The 1959-60 BSA C15T.





I thought I would publish a page about this bike after viewing a readers fine original example.

 I have the story on my I mac. But seem unable to down load it at present, but will try later.

Barry's dad bought this this bike from the original owner in 1979, when he was 64 years young.

He did a bit of trials riding on the bike as he was a trials rider from the past. And Barry can remember building up a kit form Bultaco with his dad...

Anyway dad then did a bit of what we now call greenlaning on the bike, but always found it difficult to start?

Well we all had the same problem with this, and I was only eighteen at the time we had ours in 1963.

After this the bike has been laid up for some years but now Barry thinks it's time for it's re-emergence.


 A bit of history on the BSA C15 T.


Well to the casual glance the frame did not seem a lot different from it's commuter road going brother.

And as we all know, all the bikes that came out of the BSA factory in the late fifties and on in the sixties, were always built down to a price and not up to a standard. But there were subtle differences.

The castings that held the engine were different as the engine unit now had to be carried over to the left to get better chain clearance for the four inch back tyre.

This meant different engine mounting castings, the two engine cradle members were parallel on the trials frame, and the tubes that carried the pillion footrests were omitted.

The sub-frame differed in that it was shorter and had mudguard mounting brackets on the outside of the loop.

The swinging arm was a half inch longer, (So we were told but I don't beleive that) for tyre clearance, and footrests moved back with a single through bolt fixing.

And perhaps the most distinguishing feature was the the "J" type kick-start lever.

  All of the bike's that left the factory had the lighting as fitted to this machine.

It was dodgy to say the least.

Forks from the grown up side of the factory were used and mostly but not all, with out side springs fitted.

 The real big glitch in the make up of the bike was the front wheel again a compromise due to the management again.

You see with the now normal twenty one inch wheel fitted, there was just not enough tyre clearance with the front down tube, so good old BSA had to commission a 20" tyre from Dunlop just for this bike.

Although all of the works bikes were fitted with 21" and a bit less front fork movement.

BSA said no we can't have that, we need our bikes to have full fork travel for the customers, but we can't afford to build another frame just for this bike.

 So you see where we are heading and why this splendid example must be kept Has it is. Don't you agree?



This is how the BSA C15T of Barry Browns looks after all these years.

  Tidy I would say...


     Photo Credit "OffRoad Archive".


This is the late Max King riding one of the first production BSA C15T's off of the production line.

YOE  388.

Max was so impressed with the machine that Brian Martin had been riding,since 1957, which was the prototype, that he being a journalist and a very good trials rider asked the BSA management if he could have a machine to test, BSA gave him the machine on lone, but Max liked the little bike that much that he kept it...


 Now would you leave Barry's  bike has it is, looking at YOE 388 when it was new?

With a very gentle restoration?


Barry wanted to fit electronic ignition!

I advised him not too. Leave it I said, it is too good a bike to mess with.


And I am sure has I say in the story, gently stripping the engine and replacing seals bearings etc, and perhaps rings, then rebuilding lapping in valves etc. I am sure the bike would start and run on the original ignition?


 But If it is difficult to get the little bike to run on it's original Lucas Energy-Transfer set-up.

Barry you could try just changing the coil to one of these chaps below.

Or there now are some scooter coils on the market that would more likely work on the old Lucas system...

And an upgrade to the AC alternator would not affect the appearance.



 The coil in the box are available in the UK from "Off Road Only." in Wales.


 Then if that did not fix the bikes sparks, the nearest thing to the original set up using the coil above, Is probably a Boyer  Bransdon trials ignition available from TrialsBits.

This unit uses the distributor housing to fire the system using the new pulse magnet, but still looks authentic.

What you would need to replace as well would be the AC alternator, and the three position rotor, with a new DC unit and rotor, now using the crankshaft square key-way.

These are available from several suppliers, Sparx from Tri Cor, or Lucas copies from many Wassell dealers.  Trials-Bits even.

 OK I know you could fit PVL or Electrex, units, but these would perhaps not be in the same spirit as the first two thoughts.



You can see the glamour that was attached to these machine's at the time, and the old romance tends to come back when you look at this brochure again now.

That sapphire blue and chrome tank tends to suck you in...


Photo Courtesy Ian Ballard.


Here is a good example of a BSA C15T frame, you can see the parallel engine cradle tubes.

And the footrest bracket mounting points fixed with one through bolt, also the omission of the pillion rest tubes.



Here is a 1966 "Sportsman" C15 road frame you can see the difference here with the pillion rest tubes and the tapered footrest mountings. The engine mounting castings on the C15T were also 1/8" further to the nearside for a better chain run with the 4" rear tyre.

The swinging-arm was said to be 1/2" longer too, but I would question that, I think it was only in the publicity brochures that this happened.

The subframe was slightly shorter and the mudguard brackets were on the outside of the loop rather than the inside on the road bikes.

The steering head angle was the same, and only got altered by the use of the different forks and rear shocks fitted to the Trials and Scrambles models.



This BSA C15T that belongs to a friend of mine Ted Freeman, was one of the first works trials bikes issued to the Star riders...

You can see that the steel chromed mudguards were changed to aluminium, but the rear one still being of 6" D section. The front mudguard stay was retained but bent up at the front. 

Another modification carried out quite early on the "Works machines was to re route the exhaust through the inside of the rear subframe.



Although in 1961, the Scottish team still had  the exhaust outside the frame, although they had changed the wheel hubs to BSA Bantam.

If you notice also the top tube of the rear subframe is made of smaller section tubing, but was at this time kept at the same height as the production machines.

Summing up, the first swan necked BSA C15t's are still respected to this day, and a lot of riders that have tried most of the new fancy frames, including the modified Bantam one, have come to the conclusion that the standard BSA C15 frame can handle in a lot of cases better than anything more modern...  Just look at the "Cotswold" bikes...



Here is a sympathetically rebuilt example of a BSA C15T that has recently been sold.

 The owner of thirty two years rebuilt the bike resisting the temptation to fit any modern interpretations that are so easly available.  Only fitting Electrex ignition to make the bike ridable but leaving the distributor  for originality. He and his father had very good results riding the machine in Yorkshire...

 A bike like this now has far better value than one of the copy bikes that have flooded the scene...



More Later.