’67 BSA Lightning 650
This is what I traded in for a Kawasaki 750 H2 back in 1972. The bike, not the girl. Do I regret the trade? Not in the least. Do I wish I had that old BSA back again? Absolutely. The girl? Probably not. As I have grown older (no wiser, just older), I look back at bikes I have had and wish I had most of them back. I could do without the Bultaco El Bandito I had and certainly the Maico 501 that just about killed me, but most of all the rest, I would still love to be riding.
The Lightning 650 was/is a great motorcycle. At the time, the Triumph Bonneville completely over shadowed the BSA Lightning. The Bonnie was sportier in all respects…lighter, faster, quicker handling and…Steve McQueen rode one. However, in the real world; daily commuting, Sunday rides and cruising the boulevard the BSA was a better ride. The Lightning had been tuned down a bit from the the supersport Thunderbolt. A quieter ride, more mid range power and, believe it or not, less oil leakage…well, for an English motorcycle. Even though the motor had been retuned it would still get you up over 100mph pretty quickly. It did have a tendency to be a little ‘weavey’ at anything above about 85mph but you got used to it. Truthfully, I think it was the stock Dunlop tyres that caused the weave not the bike.
Now, the coolest factor of the Lightning 650…in 1965 it was featured in the James Bond film ‘Thunderball’ ridden by a beautiful woman, not 007.
I found this really nice ’67 Lightning on ebay this morning and it is a good value…so far. It has been repainted, nicely, new tyres, speedo, cables, fuel lines, petcock and a lot more. This would be a great motorbike for somebody wanting to tip their toes into the Brit Bike waters or, if you have a thing for English bikes and want a good rider consider this BSA seriously. Change the bars to a set of GP touring bars and you will love how this bike feels. Trust me on this one, it’s a good bike for the $$$ Click on the pics below for more info.