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Keeping it in the family: A BSA Thunderbolt from Italy

BSA Thunderbolt restomod by Soiatti Moto Classiche
If you lived in the 1900s or earlier, your career was probably dictated by the line of work that your father happened to be in. Entire lifetimes were spent honing skills that were passed down from generation to generation.

The formula bred quality and craftsmanship. But the modern world has increasingly turned its back on the concept of the multi-generational family business.

BSA Thunderbolt restomod by Soiatti Moto Classiche
They’re seldom seen, but if you look hard enough, you can still find a genuine father and son business. And in our industry, we’re lucky to have Soiatti Moto Classiche, run by Daniele Soiatti and his son Alberto.

It was founded in the late 1970s by Daniele, a former SWM and Zundapp factory motocross rider, but Alberto (below) has recently taken over as the head honcho around the shop.

BSA Thunderbolt restomod by Soiatti Moto Classiche
The younger Soiatti is a thoroughly modern entrepreneur and modern-day renaissance man. He holds a degree in accounting and finance, has been profiled in GQ Italy, works as a model for companies such as Condé Nast, and oversees several side projects—including a 50K+ follower Instagram account.

Based in Novara in northwest Italy, Soiatti Moto Classiche’s bread and butter is concours-level restorations on historic models, such as this Suzuki Vallelunga.

BSA Thunderbolt restomod by Soiatti Moto Classiche
The father and son duo’s work is legitimately world class, and their restoration jobs are routinely featured in major print publications and elite European events like the Concorso d’Eleganza at the Villa d’Este.

In between breathing new life into tired two-wheelers for clients, Daniele and Alberto also accept the occasional commission for custom projects. And the latest is this absolutely stunning 1971 BSA A65 Thunderbolt restomod with a street tracker vibe.

BSA Thunderbolt restomod by Soiatti Moto Classiche
The Thunderbolt arrived at the shop in crates; a fire damaged mess, it had been dismantled after a blaze that occurred some 15 years ago.

Nonetheless, if anyone was up to the task of returning the iconic British bike to its former glory—and then some—it was the Soiattis. They handle decrepit basket cases on a regular basis, so a plan was hatched, designs were drawn up, and the long journey began.

BSA Thunderbolt restomod by Soiatti Moto Classiche
“The inspiration for this project came from the world of vintage American flat track racing,” Alberto tells us, “though I still wanted the bike to be suitable for daily use.”

The BSA’s parallel twin was pulled from the oil-in-frame tubing. The frame was de-tabbed, sandblasted to hell and back, and then adorned in a Cadillac blue paint. The swing-arm received the same treatment as well.

BSA Thunderbolt restomod by Soiatti Moto Classiche
Just beneath where the subframe connects to the main chassis, the pair installed a nut with a transparent head that allows the oil level to be seen.

Before being stuffed back in the frame, the aluminum engine covers were polished and the head was cracked open so the pistons could be replaced. The bike’s original Amal Concentric carb setup was given a refresh and then paired with (screened) velocity stacks.

BSA Thunderbolt restomod by Soiatti Moto Classiche
The rider’s quarters have been heavily revised on the bike. The rubber foot-pegs (and kick-starter peg) have been swapped out for fresh pieces, the stock bars have been replaced with a Renthal tracker unit, and the pilot now straddles a tractor-style diamond-stitched leather saddle.

The stocker’s Smiths instrumentation is still in play, though it too has been given a refresh.

BSA Thunderbolt restomod by Soiatti Moto Classiche
The Thunderbolt tank has undergone one of the Soiatti’s signature top-notch resto-jobs, having been resealed internally, polished to a mirrored finish, and then decorated in metallic gold highlights accented by the frame’s Cadillac blue. The fenders and fork sliders also received a thorough polishing.

Alberto wanted to preserve as much of the donor’s original appearance, while slightly bolstering the Beezer’s road-holding abilities. So he’s added a set of modern, adjustable Bitubo shocks.

BSA Thunderbolt restomod by Soiatti Moto Classiche
The same school of thinking resulted in the Bridgestone rubber. “For the tires, I wanted something that would vaguely resemble flat track items, but would still be appropriate for use on the road,” explains Alberto.

The biggest visual departure from the A65’s stock form is the custom’s front and side number plates. They’re traditional white squares with rounded edges, with the front board hiding a pair of stacked LED headlights.

BSA Thunderbolt restomod by Soiatti Moto Classiche
The right side plate wears a number 0, which Alberto says is to symbolize someone who, after the accident that took the Thunderbolt out of commission, is sadly no longer with us.

“So the build has been aesthetically revised,” says Alberto. “But we like the fact that it’s still elegant.”

BSA Thunderbolt restomod by Soiatti Moto Classiche
This BSA highlights the Soiattis’ restoration prowess, while simultaneously adding subtle modern visual themes. And with the junior Soiatti now taking over the reigns, the future of the shop appears to be in very good hands.

It looks like Daniele and Alberto are creating a motorcycle dynasty of their own.

Soiatti Moto Classiche Facebook | Daniele Soiatti Instagram | Alberto Soiatti Instagram | Images by Valen Zhou

BSA Thunderbolt restomod by Soiatti Moto Classiche

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