Custom BSA ‘Lazer Death’

Custom BSA motorcycle
You probably don’t know the name Maxwell Paternoster. But you might recognize his alter ego Corpses From Hell, one of the foremost motorcycle-influenced artists working in Europe today.

Paternoster’s style is edgy and unconventional, and it’s spilt over into his own personal ride—a unique custom BSA built up from spare parts and junkyards finds over the years.

Custom BSA motorcycle
“Being born in 1976 means I grew up with Japanese bikes,” he says. “Bikes that were ragged around the fields on their last legs by kids back in the day. Brit bikes were something the ‘old boys’ would poodle along on. I had no access to anything British back then, but would always gaze at the pictures in books and read all about them.”

Then Paternoster had a brief fling with a B-series BSA that was rescued from a yard. Bitten by the bug, he decided to build one for himself. “Lack of funds meant I’d have to use the ‘one piece at a time’ method … I know it’s been said many a time that you’re better off buying a complete-ish project, but I was convinced otherwise.” For the next year, the back of his car doubled as a shed and storage area for tools and bike bits.

Custom BSA motorcycle
It took Paternoster a year to build this bike, starting with the B33 engine and then the M20 rigid frame. The engine turned out to have a Gold Star-type magneto pinion, implying other good bits inside. Paternoster gradually uncovered a host of tuning mods, including a 500cc high compression piston, a polished conrod, lightened flywheels and an early Gold Star inlet valve.

On the timing side were a couple of covetable Gold Star cams, a 65-2442 inlet and a 65-1891 exhaust. “Seems like the engine was an iron lump done to an early ZB Gold Star spec.” Paternoster promptly ordered a new carb from Lowbrow Customs to unleash the performance.

Custom BSA motorcycle
To get rid of years of rust and grime, he dismantled the transmission and cases and bought 12 bottles of the cheapest vinegar he could find. (“I soaked the gearbox internals in my bedroom for about three days. It was pretty messy. I had to be extremely careful not to kick over a container in the night.”)

Custom BSA motorcycle
The tank is an early Wassell copy, the seat is home-made with gold leaf detailing, and the headlight is a vintage foglamp donated by David Borras of El Solitario MC.

The hardest part was fixing the recalcitrant clutch, an issue finally solved via a helpful tip online. “I changed the clutch lever for one offering greater leverage, pushing the clutch plates much further apart. So it’s now a fully working, road legal bike.

“It took a while and there is still a lot more to do, but at least it’s rolling!”

Images by Sam Christmas. Follow Maxwell Paternoster’s adventures via the Corpses From Hell blog or check out his art here.

Custom BSA motorcycle