(amended 22/3/2017 to rectify background colour pb)
A CENTRE of attraction atOlympia, the front wheel driveB.S.A. three - wheeler hascaused a great deal of discussion.Obviously there are hundreds ofpotential buyers who wish to knowhow it performs on the road.The answer to this question is thatthe performance is altogether de-lightful.If it were not that the duty of aroad tester is to provide useful andintelligent criticism, these noteswould become one paean of praise.As it is, points for critical commentare extremely difficult to find, andafter 500 miles of hard driving,
SPECIFICATION.ENGINE: 85 X 90 mm. (1.021.5 c.c.)B.S A, with enclosed overhead-valve gear.Electric starter.
TRANSMISSION:Worm and shaft drive to front wheels.
LUBRICATION: Mechanical feed fromsump to cylinders.
GEAR BOX: BSA three-speed and reverse, unit with engine. Ratios: 525,7.81 and 1535 to 1. Reverse. 18.9 to I.
CARBURETTER: S U., single control.
BRAKES: Internal expanding, on. front and rear.
TYRES: 27x4in.
WEIGHT (Fully equipped):
896 Ib.
PRICE (With spare wheel and windscreenwiper): £125.
MAKER: B.S.A Cycles, Ltd., Birmingham.
the final drive being by exposed driving axleswith duplex fabric-joints on the inner ends andHookes-type joints enclosed within the stubheads. There is no rigid front axle. its place being taken by four transverse springs oneither side. These springs are necessarily on the stiff side, but, as thisstiffness would be essential on anythree-wheeled vehicle-to preventexcessive roll the point is of littlemoment.Only on full lock is it possible toexperience the slightest " feel " ofthe drive; at all other times it wouldbe impossible to detect that thedrive was taken through the steeringwheels.Steering by pinion and internalquadrant is not, as a role, irreversible, but-owing probably to the factthat the drive is transmitted through
theonly criticisms that can be advanced concern minordetails, such as bonnet fasteners and door handles.The engine is smooth, quiet and powerful, the acceler-oation of a very high order, the braking perfect, and thestability and road-holding at least as good as that of theaverage small car. In fact, corners may almost betaken at any speed permitted by visibility, and only onone occasion did the sudden application of brakes on agreasy surface have the slightest untoward effect.It may be best to discuss the salient features of thedesign in relationship to their effect on road perform-ance, and as it is the front wheel drive that is the mostunusual feature of the machine, this point will beexamined first.The worm drive, with its spur-type differential, ishoused in an extension of the engine and gear unit,
the steering wheels the effect of irreversible steering isobtained, and there is no trace of kick-back in the steer-ing wheel when normal obstructions are encountered.As regards the rear springing, the rear wheel of athree-wheeler is bound to strike obstacles which couldbe avoided on a four-wheeler, and therefore the formercan never be quite so comfortable as the latter. TheB.S.A. however, is well sprung for a three-wheeler,and pneumatic seat cushions help to remove tracesof jar. The shock absorber is accessible and pays forattention, and the long spring, enclosed in the tubularframe member, is kept clear of mud and water.The technically minded will wish to know whether asteep hill transfers the weight too far aft for satisfactorywheel-grip; and the reply is that on a gradient ofrather worse than I in 7 the machine will glide away
from a standing start withouta trace of wheelspin, whilewhen the machine is equippedwith suitable tyres (not,chains) such freakish Cots-wold climbs as Gypsy Laneand Mill Hill are well withinits powers.The interconnected three-wheel brakes are admirable,and will stop the vehiclequickly and smoothly evenon steep descents, and therear wheel brake alone willstop and hold the machine onany gradient and surfacewhich provide sufficient wheel-grip.Incidentally, this latter-brake is operated by a push-on lever-a feature of theDaimler car.It is desirable that thefront brake should come intoaction slightly before the
is an inclination to drivenormally at 45 to 50 m.p.h.,simply because at such speedsthe engine appears to beentirely . effortless; and,though the maximum speed isjust over 60 m.p.h., a steady50 does not tire the engine inthe least.This point was emphasisedduring a fuel-consumptiontest for, though it was in-tended that the machineshould be kept at a steady36 m.p.h., within half a mileof the start the speedometerneedle was past the 40 mark-and therefore it was keptaround this figure through-out. Even at this speed theconsumption proved to bebetter than 40 m.p.g., a goodfigure for a 1,021 c.c. enginetowing a driver, a passenger,and a machine which in laden
back brake, and this is easily ensured by simple wing-nut adjustments. There is only one brake drum onthe front axle, but as it is anchored to the differentialshell it has a balanced action on both front wheels.Owing to the immense supports for the gear boxmain shaft, which passes right through to a bearingbeyond the worm, the gear box is amazingly quiet, andeven on the lower ratios there is an almost uncannyabsence of whine or hum. The gear-change is extra-ordinarily easy, and though the unusual position ofthe lever-under the scuttle-might appear awkward,this is by no means the case. The gears fall into meshwithout noise or effort, and the clutch is sweet.
Almost Perfect Balance.
And now for that very important item, the engine.A 90-degree twin can be balanced almost to perfection,and the B.S.A. designer seems to have hit on the exactformula. At any speed between 20 m.p.h. and
condition scales over 8 cwt. (Incidentally, it should bementioned that future models will be considerablylihghter some parts of the first batch being unnecessarily heavy.
Adequate Weather Protection.
Oil consumption during the test was about 600 milesper gallon, but as the engine was new the setting wasarranged to provide a good steady smoke when runninglight, and it is certain that the figure would be unprovedupon to a marked degree in ordinary circumstancesThe model under test had a coachbuilt body withfull equipment, and- it provided weather protectionequal to that ot the modern car, having a sloping one-piece wmdscreen, hinged at the top, a well-fitting hoodand side-screens and curtains. during part of the testthe weather was sufficiently vile to discover any faultsyet the protection afforded was adequate Though no need for wheel 'changing was experienced,
60 m.p.h. on top gear it wouldbe hard to tell that theengine was not a four, and avery smooth four at that.Below the lower limit violentacceleration will show theabsence of the two extra cylin-ders, but mainly by " voice."The engine will tick over soslowly and quietly and accele-rate so smoothly, if the controlsare operated intelligently, thattop gear may be employedeven in moderately thicktraffic; in fact, it is quite easyto re-start on top gear, even ona moderate gradient. Never isthe thump associated- withmany big twins obvious. There
the operation, as regards thefront wheels, is at least aseasy as on a car; althoughthe rear wheel is not quiteso exposed there is nodifficulty in reaching thewheel nuts with the brace.When it is remembered thatthe specification includes anelectric starter (which reallystarts-the engine!), an electrichorn and wihdscreen wiper, a, spare wheel, a reverse gearand every modem luxury, itwill be agreed that, with itsexcellent performance, theB.S.A. runabout is somethingrather remarkable in the wayof value for money
Editor's note
This two-page article first appeared on Dec 12th, 1929, Ian Pinkney copied it some years ago, andkindly loaned it to me for use on this web-site. I have tried to make it appear as like the original as possiblebut it meant scanning each item separately, using OCR for the text and 'photo enhancementsoftware for the pictures, and then laboriously re-assembling it all and trying out many different font styles to get it (almost) perfect. Psb. (if you are using netscape or mozilla there will be text overlapin four places, all other browsers ok)


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