The BSA Company have this year commenced a new era: previously they have not supplied complete bicycles – only the parts. Now they announce for sale complete machines of the highest possible workmanship, from £8 15s. We notice that the cheapest grade has a coaster hub, but, if desired, for the same money, an ordinary BSA free wheel will be fitted, and two rim brakes instead of a front rim brake and hub brake. This alternative is to our mind preferable. For an extra 25s, a two-speed gear is fitted, or a three-speed gear for 30s more.
The Boy’s Own Paper, 1910
The majority of bicycles used during World War One were not military models, but civilian bicycles ‘called up’ for war use, many of which had accessories fitted suitable for military usage. The accessory most frequently used was carrier racks. Some were also fitted with rifle mounts and rifles.
Boy Scouts had already received considerable training in the use of bicycles under war conditions. Older members enlisted, while younger boy scouts performed admirable service helping the war effort. As I wrote in my book ‘Bad Teeth No Bar’ to conclude the chapter on Boy Scouts:
“For over four years, Scouts and Guides came forward in large numbers to ‘do their bit’ for their country. Throughout this country and abroad they successfully took on a variety of duties, many of which were reliant on their dependable bicycles and many paid the ultimate price.
Every Boy Scout who helped towards the war effort was entitled to wear a war service badge, which was made of red felt, bearing a date and the King’s crown. The one issued in 1914 was awarded for twenty-eight days unpaid service, while the 1918 version was for fifty days unpaid service. Over the four years more than 80,000 war badges were issued to our valiant Boy Scouts.”
1912 BSA Junior Bicycle
15 inch Boy’s Model
Eadie Coaster Hub Brake
BSA did not make their own bikes until 1910, so a new BSA would have been a very special affair. The BSA logo on the headstock shows this is a BSA-made machine, rather than a BSA Fittings Machine. Its chain wheel is the style fitted to BSA’s from 1908 onwards.
It had been Uncle Reg’s bike too. Uncle Reg was born in 1901, so he would have been eleven years old when his parents bought this BSA for him.
THE BOY’S OWN PAPER, 1910
Below, you can read a review of the ‘Cycle Novelties’ available for the 1910 season, including the new BSA, on the market for the first time.
The bike was in a very sorry state when I found it. Luckily, the original paintwork is in reasonable condition, with most of its box lining still present. It’s fitted with 20 inch wheels and 20 x 1 3/8 tyres.
The Piled Arms logo is still visible on the seat tube.
I’m still trying to find a copy of the 1910 BSA catalogue; the only copy I have at the moment is the 1910 BSA Fittings Catalogue, as below, showing the adult version.
At the moment, the only illustration I have of a BSA Junior Boy’s Bicycle is in the 1928 BSA catalogue, below. I’ll update this page when I find more information.
AS A BOY SCOUT’S BIKE
The start of the Boy Scout Cycle Corps occurred during the siege of Mafeking, in the Boer War, and this laid the foundation for the subsequent application of bicycles in a military setting. The Cyclist Scouts Training, published in 1910, offers an interesting guide to what is in effect the military use of bicycles. Although not a military handbook it provides most of the information a military cyclist would need.
This BSA Junior bicycle is fitted with a BSA manufactured 1906 War Office Standard Pattern Miniature Rifle.
BSA CHAIN WHEEL
This style of chain wheel, with the BSA initials cast into it, was introduced in the 1908 season. As BSA did not make complete bicycles at that time, it was still only available for the first few years as a component. Here’s a 1907 article announcing its debut…
EADIE COASTER HUB
As I admire full size BSA bicycles, I’ve been fascinated by this miniaturized version, complete with an Eadie Coaster hub brake.