Icon 1000 Axys Collection

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.]