The Norman Hanks,

"Big-Beam",

BSA Bantam trials bike...

 

 

Photo Courtesy "Jake" B...

 

Norman Hanks ( “Big Beam”) BSA Bantam Trials bike…

 

Like most of the boys that worked in the BSA competition department from the early days, until the end of factory trading, and especially at the changing period from heavyweight bikes to more manageable lighter models, and under the leadership of Brian (Capt) Martin,

The chaps there built competition machines incorporating their own ideas, mostly with the blessing of the Captain...

And one of the last to work in this department Norman Hanks came up with a radical design for a lightweight trials bike using parts available from the BSA/Triumph production lines…

And this machine was built to try and persuade the management that a competitive little machine could be built from these parts…

Problem was that although they looked at the project and even priced it up at £250… the whole British motorcycle industry was slipping away fast… The little machine was ridden and tested at the BSA but this is as far as it got.

Norman continued to ride and develop the little machine for some time, but it eventually got mothballed and slumbered in his garage for forty years. Luckily a

Mr. A Wright persuaded Norman to sell the BSA Bantam to him, and even he was persuaded to sell it onto the present owner Ed Freeman after “Wrighty” had played with it for a while. Ed is now putting the bike back into the developed form that Norman rode it in… Luckily Alan had kept all the parts he had removed…

 

 The story really started for me when I was sent a photo of the bike in 2018 by our friend in NI Jim Switzer, this was sent to him by Norman who was helping Jim's son with information to put a trials Bantam together...

Jim also sent me a little sketch of the layout of the machine. Showing how the engine breathed through the large beam section from the steering head...

 

 

I mailed Jim back saying I reckon I had seen a photo of the machine at the Telford show of that year. And put it onto the "Rummage-Through-Your -Draws" page...

Ed and his father had found it on that page and Ed contacted me...

Over to you boys for the full story…

 

 

This is the little bike in its final guise when Norman was riding it...

I mailed Norman and asked for information on the little bike, so that I got the story right...

 Norman promptly replied...

Hello Charlie, The top tube was made from the bare bent tube that would have been used in an oil in frame A65 BSA, using just the portion required.

The swing-arm was a standard Triumph Tiger Cub, which had space for a 4.00 tyre.

The sub-frame was made from standard Tiger Cub bends, shortened to suit.

 

For the first few years I used a D14 head with a central plug, but it was a pain in the butt to change the plug, so I machined the head to take a side-angled plug.

 

When I rode it, the cc was about 190cc, as it was bored to +060” and had an extra stroked crank + 3mm. To stop the piston popping out the top, the cylinder had an extra fin-slice dowelled to the top of it.

 

Originally it had a Bantam rear hub, but I broke so many layshaft teeth, I eventually fitted a Honda rear hub with a Cush drive.

 

Hope this is useful..........Norman.

 

~Oo>Thanks Norman Great stuff...

 

 

Norman competing on the "Big-Beam" Bantam in its final guise...

 

Now thanks to owner Ed Freeman we can take a close look at the Little Bantam...

All photos by Ed and his Copyright©

 

 

You can see from this shot how the engine is slung under the main beam...

 

And the back engine mounting, and swinging arm pivot...

 

 

You can just make out the Triumph Cub swinging arm part number .F4***

And original footpegs...

 

 

Bantam back hub that Norman changed to the Honda XL125 to give the bike a cush drive to save the gearbox...

And still has the extended Girling shocks fitted...

 

 

Has this engine got the eleven fins of the long-stroke engine?

Ed will take a look for me...

You can see the side fitting spark plug as well...

 

 

The first class new alloy tank, that copies the old heavy steel one that had started to corrode badly...

What a super job carried out by one of Ed's local fabricators...

 

 

Yes I would be pleased with that...

Before we take a close look at the top engine mounting, here is a bit more information from the show boards...

 

 

Don't forget Norman Hanks was also a British side-car road racing champion, and TT podium place winner in the Isle-Of-Man...

As well as being a motorcycle constructor and first class engineer...

 

 

A look at the rest of the bike in detail later...

 

 

The New tank looks stunning fitted on the machine.

New "Old-School" alloy bars bring the bike back into the correct build ...

 

 

Suzuki forks that were on the bike in its last stage of development have been refitted...

 

 

You can see where the central plug was fitted originally, and yes it would have been a pain, fitting it into the side of the head was another clever move... You also get a good view of the triangulated and sturdy top engine mounting...

 

 

You can see a lot of thought went into designing this Bantam frame...

Norman had the vision...

And you can just see the air intake holes in the steering head...

 

 

 Here is a far better view... Fork yokes are getting powder coated Ed tells me...

 

 

Another good shot of the engine top mounting, and the construction...

 

 

And the alternative Honda XL125 Rear wheel with cush drive...

 

 

More Later...Just a Start...

05/01/2021...