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This September our workshop mechanic, Fred Spaven, and associate, Peter Bowring, are attempting an Expedition Italia – riding a pair of early 1960’s BSA Bantams over the 5,000 miles from Yorkshire to the south of Italy and back.
The pair settled on this outlandish plan last winter, forming it from an amalgam of other thwarted and unworkable schemes combined with previous experience on the Mongol Rally.
Preparations began with the purchase of Fred's 1960 Bantam D7 motorcycle in January of this year which, after a couple of weeks being ridden around a field, was pulled apart for a full nut-and-bolt rebuild. The frame and tinwork has been stripped back to bare metal and repainted and all the mechanicals have been meticulously overhauled to the extent that every bearing, bush and seal in the 175cc machine has been replaced. The bike was reassembled and MOT'd mid August and Fred has spent the time since whiling away the hours running in the engine on the back roads of Ryedale, trailing the traditional blue wisp of two-stroke smoke.
The second Bantam, a 1962 D7 model was purchased at the same time but had already received a partial rebuild. As such only the engine and running gear has been restored, being treated to the same thorough treatment as the first bike.
Aside from the obvious challenge of bringing a pair of fifty-year-old commuter bikes up to the standard required for the journey ahead, the two adventurers have also been preparing themselves. As neither held a motorcycle license at the beginning of the year, the lads have been hard at work training for the series of tests required, Pete's final exam only being passed a hair-raising week before departure.
The initial plan was to set off early in August but as with all good plans they have run over budget and behind schedule and the date is now set for mid September. With both bikes still being occasionally pulled to bits for improvements and only a few hundred test miles under the wheels the journey looks to be an exciting one.
Keep track of Fred & Pete's progress on: bantamitalia.tumblr.com