1950s BSA Regency Model R6 – High Fidelity Cycling


BSA high fidelity cycling is not just a phrase coined to attract attention – it’s a fact, brought about by a combination of superb, up-to-the-minute design and the finest manufacturing methods in the world. You’ve only to “ride around the block” to realize that the hi fi transfer on the seat or down tube of a BSA really means something. And you get it only on a BSA.

From the late forties until the mid-fifties in Great Britain the bicycle was a primary means of transportation for many people. In the USA, however, adolescents often drove cars by their mid-teens and not many adults rode bicycles. Cycle manufacturers therefore aimed their advertising at a powerful new ‘teen’ market.

British manufacturers had been exporting to America since the end of the war to help repay the American loans this country had needed to defeat Germany. So the the American market was familiar. Always looking for a new marketing angle, they would have wanted to create a similar ‘youth market’ here.

By the late 1950s, American music and teenage culture was starting to influence formal British styles, and this resulted in a delightful genre of naive advertising, broadly summarized as square adults trying to ‘speak the language’ of teenagers. For example, as you can see here, BSA cashed in on the new trend of ‘high fidelity’ records by bringing out a range of ‘high fidelity’ bicycles:

‘A bike is a lot of fun. Knocking around with the gang – nipping up to the club – the disc session at Jill’s place – it’s great. You’re on the beat when you’re on a bike.’

The BSA Santa Fe Model J14 was an American style bicycle…

Give your kiddy a BSA hi fi Bike…

UPDATE: 12th JULY 2011

Today I saw my first ‘Hi-Fi’ BSA bicycle. I visited a lovely couple, Chris and Jen, who were selling off their few remaining cyclemotors. While I inspecting their BSA Winged Wheel (I could not resist buying that too, so you can see it on the next page) I spotted a BSA bicycle hanging up in the garage behind. It was a BSA Regency.

Though my priority these days is much older bicycles, as soon as I spotted the original transfer on the seat tube, I remembered the slogan in the advert:

‘You’ve only to ride around the block to realize that the hi fi transfer on the seat or down tube of a BSA really means something’

…and I’m sure you’d understand that (even though I need yet another bicycle like I need a hole in the head) I had to take this little gem home with me too.

According to the catalogue below, it’s a Model R6. In the coming weeks I’ll install whitewall tyres and a saddle and find a nicer chaincase. The I’ll update these photos.