BSA C10 that taught me everything

Bernie Freeman looks back fondly at the 250cc side-valve single that was the first love of his motorcycling life.

I knew I wanted a motorbike from the age of 13, when I saw one ‘tonning it’ along London’s North Circular Road, so as soon as I started work as a trainee fitter/welder I started saving.

My knowledge of internal combustion engines was nil, but I lived close to the Ace Cafe, and that was full of ‘experts’.

Bernie and his better half show off their lovely BMW outfit.

Even though my father had forbidden me to have a bike, I became the proud owner of a BSA C10 for around £15 just before my 16th birthday. It was tatty, unloved and very oily, but I was so proud of it. I kept it down at the local Scout hut, but the oily puddles caused concern and it had to go.

I parked it on the pavement outside the terraced house where I lived, but after the local council also became concerned about the oil, I quietly parked it in the front garden, and to my father’s credit, there was no adolescent/parent conflict.

By then I’d become an avid reader of the ‘Green ‘Un’ and was a regular at the Ace, where I heard about double-knockers, twin-port heads, twin-leading-shoe brakes etc. and wanted part of it. I’d acquired a decent tool kit and was ready to get the ‘ton’ out of my C10 (I know, but my only mentors were those at the Ace).

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