BSA Dandy


Make Model

BSA Dandy


1957 - 62


Two stroke, single cylinder


70 cc / 4.27 cub in.

Bore and Stroke

45 x 44 mm

Compression Ratio


Cooling System

Air cooled


Single, steel, silencer finished in heat resistant silver-aluminium paint


Kick start or hand operated


Dry plate


2-Speed with pre-selector

Final Drive


Overall Gear Ratios

1st 17.3 / 2nd 8.9:1


Open loop frame constructed from steel pressings, seam welded

Front Suspension

Leading bottom link fork

Front Wheel Travel

63.5 mm . 2.5 in.

Rear Suspension

Coil springs

Rear Wheel Travel

63.5 mm / 2.5 in.

Front Wheel

2.5 x 15 in

Rear Wheel

2.5 x 15 in

Front Brake

4 in., drum

Rear Brake

4 in., drum


Length: 1702 mm / 67 in.

Height:    838 mm / 33 in.


1143 mm / 45 in.

Ground Clearance

114 mm / 4.5 in.

Saddle Height

724 mm / 28.5 in.

Dry Weight

38.6 kg / 85 lbs

Fuel Capacity

3.4 L / 0.9 US gal.

Top Speed

50 km/h / 31 mph (approximate)



The BSA Dandy was almost certainly born out of well-intentioned ideas to produce a keenly priced commuter machine to compete in a rapidly growing market that was largely dominated by imported 50cc mopeds.

It was shortly after this point, that things started going wrong...

There’s not quite any saying when the Dandy project began as such, but the model was most probably developing over 1955, along with the ill-fated ‘Beeza’ scooter, when some misguided management decision felt that both machines should be marketed as quickly as possible, and certainly long before any technical assessment or engineering development had opportunity to appraise their suitability.

The first prototypes of both these new machines were completed only a few weeks before the Earls Court Show so, rather foolishly, it was decided they should be exhibited, and an advance notification was released to the motor cycling press.

In established practice for the time, motor cycling journals prepared ‘Show Preview’ issues to generate interest, and The Motor Cycle rather got off to a false start, in announcing the new ‘Dandi".

In the development phase to production, Dandy became subject to a number of changes, according to various marketing whims, cost constraints, and committee decided engineering alterations. A number of these were to offer little or no real improvement, and one in particular to catastrophically add to the already existing design problems.

It’s notable that the show prototype exhibited an aluminium cylinder, since the original concept was to produce the alloy barrel with a hard chrome bore.

NSU successfully introduced their Quickly moped with this feature and it was a process being developed by a number of other European manufacturers, Motobécane, Zündapp, etc, but at BSA, this method was only in its infancy. Certainly there existed a small division within the group that was exploring the process on an experimental scale but, in 1955, this was nearer the realms of science fiction fantasy than production practicality.

We will probably never know whether the show prototype Dandy actually had just a silver painted iron cylinder, a steel liner in aluminium cylinder, or possibly no finish whatsoever, as it may even have been completely incapable of running at all!

Whatever the answer to this question, the cylinder finning was intended to suitably satisfy the thermal dispersal properties of alloy—along the way, however, someone decided to go into production with a cast iron cylinder.

It’s been suggested this was a cost reduction idea, but it may equally have been a solution to the reality that BSA had no production hard chrome bore capability at the time (or ever, in fact).

While iron air-cooled cylinders are widely used on many motor cycle engines, the heat dispersal properties of iron are appreciably less, so require more suitable finning to account the difference—except that Dandy was produced in the same pattern! Considering the complete absence of fan driven forced air-cooling, coupled with the rear-facing cylinder arrangement that was obviously draft inhibited anyway, this was clearly a rather bad decision.

BSA Dandy production model

It took considerably longer than the earlier optimistic Spring date quoted before Dandy production models began progressing along the assembly lines in October 1956, and another sales season had already been missed.

Press releases at the end of the month were already representing the Dandy as ‘Manufacturer’s 1957 programme’, and detailing changes from the show prototype.

‘The most obvious difference concerns the headlamp. On the prototype, a shaped pressing in the curve of the handlebar bend housed a small headlamp and also the horn. Now, the horn has been mounted in the offside of the leg-shield, and a large 4½’ normal headlamp is fitted instead. This has a double filament bulb and a pilot bulb for the parking battery. An on/off switch is provided. The change improves the front-end appearance.

‘A twist-grip gear-control instead of the trigger-type snap-control is fitted, and the kick-start extension to the hand start lever has been dispensed with, the hand start having been found sufficient on its own.

‘The saddle has been made wider and deeper to give the greatest possible comfort. Finally, the rear number-plate has been mounted on the mudguard instead of on the carrier.

‘At present there are three colour finishes available: Light green (eau de nil), honey-beige, and dark lavender-grey. Wheel rims are chromium-plated, and the silencer is finished in heat-resistant silver-aluminium paint.

‘The price too, at £74–8s (including £14–8s purchase tax), is as originally announced’.

The press release notes neglected to include any reference of the change to iron cylinder ... obviously only a minor detail, unworthy of mention.

The Dandy didn’t appear on the market until 1957, when it became BSA’s only new machine for that year.

The figures do rather suggest that the majority of Dandy sales occurred in the early phase, mostly before it developed a reputation. The later years seemed to be barely selling anything at all, presumably after word got around.

The Dandy was officially dropped at the end of 1962, and the year-on-year production figures pretty effectively summarise its epitaph ‘Goodbye to bad rubbish’!

There may be some feeling that the choice of title for BSA’s scooterette was either inappropriate, and may neither have helped with its sales.


Extracts from an article by Mark Daniels