BSA Fury and Triumph Bandit: The Forgotten Twins

Planned for 1971, the double overhead cam 350cc twin BSA-Triumph Fury and Bandit never made it to production.

| November/December 2013

  • In 1971, BSA-Triumph was poised to release an all-new double overhead cam 350cc twin to take on Honda’s reigning middleweight, the CB/CL 350.
    Photo By Robert Smith
  • The Double overhead cams and electric starter included in the BSA-Triumph 350cc were not typically standard with most motorcycles at the time.
    Photo By Robert Smith
  • Picture yourself on this 1971 350 BSA Fury. “Imagine a 5-speed 350 with a 90mph fourth gear!” Greene enthused, noting that fifth was really more of an overdrive.
    Photo By Robert Smith
  • Cycle parts like taillight and blinkers were standard Triumph/BSA fare.
    Photo By Robert Smith
  • In making the 350cc power unit as compact as possible, Turner had used a small diameter flywheel with little rotating mass, fitted to a crankshaft that Hopwood said was “hopelessly skimped.”
    Photo By Robert Smith
  • “It was evident that the Fury was more revver than lugger,” Greene concluded, “though when the whip was applied, it reacted smartly … it does its best work when kept ‘on the boil.’”
    Photo By Robert Smith
  • Edward Turner’s prototype Triumph 350 on display at the National Motorcycle Museum in England.
    Photo By Robert Smith
  • BSA-Triumph was so sure about the new 350 twin it ran full page ads in Cycle announcing the Triumph Bandit.
    Photo By Robert Smith
  • BSA-Triumph was so sure about the new 350 twin Fury it ran full page ads in Cycle announcing the BSA Fury.
    Photo By Robert Smith
  • We’ll never know if the BSA Fury and Triumph Bandit would have stood comparison with the CB350 and CL350, especially in reliability and durability.
    Photo By Robert Smith

1971 BSA Fury
Claimed power:
34hp @ 9,000rpm
Top speed: 100mph (est.)
Engine: 349cc air-cooled DOHC 180-degree parallel twin, 63mm x 56mm bore and stroke, 9.5:1 compression ratio
Weight (dry): 345lb (157kg)
Fuel capacity/MPG: 2.5gal (9.5ltr)

In 1971, BSA-Triumph was poised to release an all-new double overhead cam 350cc twin to take on Honda’s reigning middleweight, the CB/CL 350. Unfortunately, BSA-Triumph’s slide into bankruptcy couldn’t be stopped and the 350 never had a chance to make a difference.

By the mid-1960s, a Honda-led Japanese invasion of high-tech twins with electric start and dazzling performance had conquered the U.K. middleweight market, killing off England’s old-fashioned 4-stroke singles and wheezing 2-strokes. The British 650s had been considered safe because the “Japanese only make small bikes,” but that changed as well with the arrival of the CB450 “Black Bomber” in 1965. The British industry was under siege.

With its home sales quickly drying up, BSA-Triumph was forced to focus on the only market where its big twins were in increasing demand: the U.S. The success of Triumph-based “desert sleds” in enduro racing, together with BSA and Triumph’s success in the Grand National championships with Dick Mann, Gene Romero and Gary Nixon, and wins at Daytona for Don Burnett, Buddy Elmore and Nixon all contributed to demand for the big British bikes.

But while Brits still ruled in the over-500cc class in the U.S., Honda dominated the increasingly important middleweight market. By the mid-1960s, American BSA and Triumph dealers were clamoring for a “hot” 350 to compete with the best-selling Honda CB350 street bike and CL350 scrambler. BSA-Triumph had nothing competitive, but could they come up with a new middleweight machine to challenge Honda in the U.S. and rebuild their lost middleweight business at home?

12/5/2013 8:10:37 PM

I remember well the teasing "launch" of this bike in the US. I was eagerly awaiting one to show up at my local Triumph dealer; think I even had the brochure at one time. Sorry to see that it never came to pass. Thanks for publishing this article. Well researched and written.

Keith Robinson
11/10/2013 10:35:32 PM

its hopwoods triples that should have been marketed.

11/9/2013 7:49:34 AM

I see this artical about the 350 twins and get excited by what could have been. Then after reading the artical I realize that bad design problems, poor starter, difficult access to ticklers, valve adjust and trans oil dipstick, would have doomed the bike. BSA/Tri already had a reputation for leaking oil, and bad electrics they didn't need a modern all new bike with serious problems. I personally never would have bought a bike with a left hand kicker and a weak electric start no matter how nice it looked.

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