BSA Magni R3: The Ultimate Café Racer

Brent Lenahan built his dream BSA triple: A Magni-framed, Rocket 3-powered café racer.

| May/June 2014

2012 Magni R3
Claimed power: 96hp @ 8,500rpm
Top speed: Not measured
Engine: 930cc air/oil-cooled OHV inline triple, 72mm x 79mm bore and stroke, 9.5:1 compression ratio
Weight (dry): 355lb (161kg)
Fuel capacity/MPG: 4gal (15ltr)/25-40mpg

If you could have the bike of your dreams, what would it be?

A few years back, Brent Lenahan decided he wanted to build his dream BSA triple. He started talking to Jerry Liggett, co-owner of Triple Tecs and builder of former AMA Grand National Champion Gary Nixon’s AHRMA-dominating Triumph triple a few years back. Brent’s dream bike was a street tracker BSA Rocket 3, maybe with a Trackmaster or Champion frame, lightweight and powerful with race-specification engine internals and classic Seventies credentials.

While this might sound great, the street manners of a genuine flat track frame can be brutal. The steering angle is steep, so turns are immediate. Add a hundred horsepower to the mix and it becomes a snarling beast, more in control than the rider. Exploring options, Jerry turned the conversation to café racers, and then Italy. Then, more specifically, to classic Italian racers such as Giacomo Agostini and his MV Agusta race bikes, built in conjunction with master frame builder Arturo Magni. What about building a Magni Rocket 3?

The beginning

The hybrid café racer has a long history in England, where backyard mechanics started transplanting Triumph twin engines into Manx Norton rolling chassis in the 1950s; in Italy, Italjet built Griffon motorcycles with Triumph engines, and Bimota later perfected the craft, stuffing Yamaha, Suzuki and other makers’ engines into its own perfect frames.

Brent remembers those days. He started his motorcycle career many years ago, on the dirt roads of his native Queensland, Australia. Wanderlust struck, and he headed off to the bright lights of London. After a stint working construction, he decided to keep heading west and spend a few months riding a motorcycle across the U.S.

6/5/2014 8:06:08 AM

“I often think, how would my life be different if I’d bought that BSA?” Brent says. “Would I have had the same trouble-free six months riding around the U.S.?” No, no you would not.

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