If we look at the history of British motorcycle manufacturers after the second world war, there are three names that stand head and shoulders above the rest; Triumph, Norton and BSA.
Triumph had the glamour, Norton the racing success and BSA had the sales volumes, even if they did always seem to have a slightly mundane image, producing a wide range of uninspiring machines that nonetheless sold massively around the world. In fact, in the 1960s, BSA, by then incorporating Triumph motorcycles, was the largest producer of motorcycles in the world.
The Birmingham Small Arms Company Limited was formed in 1861 by a group of gunsmiths, specifically to manufacture guns by machinery developed in the US that helped increase output without the need for more skilled craftsmen. Not only did this method of manufacture allow for interchangeability of parts but, when the company branched out into bicycle manufacture in 1880, the machinery enabled large quantities of standard parts to be accurately machined at low cost.
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