Today, we have a scrambler version of one of our favorite bikes of all time: the BSA Lightning. The Lightning was produced from 1965 to 1972 by BSA (Birmingham Small Arms Company), intended mainly for export to the US market as an “all-around sports machine.” It sat between the single-carb BSA Thunderbolt, which was intended more as a touring machine, and the higher-compression Spitfire.
The 652cc parallel twin produced a respectable 52 horsepower, and the 395-lb machine was good for 108-112 mph. It also looked like a dream, and a gold-painted, fully-faired, missile-laden Lightning was featured in the Bond film Thunderball (1965), ridden by British Gran Prix rider Bill Ivy, disguised as a blond Bond girl.
The Baby: BSA Lightning Scrambler
Today’s bike comes to us from Maurizio Merlo, an Italian native living and working in Johannesburg. Nicknamed “The Baby,” this ’73 BSA A65 Lightning is a triumph in understatement. Maurizio mainly subtracted components not necessary to ride the machine, and added details here and there. Of his design philosophy with this bike, he says:
“Less is more…I took out everything not strictly necessary to ride the bike. The result is in the pictures.”
Spoken like a true artist, Maurizio!
The fenders are from a 1970 KTM Penton, as are the vintage number plates. The low-profile, quilted seat streamlines the lines of the bike, and matches superbly with the leather tank cover. The retro tracker tires give the bike a desert sled look, which Steve McQueen himself would surely appreciate, and the leather seat bag is a nice touch. Overall, this is a beautiful, minimalist build, and we love it!