BSA is probably best known for their Lightning, but they also had a touring complement known as the BSA Thunderbolt. Produced from 1964-1972, the bike had two major updates through its’ life. In our eyes, the designs got uglier over time – culminating in the bike we feature today.
Powered by the traditional 650cc air cooled twin with a single Amal carb, the BSA Thunderbolt (also known internally as the A65) had evolved to minimize vibrations found from previous BSA Twins. This allowed for sustained 70 mph travel in comfort for the first time. Plus, with a 4.2 gallon gas tank, riders were able to go over 200 miles per tank without filling up. The 46 horsepower engine enabled the bike to hit 104 miles per hour, and a dry weight of 385 pounds helped keep the bike manageable. The combination of speed and comfort made it an ideal sports tourer. Unfortunately, quality control issues in later models led to oil leaks and premature rust, tanking the reputation of this bike. This combined with the influx of Japanese bikes like the classic Honda CB750, contributed to the demise of the BSA Thunderbolt.
This specific BSA Thunderbolt has not been restored but looks to be just lovely. Having just turned over 10,000 miles, this Thunderbolt still has a lot of life left in it. New tires and a solid state ignition round out the recent maintenance, while the owner uses a cartridge oil filter. Not much else to say here except the bike still has the original “Bronze” paint.
Find this BSA Thunderbolt here on Craigslist for $4,000 in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
This bike-uriousity brought to you by reader Steve B.