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#38029 - 04/23/08 11:37 pm BSA A10, A65 performance comparo  
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Adam M. Online content
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For the last few days I have been reading BSA Twins and Triples by Roy Bacon.
In the first chapter written about A7 / A10, he states that according to motorcycle press tests it was possible to extract 104 mph from first edition of Golden Flash in 1950, and first model of Road Rocket showed 109 mph in 1956 ( test done by Motor Cycle ).
All this on single carb with power checked as 40 HP.
However, he states that it was impossible to get reading above 100 mph from the last models of the pre OIF generation of A65 ( 69 / 70 ) because of vibration problems.
I wonder if the British motorcycle industry didn't make any performance improvements doing some technical changes every year in 20 years period, or these guys doing the tests were lying through their teeth ?

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#38030 - 04/23/08 11:47 pm Re: BSA A10, A65 performance comparo  
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Gunk Offline
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43.34 (4320') | -79.81 (-794...
Maybe it just makes for a good story.
If you drop an A65 from a plane it'll probably hit 300+
What I'm suggesting is: A lot depends on the conditions of the test. The difference between 95 and 105 with a hand triggered stopwatch on a course measured by the odometer on a '49 Morris Minor is not all that great.


"he who laughs fast, laughs first"~Gunk
#38031 - 04/24/08 1:08 am Re: BSA A10, A65 performance comparo  
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Nick Offline
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Out There!
I have both a '59 Golden Flash (stock with a fresh motor and fresh mag) and a 67 A65 Lightning (stock but with lower compression pistons, 8.5"1).
There's no comparison, the GF is a slug--a nice riding bike, but a slug. The A65 is a hot-rod, no way the GF could even approach it. The GF is also considerably heavier.
I had the cranks in both balanced and they run nice and smooth.


When people who should have known better cautioned me about the dangers of motorcycle racing, I always told them that a fear of death is nothing more than a fear of life in disguise.
#38032 - 04/24/08 1:17 am Re: BSA A10, A65 performance comparo  
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I have that book that reproduces all those Motorcycle magazine tests on the unit twins from 1962-73. Many of the tests show the twins test run at around 100mph, some faster, some a little slower. The even had a Mk II Spitfire hitting 123mph with a tail wind. When you read these road tests it is hard not to believe that the the road tests in most cases are highly complimentary to the point that the appear to be slanted towards selling motorcyles. On the other hand I have little doubt with a good A65 motor and with a little tuning these bikes can "hit the ton". I haven't read Roy's book but thats my two cents.

Mr Mike

#38033 - 04/24/08 6:28 am Re: BSA A10, A65 performance comparo  
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"A million miles ago" by Neale Shilton describes some of the tricks Triumph got up to on their road test bikes. Such as changing gear ratios on the bikes whilst journalists were being treated to lunch. The journalists would then report how the bikes were happy pottering about town at low speeds, and thundering along fast roads at sustained high speed.
He of course described it much better than I have.
Cheers,
Tombeau

#38034 - 04/24/08 7:34 am Re: BSA A10, A65 performance comparo  
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I have a road test from "Cycle World" from October 1964 and they got "Max.speed in gears @7500rpm of 117mph and a "Practical maximum speed (after 1/2 mile run)" 102mph on a A50 Cyclone !!

#38035 - 04/24/08 9:11 am Re: BSA A10, A65 performance comparo  
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My first bike was a 1950 Golden Flash, according to books it made 34 or 35HP, its top speed was listed at about 105MPH, it had 6.5-1 comp, we shaved .040" off the head to get it a bit higher. At the time one of my school friends bought a brand new Yamaha 650, the A10 was geared pretty tall std and we checked the A10 against his speedo, it stayed with him at an indicated 110MPH, so maybe an actual 105 was a realistic possibility. When the A10 threw a rod I replaced the engine/gearbox with a Thunderbolt motor, this was a real power up in the old plunger frame, which I think is a bit lighter than the later A10s. I remember thinking at the time how much more powerful the A65 motor was, I put a std twin carb head on it without noticing much difference.
As a base for tuning in modified form the A65 twin carb head give it a huge advantage over the A10.


