022. There are no cash alternatives available. The winner will be the first name drawn at random. Terms and conditions apply. To view the privacy policy of MMG Ltd please visit

Please note, the following is not included in the competition: Flight tickets, lunch and dinner ( 15-20 EUR per meal ), riding kit (you can rent the full kit for 50 euros for the entire trip ), personal insurance, drinks, etc., pocket money for the trip approximately 100 euros.

Order your copy of Island Racer 2022 now!

Island Racer 2022

Island Racer is the world’s largest and best TT racing publication and it’s back for 2022!

Island Racer 2022

Each year, Island Racer is packed with 148 pages of the most incredible photos, articles and interviews with the modern gladiators who do battle on the world’s most punishing motorcycle course.

This summer’s Island Racer focuses on the biggest names and the fastest motorcycles taking on the TT in 2022 and uncovers the stories behind the headlines.

Costing £8.99, it will include a FREE DVD worth £16.99 – John McGuinness, Breaking the Barrier – which tells the incredible, action-packed story of how TT legend McGuinness became the first man in the event’s illustrious history to lap the dramatic 37.73-mile circuit at an average speed of more than 130mph.

Island Racer 2022 will be on sale April 27 from Classic Magazines – but you can pre-order your copy now from or call 01507 529529.
A whole world of engineering history


You’ve been in the motorcycle equivalent of hibernation for what feels like an age…

It hasn’t just been a ‘normal’ winter, unable to get out for a few months, instead we’ve been locked down and shut out from all those places we love to visit for the best part of two years. So with spring here you are no doubt starting to think about getting back out on the open road.


We’re sure you will have your favourite route, but if you are looking for somewhere a bit special, that’s inspirational, entertaining and educational, you can’t beat a great day out at one of the fabulous museums highlighted on these pages. You can always find some interesting roads to and from any museum, and it’s also worth bearing in mind if you belong to a club, many museums offer deals for visiting groups, so give them a call and organise a bigger rideout.

Most museums have first-class restoration teams, which means you get the chance to compare an example of a complete and intact motorcycle, taking pictures of any specific colours and quality of finish to help your own project. And you can pick the brains of any experts you happen to find there!

But it’s not just bikes. There are more transport museums than pure motorcycle museums, yet most will have a selection of motorcycles in their transport collections. Let’s face it, whatever is on display you can’t fail to be impressed with the engineering skills, the designers and builders of those bygone eras.

Each museum has dedicated staff and volunteers who have worked tirelessly to recreate history and in some cases bring it back to life for our enjoyment, plus they have great cafes and facilities making a museum a perfect destination. They deserve our support, now more than ever.

As you can see from the map here, there are museums all around the country with large displays of static and moving transport vehicles and classic bikes, begging for your attention.

So go on, support the great British museums, get out there on your classic and pay them a visit… you will not be disappointed!

Please call to make sure the museum is open before setting off on your journey.

1. Battlesbridge Shows

Monthly breakfast meets commencing April. Spring/Autumn autojumbles.

For full updates visit:

2. Brooklands Museum Motorcycle Day

3rd July 2022. Book your place:

3. The David Silver Honda Collection

Over 200 models from 1947 to 1992. Visit at: Unit 14, Masterlord Industrial Estate, Station Road, Leiston, Suffolk, IP16 4JD

4. Grampian Transport Museum Guy Martin Collection

Re-opening April 1st, Alford Aberdeenshire.

For more information, visit:

5. Crich Tramway Village Classic Motorcycle Day

3rd July, open to motorcycles built prior to July 1997

Crich Tramway Village, Crich, Matlock, DE4 5DP. Visit: for more information

6. The Norfolk Motorcycle Museum

An interesting collection of over 100 motorcycles from the 1920s to the 1960s

Admission: Adults £5. Senior citizens £4. Children £2. Station Yard, North Walsham, Norfolk NR28 0DS. Email:

7. Moretonhampstead Motor Museum

Voted in the Top 10 Classic Destinations 2018

The Old Bus Depot, Court St, Moretonhamstead TQ13 8LG. Visit:

8. Sammy Miller World Rated Museum

Over 500 bikes, some the rarest in the world

See Facebook and the website for Auto Jumbles and Special Event Days.
Mortons Media Group Acquires Four New Titles



Our publishers, Mortons Media Group Ltd. have recently acquired four new modelling titles to add to our portfolio, including RCM&E, Model Boats, Model Engineer and Model Engineers’ Workshop. The magazines will continue to be led by their existing editors.

“We have owned these magazines for over 15 years but with our business focus changing within the group, we have concluded that the titles’ future plans are best served by new ownership where there is portfolio scale to benefit and add value to these titles,” said Owen Davies, MyTime Media’s chief executive.

“I’m very confident that Mortons Media, with its long-term approach to publishing, is a good home for the staff and the titles; the people at Mortons are passionate about magazines, and already publish other magazines which these tiles will complement.”

Ian Fisher, Mortons’ chairman said he was looking forward to bringing the four brands within the company’s wide-ranging portfolio of titles, and that they were a ‘good fit’ for Mortons Media Group, which already publishes many market leading brands as well as numerous bookazines and books within the special interest sector.

“Our team here is very much looking forward to working with everyone on these new titles and providing quality products for our readers. Each of the new titles brings something slightly different to our group, and we are very excited at the opportunities they will provide us,” he said.

For more information, please visit
Pre-order your copy of The Classic Motorcycle June 2022 today!



The Classic MotorCycle is a lavishly illustrated celebration of legendary machines, riders and races. The magazine features the finest motorcycle photography, both period and modern, alongside detailed reports combining historical accuracy with an eye for nostalgia.

