Bit on the side

Decided to try and get Mrs A’s 1968 BSA D14/4 Bantam running in time for her birthday in August.

The bike is all there since it was parked up probably 20 years ago. It failed its roadworthiness test because of ‘sloppy’ forks so I took it home parked it up and got on with other stuff. Mrs A didn’t have an urgent need for the bike as she was battling with a new born…So the BSA has just been in the garage getting moved around from time to time as I try to squeeze out a little more space for various Laverda projects.

I had got some parts for it ages ago so now the archeology begins. First off I had a dry charged battery and bottle of acid so I filled it up put on a little charge and bingo! How good is that a battery sitting on the shelf for 20 years just waiting to be let out into the sun 🙂

Taking off the seat revealed the base is pretty rotten + a load of bodges I’d forced on the electrical system – twisted wires and insulation tape. Anyhow things are different now, I do things properly (!) so a bit of a tidy up with new HT lead and buff the points and it sparks and the lights work! I might get away with some fuel, new plug and plug cap…let’s see.

Nick 2/6/20

So with a cleaned carb’, fresh fuel and a new plug the Banty fired into life. I wouldn’t describe it as ‘running well’ or an easy starter but after being woken up from 20 years slumber I’m dead impressed!

Nick 10/6/20


So went to show off the running ‘Banty’ and it let me down – kick, kick, kick – take out the plug, kick, kick, kick – nothing. My visitor left and half an later for no good reason it sprang into life! I gave it a longer run this time and got some heat in to the engine. The engine isn’t that healthy but I remember the rebore I had done was a bit ‘slack’. The sound though made me think more of rumbling main bearings than piston slap. I shan’t bother with this before presenting it to Mrs A if I can get it to start easily and tick over then we can all ignore the rumbling…for now.

Found the log book but I’m told this shouldn’t be sent to DVLA as they are currently sleeping out the virus. Again we can ignore this and worry about it when things are back to something like ‘normal’.

The lights still don’t work despite showing power. Maybe a bit of work with some emery to clean the contacts will produce light? Although the wiring is old it doesn’t seem to be too hacked about and with only 6 volts to play with any losses could have a big impact.


Rummaging through old parts produced the original parking light holder. These don’t seem to be available any longer but this one will need a bit of work as the brass top hat that the bulb sits on in the holder has gone. I need to fashion a new one and solder in the wire somehow. A bit fiddly but I prefer this over the modern replacement that requires a separate earth wire.

Rummaging also revealed some nuts to hold the speedo in place and the original speedo drive. I had a look at this as ones with the correct gearing 2:1 are hard to find and I’d replaced it with the more easily obtainable 19:1. The original all seemed okay to me so not sure what I was thinking 30 years ago?


So inching ever closer… Finally got the lights to work. Turned out the connection on the back of the main bulb was faulty and a bit of fiddling saw the lights working. So now the bike starts and the lights work.

My attention has now turned to the handlebar controls. As I’ve had the bike in the shed since 1978 I don’t think of it as old but tracking down the correct levers is proving a bit of a challenge. I can get levers that work but not with ball ends. The good news is a lever is only £10+ per side so I’m happy to go with the less aesthetically pleasing plain levers and look to upgrade at a later date.

Spares availability for the Bantam is good to patchy. The D14/4 is slightly unusual being the penultimate iteration of the Bantam family. If it was say a D7 then it seems parts are easier to come by. Spares are also often pattern parts and the quality appears variable (and remember the quality was poor when the bike was new, unlike a Laverda). I’m also finding British bike dealers variable in their quality of service. Maybe if I was after parts for a T120 or somesuch there’d be more attentiveness but most seem disinterested in a humble ‘Banty’ – funny just like I remember back in 1978 when I last worked on it…


The plain levers worked or more to the point the control cables went in and functioned. The front brake cable had the wrong end (missing the shackle) but Draganfly Motorcycles came to the rescue (this dealer has proved to be the best I’ve found since diving back into British stuff) 🙂 The replacement throttle cable I fitted came just in time because the one fitted was frayed. The throttle control barrel adjuster is worn but was made to work. Similarly the worn Amal concentric works once the slide is pushed fully home. The cable that I’d anticipated most trouble with was the clutch but this proved a straightforward fix and the method of adjustment easy to do. So plain levers with no adjusters work.

I played around starting the BSA and was pretty confident for Mrs A’s birthday. With all the family round I snook out the back and then rode past the house – Mrs A and her Bantam reunited as she jumped on the pillion and we were off down the road just like 1978 when we were courting!

Everyone took turns sitting on the Banty and having a go at starting it – everyone got it going. What impressed me most was how good Mrs A was even giving it a subtle rev as the engine caught.

The following day Mrs A took her first ride on the bike – the HT fell out and needed fixing (so what’s new) but she sailed off down the road like she’d never been off the thing.

Magic 🙂