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Originally Posted by Shane in Oz
The M20 is creeping up in price (currently $2,100) with a week to go, but most of the bikes in Jim's auction are still way too cheap.

I'm afraid that $2100 with a week to go is no indication of an upcoming bargain. I track several auction sites for vehicles that I'm interested in, and will sometimes see one at, say, $5,000 with a day to go. "Wow" sez I "This one might go cheap!"

And the serious bidding starts 20 minutes before the end and it sells for $23,544 .....

Lannis


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A very popular bike in thier day 500ccside valve superceded by the M21 600cc sidevalve. The M20 was used bt the British armed forces during the second world war some 126000 were supplied. Go to this site and folow the links and you will get the history of the bike
https://sumpmagazine.com/classicmotorcycleguides.htm

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Originally Posted by photobob
500ccside valve superceded by the M21 600cc sidevalve

NOT superseded… M20 and M21 were Parallel in the catalog. In WM disguise the M20 for solo use and the M21 for sidecar use..


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126000 bikes PLUS the engine was used in various forms as a workhorse, saw, pump etc.
You couldn't kill 'em wiv a stick! You also couldn't giv 'em away a few years ago.

Last edited by NickL; 09/16/22 12:51 am.
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Originally Posted by photobob
A very popular bike in thier day 500ccside valve superceded by the M21 600cc sidevalve. The M20 was used bt the British armed forces during the second world war some 126000 were supplied. Go to this site and folow the links and you will get the history of the bike
https://sumpmagazine.com/classicmotorcycleguides.htm

Total tosh

Never was a fan of the Sump Site
Nows days every one is an expert and the WW makes it so easy to publish rubbish which gets reposted till it becomes an undisputable fact
If you want the truth then go to the military bike site, formally the WM20 web site http://www.wdbsa.nl/ and stay away from glossy over produced sites that preend to be experts on every motorcycle ever made

And not retired from the Australian arm till 1966
Not fully retired from the UK army till 1972
In both cases replaced by variants of the B40
Burried in back yars total rubbish
Stripped down to reprpose the engine with the remainding bits sold off is a lot closer to accurate
Only reason the production stopped was Lucas ceasing production of the Mag Dyno

Mine is still ridden almost daily


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Couldn't agree with Trev more.
No serviceman viewed the M20 with any enthusiasm. Its only plus was that it wasn't as pathetic as the16H Norton. Unfortunately the Army was awash with M20's and mountains of spares so there was no chance of getting rid of them. The Army brass was quite happy for their squaddies to ride free M20's. Who listened to what a squaddie thought about riding them anyway?
The favoured Army bike was the WD G3L Matchless. Who wouldn't prefer a lighter and peppier 350ohv machine fitted with nice comfy tele forks. Riders didn't even have to worry about the dreaded tin primary chaincase. Any problems and they took it back to the MT Section for them to struggle with it.

In 1959 I happened to pass through Cairo. It was alive with ex-British Army M20's. They were everywhere. I even saw my first 100% chrome plated M20 there. Who would bother to totally chrome plate an M20? They did in Cairo. And I didn't just see one.
In 1962-64 I eventually ended up in Aden at the mouth of the Red Sea. As with Cairo ex- WD bikes were still a major part of the local motorcycling population. By that time all the G3L's had passed out of Army hands and were mostly playthings for off-duty servicemen. Spares were no great problem and still fairly easily found in the local souk. The postwar specially designed for the Services Triumph TRW had come and gone but the Army were still riding round on near new M20's. Unfortunately you couldn't kill an M20 with an axe so the pongoes were still plodding about on them. The locals actually ran primitive bus services with them. With the operator sitting forward on the tank he easily sat three adults behind him with the odd child squashed in there also plus occasionally the odd goat slung over a passengers shoulders as well.

The M20 was NEVER popular but by God, they're tough. I think they wrote the book on durability. I gained my licence on an M20 and celebrated achieving my motorcycling majority my 21st bike, on another. I don't particularly like M20's but I sure do respect tmem.

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Originally Posted by NickL
126000 bikes PLUS the engine was used in various forms as a workhorse, saw, pump etc.
You couldn't kill 'em wiv a stick! You also couldn't giv 'em away a few years ago.
I have a couple of Hargan swing saws (bought cheap) with M20 motors. One has a ZM20 and the other has a BM20.

As far as I have been able to work out, army surplus engines were used originally, but when they ran out the company bought new engines from the NSW distributor. Allparts still had a stash of ex-Hargan M20 engines in the mid 1980s.

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Just to clarify my earlier post superceded was not the right word to use.But the M21 was in longer production than the M20. They were both in production before the second world war. The M20 from 1937 till 1955 and the M21 from 1937 till 1963. As for the reference to the Sump website it may be a load of tosh to some but the actual article about the M20 and M21 if you take the time to read it is well researched and written and is not in itself a load of tosh.If you go any classic show here in the UK you will almost certainly see M20 and M21 bikes so I stand by my reference to them being popular that is not to say that I particularly like them or would ever buy one.