What to expect in the June issue…

Gold standard​


It may be a Rocket Goldie replica – though the frame is genuine – but this machine has nevertheless been built to the highest quality.

Fair and square​


The last and best of the big Ariel four-cylinder machines, the Mk.II, introduced as the final evolution of Edward Turner’s forward-thinking masterpiece.

Vintage thoroughbred​


A century on from when the last James ‘Pa’ Norton-designed model first appeared, we look at the 1922-28 era overhead valve setter of standards.

Second coming of the Saturno​


In the 1950s, Gilera’s original Saturno was an Italian BSA Gold Star in many ways. Then in 1988 an Italian-Japanese collaboration reintroduced the name.
PREVIEW: June edition of The Classic MotorCycle magazine


The June edition of The Classic MotorCycle magazine offers a lavishly illustrated celebration of legendary machines, riders and races, and news, reviews and rare period images from the golden age of motorcycling.

Drawing on an archive stretching back to 1903, The Classic MotorCycle magazine provides an unparalleled insight into more than a century of motorcycle design, development, riding, racing and much more.


This month’s issue includes:

Off to Ardingly

Event report from the springtime show.

Like the real thing

Rocket Goldie replica shines in all the right places.

The rise of the alternator

How it came about.

Century on

Reflecting on the 1922 TT races.

And there’s lots more! The only place to find it is in the brand new edition of The Classic Motorcycle, on sale 29th April.

A subscription means you can enjoy all of this, plus plenty of other benefits such as making a major saving on the cover price and FREE postage.

It’s quick and easy to sign up and, whether you do it online or over the phone, our team is ready and waiting to get your new deal under way or extend your current package.
Stafford Bike Show Takes Podium Position with World Exclusives!



Thousands of showgoers, including a Hollywood star, were out in the post-lockdown sunshine at the Stafford County Showground over the weekend of April 23 – 24 to celebrate all things motorbikes… and there was plenty to celebrate.

The International Classic MotorCycle Show always has loads to see and do, and this year was no different as the crowds packed in to see bikes, club stands, trade stands, world exclusives, book launches, live trails, firing-up area, Bonhams’ auction, the competition hall… and more special guests than you could shake a stick at!

Perhaps the most notable display was the world exclusive Mike Hailwood exhibit, featuring never-before-seen family memorabilia of the former champion. Guests were able to view these heirlooms, from his 1978 TT winner’s Dunlop cap through to his George Medal, awarded when Mike rescued Clay Regazzoni from his burning BRM at the South African Formula 1 GP. Talking of awards and winners, the class of 1978, which consisted of Alex George, Ian Richards, Phil Read and Chas Mortimer, were on stage across the weekend giving first-hand accounts of their racing careers and inside stories into the motorbike racing scene.

The Bonhams Auction was particularly nail biting with a very special ex-Reg Barton, Dick Knight, 1929 Brough Superior 996cc SS100 Alpine Grand Sport Sprint Special which sold for a staggering £220,000! And showgoers might also have even seen an A-list celebrity or two. Jason Momoa, best known as DC superhero Aquaman, was also there. Being a keen motorcycle enthusiast, Jason perused the show and examined the lots in the Bonhams Auction.

Event organiser Nick Mowbray said: “It was a brilliant weekend! We have received marvellous feedback from visitors and traders alike. The addition of the Hailwood display and the ‘Class of 78’ added something very special to a tried-and-tested format.”
Motorcycle Industry Launches Elite Rider Training Initiative



The motoring industry and wider sector have come together to try to improve rider safety and encourage riders to be more socially aware.

Road safety continues to be a major challenge, with 20% of all killed and seriously injured road users being motorcyclists, whom in-turn only represent 1% of road miles travelled.

In support of the Elite Rider Training Initiative, the Elite Rider Hub has launched today, where you will be able to find information and support to improve your skills.

Looking to improve your riding? Become an Elite rider – visit to see which post-test training provider can help you enhance your skills to keep you safer on the road. #ELITERIDERHUB
Protech provides shock for BBC's 'The Speedshop' Sidecar Project



Global distributors of competition and fast road shock absorbers, Protech, have supplied a bespoke engineered shock absorber for an episode of BBC’s ‘The Speedshop’.

Approached by the presenter of the show, Titch Cormack, Protech was challenged to create a specialist shock for a sidecar that would be comfortable and safe for close friend Toby Gutteridge, former member of the UK Special Forces (S.B.S), left paralysed from the neck down following a term in Afghanistan.

Toby had a burning desire to experience his pre-injury passion for riding motorbikes, so Titch and Toby developed a plan to create a specially adapted sidecar.


Needing a mechanical ventilator to breath, Toby’s sidecar had to house his life-preserving ventilator system and hold him securely. The project required the highest specification with no margin for error.


Tim Manning, Director at Protech, says: “We were really excited when we were contacted by the Speedshop team, it was such a great challenge to be a part of. This piece of engineering had to be beyond exact and so we created a 10-inch open shock absorber with a rubber bush top and bottom. We also fitted a 1.9-inch id spring and created a bleed to the valving so the damping would be softer.”

Titch Cormack instructed that the ride had to be comfortable for Toby especially when riding over potholes.


Mr Manning continues: “To see the final results of their work on the show was exciting for us all. Watching Toby safely back on the road and enjoying the thrill that he used to experience was a great reward for everyone involved. We regularly produce bespoke engineered shocks for specialist commissions, but few are as endearing as this one. And to be known as the brand to be trusted with the high specification that was needed is great endorsement indeed.”


‘Sidecar’ is the first episode of the second series of The Speedshop and can be viewed on BBC iPlayer now.

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