A bit from here, and a bit from there – it’s probably the most clichéd way to build a bike but, like all good clichés, it has a solid basis in truth and honesty.
Words: Dave Manning
Pics: Garry Stuart
And, to be totally frank, it’s perhaps the only way that any of us actually do build a bike. After all, who has the wherewithal to obtain all the parts from one place at one point in time? The nature of building customs is in finding all the right parts (and, yes, that includes raw material for making true custom components), and that never happens all in one fell swoop, does it?
Martin Whittaker took 12 months to assemble this very cool, and deeply desirable, BSA, spending many of his weekends scouring the vans, trestle tables, plastic crates and spread-out tarpaulins of the Garstang autojumble and the Stafford Show. He admits that sourcing individual parts in this way isn’t the most economical way to build a bike, as it’d be far cheaper to start with a complete bike, but it’s certainly a very nice way to undergo the process – rather than having all the bits together at one point in time, there’s the ability to work on parts of the bike one at a time, while also having the chance to take a break to have a wander around an autojumble to look for the other bits that you’ll need.
Consequently, he was able to strip and rebuild the A10 engine without panicking about having to build up the rolling chassis at the same time, having to step over bits and bobs to get to it, or worrying about the open motor getting full of dust and debris from the drill, grinder or welder. While much of it remains standard, the barrels were bored to suit a pair of pistons 40 thou’ over-size (taking the capacity to marginally more than the 646cc of the original), while an Amal 928 Concentric (28mm bore, slightly larger than stock) carb’s bolted to the single port aluminium head (prior to 1955, A10s had cast iron heads). The standard gearbox was retained, but there’s a Norton clutch, and an open Hayward belt primary drive to reduce vibration, noise and leak potential, while a remote oil filter conversion helps to keep the vital fluids free of detritus. By using a siamesed exhaust with a single trumpet silencer on the right-hand side, the left of the bike’s cleared up and, in conjunction with the open primary, gives a very industrial and mechanical look to the bike.
The chassis is all A10 (frame from 1957 so it’s tax exempt!), only modified to suit the centrally mounted aluminium oil tank, while the tank is Yamaha DT175, and the seat is from a Royal Enfield. The shocks are Hagons, and both hubs were re-spoked to an 18-inch rear rim and 19-inch front respectively by Martin himself, and trued by his mate Colin Ashcroft (and his DTI gauge). Colin actually proved to be a great help with the build, and he also undertook the fabrication work, welding and some of the polishing too. With just a tail-light, the wiring loom’s correspondingly minimal, while the eye-catching orange/white paint is, again, Martin’s work, while all the powder-coating (frame, ’bars, rims, cylinder head) are courtesy of Tillings in Longton.
The end result is a cafe racer with a touch of flat-tracker/street-scrambler thrown in – you could swap the tyres to knobblies, and it’d give the bike a totally different feel, with either style still having that ‘want to ride’ vibe… although, on that note, if you feel that you really want to have a go on the Beeza (he reports that it “rides beautifully”) then, if you can persuade him to stop enjoying it himself, it could just be for sale – ring him on 07719 676125. Given that he’s spent a lot of time at autojumbles over the year it took to build it, he’s also collected a significant number of bits for other builds… so he might be glad of the spare time?