BSA Bantam 175cc Racer
Many thousands of youngsters took their first motorcycle ride on BSA’s Bantam. Cheap to run and simple for a novice to maintain, it was one of Britain’s all-time best selling motorcycles with more than half a million made.
Starting out as the 125cc D1 of 1948, it was joined by the 150cc D3 in 1954 and the first 175cc version, the D5, in 1958.In the Sixties, sophisticated Japanese imports made the two-stroke lightweight market increasingly competitive.
Onward development of the 175cc engine gave the D14/4 launched for 1968 almost 13 brake horsepower, compared with the first Bantam’s 4.5hp. The final incarnation of the 175cc Bantam went on to be highly tuned for use in various race series across the UK, including one run by the CRMC.
During the 1997 CRMC series for 200cc machines, Karen Latimer contested each round on the machine seen here. At the Snetterton event in September, Karen won the event, beating no less than 16 of her male competitors! It is not commonly known, but in taking that race win, Karen Latimer became the first ever female rider to win a “road” race in the UK.
After emigrating to New Zealand in 1998, Karen went to have more success by taking race wins on the other side of the world aboard a Honda MTR125.
Now in display in Hall 5 of the museum, this lovely little race machine has far more historical significance than it might appear at first glance!