Bike of the Month
1965 BSA C15 SS80
by Jerry Meadows
I bought this BSA C15 in 1985 for $300 and put it in the “to-do” shed. It was pretty complete as far as the cosmetics. It was missing everything you would take off to do the top end – head and exhaust system. I had purchased it on the premise of Patti riding it.
She finally talked me into getting started on restoring it in 1991. Parts were tracked down and the project was finished in 1993 with a Louis Feliz paint job at $450 which included hand painting the side covers as I could not locate the proper decals. I wish they cost that now. I took it to bike shows for a year then put it in the barn without ever starting it. Patti was riding our little 1962 Honda CB110 until we found her 1976 Honda CB400F .
The BSA Club was hosting the International Rally in 2014 in Northern California so Patti started ragging on me to get the C15 out of the barn so she could ride it during the rally. I was reluctant to start it because I knew the “unlimited-lifetime parts and labor warranty” would begin. After all, it had been in the barn for 20 years.
However, gas was added and a new battery installed. It was kicked through a couple times to make sure the oil was circulating. The only warranty issue was a leaking rocker box gasket and I had to surface the float bowl on the carburetor. I guess I was a better mechanic back then. That crazy little bike started right up and has been running like a top ever since. For a little 250, it has a very “barky” exhaust note, can keep up with traffic (though we avoid the freeway) and quite a bit of compression so I am the “electric” kick-starter. The Lucas puts out more candle-power than her CB.
We took it to the rally and she rode it all over the hills of Petaluma. It has been her primary ride since then. Less confusion in what side the shift and brake levers are on. It has won numerous awards and garners second looks whenever we are out. Lots of “What is it” and “Who makes it”. It made me want to restore its bigger brother, a 1965 B40 SS90. They make quite a pair.
There are a couple more BSA’s in the barn that have been restored, shown and put away without starting. I wonder what they would be like - - - -