1968 BSA 650cc A65 Lightning
Frame no. A65LB 6795
Engine no. A65LB 6795
BSA followed their acquisition of Ariel with the purchase of Triumph in 1951. It was decided from the outset that BSA and Triumph would retain complete autonomy. Indeed, that policy endured for almost two decades, until BSA Triumph Group Ltd were in dire financial straits, by when a certain amount of Badge Engineering did then occur, albeit against great opposition from a loyal middle management. In twin cylinder folklore BSA were profoundly piqued how Triumph, their much tinier rival, beat them to the post with the worlds first successful vertical twin, the Speed Twin, which was of course unveiled in 1937. BSA was certainly already experimenting with twins, but World War II determined it would be 1947 before they could unleash their first ever, the 500cc A7, followed by the 650cc A10 in 1950. In comparison with Triumphs involvement on this vital front BSAs pair of A-series pre-unit twins had different design origins, they looked different, and differed dimensionally as well. Yet when it came to the vital introduction of unit construction motors BSA unfortunately lagged about three years behind.
In BSAs case both the 500cc A50 and the 650cc A65, which were first seen in 1962, and acknowledged to be as sturdy as they were streamlined, were also thought to be rather bulky. This was the public perception. It is also fair to say that BSAs unit-engined machines provided Triumphs unit range with slightly less opposition than had those earlier BSAs
when both makes were fitting pre-unit engines! BSAs 650cc A65 still sold across the globe in tens of thousands; its rugged engine also evolved into the definitive mode of propulsion in the hyper competitive world of European sidecar racing. Given that BSA targeted the US market with Cyclones, Firebirds, Hornets, Rockets, Stars, Thunderbolts, and Wasps, it was surely never straightforward choosing from such an eclectic range
With its covetable single-sided hubs, this low-mileage (692 miles) Lightning is arguably one of the most functional of BSAs 650 unit twins.