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BSA A7 1949.JPG
Manufacturer BSA
Production 1946
Engine 495 and 497 cc (30.2 and 30.3 cu in) straight twin
Top speed 85 mph (137 km/h) (495)[1]
90 mph (140 km/h) (497)[2]
Power 26 bhp (19 kW) (495)[1]
30 bhp (22 kW) @ 5800 rpm (497)[2]
Transmission Duplex primary chain to bolted up unit gearbox
Wheelbase 1,391 mm (54.75 in)
Weight 166 kilograms (366 lb)[3] (dry)
Fuel capacity 3.5 imp gal (16 L)

The BSA A7 was a motorcycle made by Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA) at their factory in Armoury Road, Small Heath, Birmingham in 1946. There were two versions of the A7, the original 495 cc (30.2 cu in) version, and an improved 497 cc (30.3 cu in) version launched in 1950. Although its name was changed to the Star Twin and later the Shooting Star the BSA A7 continued in production with minor modifications until 1961.[4]


A7 badge

Designed by Val Page, Herbert Parker and David Munro, the BSA A7 was the first of the BSA twin-cylinder motorcycles and was ready for launch in 1939, but the outbreak of World War II delayed the launch until September 1946 when hostilities ended. The very first A7 off the production line was flown to Paris for the first motorcycle show after the end of the war.[5] There was huge demand for affordable transport after the war and the simplicity of the A7 twin was helped along by the slogan 'It's time YOU had a BSA!'.


1948 BSA A7

The 495 cc (30.2 cu in) twin cylinder engine produced 26 bhp (19 kW) and was capable of 85 mph (137 km/h).[1] A single camshaft behind the cylinders operated the valves via long pushrods passing through a tunnel in the cast iron block. This system needed a considerable number of studs and nuts to fasten down the cylinder head and rockerboxes, many of them deeply recessed and requiring well-made box spanners or the then uncommon sockets. As with other British motorcycles of the period, this kind of set-up regularly led to oil leaks.[4]

Most motorcycles of this period tensioned the primary chain by drawing or rotating the gearbox backwards on a hinge with threaded rods, this was known as pre-unit construction. The first A7 had a fixed gearbox, bolted to the back of the crankcase, and an internal tensioner for the duplex primary chain. This gave it the appearance of unit construction and pioneered the system later used in unit-construction engines such as the BSA C15, BSA B40, Triumph 3TA and so on. However, in 1954 a re-design reverted to the older system. The electrics (as was universal for larger British motorcycles of the period) consisted of two independent systems, the very reliable and self-contained Lucas magneto, with a dynamo generator to charge the battery and provide lights. Carburation was a single Amal remote float Type 6 until 1955 when it was upgraded to a 376 Monobloc.

Star Twin[edit]

In October 1949 BSA also launched the Bert Hopwood designed 650 cc twin cylinder BSA A10. Although resembling the A7 500 cc twin, it had a revised engine design and a new A7 soon followed, based on the A10 - in response to competition from the Triumph Tiger 100. Launched as the BSA Star Twin SS the new model had twin carburettors and increased compression ratio. It also had the latest design of cylinder head with austenitic steel inlet and exhaust valves.[5] The uprated engine was fitted to a plunger frame and finished extra chrome. Both models were produced with an option of rigid or plunger frames until 1954 and the introduction of a pivoted fork frame. The new frame also led to a separate gearbox to replace the bolted on version.

Shooting Star[edit]

In 1954 the Star Twin was redesignated the Shooting Star with a new swinging arm frame and the engine further developed by reducing the stroke to 72.6 mm and increasing the bore to 66 mm, giving a slight increase in capacity to 497 cc.[1] By the end of production in 1961 the BSA Shooting Star was the culmination of the development of the BSA A7, with a deep bottle green colour scheme with light green tank, mudguards and side panels, it had an alloy cylinder head, a duplex cradle frame with swinging arm rear suspension, full-width light alloy hubs and 8-inch drum brakes. Engine compression was upgraded from 6.6:1 to 7:1 and power was up to 30 bhp (22 kW) at 5800 rpm, with a top speed of just under 90 mph (140 km/h).[2]

1952 Maudes Trophy[edit]

In 1952 three BSA A7s were entered for the Maudes Trophy and the International Six Days Trial, achieving 4,500 miles (7,200 km) without problems and confirming the reliability of the design. All three bikes were randomly selected from the production line, picked up Gold medals and earned BSA the Team award as well as the Trophy. The three bikes were ridden by Brian Martin, Fred Rist and Norman Vanhouse. From Birmingham the team rode to Vienna then on through Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway before returning safely and with a clean sheet to Birmingham.[5] [6]

American speed record[edit]

Also in 1952 American BSA dealer Hap Alzina prepared a BSA Star Twin for an attempt on the American Class C speed record for standard catalogue motorcycles. The rules prevented major modification but Alzina was allowed to use 80 octane fuel, which together with a compression ratio of 8 to 1 enabled rider Gene Thiessen to achieve a two way record speed of 123.69 mph (199.06 km/h).[5]


  1. ^ a b c d "BSA A7". Archived from the original on 14 January 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-18. 
  2. ^ a b c "1961 BSA A7 Shooting Star". Archived from the original on 16 January 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-19. 
  3. ^ Smith, Robert (November–December 2011). "1948 BSA A7 Sidecar Rig". Motorcycle Classics. 7 (1). Retrieved 7 March 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Westworth, Frank. The British Classic Bike Guide. Haynes Publishing. ISBN 1-85960-426-9. 
  5. ^ a b c d Currie, Bob (1980). Great British Motorcycles of the Fifties. Hamlyn Publishing Group Ltd. ISBN 0-86363-010-3. 
  6. ^ Vanhouse, Norman (2015). Where BSAs Dare!. Panther Publishing. ISBN 9781909213210. 

See also[edit]

External links[edit]