Friday, May 18, 2018

The Best Days are Bantam Days

 At least that is what BSA reckoned in their advertising blurb. Can't totally disagree as I've had some great fun with Bantams over the years. With the sun out it seemed like a good excuse to give the newly rebuilt D1 engine a go and see if the new Electrex World ignition has made much difference to the performance.

First stop was the petrol station. Having not run a two stroke for a couple of years I made the rookie mistake of filling it up, only just leaving enough room for the oil and then when the cap goes back in the extra displacement of the oil measure causes the petrol to slosh out everywhere. Luckily with it being a hot day the overspill evaporated off pretty quick and I gave the bike a kick with fingers crossed that we wouldn't go up in a big fireball. Then I noticed that the float had jammed and more petrol was flooding out.

Switching the petrol tap off was enough to sort that one. But first big test of the new ignition was would it have enough juice to fire up a flooded bike? Nope to that so bump start time. With petrol sloshing out of the cap we sputtered in to life.

My next mistake was to pick a route with a lot of hills. The rose tinted glasses hadn't warned me just how awful the Bantam's gear ratios are. Screaming uphill in second at 30mph, change up to third, bog down and slow to 25mph, change back to second and then repeat. I guess I carry about three stone more than teenage me though so that's not going to do the little bike many favours.

So, did the new ignition improve performance at all? Frankly no. Starting is however way way better as is tickover. The bike is certainly a lot better mannered. 

On the flat the Bantam is actually quite pleasant. Handling is fun, brakes adequate and it will buzz along at about 45mph. Give it the sniff of a hill though and all is lost. Not ideal living in a hilly area as I do. Next question then is do I keep a hold of it and develop the bike a little? Or do I find a new owner for it? I've got a 150cc D3 barrel which I hear can help iron out the frustrations with hill climbing. Perhaps give it one more go with that fitted and if that doesn't work I should get less sentimental and pass it on.


  1. Brings back memories of the Rigid frame D1 I had. You'd spend an age getting up enough speed to get into top, then first sign of a rise, back into 2nd and repeat.Fun if you were not intent on getting anywhere.
    Funny to think in the 1950s the magazines often carried stories of people who made amazing trans- continental journies on them.More often than not,
    a couple of young women riding.

    1. A friend's mother toured the world two up with a female companion on a LD150 Lambretta in the early sixties. Folks were made of sterner stuff then, or at least did not know or have access to any better! I don't know if you are in the BTSC but I really enjoy reading John Story's adventures on his Bantam - Project 9. Worth googling if you have not come across him before.

  2. I think I had enough Bantams thanks.Gone off ancient two strokes.