For motorcyclists, the call of freedom on the open road is hard to resist.
It’s a call that appeals to many around the world. And each nation has a different approach to building the machines to answer that call.
For America, it’s the classic Harley-Davidson, a timeless throwback to a simpler era. Italian machines tend to be more flashy, high performance models. German bikes are built with precision engineering. The Japanese machines are deftly competent, whether small displacement sports bikes or touring behemoths.
Then there are the British bikes that once dominated the marketplace. Brands such as BSA, Norton, Triumph and more could be seen around the world through the 1960s.
For some, there is no substitute. Just ask the BSA Owners Club of Southern California. Members remain dedicated to the character of the British bikes.
“They appeal to nostalgia and simpler times when things were hand crafted and artful,” said Steve Ortiz, club secretary and newsletter editor. “Many remember British bikes in their youth, when they started coming into the U.S. as lightweight alternatives, and were very successful at beating the heavy Harleys at the track.”
But the Brits were unable to keep up with the more modern Japanese cycles, which could cost less as well.
“At one time, BSA was the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world, owning Triumph, Sunbeam and several other [brands]. Unfortunately, they didn’t change with the times,” Ortiz said, “and were easy prey for an aggressive Japanese onslaught into the U.S. market.”
Although initially a BSA-only club, the group expanded to include all British marques.
“Our club caterers to all British bikes and is part of a worldwide BSA Club network,” Ortiz said.
At TJM Promos, we’ve had the privilege of creating custom lapel pins for the club, which was founded in 1978 with 13 members.
“It’s a gift for people showing up,” said treasurer Barry Sulkin.
Today, the club boasts 300 members and sponsors 20 to 30 events a year, although some of this year’s events have been curtailed by the coronavirus pandemic. An annual big ride draws many members.
The club presents lapel pins to new members, and for each annual ride, changing the colors each year.
“Some people are collecting every year,” Sulkin said. “Some members have got 30 pins in a row.”
Riding the classic bikes is all about nostalgia and freedom.
“It just reminds us of our youth and the pleasure of being free,” Sulkin said. “Our worries and responsibilities are set aside while we’re on the bikes.”
For more information about the BSA Owners Club of Southern California, see the club’s website at https://www.bsaocsc.org/home.html.