This is a great running machine. You won’t be disappointed when you ride this beauty!
The BSA Lightning was designed as the all-round sports machine of the 1960s, planned largely for export to the US market to complement the touring Thunderbolt and the later development, the supersports Spitfire. Development of the engine aimed to make it more reliable, quieter and less prone to oil leaks, with top speed sacrificed to improve mid-range and rideability. Nevertheless, with twin carburetors the A65L could still reach 108 mph (174 km/h). Improvements included an oil pressure warning light, but this had a tendency to malfunction, so riders learned to ignore it.
A close ratio gearbox combined with a high lift camshaft made for lively acceleration and performance at higher rpm than the standard A65. The bottom gear was a bit high, however, so riders had to learn to slip the clutch up to 10 mph (16 km/h). Above 5000 rpm customers also complained about excessive vibration, with a tendency to weave above 90 mph (140 km/h).
A useful feature was an ’emergency starting’ key position for times when the battery was flat to connect the alternator current directly to the ignition coils.
From 1969 the Lightning was improved with balanced exhaust pipes, redesigned silencer-internals, widened crankcase-half mating faces and a twin leading shoe front brake. When road testing, Motorcycle Sport found the natural cruising speed to be 70 mph (110 km/h), but was impossible to ride comfortably at more 5,500 rpm in the higher gears due to severe vibration, with 6,200 revs repeatedly breaking the headlamp bulb filament; accordingly no top speed runs were attempted.