BSA GP Victor B44

This site is for people who love, admire, want, are curious about or are just interested in the BSA GP VICTOR motorcycle

(Further page navigation at the foot of each page - including bits you can get for your GP)

 

Works Bikes


The picture above was taken in the BSA Competition shop in 1964. It shows the 420  having its oil tank welded on .

 


 The picture above is of the 1966 "titanium" Victor. This was to last half a season before its unreliability caused it to be replaced with a more

conventional machine. The frame was the problem, particularly the swinging arm which flexed and threw the chain off - it was to live on in 250 guise,

the lower power output more suited to the strength of the machine.

 


 

1967 frame  - note the extended engine plates, the B50 type chain adjustment and the fibreglass side panels. When built up this bike 

would have had an airbox fabricated from aluminium sheet and the coil inside. The frame above was sold in the u.k. in 2014.


 

This is possibly the bike made up using the frame above -  the best looking of the works bikes?

The front brake plate is likely to be made of titanium - see pictures below - it retains the floating cam.

This bike might have magnesium wheel hubs - difficult to see.That front hub might be a chromed 7" one, which was used until quite late.

The bikes changed from week to week. Development was constant - different things were tried and discarded - the little teams of rider,

mechanic and workshop manager would change things without rigid supervision - the only criterion - it had to work!

Thus was the genius and vision of the Comps shop manager Brian Martin a man loved and revered by his colleagues.

The works bikes had a variety of rims; some had titanium rims others high tensile rims, painted black or silver and occasionaly chrome.

This bike appeared mid-1966 replacing the titanium bike. Gerry Scott looks on.

Compare this bike to the one below. Is it the same? The coil is in an unusual position.

Vic Vaughan's UL3 - authenticated by Graham Horne as the bike used in the 1966 World Championship.


This is  similar to the 1967 bare frame above but it had the old GP airbox and side panels so was probably half a generation earlier.

At some stage around this time the carburettor was moved inside the airbox with the frame modified to pass the throttle cable through

a hole lined with a tube. This did not last long but afterwards the old GP airbox seems to disappear except on some works GP framed

bikes taken on in May 1968 by Brian Martin (there would have been a shortage of bikes with so many works riders). The frames were either

nickel or chrome plated and were a unique number sequence.


 

Another picture of the 66/67 frame - UL3 - ultralight? the Victor Vaughan frame and was used by Jeff Smith in late 1966 in the World

Championship rounds. 


 

This is UL3 again with the beginnings of the B50 chain adjustment system - the plate that holds the swinging arm in place pivots about

the top bolt - same the other side - this bike has now been built up by Graham Horne the man who originally built it for Jeff Smith to ride

 in the 1966 World Championship after the failure of the titanium project.

This is one of three recreations of works bikes (built in USA in 2002). It has a hybrid GP based frame, no little oil tank, front cast lug,

B50 type rear chain adjustment and swinging arm (could this be one of the 5 GP frames Brian Martin received in 1968?)  mag forks,

pear shaped top end, Rickman front hub, extended engine plates, titanium kickstart and footrests, GP airbox and seat and seat-loop - what

else can you spot?

250s


 

Works 250 c.1969 - Holes everywhere! Magnesium hubs and fork sliders.


The two pictures above show a set of magnesium castings drilled for a 250 barrel. The castings were part of a small batch sent over to California

at the same time as the BSA Factory Team was in the States in 1970 to contest the AMA series (for 500 and 250 sepatately). The 250s were very

competitiive.


BACK TO 1965/6

See the article below. The surprise here is that this bike came out prior to the titanium bike in 1966 - it has a new

 steel, lightweight frame, GP forks and the new 498cc "works" engine that was used (with one major revision) by the main works riders until the

 Competition Department closed. The full works engine was built on magnesium castings and was not, initially, reliable. It had a different

bore/stroke to the 440 and different cylinder stud spacings. It had a "pear" shape - a nice looking motor. The early 440s crankcases were sandcast

aluminium and some of these cases were used for the "economy" works engines that had the pear shaped head/barrel grafted on - the castings

were generous enough to take the bigger stud spacings - and the engines were supposed to produce more power - thicker/stiffer but heavier.

Not all the works riders got magnesium cased engines.

In passing, Graham mentioned that he thought there was a GP frame with a B50 swinging arm arrangement - just idly flicking through "Rolling

Thunder" there is a picture of Alan Clews' GP - and guess what - it has that arrangement!

Picture above - Graham Horne with Smithy's bikes - somewhere in Germany! On the way back in I think 1967.

Lo and behold! a picture ( taken by Barry Colson) of a GP with a B50 type swinging arm at Brands Hatch in early 1966.

Bernard Singleton

I finally got to meet the great man himself. On approaching his house you think to yourself that this is the home of a former race

mechanic to a world champion - even though he had a stroke in 2014 , 18 months later he has forced his body back to somewhere

near normality and his house and large garden are immaculate. His eye for detail is still there and he was spotting things on a bike

we took for him to see like the wrong sprocket size, the wrong spool hub and the correct floating front brake cam.

He is full of stories about life on the GP circuit in 1966 and later.

I asked him what used to break on the bikes - everything was the rejoinder. The first magnesium crankcases were forever breaking.

They tried all sorts of solutions such as bolting steel plates throuch the lugs. The gearbox output bearings and the engine main

bearings were "bolt-in". Eventually an extra lug was welded on the frame and the engine plates extended to pick it up and spread

the load.

There was also some re-working of the head and barrel and engine dimensions. Those engines persisted right to the

end although a few riders were using B50 engines latterly. There were a few B50 type (large rear engine lug) cases cast in

magnesium - some of them used in the U.S. as 250s.

Back in the day, travelling the continent Bernard and Smithy would set out with just one bike and an enormous ammunition box full

of spares that was as wide as the A55 they travelled in. Sometimes they had company - Arthur Lampkin or Jerry Scott - sometimes

alone. They might not talk for days, not because of any problem, just that there wasn't anything to say.

Travel behind the iron curtain was "interesting". In some places you weren't allowed to travel at night so if you hadn't found

somewhere decent you had to stay where you found yourself and sleep on a barn floor .

They arrived at a railway crossing which had armed guards who, because a train was due kept them waiting for 4 hours in case the

train came while they were crossing. Arthur even urinated accross the track to indicate the distance involved and the stupidity of it all

but they weren't allowed to cross until the train had passed and gone completely out of sight. The roads were dirt in the main.

Some trips to Russia were by train from Vienna - so the bike and spares were loaded on the train and a vehicle would meet them at

the other end to take them to the destination - accomodation was always good.

One of the journeys is described in Ken Sprayson's wonderful book.

Another story concerning magnesium cases was at , Bernhard thinks, the Italian GP, the cylinder studs pulled out of the cases and the

barrel was going up and down with the piston. Smithy was all for throwing the bike on the trailer and going home but Bernhard got a

piece of hard wood and hammered it between the head and the frame and fixed it with a woodscrew. I don't know whether he won

but the bike lasted the meeting - is there a frame out there somewhere bearing the evidence?

One of the interesting things Bernard confirmed was that once a works bike went back into the Comps Shop it could be ripped to

bits and the only original bits returned to the rider were the handlebars and footrests.

Magnesium cases with bolt-through support.

Bolt-on gearbox output bearing

This bike competed at an early Bonanza . It is one of the titanium bikes - where is it now?

A somewhat mullered titanium front brake backplate - pics thanks to one of our GP owners


The Road Racers

This next section will attempt to show some of the spin-off from motocross to road racing but does not cover twins or two-strokes.