c1952 BSA Winged Wheel Motorised Bicycle
The history of the Birmingham Small Arms Company dates back to 1854, when a group of local businessmen began suppling guns for the Crimean War. It wasn’t until the 1880s that BSA diversified into bicycles and following a natural progression, the company began offering proprietory engines such as the Belgian Minerva to power their two-wheeled products in the early 1900s. Ultimately BSA commenced production of its own engines in 1910, with a side-valve single displacing 500cc becoming the mainstay of production well into the 1920s, despite the introduction of more sophisticated ohv models. Despite the burgeoning success of the motorcycle market, BSA continued producing bicycles, introducing the Winged Wheel, its own take on the moped, in 1953. Competing with the Cyclemaster, the Winged Wheel was a self contained unit consisting of a 35cc engine, gear-drive, internal-expanding brake and lighting generator and could be fitted to any standard bicycle frame. A ratchet control on the clutch lever was employed for retaining the clutch in ‘free wheel’ mode, while the choke and throttle were combined in a single unit. The eight pint fuel tank was normally mounted above the rear wheel, occupying the position normally reserved for the rear carrier, and gave excellent fuel economy, with up to 200 miles per gallon claimed in period literature. BSA sold a large number of Winged Wheels in the 1950s but surviving units are rarely seen today, enjoying a strong following and with plenty of support from clubs and specialists around the world.