“MADE FOR TWO” – There were no tandems built during World War Two, a fact that BSA used in wartime adverts to invoke nostalgia for the “lovely long weekends in peace-time spring and summer” of the 1930s.
During the 1930s, a car was not essential transport like it is today. The country was coming out of the Great Depression, and people were budget-conscious. They did not sit around working on a computer or watching TV, so they were fit. A bicycle was a very sociable means of transportation, and the tandem had been known as a ‘courting machine’ during its early years. It was perfect for weekend pleasure trips. Compare the tandem with other economy forms of transport on sale in the mid-1930s:
1. A normal lightweight bicycle cost around £5.
2. A BSA tandem cost 16 guineas (£16 16/-).
3. You could buy a quality solo motorcycle for around £50, while the new budget range of Red Panther 250cc OHV motorcycles from Pride & Clark were offered at a very cheap price of £29 17/- 6d. This was one of the best deals for a four-stroke OHV motorcycle.
4. Grose & Sons offered a Cyc-Auto Autocycle (see advert below) with single-speed 98cc Villiers engine at £18 (£18 18/-).
5. An Austin Seven van at £115 was one of the cheapest motorcar options. In the days before ‘health and safety,’ parents put their kids in the back. My dad did the same; he used his Morris Eight van for work during the week and when he took me out I’d stand in the back and hold on to the back of his seat.
1934 BSA Double Gents Tandem
‘Model T2’ with Cyclo Derailleur gear on Trivelox block & hub
Williams tandem chainwheels with date code 1934
Celluloid handlebars with BSA stems
2 sets of matching rat trap pedals
BSA Wingnuts front and rear
21″ + 21″ Frame
26 x 1 3/8″ Wheels
This BSA tandem is in good original condition, with its BSA ‘Three Rifle’ transfers (decals) faded but intact on the steering head and on the two seat tubes. The saddles are leather (Brooks front and Lycett rear) rather than the Terrys shown in the 1934 BSA catalogue illustration (below). The head clip is rusty, the bar tape could do with replacing and the paint is faded. It’s a lightweight machine, fully functional and ready to ride.
1934 BSA CATALOGUE EXTRACTS
1930s BSA PILED ARMS TANDEMS
BSA bicycles are notoriously difficult to date accurately. Frame numbers did not run sequentially, and few factory records or shop records exist. Catalogue descriptions are usually the best way to identify their age.
There’s little to distinguish Piled Arms tandems throughout their 1930s model years. The change of model number from year to year would appear to reflect only the new year’s catalogue model, eg T64 is 1936, T74 is 1937, T94 is 1939. I’ve only spotted a few changes from the catalogue descriptions.
If you compare the catalogues below, the 1934 tandem would appear to be fitted with a different gear trigger to the 1936 model.
In 1937 the Brooks ‘B15’ saddle was fitted as standard, replacing the Terry Leather Top saddle.
The 1939 catalogue appears to offer only Cyclo gears.
A tandem is not mentioned in the 1940 catalogue, so I assume 1939 to be the Piled Arms Tandem’s final year.
1934 BSA Tandem Models T1 & T2
1936 BSA Tandem Models T61, T62, T63, T64
1937 BSA Tandem Models T71, T72, T73, T74
1938 BSA Tandem Models T81, T82
1939 BSA Tandem Models T92, T94