Fitzroy Allen's 1954 ISDT Works? BSA D3 Bantam trials bike.


Photo Courtesy Steven Beavis. 

Fitzroy Allen competing in the 1954 ISDT in Wales.


After a bad week in the office and thinking of packing the whole thing in.

I got an email from Wales.

 Steven Beavis, wanted my help.

I like helping anyone with a Classic trials bike because, I am well........, Interested.......  And bikes have turned up that I have thought were of no interest, and then have become Stars.

 This was another case.

 I have helped find one or two great bikes in the past, and this has driven me forward for more, that are always lurking in darkness of the past history of the British competition motorcycle industry.

So what have we here I hear you say?

 Well this is one of those rare finds that you only dream of in fiction. Well you say, you could not make this up.

 Well Steven has.

 Is there a greater being that pulls a rabbit from a hat now and again to make life interesting when it is on the wane? Could be.

 We should investigate further.

 So what has Steven found?

 Well only a gem from the uplifting period of the British motorcycle industry after the period after the second world war, and part of the spoils so to speak.

 Because this little machine that's engine was mirror imaged from a motorcycle engine that was designed by part of the defeated regime, was now a prime mover for a people to get back out to travel, and earn a living in this period.

 So it had to be simple and cheap.

The BSA Bantam was born.

And to help it's sale, an effort was made to use competition machines to bring there reliability to the fore.

 So what better way than to front teams in the  International Six Day Trial, that was a showcase for all machines available in the commercial market place, from around the world.

BSA were no exception, and used all the talented riders they could find no matter whether they were ameteur or professional works riders.

 On the Bantam lightweight front  in the early fifties since the bikes conception in 1948 George Pickering was their star professional rider, but there were others that had the backing and support from the factory, as they needed the publicity and a way of testing all of the machines ability.

 One of the Star riders used although being an ameteur was engineer and skilled off road rider Fitzroy Allen, and his stature suited the little bikes very well.

 Fast foreword to the present day, and after the past achievements, were just that, past and forgotten. A little machine that had languished in a shed from a year after its riders and its past fame, was thought to be in the way, and in need of a new home by the former riders daughter.

 A young chap that wanted a Classic British bike to renovate stumbled upon this Gem of history as neither knew what the machines past was.

Daughter's mostly don't take any notice of their fathers hobby do they?


 Lets get onto the bike found..

 After taking a look at the photos already sent to me. I had my own ideas.

 and thought I better contact people I knew that would know more than me, as we need to find the truth about this little machines history.



Pat Slinn...

So good to hear from you.  What a find and a wonderful project. 

Fitzroy Allen, now there is a name from the past. During the 50's the ISDT was so important to BSA, as it was of course to all manufacturers so I would presume that this D3 was a wholly owned factory machine or Fitzroy Allen's own bike that was prepared by the factory. The reg no is not a Birmingham reg, does the log book still exist ? I know that my dad used to prepare and help with a lot of the factory ISDT bikes including bikes that were used by privateers but had factory help, maybe this was one.( He taught me how to prepare mine ! ). I have seen the photo's on Speed Track tales, the details are certainly "worksy", spare spokes taped to the front mudguard stay, this is where the factory were putting them on the ISDT bikes in the 60's. The rear chain lubrication has the same sort of metering unit as I had on my ISDT bikes, and even the oxygen bottle looks similar, I also love the QD rear wheel, surely a works mod ! The de compressor I would have thought is a factory mod. 

Do you know  Michael Martin ? he may know something of this bike, if you want I will contact Michael, we are in touch from time to time.

Most of the people who worked in the BSA experimental / comp shop during this time have sadly left us, remember George Pickering?, he was a factory Bantam man and a personnel friend of my parents.  Maybe JV Smith would know something, do you want me to ask him. ? 


Charlie~Oo>  Thank's Pat I will get back to you.


I have sent the same request to others and can't wait for a reply from JV Smith, and will contact Michael.

 If you look at the photos below which are Steve's Copyright© you will see how professional the little bike was. And also that George Pickering rode in the 1954 trial on his 148 BSA Bantam in the British Vase (B) team, while Fitzroy rode for the Welsh (A) club team.


 Photos Courtesy Steven Beavis. 

This is the machine that Fitzroy Allen rode in the 1954 ISDT in Wales. Now I think it is a BSA prototype engine that later became the D3, and although down as a 125 in the programme for the 1954 event could have been bored out to 148cc like the bike rode  in the British Vase 2 team by George Pickering.

( Steve has now removed the head and barrel and measured the engine, and it is a 125, thinking about it It would have to have been as it could have been measured by the ISDT scrutineers).


You will also note the beefed up front forks of the later D3, with the U shaped brace bar fitted to the front of the forks instead at the rear on the later production machines. Now I would have fitted them this way as they help better to stop the pitch and twist of the undamped forks with only rubber bushing as a suspension element. Not also the ingenuous stone remover and catcher that displaced stones from the tyre before they did damage to the engine and the riders face.


Photo Courtesy Steven Beavis.

 Did it also hasten wear on the front tyre?




Wico-Pacy Geni ignition. But probably not standard, as this was the change over period.



31 F.A.G.Allen but was it a 125cc Bsa Bantam?



M.C.C. Of Wales (A) Team,





A friction Steering damper from one of BSA big brother bikes was used for the simple reason that with no damping on either end of the bike, as even the plunger rear suspension was only springs, and to be honest made the bikes twitch more than a rigid bike. So on the long fast sections and the damper screwed down a couple of turns it helped to keep some control over the steering.

You can see that the length of the damper rod has been kept long probably so that it could be replaced from an off the shelf item without modification. Also note the handlebar risers, for better control when stood on the pegs.



