The most famous ‘working’ motorcycle ever made, certainly in Britain? The BSA Bantam is close, if not the one. Sure, it’s not possessed of the glamour of its Gold Star stablemate or the Triumph Bonneville, but the little BSA was known intimately and ridden extensively by a whole lot more riders than those two put together. And the story for this most British of legends all began in Germany. In the aftermath of the Second World War, the Allies plundered the broken Fatherland for repatriations and one of the spoils was the DKW factory’s neatly styled and soundly designed RT125 model. Manufacturers around the world (including Harley-Davidson and later Yamaha) produced versions of the German engine, but in Britain, BSA’s Bantam, launched in 1948, became the best-selling variant; by 1953, 100,000 had already been sold.
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