It is a rather exciting fact that one of the world’s leading BSA customisers is from our very own country. I’m not talking customising as in ‘bobber’ or ‘cafe racer’ customisation, I’m talking of a man who builds the BSA engines that might have been, and mounts then in period specific frames. This man is Doug Fraser of Emu Engineering, and he has been kind enough to take the time to answer some questions about his craft.
So where did it all start, when did you first take part in the world of motorcycling?
I started riding at the age of 13, on a mate’s BSA Bantam. When the time came to getting my own bike I started off on a Bantam as well.
When did your first V twin idea come about?
I had been toying with the idea of building a BSA V-twin for a couple of years. I loved the older BSA V-twins like the G12 and Y14, but they were such fragile engines. Good for touring, not so much for spirited riding. I conceived the idea of the M46, wanting to put my own V-twin motor into a period specific frame, to show what BSA might have been able to produce back in the day.
How did that first project pan out?
I designed and made my own crankcases, using Harley rods, and put the whole lot in a chassis relevant to the time period I was aiming for. 1400 man hours later I had a bike that BSA themselves might have created, which turned out to be surprisingly fast.
So once you’d finished, you figured that a single one off V-twin wasn’t enough?
Well as soon as the M46 was done I decided to see what I could do with a later model frame. I quite like the layout of the B series model, but I wondered if I could manage to create a V-twin motor to sit inside the frame.
So tell us about the finished product, your one off BSA B66.
I took an A7 chassis and modified it to suit the 1140cc V-twin motor of my own design. The engine has an 88 x 94 bore and stroke, running at 9.25:1 compression, giving a healthy 55 horses at the rear wheel. I created the crankcases, rounding off the cases to give that 50s/60s look.
So what is it like to ride?
It’s a good all rounder, as much a touring machine as a sports bike. Easily capable of cracking the ton, it’s been clocked at 125 miles per hour on a dyno. Through tight corners, it’s one of the best handling bikes I have ridden. Just ask anyone who has tried to chase me.
Your B66 isn’t a trailer queen though, is it?
We took the BSA to an international rally in America, and took the opportunity to take it touring whilst over there. We travelled through:
on a 3000 mile round trip. We did get a lot of people walking up and saying ‘I didn’t know BSA made a V-twin like this’.
It’s not like anyone can undertake a project like engineering and building your own engine, so what exactly is your background?
I started out initially as a toolmaker, from there I moved into motorcycle engineering, then into automotive engineering, and now I’m an electrical engineer.
That’s quite a CV. So where will your engineering skills take you next?
My current project is developing the E120R, a thoroughly modern bike built from the ground up, featuring a quad cam 1200cc engine, cassette gearbox and upside down forks.
From the initial idea to build a V-twin, to being onto his third project bike, Doug Fraser has shown what motivation and passion can produce. Helps if you are a hell of an good engineer as well.
With thanks to Alan Cathcart and Steven Piper for supplying the images.