What does BSA motorcycle stand for? Models by type BSA

What does BSA motorcycle stand for? The Birmingham Small Arms Company made many things, from guns, cars, and buses to myriad industrial and engineering products. Perhaps the most famous product line, however, was motorcycles, and BSA was, for a time, the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world.

The motorcycle side disappeared in 1972, but now Indian company Mahindra has resurrected the name and applied it to a brand new, classically-styled bike. The BSA name has a fascinating history.

What does BSA motorcycle stand for?

BSA stands for Birmingham Small Arms Company, a British manufacturing company that produced firearms, and was founded in 1861. The BSA Motorcycle division didn’t come into being until 1910 after the successful production of bicycles and motorcycles.


What does BSA motorcycle stand for

The Early Years

The BSA motorcycle is one of the most iconic British motorcycles in history. The Birmingham Small Arms Company, or BSA, was started by gunsmiths in 1861. By 1880, they had become the largest arms manufacturer in Europe and were already producing motorcycles by 1910.

By the time the First World War broke out, BSA was already a well-established manufacturer of firearms and quickly pivoted to producing weapons for the British military.

After the war, BSA started producing motorcycles again and became a household name in Britain. BSA bikes quickly became a popular choice for both competition and street riding, due to their quality construction, dependability, and innovative design. Their early models were also very affordable—a huge draw for the average citizen.

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The Post War Years

After World War II ended in 1945, BSA’s wartime production of weapons was no longer necessary. The company decided to invest its resources into improving the existing models. They had been producing three-wheelers since World War I, but once the war had ended, that style of trike fell out of favor with consumers in favor of the more stable four-wheeled vehicles then available.

New dealerships opened in Britain and abroad as more people began riding motorcycles as a hobby rather than just a means of transportation. The company also expanded into new markets, designing and selling its first off-road bike in 1949.

By 1960, it had introduced a wide range of models in different sizes and styles—and was the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer until 1972 when various factors led to its bankruptcy.

Models by Type

BSA (Birmingham Small Arms Company) motorcycles were produced in the UK from 1910 to 1973. The company produced several models and submodels over the years. Here’s an overview of the most notable BSA motorcycle types and models.

Gold Star

One of the most popular models produced by the British BSA company was the Gold Star. Starting life in 1938 as a 500cc single-cylinder machine, it would eventually become a 650cc twin. The Gold Star would live on until 1963.


The Bantam (D1-D7) was introduced in 1948 and was a two-stroke single with a 125 to 175cc capacity engine. This model became very popular in post-war Britain, and also for off-road racing. It stayed in production until 1971.

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Rocket Gold Star

The Rocket Gold Star was a development of the Gold Star twin, with a new frame and a 646cc engine with an overhead camshaft. It is considered by some to be one of the best-handling British bikes of all time, but it only lasted two years before being replaced by the A65 Thunderbolt in 1962.

A65 Thunderbolt / Lightning / Spitfire

In 1962, BSA produced the first A65. The Spitfire was a stripped-down model with a single seat, and the Thunderbolt had a bit more chrome. The Lightning was introduced in 1965 and was a stripped-down version of the Thunderbolt. All of these bikes used the same 650cc engine.


The B44-B50 models were smaller 350cc and 500cc singles that were also built between 1964 and 1971. The B44 was developed from the unit construction Rocket Gold Star, which had been introduced in 1963.

It proved very successful in scrambles competitions and became a popular road bike as well. It received an engine upgrade to 499cc for 1966, becoming the B50 (while retaining the same model number!).

The first motorcycles

In 1910, BSA launched the 3.5-horsepower model, powered by a single-cylinder engine. It was immediately successful, with the production run selling out in 1911, 1912, and 1913.

What does BSA motorcycle stand for

In 1919, after the factory returned to peacetime operation, a 50-degree V-twin model, the Model E, was introduced, of 770cc displacement and fitted with side valves. Demand for motorcycles was so great after the war that production was ramped up.

In 1921, BSA produced its first car, powered by a V-twin engine and, later, four-cylinder engines.

The new gold star

In 2021, BSA launched the first new model for many decades. Called, emotively, the Gold Star, it is indeed a very close replica of the immortal DBD34 Gold Star of the late 1950s.

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Powered by a single cylinder engine displacing 652cc and producing 45 horsepower, what it isn’t is a retro-styled bike hiding lots of modern tech and with a high price. It is a motorcycle designed for simplicity, both in engineering and riding style.

There are concessions to modernity – ABS, fuel injection, electric start, and no oil leaks…! – but this is possibly the most genuine ‘modern classic’ out there, and it will still do the magic ‘ton,’ even if not by much!

Patience is a Virtue

The demise of the British motorcycle industry was as disappointing as it was inevitable. Although it might have been seen as more of a merciful killing at the time, it was but a shadow of its former self, and the products were woefully out of date and, frankly, rubbish compared to the bikes coming out of Japan.

Now, thanks to the Indian motorcycle industry (ironic after the way the English treated India during colonialism) British motorcycle names are being resurrected. Royal Enfield, of course, has never gone out of production, but the likes of Norton, BSA, and perhaps Vincent are all back with us, thanks to Indian companies such as Mahindra, Bajaj, and TVS.


Are BSA Motorcycles still made?

After a long time, BSA has returned to the motorcycle market as of 2021, with a new model called the gold Star and powered by a 652cc single cylinder engine

Is BSA an Indian company?

Indian company Mahindra owns the rights to the BSA name but has built a factory in the UK to design and build the new bikes.

Who makes BSA Motorcycles now?

BSA motorcycles are built by Indian company Mahindra.

Above is information about What does BSA motorcycle stand for? that we have compiled. Hopefully, through the above content, you have a more detailed understanding of Models by Type. Thank you for reading our post.

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