mark
#38036 - 04/24/08 9:22 am Re: BSA A10, A65 performance comparo  
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Never seen a unit motor in a plunger? Got any old pics?? Douglas

#38037 - 04/24/08 10:36 am Re: BSA A10, A65 performance comparo  
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Rich B Online happy
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Stone Creek OH USA
With most things Roy Bacon, I would take a lot of what he says with a grain of salt. He was so blatantly biased against the unit twins that most of his writings involving unit twins is suspect at best. He was also heavily biased towards the A10's.

But, having ridden both, my backside impression (no stopwatches were harmed in forming these opinions laugh ), The A65's are maybe moderately faster on top end stock. But, during acceleration, the A65 is definitely the quicker of the 2. It has a lot to do with a good cylinder head of the A65 and less weight.

They both (swing arm frames) handle eerily similar. BSA got the steering/handling bit right for both of them. But, cranked over in a turn at speed, the A10's feel more stable and less responsive to input, an A65 is much more "twitchy" and I don't mean that in a bad way. The lighter/shorter A65 is more sensitive to input in a turn.

So, and again, this is IMO, the A10 is a sweet handling comfortable ride with adequate performance. The A65 is more sport bike than the A10, better acceleration, somewhat quicker response in the turns. Neither are going to set any speed records.... They both have their niche.

Nick, BTW, which front fender does your 59 GF have? Mine seems to have a somewhat rare front fender. And since 59 GF's are not real common, interested in how your bike is equipped. Mine has the painted "sports" type fender seen on some Super Rockets in that time frame (SR's were chrome). I have only seen one picture of a 59 GF with the same fender.


Life is too short to drink cheap, bad beer.
#38039 - 04/24/08 11:22 am Re: BSA A10, A65 performance comparo  
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Rich B Online happy
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BM

From what I have seen of UK models, the 59's had the full valanced. This fender is pictured in one BSA Nutley (BSA East) publicity photo of a 59 GF. So I am trying to find if there are any other pictures or bikes equipped the same.


Life is too short to drink cheap, bad beer.
#38040 - 04/24/08 1:28 pm Re: BSA A10, A65 performance comparo  
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I have a '56 RR and a '66 Tbolt. My observations:

The a10 has a much smoother, more civilized engine, although a tad slower, while the Tbolt is more "grunt" and raw power.

The a10 handles better, as one sits further down in the frame; on the a65, you are sitting much higher like you're on top of the bike.

The a65 has much longer legs, and you and the engine feel more comfortable going above 60 than on the a10.

A10 looks better - tough to beat that beautiful heart-shaped engine.

Love em both.
Peter


'56 Road Rocket
'66 Lightningbolt
'98 Valk
#38041 - 04/25/08 12:46 am Re: BSA A10, A65 performance comparo  
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Shane in Oz Online content
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Rich B said:
Quote:
With most things Roy Bacon, I would take a lot of what he says with a grain of salt. He was so blatantly biased against the unit twins that most of his writings involving unit twins is suspect at best. He was also heavily biased towards the A10's.
I always thought he was only biased against A65s until I read "Norton Twins" and saw the hatchet job he did on the Combat motor. Only Triumph was uniformly perfect.


I think a lot of his attitude comes down to the power characteristics and an old-fashioned attitude to engine speeds. The A10 motor is quite undersquare, and the A65 is mildly oversquare. All else being equal, the A10 will deliver equivalent power at lower engine speeds.
Everything else isn't equal, though. Most A10s are in a lot milder state of tune than most A65s. The only real exception is the late Super Rocket and RGS, which were more highly tuned than the early A65s. From 1964 on, the more sporting A65s were in a higher state of tune than any A10, and by the end even the Thunderbolt was quite highly tuned.
As we know, A65s thrive on revs, and this just doesn't seem right to people brought up on vastly undersquare singles. They liked machines which would pull away smoothly from a standstill n top gear (check out some of the 1950s road tests, especially the Square Four 10 -100 mph in top). The A65 and triples just didn't fit into this category, with peakier power delivery. The triples are much smoother, though
There still seem to be a lot of people who like the old-fashioned power characteristics, judging by the ubiquity of Milwaukee tractors

