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HIGH FIDELITY CYCLING – IT’S THE CRAZE
BSA high fidelity cycling is not just a phrase coined to attract attention – it’s a fact, brought about by a combination of superb, up-to-the-minute design and the finest manufacturing methods in the world. You’ve only to “ride around the block” to realize that the hi fi transfer on the seat or down tube of a BSA really means something. And you get it only on a BSA.
From the late forties until the mid-fifties in Britain the bicycle was a primary means of transportation for many people. In the USA, however, adolescents often drove cars by their mid-teens and less adults rode bicycles. Cycle manufacturers therefore aimed their advertising at a powerful new ‘teen’ market.
British manufacturers had been exporting to America since the end of the war to help repay the American war loans. So the American market was very familiar and, always looking for a new marketing angle, they would have wanted to create a similar ‘youth market’ here.
By the late 1950s, American music and teenage culture was starting to influence formal British styles, and this resulted in a delightful genre of naive advertising, broadly summarized as square adults trying to ‘speak the language’ of teenagers. For example, as you can see here, BSA cashed in on the new trend of ‘high fidelity’ records by bringing out a range of ‘high fidelity’ bicycles:
‘A bike is a lot of fun. Knocking around with the gang – nipping up to the club – the disc session at Jill’s place – it’s great. You’re on the beat when you’re on a bike.’
1962 BSA Regency Gents – Hifi Cycling
26 x 1 3/8″ Wheels
I bought this BSA on 12th JULY 2011. My diary entry reads: “Today I saw my first ‘Hi-Fi’ BSA bicycle. I visited a lovely couple, Chris and Jen, who were selling off their few remaining cyclemotors. While inspecting their BSA Winged Wheel (I could not resist buying that too), I spotted a BSA bicycle hanging up in the garage behind. It was a BSA Regency. Though my priority these days is much older bicycles, as soon as I spotted the original transfer on the seat tube, I remembered the slogan in the advert:
‘You’ve only to ride around the block to realize that the hi fi transfer on the seat or down tube of a BSA really means something’
…and I’m sure you’d understand that (even though I need yet another bicycle like I need a hole in the head) I had to take this little gem home with me too.”
Now, nine years later, I’ve had to move out of my storage unit, and I found the Hifi BSA at the back gathering dust. So I cleaned it off and took these photos. Everything is original except for the chaincase. Once it has had some new tyres fitted and a good polish, it will be ready to ride.
HI FIDELITY CYCLING – 1962 BSA CATALOGUE EXTRACTS
SHORT VIDEO OF BSA REGENCY – Hifi CYCLING