A50 - the best old British bike I've ever had!

Published: 08:22AM Oct 4th, 2013
By: Web Editor
Following on from your excellent article on the much underrated BSA A50 (September 2013), I would like to add a few comments.
A50 - the best old British bike I've ever had!

I’ve got a 1965 A50 Cyclone – one of 43 English specification Cyclones made. I bought it originally in 1992 and have owned it three times.

The initial test ride was a real eye-opener – it was amazingly smooth after all my usual 650cc twins (a lot slower too!). Commendably oil tight too.

I use a straight 40 oil (not 20/50) and change it every 900-1000 miles. An SRM solid state podronics unit and electronic ignition adds enormously to reliability.

I’ve used mine as a ride to work bike and it’s proved to be amazingly reliable. Even with a 650cc barrel and head it still remained really smooth. Current mileage is now in excess of 125,000 miles.

I asked Graham Horne to do a complete rebuild to full Cyclone Clubman specification. BSA catalogued a Clubman but never produced one – the 650 Lightning Clubman was only £10 more so people opted for those! Forks and swinging arm bushes were well worn but engine and gearbox were still in very good condition. Crank was reground for the second time so 60-70,000 miles seems to be main bearing life. Big ends were okay but reground and new bearings fitted as a matter of course.

The standard size pistons and barrel that were fitted in 1986 and had done 25,000 miles were still good and needed new rings and a honing. Changing the oil certainly pays dividends!

The really crucial bit is to use a high quality timing side bush of the correct material and have it line-bored correctly. This has to be done correctly if you want a smooth long life motor.

This is without doubt the best old British bike I’ve ever had. Not the fastest or most charismatic, but the easiest to live with on a day to day basis by a country mile.

Highly recommended.




Lionel Smith, Worcs

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