There's also the visual element:
A65 styling was quite radical for the time, The lower engine "power egg" lines were quite futuristic in 1961. That would have upset more conservative elements, much as the styling of the early Trident & Rocket 3 did. Triumph and Norton twins accentuated the timing cover until the very end, which kept the visual link with the separate engine and gearbox (even though Triumph were unit construction before BSA). Triumph did this with the triples as well, even the T160, which used what was essentially an A75 motor.

Getting back to Adam's original post, A Spitfire or late Lightning will be faster and accelerate better than an A10, but the A10 will feel more comfortable and relaxed. To some extent it's like comparing a Harley Sportster and a Ducati 1098R, though

#38042 - 04/25/08 10:41 am Re: BSA A10, A65 performance comparo  
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Rich B Online happy
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Shane

I haven't read the Norton book, but I have heard from several it is also a hatchet job. But in Baconland, Triumph's were pure.....

I couldn't agree more about the power characteristics giving an A65 bad press. It is decidely different in power delivery than any of the other big Brit twins. IMO, it was the first of the modern large motorcycle engines. The triples and Japanese engines were even more pronounced in the power delivery, yet they were the future.

And the styling is one of those things that is hard to quantify. You either like it or you don't. I know several industrial designers, who consider the A65 one of the best looking engines ever made because of the design elements. I know some others who hate it. And this is from people who make a living doing industrial design!

Milwaukee tractors...I like that laugh They do have that agricultural look about them. Guess it is better than calling them a Joy air compressor laugh


Life is too short to drink cheap, bad beer.
#38043 - 04/25/08 10:42 am Re: BSA A10, A65 performance comparo  
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If it's British & it snarls, it's right.

#38044 - 04/25/08 12:58 pm Re: BSA A10, A65 performance comparo  
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Here's more fodder for the fire from the archives. Sorry no A10 info as they were extinct by the time these magazines were available in the US at that time. Fun to look at anyway. There is no doubt though that these tests influenced us way back when. Check out the Hornets 1/4 time. Not too shabby. The way my 64 wants to rev. I have no doubt that the test isn't accurate.



Cycle World November 1962 & June 1964



Cycle World October 1964 & November 1965

Rich - Here's a fuzzy shot of those valanced fenders from 1962 if it is any help.



Skeet


Skeet Enjoy life....it has an expiration date..
1964 Hornet
1970 TR6R
1971 Norton
1972 XLH
#38045 - 04/25/08 2:11 pm Re: BSA A10, A65 performance comparo  
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Lannis Online content
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Very interesting comments above, all of them, and most all of them pretty consistent. AND they reinforce the impressions I've had regarding A65s and A10s. Always nice to know one is not alone in the world!

I can't wait to get my A10 over here to the States this fall and ride it back-to-back with my A65 and see what impression I get then.

One thing where my opinion probably differs from some, and that's on the practical usefulness or viability of any road test done by any bike magazine that Floyd Clymer or Bob Greene had ever had their hands on in the 50's and 60's, including Cycle and Cycle Guide.

I have hundreds of these old road tests on the shelf.

They are a historical monument to how badly a publication will kowtow and grease up their advertisers, and often a perfect example of journalistic laziness. You can tell that in many of the articles, the testers never actually started the bike; their narrative is made up strictly from a cut-and-paste of the advertising and marketing literature.

Prior to about 1965, they never did a brake test from over 30 MPH, and later than that, never did a front brake test from over 30 MPH. Those things will throw you right over the handlebars, you know.

They'd take any street bike, take off the mufflers, and beat it up in the dirt. Yes, I know this is the only way that people could get dirt bikes in those days, but they'd constantly complain about how the suspension would pound and the tires would slide when Officer Gibbs or Sgt. Filker would "get dirt in his pockets" hammering around some Southern California vacant lot. (How'd those uniformed law officers get time off to do "road tests" for bike magazines anyhow?)

