If there’s a growing trend in custom motorcycles today, it’s towards street trackers: road-legal versions of the flat track bikes that raced in the 1960s and 1970s. With small tanks, wide bars and fat tires, they’re good-looking bikes stripped down to the essentials.
Machines like this lovely BSA Trackmaster, resurrected by New Jersey’s Phil Capozzi, are the archetype. And this BSA has the history to match its purposeful looks. “About 35 years ago, back in my college days, I was introduced to a guy named Bill Bradshaw,” Phil recalls. “At the time, Bill owned and wrenched on BSA flat track bikes at racetracks up and down the east coast.” It was the time of riders such as George Richtmeyer, Dave Singleton and “Rowdy” Rick Stone. Phil hitched a lift with Bradshaw’s crew, helping out with the bikes. “To this day I’ve never forgotten the sights, sounds or smells from that great adventure.”
Fast forward to 2009. Phil paid a visit to Bradshaw at his Connecticut home, and talking about the old days rekindled the flat track fire. “I decided then and there I had to have one of my own. But it’d been years since Bill worked on those BSAs: The parts were scattered all around, with many lost to time and fading remembrances.”
Phil returned home with boxes of parts, determined to collect as many of the original fragments as he could find. “I wanted to turn a great memory into a three-dimensional reality. The idea: build a BSA from as many original pieces as possible.”
With help from Bradshaw and Rick Stone over the next couple of years, Phil managed to source a Trackmaster racing frame, a Bates seat, and Ceriani forks (including triple trees). He also located authentic tires, Borrani rims, Kennedy quick-change hubs with knockoffs and, best of all, an original fiberglass gas tank with intact paint.
To help build the BSA, Phil roped in Dave Schostkewitz of Classic Cycles, the go-to guy for vintage British bikes in New Jersey. “Dave built a strong motor. Since this was going to be a street tracker we settled on a reliable A65 650cc setup with some neat upgrades, both old and new.”
For extra power, Dave installed an original Spitfire cam and new Mikuni VM roundslide carbs, duplicating those used on the original BSA race motors. For dependability he used a Bob Newby Racing billet clutch assembly/belt drive, a Boyer electrical system with a high output alternator, and a li-ion battery.
“The two sets of original pipes I had were beyond repair,” Phil reports, “so Dave handcrafted new megaphone pipes that mimick the originals.” To keep it in the family, Dave’s son fabricated the new rear fender.
The frame needed considerable work. The original swing arm was lost and the Trackmaster replacement needed extensive remedial work. Fatigue cracks and ugly welds from back in the day were cleaned up, new tabs were added, and the complete frame was nickel-plated once again. For stopping control, a new Wilwood brake caliper and master cylinder were used—at the rear wheel only, in true flat track fashion. “Dave also used his last ‘new’ original Amal throttle to make this bike do what it’s made to do—Go!” says Phil.
For Phil, the finished product is a step back in time. “It’s even better than I could have ever imagined,” he says. “I can’t express my excitement to have come full circle on my decades-old dream of having an original Bill Bradshaw BSA to call my own.”
Photography (c) 2013 Erik Landsberg.