Tagged: Lightning

Unrestored Beeza: 1969 BSA 650 Lightning for Sale

1969 BSA Lightning R Side

Designed as BSA’s versatile all-rounder, the A65 Lightning had twin-carbs compared to the Thunderbolt’s single-carb set up for improved performance at high rpm. It was considered the more conservative choice when compared to the competing Triumph Bonneville, although the flashy chrome tank panels look pretty striking today. Even though BSA and Triumph were technically owned by the same parent company by this point, clear attempts were made to create distinct brand identities for the Lightning and Bonneville, with a more “reliable” image for BSA, though such things are relative…

1969 BSA Lightning L Front Lamp

With similar displacements, power and performance were closely matched: the undersquare Triumph motor was a bit more torquey than the slightly oversquare BSA and both were OHV engines with the BSA featuring more modern “unit” construction behind those distinctive egg-shaped cases. Period riders often slotted the Triumph’s more easily-tuned engine into the lightweight, rigid BSA frame to create the TriBSA, a bike in the spirit of the more well-known Triton.

1969 BSA Lightning L Side Tank

The BSA’s 654cc twin put 52hp through a four-speed gearbox and was good for 108mph. Unfortunately, although the oversquare BSA was revvier, it was still a big parallel twin and using the higher revs broke bulb filaments with irritating regularity when chasing that power.

From the original eBay listing: 1969 BSA 650 Lightning for Sale

I am offering for sale this original and unrestored 1969 BSA 650 Lightning.  I received the bike in non running condition, with a 12 inch over extended front end, after market head light and brackets and one shorty muffler. The engine turned over with weak compression , but smoothly. The odometer indicated just over 2000 miles, and it`s last state inspection sticker was from 1974. The tires were original Dunlop `Made in England ` K70`s and the wheels were badly rusted on the bottom side from having been buried in earth. the bike had been in a barn, but apparently with a wet muddy floor. I proceeded to disassemble most of the bike , with the intent of leaving it as original as I could. I replaced the wheels with other ones from my stock, and cleaned and greased the wheel bearings. There is an almost new Asian K70 replica tire on the rear, and an original K70 on the front with good tread but has some sidewall checking. I sourced an original 1969 BSA front end with all correct components from my inventory, disassembled and cleaned it thoroughly and reassembled with new seals and all good component parts. I cleaned and polished all of the chrome parts to the best of my ability, and rubbed out the original vintage custom paint, which had apparently been done when the bike was still fairly new. I removed the top end, and found the rings to be stuck in the ring lands, and some rust in a couple of valve seats causing the low compression. The bottom end was clean and tight and still wet with oil from 1974 so decided not to disassemble it. I removed and thoroughly cleaned the pistons, and replaced them with new Hastings rings, honed the cylinders, replaced all gaskets, and removed, reseated and replaced the valves. Everything looked good. crankshaft end play is minimal and timing side bush shows minimal wear.(.002 clearance measured with a feeler gauge.) I also removed, cleaned thoroughly and replaced the oil pump, entire transmission, and primary drive and clutch assembly. I installed a very nice set of vintage Bates cocktail shaker megs with no baffles. They have a very pleasing exhaust note, but not annoyingly loud.

The end result is a bike which starts right up on one or two kicks, runs strong and smoothly, has good clutch action and shifts cleanly through all of the gears, does not smoke, and leakage is very minimal. (chain oiler drips as it should). It is clean and looks presentable, but surely no show bike or trailer queen. It has it`s fair share of ‘patina’ which is the cool way of saying worn chrome and paint, but is well sorted mechanically and electrically. I have no way of knowing if the odometer mileage is correct, although the bike appeared to have low miles. 

1969 BSA Lightning R Side Engine

There’s plenty of pitting and mild corrosion as described, but all that could be repaired if the new owner desired and the bike would work well as a rolling-restoration, since the issues are all cosmetic: as can be seen from the video, the bike starts and runs well, with a nice British twin snarl. There are no bids yet with plenty of time left on the auction, so I’ve no idea if this bike is realistically priced, but this looks like a very nice, rideable example of a late 60’s British icon.

