Bessy the Bantam Rigid by Paul "Moz"Owen

Posted on December 2, 2017 at 4:00 PM

1949 rigid frame BSA Bantam. I purchased the bike with my prize money from finishing 13th in the senior superbike Isle of Man TT races 2009. I wanted a challenge and a local old man had it in his shed so I returned home with it.

The misses didn't look to impressed but I had a plan and instead of joining the gym i was going to get fitter for the 2010 road race season by riding the old rigid. My first challenge was to get it started, then to keep it running. The head gasket was blowing more than the end of the exhaust, the wheel bearing had seen better days and it had almost a tube of silicone to seal the exhaust, but she was a runner.

Once hot the revs started to race as I discovered the carb slide was more oval than round. I could see the potential in the bike and decided to name her "BESSY" and the restoration began. Bessy has had more tweeks and face lifts than Michael Jackson.

In the last 7 years the 4 speed D14 engine has seen alot of changes with a rebore to 185cc to take the rex caunt modified suzuki TS185 piston, a electrex world ignition. a Harry Stanistreet Yamaha clutch basket that fits the bantam clutch back plate and since fitted I have never had the clutch slip in any gears.

I purchased a new Amal carb from Surrey Cycles with an anodized slide. The gearbox has a 2nd / 3rd gear from Jim Pickering along with a newly fitted exhaust from Jims. Wheels were powder coated satin black then fitted with stainless spokes by Neil at Jones Restorations. The mudguards ,seat, tool box, fat bars etc were purchased on ebay and the immaculate paint job was from Dave Addis at Flakey Custom Paint Studio.

I have recently fitted MZ forks with Magical Yamaha TY springs and BMW pivet pegs to bessy as I found it a smoother ride from the rigid frame over rocks .

I have had great success with winning the Aqueduct Classic clubman yellow route then the intermediate harder green route the year later. I also tried the expert red route but found it to hard so droped to a very competitive green route. I have also picked up class wins at the Manx 2 day trials and mons belgium 2 day trials.

I don't think you ever completely restore a competition bike as you are always looking for more performance, power and advantage over the other riders. My restoration isn't original as I have built it for competition but I have tried to keep it looking period with the tear drop tank and bantam green and with it being road legal it turns many heads down the town with fellow bikers and elderly gentlemen walking their dogs. Its good to see them smile as I plod past !

Pauls rebuild story...

Myself, Russ Jones (the 2009 Sammy Miller pre 65 Britsh Champion) and the Crazy Frog