1944 BSA Airborne Motorised Folding Paratrooper Cyclemaster
Frame No R30009
Engine No 146543
The ‘BSA Parabike’ advertised in the above poster is the BSA ‘Junior’ bicycle, made in both boy’s and girl’s models. It was named the ‘Parabike’ to capitalise on the BSA Airborne folding paratrooper bicycle, which was commonly referred to as a ‘parabike’ and had captured the public imagination. Below, you can see the Motorised BSA Airborne next to a pair of Junior Parabikes.
The Cyclemaster was a German invention, created by DKW engineers during the war. After WW2, the Allies confiscated all German industrial plans, as well as re-employing German scientists to assist their own secret research. As a result, the Americans got the Hydrogen Bomb.
Not to be left behind in the latest developments, the British gave the world …the Cyclemaster.
The British government had been much too optimistic about the BSA Airborne folding paratrooper bike. Over 70,000 were made, but not many saw active service.
Paratroopers refused to ride them and thousands were stockpiled after the war, to be sold off as army surplus
After WW2, Great Britain had to pay off its American war loans. Foreign exchange was vital to the country, so all new vehicles were exported. Until 1954, ‘Cycle attachment engines’ such as the Cyclemaster were the only form of motorised transportation available to postwar British commuters. They were sold as engine units – to avoid purchase tax – and people fitted them to their own bicycles. This was the heyday of the cyclemotor.
Hundreds of people all over Britain gathered for rallies and runs with their Cyclemasters. It became the latest British craze.
Even a Cyclemaster magazine was produced.
With EMI – who owned Rudge until 1943 – behind the launch of the new Cyclemaster, and BSA trying to sell off the surplus folding bicycles, it was very tempting to combine the two to make a motorised folding paratrooper bike. The frame requires re-jigging so that the engine unit can fit. This example is a restored prototype: as you can see in the video, it is in good running order.
A folding Cyclemaster is a novel idea…
BSA paratroop v BSA AIRBORNE v BSA JUNIOR PARABIKE
Above, the Motorised BSA Airborne next to a 1946 BSA Paratroop Model 904ACP – Army Commando Paratroop – American Export Model.
Below, with the Junior Parabikes in the background
Below (on the left), a 1942 1st Pattern BSA Airborne (with double seat tube) added to the line-up.
The 1st Pattern BSA Airborne, the BSA Paratroop 904 ACP, 2nd Pattern BSA Airborne and the Boy’s Junior Parabike are the four varieties of BSA that feature this style of frame. The BSA Airborne bicycles are the only folding models.