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Military Vehicle Spotlight: WWII British BSA Mark V* Roadster

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Owned by Jeff and Wendy Rowsam
Photographed by Jeff Rowsam

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WWII British BSA Mark V* Roadster

Frame: 24 inches

Wheels: 26-inch

Tires: 26 x 1-1/2-inch

Load capacity: 300 lbs.


When the two-wheeled bicycle became popular before WWI, most major armies discovered military applications for the new mode of transportation. They purchased civilian-designed bicycles to fill many military needs, including efficient transportation in defense factories, civil defense, Home Guard, and coast watcher patrols. During both WWI and WWII, special bicycle-transported units pedaled to the front lines. Specially designed bikes for the military included models that could be folded and dropped with airborne troops or carried ashore in amphibious landings.

British manufacturer Birmingham Small Arms (BSA) produced two solid frame bicycles to meet the requirements of the Ministry of Defense pattern: The Mark V and Mark V*. The rugged machines featured a simple rear cargo carrier of standard military pattern. The Mark V has a mechanical hand operated rod brake to the front wheel and a coaster brake in the rear hub. Later versions omitted the coaster brake and replaced it with a hand controlled rod brake system to front and rear. The star after the Roman numeral V indicates the later design without the coaster brake.

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