Union Motorcycle Classics is a bunch of like-minded friends operating out of an old red dairy barn in Idaho. Mike Watanabe and Co. are churning out a steady stream of delectable customs, and the latest is this 1967 BSA A65 Lightning. The boys bought the bike few years back, lured by its pristine 650 cc parallel twin engine. ‘The motor is stock,’ reports Mike. ‘They last a lot longer that way. A good friend of mine who is a great mechanic very carefully assembled it. He lost interest in the Lightning and sold it to me for a song—so I got a brand new motor in a matching-number basket case chassis. Then Luke and I focused on making the thing lighter to gain performance.’
Once in the barn, all unnecessary brackets and lugs were ground off the frame, along with the stock passenger peg loops. Then Union reconstructed the rear subframe to match the newly designed seat. ‘We created new lugs for all of the components we needed to install,’ says Mike, including new mounts for the custom fairing, tank, seat and side covers. ‘We used longer shocks in the rear and lowered the front considerably. The triple trees have a much steeper rake than stock.’ The bodywork is all new—‘inspired by loads of vintage BSA history’—and the side covers were reshaped to fit inside the frame rails, as opposed to outside (as from the factory). Oregon-based Glass From The Past created the molds.
Keep an eye out for this build on Cafe Racer TV soon, and if you’re ever passing through Nampa in Idaho, keep an eye out for a large red barn. There’s a treasure trove of British and European classic motorcycles inside.