Jon Swan's BSA
By Anthony van Someren - 18 Jun 13
If you haven't been over to the DoTheTon forums you're missing out on some quality shed-made custom cafe builds. Not all manage to combine sensible engineering with either style or a sense of proportion, but if you want to see the best of what can be built by men in sheds and backyards, the Bike of the Month pages are the ones to follow. We love this monthly battle so much that we've partnered up with Do The Ton and plan to feature winners and top contenders here on the Bike Shed whenever we can. Last month's lineup was a fierce competition with three worthy contenders, and this was the winner, what some might call a resto-mod BSA, built by Jon Swan. Here's where the story begins... As a child I rode Honda dirt bikes in the woods of Northern Minnesota and bought my first street bike, a 1966 Triumph 650 TR6 Trophy, while at university. I wisely sold it because I was too young, dumb and wild to be responsible enough to ride a motorcycle. While living and attending graduate school in London, I vowed to have another vintage British motorcycle again. Several years later I found a 1966 BSA Lightning Basket case, taught myself how to restore her, did so from the crank up and rode her for several years. At this time I began collecting parts for my unit 750 Triton which is now my daily rider. I have degrees in fine art, art history and archaeology and have worked as a conservator, archaeologist and museum curator. Use my training and experience to carefully and methodically restore bikes. I restored several mid 1970's Honda CB400F, CB550F and CB750 K's which I sold to fund my British motorcycle habit. Two and half years ago I found an ad for a 500 cc BSA on North American Craigslist. I was the lucky bastard who bought a BSA DBD34 Gold Star that had been sitting in a barn for nearly 40 years. It was in rough shape but I knew what I had. The saga began... I built my Gold Star to the best of my ability with the intent of riding this rare and valuable bike for the rest of my life. This is not a show bike, trailer queen or museum piece, but rather my daily rider. There are too many examples of this bike "mummified" in collections which never get ridden. I am very fortunate to have such an amazing bike and I ride it every chance I get. All the time and money spent on restoration is forgotten once I start her up and ride her. If anything goes wrong I literally know every single nut, bolt, part etc and can fix it. I enjoy maintaining old bikes but riding them more so. The bike is in stock UK Clubman trim with the exception of a new Phil Pearson crankshaft, clutch, Carillo rod, Wiseco piston and rings, bearings, new valves, guides, springs etc. The original magdyno was rebuilt with a new condenser, and retains the original 6 volt lighting system. Every bit of hardware was cadmium plated, the black bits powder coated. The flanged alloy rims and spokes are from Buchanan Spoke and Rim and the seat foam and cover from Leighton in Birmingham, UK. There is a new Burlen/Amal 389 monobloc carb to the earlier CB style head which came with this bike. The rare, ARRT2 gearbox was swapped for a STD standard gearbox. Clocks were rebuilt with NOS stock faces. She starts on the first kick now that I have the routine down and she sounds absolutely amazing. Fast, easily handling and a thrill to ride. Whenever I ride or park my Gold Star, I have all types of people asking questions and taking photos. This is a little weird for me and I do not ride this bike for the attention, but I am patient, answer their questions and share my story. Who know what they have in their basements, garages or barns. Perhaps my next bike restoration project? See more of Do The Ton's Bike of the Month contenders and winner HERE on The Bike Shed.