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Bryan
Hagerty Employee

Stock Stories: 1966 BSA A65 Lightning

Up until the early 1960s, BSA was the largest producer of motorcycles in the world. The 1950s had been a good decade for the marque, with the success of the Gold Star as well as the development of two well-respected pre-unit (separate gearbox and engine), vertical twin-engine series: the A7 and A10. Not only was BSA a giant in producing motorcycles, the company also manufactured other goods such as buses, agricultural equipment, bicycles and, of course, weapons. Flush with cash generated from this diversified business, BSA also bought up other motorcycle marques—Triumph and Ariel, among others—making it a true empire.

 

Read the full article on Hagerty.com:

https://www.hagerty.com/media/motorcycles/stock-stories-1966-bsa-a65-lightning/

 

18 REPLIES 18
1956meteor
Intermediate Driver

I rode Nortons well into the 90's before giving up riding all together after too many close calls and having young children and a wife depending on my paycheque . I knew a couple guys with BSA's and they always seemed willing to part with them in favour of one of my Commandos. I still have a neighbor with about a dozen 60's Beezers in his barn that is " going to get them going again someday soon ". Perhaps they will afford him some retierment income if the brand does indeed make a comeback. No doubt they will be nothing like the original bikes like the Truimphs of today. 

Flashman
Instructor

It's a pity BSA's new engine didn't incorporate horizontally-split cases; they may not have gone bankrupt.  My buddy had a BSA Lightning; I rode it but it seemed heavy and rough (not to mention the usual issues).  I bought a 350 Yamaha and cleaned his clock.  Then he bought a 500 Kawasaki, but that's another story...

gster
Pit Crew

I still have my 69 Lightning though I haven't really ridden it in a number of years.

A beautiful looking bike that sadly was never as reliable it's Japanese counterpart.

P1010678.JPG

A British friend of mine says BSA stands for "Bits Strewn All over....."

I strongly disagree.

Just some of the bits fall off.

MidLifeCrisis98
Passenger

LOL at my Uncles shop it was "Basta** Stopped Again"

wentwest
Intermediate Driver

What about the 65 Honda Black Bomber (CB450)?

Zephyr
Advanced Driver

The absolute epitome of what a motorcycle should look like.

E63Todd
Pit Crew

In 1971 I bought an H1 Kawasaki 500 Triple through PACEX that darn near killed me. Next bike was a BSA A10 which I built into a beautiful little hardtail chopper. Sold it and bought a 1951 Harley Panhead which is still in the family to this day. Seems that I graduated backwards from very fast to slower to very slow...

JackVan
Intermediate Driver

Owning an early British bike meant you had to become a first class wrench bender and required a total commitment to the Prince of Darkness, (headlight always quit in the middle of a night ride). Lucas also did Jaguar's wiring, requiring an owner to have two mechanics and an electrician who all spoke with a Cockney accent.

Swamibob
Instructor

That's funny!  

SteveNL
Intermediate Driver

I have owned three BSAs.  Two A10s when I was a kid and an A65 that I purchased in 1990.  My 1972 Lightning had to be the very worst motorcycle that I have ever owned.  I spent countless hours and thousands of dollars trying to make it dependable.  The A65 engine is a terrible design that was badly constructed.  BSA deserved to die.

 

I sold the Lightning to a guy for a fraction of what I had invested, but still felt sorry for him when he trailered it down my driveway.

 

But I would still walk across the street to look at a Triumph.

 

77GL
Intermediate Driver

If not for Honda, motorcycles probably would have died a natural death about 50 years ago.

 

llawrence9
Intermediate Driver

BMW was challenged with their switch to the /5 but did succeed.

Can you forget the Z-1s that succeeded the 2 stroke triples?

KAWA 500's for like $700 out the door?

And the Yamaha RD series?
leobrady
New Driver

Just put on a couple of Mikuni 32 Flatslides to my 69 Firebird Scrambler. Along with new Avons, Pazon ignition, and Lucas Racing 20/50 (lots of zinc) very reliable. Also sounds extra nice!

henryamitchell3
New Driver

My young next-door neighbor, a motorcycle enthusiast, was talking to my dad. Dad mentioned he had several motorcycles, one of which was a BSA (in this case a 1970 441 Victor). The neighbor asked Do you work on the BSA? Dad answered, straight-faced, sure, i work on it all the time....once a month, i take the full can of oil out from under the bike, add it to the top and place the empty can back under the bike.

The redeeming feature is that it is one of the coolest looking bikes.

brb
Advanced Driver

Good article.  I enjoyed reading this.

McNeat
Pit Crew

First Beezer was a new 1967 A50 Royal Star. Lots of mods before I sold it. I now have a 69 Lightning, 69 Starfire, 71 Lightning and 72 Rocket 750 Triple. Love ‘em or hate  ‘em, they get in your blood.

fastcharlie
Pit Crew

Beezers. My first go with Lucas, Girling and Smith was a 68 Royal Star. Chopped it and did the Easy Rider across (part of) Canada on route to Sturgis for the 1970 Rally. Didn't make it. Damn zener diode, oil issues, etc. Next was a 1970 Firebird Scrambler (Cdn Model) again chopped which was also unreliable, but fun and I they taught me mechanics. Have had many Japanese bikes before and after, but if you want character and the feel of being one with your machine, you need to ride an old British or American bike. My current choices have been Harley's. You just don't get that connection with something that never breaks down.......lol.
llawrence9
Intermediate Driver

British,Spanish, Italian and American bikes of the 60's caused me to buy my first BMW, an R60/2 USA. I rode twelve months a year in Maryland at that time. Early 70's. Made tuition money wrenching on the others.