When brothers Vigneshwar and Venkateshwar tried to register their 1944 BSA W-M20 with a Holland club dedicated to military bikes, they made a surprising discovery. The bike's frame number (WM2044189) did not match with its engine number (WM2043742). Despite this anomaly, they were allowed to go ahead with the registration. Was a rule broken to accommodate these brothers and their W-M20? Far from it.
Henk Joore, who runs the club, explained that it was not really an anomaly. “Joove told us the majority of W-M20s have this problem, because they had been rebuilt. A number of W-M20s were rustled up for war work, by restoring beaten-down bikes. Invariably, a new frame or an engine was installed,” says Venkateshwar. Joore is an authority on the W-M20 and runs a popular site on military BSAs (www.wdbsa.nl).
Venkateshwar admits that he and his brother learnt that the bike was a W-M20 from Joore. Until then, they assumed it to be a civilian M20. “It is a W-M20, the frame and engine numbers clearly show it.” The civilian K-M20 was modified into W-M20. The changes included girder forks (from 1939) and an eight-inch Lucas DUl42 headlight with a black-out mask.
The essential parts of a W-M20 are intact in this 1944 bike. “We have the Amal carburettor, but use a Mikuni for efficiency,” says Venkateshwar. Certain parts are missing, and the brothers are doing something about it. They want to rid the bike of the Minda and get a Smith's speedometer.
These are minor irregularities that can be glossed over. With its side valve, single cylinder 500cc engine, this bike lives up to BSA M20's reputation for producing oodles of low torque. “This makes it a joy to ride on the long road.”