B40 Military Mk2 and Roughrider
B40 Military Mk2 and Roughrider by Rupert Ratio
Having been in production during 1967, and having gained sizeable contracts for BSA with the armed forces of Great Britain, Australia and Denmark, the B40 Military Mk1 was revamped for the 1968 season in line with changes made to the current road models. These changes produced the B40 Military Mk2.
Changes from Mk1 spec. concerned -
- Mudguard support rail (similar to the contemporary B25 and B44 roadster models) with its two short mounting brackets added, necessitating a new mudguard with different mounting holes. This rail was standard fitment on Danish Mk1 WDB40s. The rail itself is similar to the roadster item but with an extra bend on the offside to prevent fouling the pannier support rail if fitted.
- Rear light casting, now with cutaways to accommodate the new support rail.
- Swinging arm, Chain guard, Brake drum and bolt-on sprocket as per 1968 B25/B44. Chain and sprockets now 5/8 by ¼.
- Rear tyre now 4- 18 on the same WM3 rim.
- Oil filter, British filters unit fitted as standard instead of Vokes item. The new filter was mounted on an L shaped bracket bolted to the existing hole on the rear offside engine mounting bracket. The oil filter now lay horizontally across the machine beneath the battery.
- Frame. As per earlier Mk1 machines except; oil filter mounting bracket absent, rectifier mounting bracket added to the inside of the nearside saddle tube (same place as roadster ign. switch bracket), ign. switch bracket as per roadster models but on offside frame tube. The frame for all Mk2 and Roughrider machines was of the earlier pattern with narrow bottom engine mounting lugs and not as per 1969 season production on roadsters and later Mk1 machines with wide bottom lugs. Headstock gusset plates pierced with oval holes of similar size and shape but positioned differently (why?).
- New wiring harness to accommodate repositioning of, or new electrical components (ign. switch, rectifier and headlamp assembly). Note, the 68 B25/B44 wiring harness will do the job for the Mk 2/Roughrider.
- Forks. The entire front end assembly (speedo, headlamp, diode heat sink,18 wheel, the lot) as per the contemporary 1968 B25 Starfire and therefore having few parts common to the Mk 1.
- 626 Concentric carburettor.
Un-illustrated parts books for B40 Military and the Roughrider which followed it. The two books list mostly the same parts.
The B40 Military Mk2 didn’t sell well. Essentially there was nothing wrong with it; it performed slightly better than the Mk1 (due to the Concentric carb) with a marginally more robust front end. The problem was who would buy it? Most remaining loyal anglophile customers abroad had already invested in, and tooled up for the Mk1 which was in continuing but reduced supply to them (up to the end of 1973 in the case of the British army). For these customers, adoption of a new and not fully parts-interchangeable machine alongside the Mk1’s would not be common sense.
The only notable buyer of Mk2’s was the “Jordan Arab Army” as BSA referred to them. King Hussian of Jordan was a loyal BSA customer of long standing but had not bought the Mk1. In total this customer took 200 machines between 11/67 and 3/68, all fetchingly finished in “Sand” colour. As you would expect, complete Mk2’s are now very scarce in the UK but sand coloured parts sometimes turn up as explained below.
An oddity regarding the Jordanian Army B40’s is a series of engine and frame numbers prefixed “GJ” dating from 1972. It is surmised that the Jordanians needed more machines at this time but could only be provided with the still available Mk1, the Mk2 having been dropped in 1969.
More information is sought regarding this and all post-1970 B40 Military production as the usual factory despatch records do not exist for this period.
A second small batch of Mk2’s mostly destined for Australia were produced nearly a year later in early 1969.
The story of the repatriation of some ex Jordanian army Mk2’s to the UK has so far been pieced together as follows –
The Jordanian military disposed of most of its British bike hardware in 1981/82, B40’s, OIF A65’s and T160 Cardinals. These were purchased by a dealer in Holland. Sizeable quantities of this cache were imported into the UK by Ted Bloomfield of MCS in Leytonstone and then sold-on piecemeal to the public.
The problem is that few of these Mk2’s remained intact as the first thing the Jordanians did to prepare them for sale was to put a cutting torch through the front downtube so they could be sold as “scrap”. Engines and sundry other parts found a ready market but butchered frames, when alternative unit single frames were easy to find were often consigned to the skip. As such, B40M engines, whilst not common, do turn up from time to time but B40M frames are like hens teeth. A complete Mk2 is more likely to be found in Australia having survived from the machines sent there.
Destinations for Mk2’s other than Jordan –
- Australia – 48
- UK – 24
- Arabia – 3
- Ceylon – 4
- Denmark – 1
- Other (through “Crown Purchasing Agency” for British overseas territories) - 36
The following is a page from the BSA “Motorcycles for Action” sales brochure of 1968/69.
Having failed to find a viable Military market for the Mk2, BSA revamped it slightly for sale to the public for off-road use as the Roughrider, primarily intended for rounding up sheep in Australia!
These were made in one batch of 108 machines from July 1969 (hence HC prefix to both frame and engine numbers it doesnt mean high compression), although they subsequently trickled out of the factory until 1972.
The main changes for the Roughrider were the option of fitting a high level exhaust system and single seat as shown in this factory shot. Australian models are thought to have fitted the low level system.
Roughrider destinations Australia, 79: UK, 22: SA, 1: Kenya, 1: Other (CPA), 5.
10 of the UK Roughriders went to the Hampshire forestry commission through Elite Motors.