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https://newyork.craigslist.org/wch/mcy/d/maryknoll-bsa/7533271041.html

https://newyork.craigslist.org/wch/mcy/d/maryknoll-bsa/7533274736.html

currently two for sale in new york, $5000-plus. says mostly original. 1940 and 1945, one with a WD number


i'm old enough to remember when patriotism meant not trying to overthrow the government.
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If they had made a vee crankcase set and bolted 2 of them on
they would have sold thousands more to the yanks. It would
have been a reliable HD replacement engine.

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I remember when ex WD M 20's were offered for 27 UK pounds in Exchange and Mart. In todays money that is about £ 206.

The British pound has lost 94% its value since 1970

Last edited by Pureblood; 09/17/22 6:18 am.

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Originally Posted by NickL
If they had made a vee crankcase set and bolted 2 of them on
they would have sold thousands more to the yanks. It would
have been a reliable HD replacement engine.


I really don’t understand where that view is comming fom?

-“The” US army did not buy from the English
-BSA had 3 V-twins in their catalog in the mid and later thirty’s till the war….even with a 500 OHV V-twin developed for army use (but no army wanted it) and a G14 1000 SV who was used by several army’s….
So they did made “those” engines…

Note: as far a I remember, the english allready produced V-twins when HD was still only making singles..


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Well, the auction has finished. The OP missed out on a cheap M20, but it's good to see some decent prices going to Jim's heirs.
Even better, Jim would have had far more fun with the bikes and sports cars than looking at figures on his bank statements.

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Originally Posted by BSA_WM20
Originally Posted by photobob
A very popular bike in thier day 500ccside valve superceded by the M21 600cc sidevalve. The M20 was used bt the British armed forces during the second world war some 126000 were supplied. Go to this site and folow the links and you will get the history of the bike
https://sumpmagazine.com/classicmotorcycleguides.htm

Total tosh

Never was a fan of the Sump Site
Nows days every one is an expert and the WW makes it so easy to publish rubbish which gets reposted till it becomes an undisputable fact
If you want the truth then go to the military bike site, formally the WM20 web site http://www.wdbsa.nl/ and stay away from glossy over produced sites that preend to be experts on every motorcycle ever made

And not retired from the Australian arm till 1966
Not fully retired from the UK army till 1972
In both cases replaced by variants of the B40
Burried in back yars total rubbish
Stripped down to reprpose the engine with the remainding bits sold off is a lot closer to accurate
Only reason the production stopped was Lucas ceasing production of the Mag Dyno

Mine is still ridden almost daily


For once I can totally agree with Trevor ( even if we have an established history of mutual snide remarks hHAHHAAHAH , ROFLMFAO)

I recon the B40 was one of the most underrated bikes BSA ever made ... they are a great little machine IMO

other assonine remarks about the M20 include " they will go up any hill in top" ummm no they wont, they are 13.5 HP

Army wanted them cause they were reliable and could often be fixed "in the field" by non mechanics

yep many a shearing shed was powered by M20 motors and ect .... but a few sure did make it to the bar mill back in the day , you couldnt give them away in the 70s


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Originally Posted by Ignoramus
Army wanted them cause they were reliable and could often be fixed "in the field" by non mechanics s
and because BSA had sufficient capacity to make a bloody lot of them.

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Originally Posted by Shane in Oz
Originally Posted by Ignoramus
Army wanted them cause they were reliable and could often be fixed "in the field" by non mechanics s
and because BSA had sufficient capacity to make a bloody lot of them.

And a lot of them are still in every day use as taxis over in Sumatra ,

I found this video a few years ago and thought to myself this place could easily be called BSA motorcycle heaven , It's by The BSA Owners of Siantar City in North Sumatra .. I'd love to take a trip over there and see it all for myself
I'm pretty sure i remember reading somewhere that there's so many of these old bikes over there that the local government have bans in place stopping anyone from selling these BSA's to overseas buyers ,


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Originally Posted by Bodie
And a lot of them are still in every day use as taxis over in Sumatra ,
That's pretty cool. There seem to be a good few B31a and B33s there as well.

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Motoring journalist blasted the bikes for all of their short commings which having ridden one for near 30 years ( and I am still riding it ) they were all totally valid.
However the war office was a lot wiser with this purchase than the motorcyclng press was willing to admit.
To an experienced motorcyclist they are slow, cumbersome , heavy, underpowered , underbraked & have insufficint ground clearance and there is no arguement about that .
However those 126,000 motorcycles were mostly ridden by recruits, many of which had never so much as ridden a push bike let alone a motorcycle
Thus a slow accelerating bike with a low saddle height & more important low centre of gravity was bees knees and probably kept many a recruit on the road & out of the hospitials .

