BSA Shortbase Speedy Feb 15, 2010

Photo by Bishops Cycles

People often forget the ingenuity of early frame builders. Take this BSA (Birmingham Small Arms) Shortbase Speedy for instance. Pathracers were predominately British-built bicycles used in track and grass track races. They’re characterized by a longer, stable wheelbase and the forks usually had a double or triple crown to dampen the rough-ride to and on the track.

These were track bikes in the earliest form; bikes used to race. They were still ridden on the streets; racers would ride their bikes to the track to race. Sometimes with a single caliper on the front wheel attached to the bars with a toe strap; that was about as minimal of a brake as would pass by law.

Photo by Bishops Cycles

BSA produced frames and components from the 1930’s through the mid 50’s. Eventually, in 1957, the subsidiary business BSA Bicycles Ltd, was sold to Raleigh. For 20 years though, BSA innovated the world of bicycle design.

The thing that’s so neat about this BSA Shortbase Speedy is, as the name implies, the short wheelbase.

Photo by Bishops Cycles

When it came to building frames, BSA often experimented with various designs (which led them to produce motorcycles eventually). This particular bike kept the very slack (think stability on bumpy tracks) head tube and shortened the wheelbase by tucking the rear wheel as close as possible to the bottom bracket shell through a wishbone seat tube.

The bars had a wider flat spot for stability and the bike would be on larger tires.

Photo by Bishops Cycles

To steepen the effective seat tube angle, the BSA seatpost had an extension to which the saddle mounted to, putting the racer more forward over the bike’s front end. Coupled with the slack and stable heat tube angle, this bike would destroy a grass track. Shorter wheelbase equals more direct power.

Photo by Bishops Cycles

This is the end result. One sexy path racer by Birmingham Small Arms. Bishops Cycles recently restored this beauty to its original state, complete with all period correct componentry.

Looks like it’d be a blast to ride!

  • Jkor

    Fer sher a great post and a cool bike.

  • wade

    someone’s going to want to replicate one come cross season …

  • John

    Very nice.

  • Craig

    Are those wooden rims? This thing just LOOKS fast…

  • B

    gr8 post, gr8 looking bike. thanks 4 sharing :)

  • Nice find! The missus bought an old BSA shopping bike a while back. Thing was heavy as fuck. Needless to say I was the one carrying it up the stairs every day…

  • Seriously, if you could get a decent q-factor from having a wishbone ST, I betcha that shit would wheelie like a motherfucker!

    The wooden rims may be Constrictor rims. Not entirely sure.

    The Viper or Boston rims were quite popular. Love their logo too.

  • Bishops

    Yes this bike runs Wooden rims, running 28 1 3/8 Dunlop Roadster tyres. This bike is a New Zealand Pre WW1 assembled BSA. It was common for BSA to ship lugs, tubes,and components to local stores where the bikes would take on a dual branded name. The store that assembled this particular bike was called “Speedy Cycle Works” — this is where the bike gets its name BSA Shortbase Speedy from.

    Glad you like it!

  • Just worked on a beautiful BSA 3-speed last week from the late 30’s-I love their headbadges too