Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Baby Arms: 1966 BSA Victor

When I say BSA you think of the quintessential post-war British motorcycle, the air-cooled vertical twin.  But, BSA also produced triples and singles as well as the little known 10 cylinder bike.  Find this 1966 BSA Victor for sale in Novato, CA for $5,000 via craigslist.

Contrary to the ad author, the BSA 441 Victor was powered by a 441cc air cooled single, putting out around 30hp.   The Victor had a top speed of around 85 mph, but due to a weak bottom end that was meant for a 250cc bike if you probed the limit too often, you got to visit your dealer in search of new big end and main bearings.  Oh, and the clutch and gearbox are fragile too.  However, the seller of this bike was able to coax it over 2 million miles.

Even starting the Victor was something that was daunting.  You can see why the British bike industry was killed by the Japanese.  According to the owners manual:  First gently tickle the carburetor – but don't use too much gas or you will wet the plug and the motor will never start. Bring the piston up to top dead center on the ignition stroke; engage the valve lifter; ease the piston over TDC just a fraction; take a long swing at the kick starter and, once the bike fires, catch it on the throttle – but only with the merest whiff of gas or again, you'll flood it and you are back to no start.

Or just buy a Japanese bike and push the electric starter button.

See a better bike with no-cost anti-theft features? email us here: tips@dailyturismo.com

Gianni is Daily Turismo's Pacific Northwest correspondent and Taco enthusiast.


  1. That was not so much a starting sequence as it was an anti-theft device!

    I was not aware of a BSA 441cc single - thump-a-thump-a-thump-a......

    1. That's the nicest thing anyone has said to me for years! No, not young, just not really a bike guy.

      Regarding anti-theft features, the manual choke and the gear change on my 2CV pretty much guarantee that the car will be there when I get back.

  2. Oh that is the only BSA i have ridden 441 Bastard Stopped Again....it is a real thumper when running...lol

  3. It's a fabulous POS. Great sounds, horrible brakes, bitch to start, weak transmission, and, as has already been reported, a weak bottom end--but torque? Oh, my. Just limit it to about 2,000 rpm and it will last forever, or until the generator dies. Without a magneto like it's predecessors (e.g., the Gold Star), once the generator died (electrics by Lucas, of course), you had no mag backup, and had to run at constant loss from the battery until night, when you were up the creek. All of this, of course, assuming that you had checked the oil before your ride, which would likely have leaked out onto the floor.

    Ahhh, youth, and the mystique of a big single. And, of course, the constant tinkering necessary to keep them running.

    Everything changed, of course. In about 1965, when the big singles dominated in the scrambles. A couple of Bultaco and Montessa interlopers appeared, and whupped all the British big iron. The next year it was all 2-strokes, with just a sprinkling of Big Thumpers, which of course lost miserably. By 1967 it was completely over. Sad. The sound of those big singles is but a romantic memory.


    1. I guess my new Husky 701 SUMO is at the opposite end of that scale.

  4. I'll stick with my DT-1 and DT-250... Not as sexy but even a hack like me can make them run.

  5. Took my 04 Triumph Thunderbird Sport for a putt today went out past Orting Washington to Wilkerson and Buckley great roads and little traffic(for most part) the Brit Bumble Bee triple was running so fine did fill her up with no ethanol gas she much prefers that go-go Juice.

  6. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F2DJLVWZASw

  7. BSA even made 2 cycles motors 1928-31 then used DKW motors also 2 cycles,they mostly made 4 strokes with 250 singles and more and later the 3 Cylinder Rocket before closing the doors.

  8. I've had the 441 Victor on the list of bikes I'd like to own for a looong time. They look great, it's late 60s, but really it's just the pinnacle of their 1930s design. It's called the Victor, because it was a marketing attempt at capitalizing on their world championship bike from a couple of years earlier. Of course by the time it came out, the 2 strokes were the ones wining. Still, Dick Mann did some amazing stuff with big heavy 4 stroke BSAs long after it was kinda ridiculous.

    Truth be told though, the one I'd probably rather have is the Triumph TR5T. It's essentially this bike (BSA had been folded into Triumph) but with a 500cc Twin from the Triumph Daytona. Much smoother, a little more power. The 500cc Daytona motor revs quite a bit better than the larger Bonny motor, and wedged into this 'dirt' bike, makes for a cool little 'adventure bike'.


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