BSA Motorcycles book

10th February 2016


Veloce Publishing | Brad Jones | Book review


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You can't judge 'em by their covers. Books, that is. That's the conventional wisdom, and it certainly applies in this instance. The cover of this title is as dull as accountancy and will do little to sell this publication. But grab a copy, open it, sit back and read. It's actually a pretty good tome. Not the best we've ever seen, but it's a long way from the worst, and there's much stuff in this slim volume that we didn't know; notably comments, observations and opinions in the sections headed: WHAT THE PRESS SAID. We already know that you can't trust the media, of course, least of all the bike media. But the various comments from the journos and publishing pundits provide an amusing anecdotal distraction that helped keep us thumbing the pages.



Brad Jones is the author. Veloce is the publisher—and (not for the first time) Veloce told us that the book was new. Well, it must have slipped below our radar (and slipped from Veloce's mind) because we hadn't noticed it before. So we took a copy for review purposes and set ourselves a-reading. But this book was actually first published in 2014. That doesn't in itself matter. But it simply ain't quite what we'd expected; i.e. a new book.


That said, BSA Motorcycles - The Final Evolution will likely mostly interest the hardcore BSA boys ever on the hunt for new facts and insights. But anyone looking for a more general guide to the Birmingham Small Arms company motorcycles might want to ferret elsewhere.


As the name suggests, this book covers the closing years of BSA. It looks at all 1971/1972 BSA and Triumph models. There's also a close look at the BSA 350cc Fury, an appraisal of the X-75 Triumph Hurricane, a glimpse into the ill-fated Ariel trike (BSA owned Ariel during those years), plus a chapter or two on the Small Heath factory and the controversial design studio at Umberslade Hall. The author also ducks behind the scenes and explores the minds and machinations of the designers, the engineers, the racers, the admen, the accountants, the aforementioned pressmen and the industry "captains".


The writing is businesslike, economical and unflashy. In fact, it reads more like a textbook than a heartfelt essay or expose. The pictures are a mix of black & white and colour, and they're about average—or even slightly below average—in terms of quality. But many of the images are taken from the author's archive. Therefore, they will not have been very widely seen. Indeed, Veloce claims that 50 images have never been published before.


Brad Jones is British, by the way. We wouldn't know him from Adam, but clearly he's been around. You can't write stuff like this without a little oil in the blood, and that takes time. This book boasts 140 pages, 200 images, hard covers and a £30 price tag. But that price was then. Right now, it's available at anything from £20 or so upward.


If there was any single way Veloce might have made this book better, it might have been to make it larger. There are brochure shots here, for instance, that you want to look closer at, but are unable to.


But then, a bigger book carries a bigger price sticker, etc. All the same, if Veloce had been a little braver, the volume might have found its way into a few more homes. However, it's easy to say stuff like that when it's someone else's wallet being squeezed.


Marks out of ten? Six or seven.






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