I was in my early twenties, a member of the TOCN, had one Triumph T150V, was madly in love with a smart and beautiful young lady and bought an almost equally beautiful BSA A65 Lightning for 1850 guilders.
The gathering of years went on as normal, the membership of the TOCN disappeared. The contacts with a few club members from that time remained. The love for my dream princess passed away. In the course of time, a few British bicycles passed by. I found true love in Sylvia and became equally happy with Guzzies and Russian free-range animals for a long time. But the A65 remained a nice memory.
BSA and the A 65L
BSA stood for: The Birmingham Small Arms Co. Ltd., Small Heath, Birmingham, later BSA Cycles Ltd and BSA Motorcycles Ltd., Armory Road, Birmingham. A weapons factory. The brand logo? Those were 'the piled arms' three rifles that stood against each other like a kind of wigwamtent sticks. But BSA fortunately also made motorcycles (and cars) for us classic enthusiasts.
Known from 007
The A65L, which became known as BSA Lightning, became a sort of famous in the bourgeoisie by the James Bond movie Thunderball. The A65 had a block engine, the unit construction, instead of an engine block. That said goodbye to the setup of a separate engine block, linked to a separate gearbox. Those pre units date from the time that motorcycle builders still purchased their power sources and gearboxes from suppliers. Triumph was the British brand that had taken the lead in developing unit engines. But with the almost boring A65 L almost square, BSA was completely at home again. And that they had aluminum heads? That was also modern.
But the new twins didn't really turn out to be sales sellers
However, the new engine blocks were pretty good. Only the oil supply, the lubrication, was not optimal. The crankshaft bearing was also sub-modal. Meanwhile, perfect solutions have been found for those problems and surviving A65s will not have many of those design errors / teething problems. BSA itself never solved the problems. Strange guys who are British.
1970 was the year that the once hated, and meanwhile appreciated, 'oil in frame' models emerged from the forced, dismal union between the remaining British brands. Within BSA circles it is generally the case that the A65s from the period just before were for the best.
The profit from times gone by
But with BSA once leading the way, with Britons messing around in parts production, and with an ever-impressive number of fans of the brand plus the British tendency to keep rather than demolish, there are quite a few A65 Lightnings that have survived all time. And now such a BSA is a beautiful, slender, lively classic, with a high greed factor. In the context of current motorcycle thinking, the - then heavy, because 650 cc - machine is simply small. With its sparkling red color that is so characteristic of the BSA and its rich chrome parts, it has an almost Italian frivolous appearance.
A good Lightning is now better than it ever came from the factory
The supply of parts for BSAs is unbelievably good and the price level of the items offered is shockingly low in the eyes of fans of Japanese classics. There are sometimes dramatic differences in quality in the range of these components. Indeed, there is sufficient demand for BSA stuff to outsource production to exotic countries such as Bokkiebokkieland and Verweggistan. They may be able to deliver quality there. But if the price negotiations are super tight, then they are just happy to deliver what they were paid for: junk.
The time that you could buy an almost Perfect BSA A 1.850 Lightning for 65 guilder is over, by the way. Our fashion model from Brummen has an asking price of € 12.950.