1972 BSA A65L Lightning
105 mph 420 lbs 52 bhp
The BSA and Triumph 650s underwent a fundamental design change in 1971 – both moving to oil-in-the-frame (OIF). This made the bikes slimmer but also taller – the latter generating a fair degree of negative press comment. In fact the change was not that much and the bikes were highly regarded in the day – with the BSA A65 being considered the best of the breed.
The A65L was styled very much for the USA market – colourful, with a small 2.5 gallon fuel tank and strong performance care of a good engine, twin Amal 928 Concentric carburettors and 9:1 compression.
The OIF BSA lasted only from 1971 to 1973. Given the quality of the bikes being produced (under the guidance of the Humberslade Hall R&D facility) it was a tremendous pity that BSA got itself into a terminal cashflow crunch around 1972 and had to shut up shop in 1973. This was from a combination of factors:
Expecting falling USA demand in 1972 – whereas reality was the reverse;
Scheduling a major factory revamp to coincide with the expected weak demand;
Then ramping up production (of still teething problem prone new models) for the booming market – and then being too late to market with product as dealers had sold customers other brands in the interim;
Consequently having all cash trapped in a substantial stockpile of unsold bikes.
The OIF machines are the last of the iconic British big twins and as such represent an important but also poignant moment for a great industry.
This bike is a matching numbers USA model acquired in the UK but having spent most of its life in Spain. It is fairly faithful to the original – aside from a few mods such as a Boyer electronic ignition.