On Yer Bike: Jannie Stander

This month a story of a local bitsa bike that blitzed the opposition…

It never ceases to amaze just how innovative and successful South Africans were in the world of two- and four-wheeled motoring and motor sport during the pre- and early post-war periods. Often working against the odds when compared with contemporaries overseas, local men and women achieved some truly remarkable feats in design, engineering, construction – and competition. Typical of the breed was motorcycle engineer and racer Jannie Stander who, in 1952, built a ‘bitsa’ motorcycle that he reworked into a formidable racing machine. At the time, Jannie had a small motorcycle business in Johannesburg called Racing Motors.

The basis of the machine was a 1946 350cc Velocette MAC, but by the time Jannie had stripped, welded, bolted, sawed, filed, drilled and hammered all of the components, the result – enigmatically named Boksnot (?!) – bore next to no resemblance to its origins. He re-sleeved the side-valve engine into a 250 using a BMW crank and fitted his own double overhead-cam conversion with an Amal GP carburettor. Norton front shock absorbers were amongst the numerous parts cobbled from other machines. Unique items fabricated by Jannie included an aluminium fuel tank, under-slung oil tank and rocker box cover tank.

The finished product was bare-boned to say the least – a simple fairing was added later – but over the next 10 years Boksnot out-performed some of the best two-wheeled riders and machinery both locally and overseas. Stander won the 250cc SA Championship in 1958 and later successfully raced in the UK at circuits including Brands Hatch, Snetterton and Oulton Park. Jannie received Springbok colours for his efforts. In the mid-1960s the bike was ridden by Tommy Johns to several podium finishes before it was finally outclassed by the Japanese two-stroke machines. Apparently, some five examples were built and only one is thought to survive.