We go to the All British Rally most years & one of the people we camp with bought an M21 a few years back
He has a shed full of exotic machines that would have had the motorcycle press salivating in the day
His comment sums it up perfectly
"I see why you like yours so much Trev, I have never sat on a bike that is so easy to start , easy to ride & requires so little maintenance ."
And that in a nutshell is what the military needed

And you can get 100 mph out of them with a bit of work if you really must, but that defeats the charm of cruising down the road at a gentlemans pace
Down here they were "auctioned off" with a starting price of £ 10.00 which was also the usually the only bid.
The BSA 500cc stationary engine as used in thousands of farm equipment , mowers, road rollers & milk floats was £ 25 at the same time while a C10 was £ 32, a C 11 £ 38 or a B31 for £ 47 .
These were the only 3 offerings from BSA in 45 & 46 down here

As Shane already mentioned a lot were bought just for the engine & at Simsmetal there were photos on the wall of mountains of M20 frames waiting to be crushed, bailed & sent to Japan to be converted to Toyotas . BTW there was also a phot of complete Merlins being lowered into the furnaces in special built cages to melt off the alloy & piles of crankshafts being chopped up for scrap .

So no one really liked them ,in the day, but they were cheap & reliable in the day and if kept under suburban speed limits quite economical to run
Even in the 60's they were very very common on the Sydney streets .
Some of my school teachers rode wm20 , one of my scout masters rode what I now realize was a wm20 converted to telescopic forks .
At uni into 70's there were still a lot of Wm20's ( usually painted silly colours ) in the campus carparks and also quie a few at TAFE .

It is only in fairly recient times that M20s and in particular WM20's have attained an almost cult following pushed along largly by Dutchmen as apparently the UK air dropped a lot of them into Holland during the war .

They really did not get the same sort of cult following in Aust but then again, we had good petrol after WWII and we had a lot more WLA Harleys & Indians according to the military registers that have now been scanned & uploaded by the ACT War Museum.

France, Germany, Holland , Italy, Egypt & Greece all banned or put very strict low quotas on the importation of large capacity motorcycles post WWII both encourage their own motorcycle industry and to conserve petrol which was in short supply almost every where post WWII except in the USA .
Thus the WM20's that got left behind were pressed into service and probably looked on more favourably in those countries .

Last edited by BSA_WM20; 09/23/22 7:59 am.

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I read all this with interest.

My first M21 I swapped for my alloy T100 engined wideline Triton. Yes, really. I really fancied that old sidevalve! This was 1982 and a friend of my bro had this 1952 plunger M21 with ali head that had been semi-chopped (what we would now call a bobber) with wonderful scrolly paint detailing, a big Concentric, banana seat and 400 x 18 rear wheel/tyre. He fancied doing the cafe racer thing, so we swapped. Great fun, and very eye catching. I did some more work on it, cruised around on it, but a year later wanting to raise cash, I sold it.

A few months later still a new job in the centre of the city made me think about another bike. This time around an all iron rigid 1949 M21 but in pretty original nick. I commuted on that bike for two years, come rain, come shine. The only significant (?) things I can remember going wrong were a broken rear wheel spindle and the regulator box packing up. The latter I didn't replace, but bodged with 12v bulbs. Sometimes it was a bit reluctant to start when it got hot, but other than that totally reliable. I even dropped it on diesel once and other that a bent footrest it was fine. Two years later, I'd just bought a house, and a job miles away involving a car commute got me to to sell it.

Much later a mate bought an ex WD M20, which I rode, but I thought the later teles (as I had on my M21) were a big improvement over the girders on his bike. Can't say I recalled much difference in performance though.

It's 2022 and I've got a TR6SS in the garage that I don't use much, and I'm thinking I fancy a smaller capacity, lighter bike to supplement it. I like BSAs. I'd had Bantams and unit singles in the past (I recall the B40 being a favourite). However, I liked the thought of something older, but B & M models are now the same price as big Triumph Twins, and of course, they're not that light. So I've now bought a '48 rigid C11. A lovely little plodding bike - a kind of mini B31. A very useable go to machine. Nice low seat height and relatively lightweight. And keeps itself to all the UK speed limits!

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Originally Posted by Lannis
Originally Posted by Shane in Oz
The M20 is creeping up in price (currently $2,100) with a week to go, but most of the bikes in Jim's auction are still way too cheap.

I'm afraid that $2100 with a week to go is no indication of an upcoming bargain. I track several auction sites for vehicles that I'm interested in, and will sometimes see one at, say, $5,000 with a day to go. "Wow" sez I "This one might go cheap!"

And the serious bidding starts 20 minutes before the end and it sells for $23,544 .....

Lannis

Hammered down at $5,750. About normal these days......

Lannis


Starting today, customers will be requred to unload the semis at the back of Wal-Mart, in addition to their self-checkout duties.
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