BSA Bantam Series


Make Model

BSA Bantam Series: D1, BD1, D3, D5, D7, D10, D10 Sports, Bushman, D14/4, D/B175


D1, BD1: 1948 - 63
D3: 1954 - 57
D5: 1958
D7: 1959 - 66
D10 (all): 1967
D14/4 (all): 1968 - 69
D/B 175 (all): 1969 - 71


piston ported two stroke, single cylinder


D1, BD1: 125 cc / 7.6 cub in.
D3: 150 cc / 9.2 cub in.
D5, D7, D10, Sport, Bushman,
D14/4, D/B175: 175 cc / 10/7 cub in.
Cooling System Air cooled
Exhaust Single, stainless steel and chrome


D1, BD1: Wico-Pacy or Lucas
D3, D5: Wico-Pacy
D7: Wipac
D10 (all): Wipac with coil and 60W Alternator
D14/4 (all), D/B175 (all): Wipac
Starting Kick start

Max Power

D1, BD1: 3 kW / 4 hp
D3: 4 kW / 5.3 hp
D5, D7: 5.5 kW / 7.4 hp
D10: 7 kW / 10 hp
D10 Sports, Bushman: 7.5 kW / 10.2 hp
D14/4 (all), D/B175 (all): 9.4 kW / 12.6 hp
Clutch Multi-plate


D1, BD1, D3, D5, D7, D10: 3-Speed
D10 Sports & Bushman, D14/4 (all), D/B175 (all): 4-Speed
Final Drive Chain

Front Suspension

Telescopic fork

Rear Suspension

D1, BD1 (1948-50): Rigid
D1, BD1 (1950-63): Plunger
D3: Plunger (swinging arm after 1956)
D5, D7, D10 (all), D14/4 (all), D/B175 (all): Swinging arm

Front Brakes

D1, BD1, D3 (pre 1958), D5: 4.5 in., drum
All other: 5 in., drum

Rear Brakes

D1, BD1, D3 (pre 1958), D5: 4.5 in., drum
All other: 5 in., drum


D1, BD1, D3 (pre 1958): 19 in.
D1, BD1, D3 (post 1958) & all other modes: 18 in.

Top Speed

D1, BD1: 72 km/h / 45 mph
D3: 80 km/h / 50 mph
D5, D7, D10 (all): 92 km/h / 57 mph
D14/4 (all), D/B175 (all): 105 km/h / 65 mph

The BSA Bantam is a two-stroke unit construction motorcycle that was produced by the Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA) from 1948 (as a 125 cc) until 1971 (as a 175 cc).

Exact production figures are unknown, but it was over 250,000 and some estimates place the number closer to half a million.

Riding the BSA Bantam

 But are they any use on modern roads?

Not a lot, if you want the truth. At least, the 125cc models aren't. It’s not so much that they don’t have the speed; they'll buzz along at a fairly steady 45-50mph under most conditions. But they don't have the grunt, acceleration or presence. To many drivers, they're all but invisible.

However, if you're tough and stubborn and brave and dedicated, you could yet travel tens of thousands of miles on a 125cc BSA Bantam and have a hoot doing it.

But for the vast majority of us (but by no means all of us), the 125cc Bantam, along with dozens of other 125cc British lightweights, has more or less come to the end of the road—save for the odd Sunday afternoon scooting around with whatever tribe you’re attached to.

Of course, if you live in rural Spain or France, or somewhere else where you can still find an empty stretch of tarmac, the piddly Bantam could be just the thing for zipping around the odd vineyard or dust bowl. But here in bumper-to-bumper Blighty, where people will murder you for another inch of highway, you’re living on borrowed time.

The 175cc bikes are different. These still have a fair amount of backroad zip left in them, and if you're not too heavily built, and are riding solo, you could use one of these for general commuting and for general days out. Just stay away from any fast roads and anything that looks like a headwind.

In good tune, they start easily and rev freely. The clutch is light and smooth, the brakes (when set up correctly) are good to excellent, and the handling is acceptable-to-good.

They're fairly comfortable too with everything within easy reach. And spares are everywhere, and reasonably priced.

We recently road-tested a D7 around the Kentish country lanes and had to be levered off the handlebars, such was the fun. And if you're used to lumbering four-strokes and haven't ridden a Bantam for a while, you might be pleasantly surprised at the sense of "liberation" offered by a decent little 175cc British two-stroke.

Keep in mind too that with the ever rising cost of fuel, and insurance, a 175cc BSA Bantam, returning around 70-80mpg, is about as cheap as practical classic biking is going to get.