Now the back end of the machine is more than interesting........


Firstly note the blotches of paint that was used on all parts that could not be replaced, a number that was scribed into this was specific to that machine. So it would be spotted at a check points if the parts had

e legally been replaced on route.

(Steve tells me that there are three different colour patches on the machine and three diferent riding numbers from 1951-2 and 4,are scribed in so the bike must have parts from these three trials.)

So working down the section. Firstly look at the extended bolt that held the rear mudguard and seat into place, and also note that this is attached by a wire so that when undone would remain on the unit and not get lost. The rear part of the mudguard was usually hinged so that the rear wheel could be slid out easily.

We wait for Steve to reveal if it is the case on this little bike?

A good sized toolbox with quick release turn-buckle and low down to aid with the centre of gravity, and note the dent put into the bottom of this.

Why would you need a set of pillion footrests on a competition bike I hear you say?

 Well they were there for a purpose, for on the long road sections when speed was the most necessary factor, the rider could get down on the tank (like a road racer) and drop back onto the rear footrests, and the dent in the toolbox is so that his foot could fit in closer.

Then the quick release rear wheel spindle turn-buckle, this could be undone fast by use of a lever hammer or even a large stone.

 Can you see the perished rear wiring wire! and note the route to the rear lights direct and not run under the rear of the mudguard.



Rear twin lights so that one hopefully would always be working, as these were checked daily.

The registration number on the bike is from the earlier D1 Bantam that Fitzroy rode. 

"Just Stick the plates from your old bike on" BSA would have said, they did that with all of their bikes like all British motorcycle manufactures did at the time and until the end of most's production.

Steve also says that the engine and frame numbers have been only lightly struck and squeezed in which would go along with the story, as works bikes did not usually have engine numbers, as they were plucked for the engine line assembly area. But the bike would have to have a number for the ISDT .



The same treatment with the front wheel note security tyre bolt and the spare front and rear spokes tapped to the mudguard stays, we did just the same in the sixties for the National long distance trials, those QD wheel nuts were not unlike the racing cycle nuts only larger.

 The  front wheel is from the 1951 bike, you can see the 35 scribed into the white paint patch.



A breath of fresh air! A small oxygen cylinder for blowing the tyres up after a puncture on the road.

Take note of the tyre valve holder on the fixing bracket. Just there because if a valve was lost while repairing a puncture you knew where there was a spare to hand quickly. And even the shrader valve key could be screwed onto this so you knew where that was too........... Clever these Welsh.


Photo BSA-Otter Archives.


Just a comparison shot, of a D1 BSA Bantam Competition, and you can see the difference from the D3 Prototype that Steve has.

 Yes there was a plunger framed Competition in 1952, but the few that bought the little competition bike at the time usually plumped for the rigid version.

Also you can see that progress on development was also going ahead, just look at the flimsy front fork of the D1 that twisted on a daily basis.

(I remember John Gleed  visiting North Bar from down the road at Taylor-Dow on his little D1, and the first thing he did was stand astride the front wheel and yank the bars over one way or another to straiten the twist in the forks back to somewhere near centre.)

The D3 forks were beefed up a bit and had the U shaped brace to try and stop the fork twist.

And you can see that the engine of the D1 also still had the small fining on the cylinder barrel.

 Also on the D1 competition the saddle had a riser frame compared with the road version because it was found that a higher saddle position was better for footing on the long lane sections that were part of the one-day trials scene then.



Back to the plot...


Steve has now sent me a load more photo's  to digest and come up with some answers.

 With the cylinder-head removed we now can take a peep at the ports in the engine.

Photo when back.

Photo Steven-Beavis and his Copyright©



 Now I am no expert on BSA Bantam porting, but know two chaps that are, and one already says that it looks to be modified. By the works perhaps?

I have a cylinder at my workshop and will compare the two.


Photo and Copyright Steven Beavis©

You can see that the cylinder head has been skimmed and has a small squish band area.

One other thing, and there is a better photo that shows this, is that the cylinder and head had holes drilled for a scrutineers sealed locking wire so that if this was broken it proved that the engine had been tampered with during the trial.


Moving On.


Photo and Copyright Steven Beavis.©


 We talk today about the need for air boxes on motorcycles. But this air cleaner- Air-box was from 1951, so nothing new there then..The lever at the top of the box is the choke that shut off part of the intake until the engine warmed up.

 Also note the butterfly key on the bolt that holds the carburettor on to the inlet manifold  ready for a quick release of the unit if necessary, and with it loose the carburettor could be twisted around to  clean or change the main jet that was probably done, fitting a larger one for the long flat out road sections, to stop the motor nipping up.


Photo and Copyright  Steven Beavis ©.


 Now has you have read above Pat Slinn thinks this is just like the rear chain oiler fitted to his later works BSA, and I too had a chain oiler fitted to my ex works BSA trials Gold Star that was very similar.

Also you can see the standard at the time Bantam tool box that was also  used with with the larger one fitted the other side of the bike.


Photo and Copyright Steven Beavis ©.


Now here is a good shot of the QD rear wheel nut,

 I am surprised  that there is not a QD connection for the speedo drive, as this would have been a pain when wanting the wheel out quickly.

 My works Goldie had one fitted.


Photo again Steven Beavis and his Copyright©


Now although I have records of a folding BSA Bantam kick-start lever from this period, and has you may know  standard fitments were a non fold-able type, I still think this beefed up unit is a one off, from the factory foundry, not cast, but forged.


More later and the records that show the riders history in the ISDT's of the era.

There is a lot more detail tomorrow but here is a start to the story like always.