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!


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

  2. The bike has the appearance of a 1962/3 A10 Rocket Gold Star. Not many were built and were based on the A10 Super Rocket engine paired with a close ratio RRT2 Goldstar gearbox. Many copies of the RGS were built.

  3. I believe the model of b.s.a. In grantchester , is a 1955 pre. unit rocket goldie 650 cc, A10 with a mag. dynamo mounted in front of the cylinders. I bought one already customised in a motorcycle dealer in Folkestone in 1970, all chromed up with a polished alloy planed down head with 9to1 track pistons. It could beat an E type away from the lights on acceleration , touching 60 in first gear. It broke my heart to eventually part with her.

  4. Ist one was the plunger Goldie then he went to the RGS.

  5. The bike’s registration is shown in one of the pics.
    The government’s site say it was manufactured I 1951, first registered in 1951, but first with the DVLA in 2008.
    The only twin made in 1951 was the 500cc A7. But the bike is registered as a 400cc!!

    Oh, and it’s taxed till November 2022.

  6. Definitely early 50’s frame with A10 engine. All gold stars were singles prior to the A7 (I believe) which was in the sixties and plungers were long gone. I’m going with early 50’s A10 with mid 60’s Rocket exhaust and cool clip on bars. Just lacking some nice Akront wheels. Whatever it is, I wouldn’t hesitate to ride it.

  7. I bugs the hell out of me that the vicar never wears a helmet as I rode back then and would never have gone down the street without wearing one!
    Doesn’t look right on a bike like that Gold Star to be riding without one!

  8. michael fairhurst

    How can he ride at speed with no goggles or eye protection?

  9. John Payne

    Series 8 Will crashes his AJS. That makes three with the original BSA Gold Star then the BSA Twin and now an AJS with no story explanation

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