-tad

1969 BSA Lightning R Side Front

Numbers-Matching Twin: 1966 BSA Lightning for Sale

1966 BSA Lightning R Front

Intended as the all-rounder in BSA’s mid-60’s range, the A65 Lightning was sportier than the Thunderbolt and more comfortable than the Spitfire. A natural competitor for Triumph’s Bonneville, owing to similar specification and performance, the Lightning was powered by a 654cc, OHV parallel-twin that put 52hp through a four-speed gearbox and could reach a claimed 112mph.

1966 BSA Lightning Tank

Slightly oversquare dimensions gave the engine a more enthusiastic quality than competing machines from Triumph, but parallel twins are inherently unbalanced and BSA’s engine shook more than most: in an era before balance shafts and other mechanical trickery, severe vibration in the upper rev range would see you breaking headlight filaments with cartoonish regularity.

1966 BSA Lightning Engine Detail

Interestingly, although the distinctive chrome-plating on the tank is very evocative and striking today, BSA’s image at the time was more “reliable and conservative” than rival Triumph.

1966 BSA Lightning Clocks

From the original eBay listing: 1966 BSA Lightning for Sale

Meticulous Ground-Up Restoration by BSA Enthusiast, Thousands in Receipts, New Everything, One Owner 1966-2012, 2500 Original Miles, Matching Numbers

This 66 BSA Lightning is a two owner bike with 2500 original miles. It was ground-up restored over the last three years by a very detail-oriented BSA enthusiast, who bought the bike from the original owner in 2012. The original owner lived in Sleepy Hollow, NY and bought the bike brand new from the dealership on Main Street in sleepy hollow in 1966. He rode it sparingly, lost interest, and stored it in his house until 2012. As a result, the previous owner told me the bike only had 2500 miles on it when he purchased it.

When the previous owner got it, he assessed the bike, started ordering parts, and completely disassembling it down to the frame (pics below.) Since the bike was so original, the idea was to completely rebuild all the mechanicals, while leaving as much of the cosmetics original as possible. The frame did not need to be repainted, so it was left “stove black” with its original paint from the factory. The seat and tank and sidecovers are all original and are in great condition and display a nice even light patina.

The motor was sent out and fully and professionally rebuilt.
The bike was fitted with Mikunis and a Boyer MK4 ignition.
The suspension was completely rebuilt, as well as the wheel bearings, and he added a tapered steering head bearing.
The bike was fitted with new tires, new battery, new fuel taps, it has all new cables, and the tank was sealed.
I have thousands of dollars in receipts for all the work done, as pictured.

The bike was set up to ride, so everything was hit with blue loctite. The stock handlebars were kept, since they are so comfortable to ride with and make the bike easy to wheel around the garage. The bike starts up easily from dead cold on one or two kicks. Remarkably, it doesn’t even leak any oil (and yes, there’s oil in it.)

All the electrics function properly. Because of the new tires and freshly rebuilt suspension, the bike is the best riding Lightning we’ve had. It feels very tight going down the road, loves to corner, and exhibits very little vibration. The new owner put just over 500 indicated miles on the bike since the rebuild and told me he wouldn’t hesitate to ride the bike anywhere. We’ve sold 5 Lightnings in the last year and this one is the most impressive.

With this bike you get excellent preservation-class cosmetics with the security of thousands in receipts that come with the bike that show a total overhaul. The previous owner was very particular about the bike and any conversation I had with him about it seemed to last at least half an hour or more while he went over all the minute technical details of the restoration.

The bike comes with a perfectly preserved original 1966 BSA owner’s manual. It is matching numbers.

1966 BSA Lightning Seat

Take a look at the particularly nice video of the bike riding around its current home in Brooklyn, NY: you can really hear that classic twin snarl.

There are “survivors” with tons of originality and patina. But something like this, a ground-up restoration by experts with minor updates to improve reliability and function is more in line with what I would want in a dream bike. And the bike doesn’t appear to have been “over-restored”: some bits still in excellent condition were even left with their original paint to give the bike a bit of a lived-in feel.

I don’t follow the prices on these, so I wouldn’t hazard a guess as to where that reserve is set. But it’s obvious that, if you’re looking for a really nice Lightning to own and cherish and ride, this is one to watch.

-tad

1966 BSA Lightning L Side