Tagged: Spitfire

1968 BSA Spitfire

With a long history of racing motorcycles on the Isle of Britain most of the major manufactures offered there interpretation of a racing bike. These bikes were often a replica of the factory racing entries, or a bike which offers all the traditional racing bits on the current models. In the case of BSA in the late 1960’s this model was the Spitfire, and this 1968 Spitfire offered here on eBay is a time capsule of the top of the line US model.

The BSA A65 engine has been highlighted here on CSBFS before, but those were the middle of the line Thunderbolts and Lightings, this one is the SPITFIRE. Offered from 1966-1968 the Spitfire has twin carbs, high compression engine, is hard starting and difficult to tune. The fantasy power numbers that it developed were 54hp@7250rpm from 654cc with a 9:1 CR. When BSA entered the Spitfire in the 1968 750cc Production TT on the Isle of Man, even giving up 100cc to the competition, it was timed at 132mph and finished 3rd.

Most of the difficulty were addressed by this MkIV. First offered with open velocity stack on Amal GP carbs, by the MkIV those were replaced by more user friendly Concentric carbs with air filters. Another improvement in tunability was a set of individual Lucas adjustable ignition points, allowing you to dial in smooth and accurate timing for each cylinder.

From the seller

THIS IS THE REAL THING!  IT APPEARS TO BE IN PRETTY GOOD SHAPE IT. THE FRAME IS IN GREAT SHAPE AND SURFACE RUST APPEARS TO BE VERY LITTLE.  THE ONLY BAD SPOTS ARE ON THE FRONT FORK AND ITS PICTURED.  THIS BIKE HAS BEEN IN A GARAGE FOR THE LAST 8-10 YEARS.  IT WAS RUNNING WHEN IT WAS PARKED BECAUSE I KNOW THE MAN WHO RODE IT. IT’S NOT PERFECT BY ANY MEANS BUT APPEARS TO BE ORIGINAL AND UNMOLESTED.   THE DECALS ARE DECENT TO WORN BUT INTACT AND THE PAINT LOOKS AS THOUGH IT SPIDER WEBBING IN PLACES. I HAVEN’T STARTED THIS BIKE BUT IT DOES HAVE GREAT COMPRESSION. 

 

Most of the British company of the time would offer the US market bikes a different “look” then those offered in the UK. The British boys would get clip-on’s, rear sets and large endurance tanks. US would get small “peanut” tanks, and high bars, and this bike has both, and to my eye, looks wrong.

This is a bike in which the buyer is going to have to make a decision. 10 years ago a nut and bolt restoration, with the end result being a glossy, better then factory look was popular and got the big bucks. These days original paint it cool. Will you buy this bike and ride it as it came from the factory, or tear it down and make it better then the factory original?

BB

Which BSA A65 is for you?

Birmingham Small Arms (a great name for a motorcycle company) has a 650cc parallel twin that was offered from 1962-1972 designated the A65. I once looked to buy a BSA and knew the twin cylinder was a relative of the famous Gold Star. The only problem is that they gave it many different names, all representing different levels of tune and performance. Some names even changed from bikes offered in Britain and those same bikes offered in the US. And ebay offers one stop shopping for most models offered over those 10 years.

It appears that the  was one of the A65 twins offered. The 654cc engine with its single carburetor gave the Thunderbolt 46bhp and the and a top speed over 100mph.

The and Lightning Clubman (designating factory Café racer) upped the ante to 48bhp and 51bhp respectively. These two bikes were the first of the line to give each cylinder its own Amal carburetors’. A close ratio gearbox was an option to give it lively acceleration.

The top of the line was the  first offered in 1963. With its twin Amal GP carburetors with Velocity stacks, and 54bhp at 7250rpm pushed this bike to 120mph. At the top of the line improvements with the addition of a twin leading shoe brake and new frame design over the lesser bikes were included. It did trade rideability for the improvement in performance, the curse of owning any vintage racer.

Lets not forget about all those Americans who wanted to take there bikes off road, the  was for them. The addition of high, straight though exhaust pipes, and lack of lights allowed people to take there bikes into the woods, along the fire lanes, and into the desert. 

Changes made for the US were smaller tanks and high bars, something that might make a British bike look more like bikes offered by a certain

Check them all out and see what the seller’s offer.  BB