BMW Motorrad Spezial

BSA Lightning custom

1966 BSA A65 Lightning custom motorcycle
I get to see a lot of bikes while researching posts for Bike EXIF. But it’s only occasionally that one will stop me in my tracks, and send me straight to eBay looking for an identical model. Kevin Giffin’s ‘Buster’, a 1966 BSA A65 Lightning, is one of those rare bikes. (It’s also a familiar model for me; in the 80s, there was a TV detective show in the UK called Boon, and a BSA Lightning featured in every episode.) Giffin’s BSA was an eBay find, but also a salutary lesson in buying unseen. “It was supposed to be a 1966 Lightning. It turned out to be a ‘bitsa’, and a well-worn one at that,” says Giffin. “After taking it apart, it became obvious that a complete rebuild was in order.” In the end, it took Giffin two years and over $10,000 to turn this bike into the stunning machine pictured above. He thoroughly reworked the 650cc parallel twin engine, giving it a 10.5:1 compression, a QPD primary belt drive, and a Boyer Bransden ignition. The bottom end and crank are from an A50, while the top end is from an A65. Giffen also installed Amal Monoblocs with open velocity stacks, and a late-model swingarm with bronze bushings. The front end is from a 1998 Honda CBR600F3—with clip-ons mounted above the triples—and both wheels are 18″ alloy rims laced with stainless steel spokes. Giffin did the paint himself, and says, “I went with the earlier tank style because I think the badges fit my look better. As with all customs, Buster has given me plenty of headaches along the way. But as you can see, it was worth it. He gets all the looks wherever I go, and handles like a sportbike at any speed and any angle.” Wouldn’t you love to have this machine in your garage? [Thanks to Peter Quigley for the tip.]

  • SwaggerPagan

    Man I love this site and this bike is really quite pretty, but those sure look like drag bars in standard risers, not so much clip-ons. Heh…regardless of the niggly little things, keep up the great work guy!

  • that is one good looking bike! love the straight bar look and classic bits.

  • Beautiful.

  • Woody

    The dual front discs are a nice touch. Won’t be having any trouble stopping now!

  • Derek

    MOAR PICTURES!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Joe

    Awesome bike, but like Swager said; black drags??? Those things pop out and detract from the coolness of the bike.

  • Labour of love that has produced an amazing bike. Great job Kevin. Real head turner.

  • Kozzy

    I like the drag bars – I think they look just right.

  • kim scholer

    Woody; Liked the dual disc setup too, but then late versions of Kawasaki’s BSA A65 copy had them too. Full circle, I guess….

  • amazing how a few updates can transform a bike….

  • mingh

    spot on. It’s so effortlessly cool. One of the greatest bikes featured here. What a difference from all those bike who try so hard and seem to miss the point entirely. Who cares if a bike has the ‘right’ style of bars, the ‘right’ length of rear fender, or the ‘right’ tyre pattern, if it doesn’t have the soul?

  • Suzi

    An answer to your question? A simple yes.

  • Wow!
    I think the black drags look great, especially in conjunction with the (wrapped? painted?) headers. The updated front end works in perfectly too. Nice to see older bikes that are set up for “real world” riding. This bike looks tough.

  • the other larry

    Just wondering why the A50 bottom end? With the A65 pistons what happens to the balance factor?

  • Benny

    Good that thing is Pig ugly. Looks like a parts bin mash-up.

  • Thanks gentlemen, for all the compliments. Yes, those are drag bars in the photo. I switched to the clipons later in an effort to load the front end more. The side covers are hand formed aluminum. There are too many mods to list here but I will say….Buster handles like a dream bike and stops like you were tied to a tree. There are more pix here…enjoy!

  • Aline

    Simplement magnifique