I may get a little geeky here, but if anyone’s interested the bike’s serial number is NA7102876 which I found (after much searching) on the back of the seat post. It translates as:
N: Manufactured in Nottingham
A7: January 1987
102876: number in the production run
This confirms that the Sturmey Archer AW three-speed hub, stamped 1 – 87, is the original. So this bike was made three months before I turned 5!
There’s also a different number stamped on the bottom bracket: 59249F. I have absolutely no clue what this relates to… The frame’s fairly big, so although I haven’t measured it I’m pretty confident it’s a 23″ frame, with 26″ x 1 3/8″ wheels.
As to what model of bike it is, I’m really not sure. There’s no model name on the bike, nor is there on identical examples I’ve seen for sale (some asking some pretty steep prices incidentally). It has a strange modernised BSA typeface on the tubes and chain guard, and looks a lot like the BSA Metro to be found here and there, although these look like a newer bike if the branding is anything to go by.
Also similar is the BSA SLR (it a fair bet this stands for Sports Light Roadster) which is still being made and sold in India. Look on YouTube for the advert with cricketer Kapil Dev and you will get a perfect demonstration of just how terrible Indian TV adverts are – “Hey! BSA SLR!”
It hurts a little to see that proud three-rifle badge stuck on the front of a foreign-built bicycle. What exactly is the Indian BSA supposed to stand for? “Bangalore Small Arms” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it! It sums up how much nonsense some branding can become once holding companies and asset strippers become involved. Pretty much every company involved in the construction of my bicycle was British-based in 1987, and is foreign now.
…with one, glorious exception.
Yes to complete the bicycle I’ve purchased a used leather saddle on EBay manufactured sometime in the 1990s by Smethwick’s finest – Brooks (Italian owned, but shhhhhh!) It’s a black B66 model and it cost me more than the bicycle, but much less than a new B66, with the added bonus of being roughly the right age and tattyness to match the bike and less of a thief-magnet. Certainly of all the Brooks badges to have on the back of your saddle, this is the least desirable.
So the cycle has new tyres and inner tubes, a new gear lever, a bell taken from my old bike, front light, two rear lights (one steady, one flashing) and a new saddle in the post. It’s all coming together nicely.