BSA started supplying complete bicycles only after 1910. The company’s annual report indicated more demand for BSA Fittings in the export market but a stronger demand for complete machines in Britain. The first year’s models (1911) can be distinguished by a front mudguard without an extension. Subsequent years’ models had full length front mudguards. There is no discernible difference between 1912-1918 BSA models, and there’s no consistency in frame numbers of this era to help calculate the exact year a BSA was manufactured. I’ve stated 1913 as the year of manufacture for this example because of information received from the previous owner, and I believe more of the Deluxe models were sold before the outbreak of hostilities than after. Also, it has the earlier style of gear trigger.
BSA cycle production was high in the three years leading up to the outbreak of World War One, and the company continued to manufacture bicycles for the home market – and for military use – during the war. After existing stock was used up after the end of the war in 1918, BSA was forced to review their production techniques. They no longer made bicycles of such high quality. With British export difficulties under wartime conditions, Japan’s cycle industry had grown to dominate the Asian market. With the end of the war, Japan was now serious competition for the British cycle industry. So, in common with other British manufacturers, BSA started producing cheaper bicycles to enable them to move into new markets.
The war had changed the role of the bicycle forever: it was no longer the preserve of the rich, used only for pleasure. Bicycles were now needed by the working classes too. Despite a shortage of many components after the war, with their large factories and consistent war production, BSA and Raleigh quickly made the adjustment to peacetime requirements to become the dominant cycle makers in the home market. Lower prices and good distribution networks enabled them to compete in the world market too. The machine featured here is therefore one of BSA’s first and last quality bicycles.
1913 BSA Modele de Luxe Lady’s Bicycle
Model No 2A (optional BSA three-speed gear)
Green Enamel Paintwork
This wonderfully preserved BSA was put into dry storage in the 1920s and only saw the light of day again twelve years ago. It appears to have had little use during its lifetime. Apart from new tyres it is original, and in first class condition all round. Most of the box lining on the green paintwork has survived, though the transfer (decal) on the rear mudguard has mostly been polished off. The head transfer, seat tube transfer and chaincase transfer have survived intact. A good indication of how little use the bicycle has had can be observed by the BSA four-bar pedals, which are hardly worn.
An interesting aspect of 1912-1918 BSA bicycles – with a price ticket of 13 or 14 guineas they were expensive machines, equivalent to around £1400 today – is the superbly crafted minor components. BSA made all their parts in-house: examine the company’s unique style of mudguard stay, chain adjuster, skirt-guard axle fitting, quick-release brake rubbers, de luxe green handlebar grips and more. It’s ready to ride.
1912 BSA CATALOGUE EXTRACTS
1918 BSA CATALOGUE EXTRACTS