BSA Motorcycle Owners Association
It’s not every day that the boys in blue barricade the main street of a little country town to keep cars out, all for the benefit of a bunch of motorcyclists who’ve turned up for lunch. It was a ride organised by the BSA Motorcycle Owners Association (BSA MOA) in April in 2012 as part of the club’s annual All British Rally. The 36th running of the ‘All Brit’ rally attracted 890 entries. The BSA MOA is clearly a club of substance, a club with a bit of clout.
That Saturday ride to lunch is a regular feature of an event that takes rally-goers from the lovely rally site at Newstead in central Victoria to the nearby heritage town of Maldon for lunch at the bakery.
The ‘All Brit’ rally provides its happy campers with a laid-back weekend of Brit-bike immersion therapy in good company, but there’s a lot more to the BSA MOA than the big rally.
The club has been around since 1973 and it holds its meetings on the first Wednesday of each month at the Oakleigh Bowling Club’s premises in Melbourne’s south-east. It was founded by a bunch of BSA fans who were keen to keep the BSA marque alive at a time when the manufacture of BSA motorcycles was coming to an end.
In the early years the original 80 or so members focused the club’s activities on racing. While the 400 or more members that make up the club these days include a number involved in classic-bike competition, it also provides a range of activities including road rides and social get-togethers for members.
Club President Craig Burke – a happy BSA B31 punter – points to the pleasure a lot of club members get from the regular club runs at weekends. There seems to be at least one a month as well as some midweek rides. The club was preparing for the President’s Day Run when I spoke to Craig at the club’s recent February 2013 meeting.
“We’re riding to the Ballan (Vic) Vintage Tractor Pull and Engine Rally,” he said. “Last year for that run we were represented by 65 British bikes. It’s a really good day out. They have a huge display of vintage tractors, classic cars, model aeroplanes and all sorts of old machinery, and our bike display fits in well.”
Craig also touched on the broad eligibility for club membership. “My view is that the club as a whole is happy to accept as a member any motorcycle enthusiast who has an interest in BSA motor bikes – that’s technically what our club rules require,” he says.
“Obviously I’m biased, but I see it as a very welcoming club to new members. We’re not snobby if a new member hasn’t got a BSA or even a British bike. Sometimes you see a member riding a classic Japanese bike.”
As a visitor I’ve really enjoyed attending the occasional BSA MOA monthly meetings. The formal business is handled efficiently but in a relaxed and sociable atmosphere. Members pass on information about bikes and people and events and experiences, both good and bad, for the benefit of all. There’s a bit of a swap-meet feel to things as various members announce what they’ve got or what they’re chasing.
The club always manages to conjure up an interesting guest speaker, be it a Cam Donald, a Robbie Phillis, a skills trainer, a paramedic or other motorcycle specialists. MT’s own Ian Falloon and Spannerman have enjoyed the privilege of addressing the club, too. Spannerman, true to his mischievous form, controversially criticised the much-revered Phil Irving for his attitude to motoring journalists. A much younger Spanner had apparently upset The Great Man back in the day with his interview technique. Personally I’m convinced the problem lay with Spanner, not with ‘Fabulous Phil’.
MEMBER OF DISTINCTION
Club member Doug Fraser addressed the February meeting. Doug, who, incidentally, was one of the founding member group in 1973, is well known to the road-racing fraternity and to MT readers through regular mentions and the odd feature we’ve run about him over the years.
Doug’s trio of ‘BSA’ V-twins, designed and built by him, are bikes that he reckons would have saved BSA if the factory had built them. It’s no surprise that Doug is well known in classic bike circles around the world.
He spoke about his handiwork in his usual understated way that leaves many would-be backyard constructors (like me) feeling totally inadequate by comparison.
Doug is a fascinating blend of influences – a love-child perhaps of Edward Turner and Phil Irving with a bit of the DNA of Burt Munro and William Heath Robinson added for good measure.
He showed us a twin-leading-shoe hydraulic car brake he grafted onto the front of his BSA road-racer a while back. Doug reckons it worked well – perhaps too well. Scrutineers finally declared it ineligible after a few outings.
A similar fate eventually befell his BSA single-cylinder ‘double-knocker’ cylinder head, modified by him from a special ‘Street’ head. When his home-brewed 500cc single started embarrassing race-bikes like Honda 750cc fours, race officials once again tapped him on the shoulder.
Each month members are mailed an informative little club magazine appealing called The BSA Burble. In its 40-odd pages, along with the usual formal record of club meetings, you find a range of material including future event details, ‘resto’ yarns and tips, ‘A bloke and his bike’ articles and classified ads. It’s always an interesting and informative read.
Prospective visitors or members can phone Nigel Green on (03) 9437 2972 for meeting details or alternatively they can visit the BSA MOA website, which can be found at www.bsa.asn.au/index.html.