Following on from the first article on BSA Parabikes we are really pleased to have found a near-perfect Danish built example. Just to re-cap, the BSA originals were designed to be dropped by parachute during the Second World War giving added mobility to soldiers as they landed.
The Danes purchased a number of these bikes from the British for their own use at that time. However, the model we obtained is from a different period altogether. At the height of the Cold War, Denmark's Government planned local facilities for civil defence perhaps similar to the roles that the ARP and 'Secret Army' would have in WWII Britain. It was decided to copy the old BSA folding Parabike and have ready for use a number of these across the country.
Compared to the BSA models of which around 70,000 were produced the Danish bikes are far less numerous with only 500 or so being made. However, they are far more affordable - a WWII BSA in top condition would cost around £1200 today. The design is virtually a carbon copy and is brilliantly simple and remarkably solid in use, the twin tube frame and sturdy hinges giving a totally flex-free ride. The Danish build quality is a definite improvement on the hurriedly built wartime BSA and the fully welded hinges (BSA's were simply brazed) should give a much longer lifespan (the wartime service life of the BSA was designed to be measured in hours).
An added beauty of the Danish model is the incorporation of just one brake, a rear coaster giving a beautifully streamlined 'brakeless' look and a silent 'freewheel'. It's difficult to believe this particular example dates from the very early 1960's having been in Government storage until very recently. There are a few chips to the paint but in most areas it is virtually brand new in appearance with original un-perished tyres, immaculate Middlemores saddle and spotless finish to the drivetrain. Not the most efficient pedalling position but great fun to ride.
There are some amazing computer designed modern small wheeled folders out there but as lovers of traditional, simple, singlespeed bikes this one is highly desirable. Pashley of course copied the original frame design for their Tube Rider but without the folding facility. There must be a market out there for an exact copy of the Danish copy - maybe one day. As always any comments or info from fellow enthusiasts are very welcome.
© VeloSolo Bikes 2009.