When Motor Cycle’s Midland Editor Bob Currie found himself with an 85mph 250cc BSA C15 Sportsman to test in the late spring of 1966, the miles he doggedly piled on included a reporting trip to the Scottish Six Days’ Trial – and it was a pleasure all the way.
“What was the name? Sportsman? A little unfamiliar, maybe, but the machine which carries that transfer is well-enough known. It is often called the SS80, but the 1966 version isn’t quite the SS80 we’ve known these past five years,” wrote Motor Cycle’s Midland Editor Bob Currie after thoroughly testing the newcomer for the June 16 1966 issue.
“Same engine, yes; high-compression piston, sports cams, bigger-than-C15 inlet valve and carburettor, yes, but close-ratio gears are no longer fitted. Instead, the box houses the standard C15 cogs. The final-drive sprocket is one tooth smaller than standard to give lower ratios all round.”
Externally, too, there were a couple of innovations. In place of the previous nacelle, there was now a separate headlamp with a chromium-plated body, and the seat was of what Bob called “a fashionable humpy-rump pattern”. As before, the model had an attractive rich blue finish and acres of sparkle in the chromium-plated mudguards and tank side panels.
“Don’t dismiss the sporty seat as a gimmick,” Bob wrote, “for it has a whole lot in its favour. For one thing, it has much softer upholstery than the earlier one, and the one-piece covering has no seam around the upper edge to chafe the inside of
“As a result, the Sportsman is a more comfortable model on which to cover longish journeys – and cover long journeys the test mount certainly did, being used for Scottish Six Days Trial reportage, various Birmingham to London trips and general scudding around at weekends.”
Still on the subject of the seat, Bob noted that, while the rear hump might have looked a bit cafe racer-like, it did have the practical merit of keeping the pillion passenger securely anchored during rapid getaways.
Read more in February’s issue of OBM – on sale February now!