What’s the Motorcycle in Grantchester?

Grantchester Motorbike

Grantchester is a British TV series set in a Cambridgeshire village in the 1950s, where an Anglican vicar named Sidney Chambers — a former WWII Scots Guard officer — helps an overworked Detective Inspector Georgie Keating solve local crimes.

The vicar’s intuitive techniques complement the inspector’s more methodical approach. Issues such as racism, Soviet espionage, civil rights, and domestic abuse are brought to the fore.

From season 4 onward, Chambers is replaced with Reverend William Davenport (actor Tom Brittney), a former inner-city chaplain who listens to rock-n-roll and rides a motorcycle. Our kind of vicar! Said Brittney of his character:

“I represent this sort of youth coming in at the end of the ’50s – the rock ‘n’ roll, leather-jacket-wearing, motorbike-riding, Elvis-listening people…”

The vicar’s motorcycle appears to be a BSA. Says one of the veterans on BritBike.com:

“The motorcycle looks like a ’50-’52 ZB Gold Star. Motor, tank, exhaust, most of the stuff looks kosher. Has a ‘custom’ dual seat, I think the plunger model (it’s not a rigid frame) only came with a sprung single seat and optional bum pad. Has twin clocks but on the only timing side pictures I could find, there doesn’t appear to be any tacho drive on the timing cover and no apparent tacho cable.”

However, the Gold Star was a single-cylinder, and the vicar’s BSA is most definitely a twin. To us, it looks more like a mid-50s modified BSA A7, which featured a swinging arm frame, hotter cam, around 30 hp, and a top speed of 90 mph.

Unfortunately, Grantchester’s production team doesn’t particularly interested in two-wheeled authenticity, as the sound clips never seem to match a BSA engine note, and there are other issues, too.  Said one of BritBike members:

“Did you see the episode where he starts the bike without kick-starting?
God works in mysterious ways.”

Actor Tom Brittney had actually never ridden a motorcycle prior to this role and had to learn for the series. In an interview with TVWW, he says he was terrified at first…

“I never, never ever thought I’d be on one …. When you are going 70 miles per hour down a motorway, that does not feel natural. I did start getting the bug for it, and I did start probably going a lot faster than I should have.”

Grantchester Motorbike

If anyone has any additional details on the vicar’s BSA, drop them in the comments section below!

One Comment

  1. popular early 60s was a rocket star engine from Road Rocket in a D B frame

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