Why is BSA returning and what can we expect from the revived British brand?

Mahindra guns for Royal Enfield with the revival of the iconic British nameplate 'BSA' - but what can we expect to see from the ressurected brand?

BSA logo

One of Britain’s most storied nameplates will be returning to dealerships in the not-to-distant future with the news the BSA brand is being revived under the watchful eye - and deep pockets - of Indian manufacturing giants Mahindra.

While few were expecting to start the week with this announcement, which will see BSA badging adorn new motorcycles for the first time since 1972, the format of companies from the world’s largest motorcycle market dusting off brands that first made their names decades ago is a well-worn path now.

Indeed, Royal Enfield traces its roots right back to Worcestershire before finding fame as India’s biggest global brand, while more recently Classic Legends - which owns the rights to the BSA name today - have relaunched the Czech-originating Jawa company in recent years.

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Though Classic Legends is involved in this resurrection, the motivating source is otherwise Mahindra, one of India’s biggest companies selling all manner of products from automobiles to farm equipment. It does have a two-wheel arm - and recently assumed controlling stake in Peugeot motorcycles - but it doesn’t have the market presence of Royal Enfield, Bajaj and Hero.

What motorcycles can we expect from BSA?

Which is perhaps what makes its plans with BSA very intriguing in that it has a huge scope from which to get the brand underway. 

Unsurprisingly, as a brand being revived in 2021, electric power is the focus with the announcement confirming these will be the primary focus for the time being to rival upcoming machines being developed by Bajaj in conjunction with KTM.

However, this is a different approach than most, eschewing the current format of start-up companies selling electric only and existing manufacturers pushing to sell their electric wares alongside conventional models which will no doubt create a conflict among buyers who might feel more compelled to go traditional.

Interestingly, though electric will be the platform to relaunch BSA, Mahindra says it will still develop conventionally fuel-powered motorcycles in future.

BSA revival a welcome boost for British manufacturing

While India is the focus, the BSA relaunch is great news for British manufacturing at a time when industry - not just the motorcycle one - hasn’t exactly had too much to shout about.

Coming after new Norton owners TVS confirmed the brand will remain British centred for the time being, a government grant of £4.6m ensures a technical and design centre will be created in Oxford to the tune of around 250 jobs. The bikes will also be assembled initially in the UK, albeit provided the transition out of the EU in January is smooth.

“The UK was leading in pioneering bikes, it was in the forefront to the 50s, then the floor fell in,” Anand Mahindra told the Financial Times. “We hope this small venture signals the renaissance of the entire UK bike-building business.”

BSA is looking to have 10,000 models rolling off the production line initially and there are plans to export the models to global markets, including USA, Australia and Japan.


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