Driver's Handbook - BSA Model Cycle, Solo 500 cc S.V. Model M 20, Contract C11101, circa 1941-1942 TradeLiterature Reg. No: TL 52050

Alternative Name(s): User Manual; Owner's Manual
Driver's handbook providing driving instructions and guidance for the repair and maintenance of the B.S.A. Model M20 500 c.c. single-cylinder side-valve motor cycle. Manufactured from 1938 to 1956, the M20 was one of BSA's most popular models with 126,000 manufactured for the British armed forces during World War II. Designed by Val Page, the M20 was originally developed in 1936-37 specifically for military use as a heavy-framed sidecar motorcycle with a simple 500 c.c. single-cylinder side-valve engine. It had low compression and plenty of low end torque through a standard BSA gearbox. The M20 was also produced in civilian versions and proved to a very reliable and affordable form of transport popular in the immediate post-war years, particularly as a sidecar motorcycle. The 1945 wartime cast-iron engine continued in production until 1951, when an alloy cylinder head was introduced, but otherwise the design remained largely unchanged. Spare parts began to become harder to find in the 1950s, and the simple design was eventually overtaken by more modern twin-cylinder motorcycles with production ending in 1956, although manufacture of the related 600 c.c. M21 Model continued until 1963. This publication is marked "Contract C11101" on the front cover which refers to a large military order for M20's received by BSA in 1941-1942.

The BSA brandname was derived from the Birmingham Small Arms Company founded in June 1861 in Birmingham, England, by a collective of independent gunsmiths from the Birmingham Small Arms Trade Association. After transforming Birmingham's small arms industry through the introduction of mechanised mass production and standardised components, BSA later diversified it's manufacturing interested, producing bicycles and cycle components from 1869, motor cars from 1908 and motorcycles from 1910. BSA Cycles Ltd was set up as a subsidiary company in 1919, to manufacture both bicycles and motorcycles. BSA motorcycles were sold as affordable machines with reasonable performance for the average private or commercial user. BSA stressed the reliability of their machines and the availability of spares and dealer support. Their designs used a mixture of single and twin-cylinder side-valve (SV) and overhead-valve (OHV) engines offering different performance for various roles.
Small staple-bound 40 page booklet with pale blue textured cover printed in black lettering and a fold-out diagram at the rear. Inside pages are printed in black on white stock.
The cover and page edges are stained with grease marks and well-worn indicating that the book has been well used.
Acquisition Information:
Donation from (Estate of) Mr Alexander Copland, 2006
Donated from the Estate of Alexander Ewart Copland.
Discipline: Trade Literature

More information

Tagged with: world war ii 1939-1945, motor cycles, military vehicles
Themes this item is part of: Engineering Collection, Trade Literature Collection, Transport Collection
Primary Classification: ROAD TRANSPORT
Secondary Classification: Motor Cycles
Tertiary Classification: product catalogues - motor cycles
Primary Subject: Motor Cycle Maintenance
Publication Date: 1941-1942
Cover Title: 'DRIVER'S HANDBOOK Motor Cycle, Solo, 55 c.c. S.V. B.S.A. Model M 20, Contract C11101'
Model Name/Number: 500 cc S.V. Model M20
Publication Types: Owner's Manual; User Manual; Lubrication Guide; Maintenance/Repair Manual
Printing Types: Monochrome
Illustration Types: Line Drawings; Black & White
Page Size Format: 105 mm x 161 mm
Number of Pages: 40
Manufacturer: B.S.A. Cycles Ltd
References: Wikipedia BSA M 20,, accessed 10/09/2010.
Historic Military Vehicle Forum,;p=201666, contains comments on a batch on WM20 machines built in 1941-42 under Contract C11101.

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