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Back to the original question, the fastest 'BSA Spifires' were like any bike, the ones
that individual owners modified and put together themselves. A production bike was
all you got with a spitfire, some were quicker than others same with bonnies, nortons etc.
I've ridden a couple of very quick a65's none of which were spitfires, just very well put
together bikes. Seldom did bikes straight from the factory go as well as they said they would.
Looking at a sales brochure and believing what it says on bikes back then was a laugh really.
How many 60's bonnies did 120mph? or ss nortons? or Tridents etc etc. More importantly,
how many leaked more oil than the sales brochure said? Or vibrated beyond belief etc.

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Originally Posted by NickL
The photo-reconnaissance spitfires were the fastest overall, well over 400mph in most cases.

Of course the Spitfire was a tuned Lightning which only did 390mph (F-5) but ironically, the Thunderbolt (P-47) could reach 550mph in a dive...

Go figure.

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If nothing else the advertising worked very well. Drooling over the pictures and claims of 120 were part of everyones regular passtimes. I wanted one BAD but did not have the scratch. Has anyone mentioned the Hot Rod magazine article around 63-64 where they tested a new 'fresh from the crate' A-65 on the dry lake. I think they exceeded 130. Despite the skepticism, I'm sure it did not hamper sales! PRT

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Originally Posted by NickL
Apples and oranges comparison.


1967 BSA Wasp
1967 BSA Hornet (West Coast Model)
1967 BSA Hornet (East Coast Model)
1968 BSA Firebird Scrambler
1968 BSA Spitfire Mark IV
1965 Cyclone Competition Build
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Originally Posted by NickL
It was meant to be a laugh, playing with the model names. I didn't mean to divert/jack the thread, just a little amusement for a guy that has a Spitfire and a Thunderbolt, but no Lightning (yet).

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Same Pilot Goodwood Revival 1998
[Linked Image from live.staticflickr.com]50400840933_72fb1100df_c by Sigma Projects, on Flickr


BSA B31 500 "Stargazer"
Greeves 200 "Blue Meanie"
Greeves 350
Greeves 360
Suzuki GSX1100 EFE "Sorcerers Apprentice"
GM500 sprint/LSR bike "Deofol"
Jawa 500 "Llareggub"
Aprilia RSV Mille "Lo Stregone"
'35 & '36 OK Supreme
Kawasaki ZZR1400 "Kuro no senshi"
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1972 Triumph T120
1968 BSA A65
1968 MGB Roadster
1979 Chevrolet Camaro Berlinetta
1969 Honda Mini Trail
1939 farmall f30 tractor
2004 Honda Shadow Aero
1972 BSA Thunderbolt
1975 yamaha xs650b
1972 Norton commando
2 olive drab WWII military bicycle replicas
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79 T140D, 96 900M Ducati ,61 A10 .On a bike you can out run the demons..
“But I don't want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked. “Oh, you can't help that,” said the Cat: “we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad.
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This seems like a pretty accurate and honest assessment - ACTUAL top speed 103.92 at 6250 rpm. They also took care to list the horsepower figures as "claimed".

I think they down-played the differences between the BSA and Triumph engines.


Mark Z

'65(lower)/'66(upper, wheels, front end, controls)/'67(seat, exhaust, fuel tank, headlamp)/'70(frame) A65 Bitsa.
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Originally Posted by NickL
I've ridden a couple of very quick a65's none of which were spitfires, just very well put
together bikes. Seldom did bikes straight from the factory go as well as they said they would.
Looking at a sales brochure and believing what it says on bikes back then was a laugh really.
How many 60's bonnies did 120mph? or ss nortons? or Tridents etc etc. More importantly,
how many leaked more oil than the sales brochure said? Or vibrated beyond belief etc.

I worked for Harley Davidson back in the late 70's early 80's. I well remember when the new 1982 models were being set up in the Spring of 82. We would receive several 80 cubic inch (1340cc) SuperGlide models of all configuration; my favorite was the basic FXE model. One we received there stood out against all the rest, a green 1982 FXE. My brother was the service manager at the time and he called my attention to this particular bike, asked me if I knew of anything special with it, and NO was the answer. Turned out that despite all outward appearances, it would easily outrun every other Big Twin we received that year. Revved more freely, accelerated noticeably better. Never did establish why, and often wish I had traded in my own '77 which I still have, for it. There was always minor deviation, but this one really stood apart.

Last edited by ChiefRider; 10/01/20 4:57 am.

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1968 Thunderbolt
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I believe all the bikes which were sent out on test were “specially prepared” to ensure that they did give the stated figures.


Now let’s all have a beer beerchug

68’ A65 Lightning “clubman”
71’ A65 823 Thunderbolt (undergoing restoration)
67’ D10 sportsman (undergoing restoration)
68’ D14 trials (undergoing transformation)

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[quote][/quote]
Originally Posted by Allan G
I believe all the bikes which were sent out on test were “specially prepared” to ensure that they did give the stated figures.
Yes. In the 70's Cycle magazine was the least bias and it's acceleration runs were generally done by Peewee Gleason, a pro drag racer. They did several famous performances bike comparison tests with factory tuners present at the track. Gearing changes were allowed but the engine were torn down for inspection.


79 T140D, 96 900M Ducati ,61 A10 .On a bike you can out run the demons..
“But I don't want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked. “Oh, you can't help that,” said the Cat: “we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad.
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My cousin Mike bought a new '67 Bonneville, a T120R street model, not a TT.. He took delivery in October of 1966.

It was the fastest Triumph in the area, but was factory stock.

Our local Triumph dealer said this was sometimes the case.
By accident, when assembled the parts are so close to ideal factory specifications that the engine is like a "blueprinted" custom-build.

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