"Top Speed In Gears" was always calculated, never tested. They'd measure how it was taching at 60 MPH, and then double it to show how redline = 120 MPH, sometimes without actually saying that they never had the bike up to 120 MPH.

We've got these bikes today, we've built them better than new, we know how they run. There wasn't anything magic back then that we can't reproduce today in terms of performance.

I still like the way mine runs, sounds, looks, and feels. I've ridden new Ducatis, Guzzis, and Aprilias, and I swear I've never found anything that handles more competently and comfortably for me, with my riding style and speed, than my Firebird Scrambler.

It's light, good power to weight although nothing like a 100 HP sport bike, decent brakes, and goes 'round corners, even bumpy ones, like it's on rails. And if it does break loose on a bit of gravel, it steps out slow and comes back easy without that vicious snap that a steep-angled sport-bike gives.

And that's MY road test!

Lannsi


OK, I admit it, I'm addicted to brake fluid.

But I can stop any time I want.
#38046 - 04/25/08 2:56 pm Re: BSA A10, A65 performance comparo  
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Well said Lannis. Couldn't agree with you more. I always considered Cycle World the best of them all. They at least appeared to be a lot more reputable than the others and would actually take these things out and run them at Lions Drag Strip or at Riverside or Willow Springs. Rarely do I post the other junk as it always appeared to me that they were only interested in selling ads or kissing someone's butt or whatever. I try to post only from the Cycle Worlds as the spec sheets and pictures might be helpful for anyone working on restorations. In this way I believe they can be a good resource.
Skeet


Skeet Enjoy life....it has an expiration date..
1964 Hornet
1970 TR6R
1971 Norton
1972 XLH
#38047 - 04/26/08 3:47 am Re: BSA A10, A65 performance comparo  
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BONZO R.I.P. Offline
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Michigan, USA
I have literally ridden the wheels off a few A-65's and have a deep seated fondness for them . I have only ridden a small handfull of other poeples A-10's . When I first saw the light (my first A-65) I was "settling" since I couldnt find a triumph... I have since come tp [refer the A-65 to pretty much anything i have ridden , not sure why , it aint the fastest , aint the most comfortable , aint the prettiest , but it does somehow fit me like a glove (I aint fast , comfortable or pretty??)

My A-10 experiences ar varied , I rode a plunger GF , thing was awesome , not the fastes or best braking bike I have ever ridden , but possibly the prettiest?? and the riding position , for the roads I was on , was almost perfect . I rode a few swingarm A-10's , one needed a bit of fettling , not bad but not impressive , the other , A-10 John's black bike ('56RR?) was a blast !! Dont tell him , but I didnt spare the throttle and that bike impressed me quite a bit , I figured it would be just another slogger but I had a Goldie and an A-65L lookin at the tail light jumpin on the freeway (these guys obviously werent pushin the limits but the A-10 impressed me with the response ) that bike might not have beat my A-65L from a standing start , but A-10 John has a few tricks up his sleeve , that bike would give the next guy a run . I only hope my A-10 project runs like that , and he says his later SR is a lot quicker ?? . I dont know if this is relevent , but I seem to hear about a lot more A-10 drag bikes than A-65's??? But the short stroke A-65 may have been the better roadracer??

Apples/oranges??-BONZO

#38048 - 04/26/08 10:31 am Re: BSA A10, A65 performance comparo  
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Rick Willmore Offline
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Lannis wrote
Quote:
They are a historical monument to how badly a publication will kowtow and grease up their advertisers, and often a perfect example of journalistic laziness. You can tell that in many of the articles, the testers never actually started the bike; their narrative is made up strictly from a cut-and-paste of the advertising and marketing literature.
And the road tests printed by most of the motorcycle press in the present day are different in what way? I stopped reading one local mag when they tried to tell me the HD they were testing handled every bit as well as last months Ducati tester.

Rick


'71 BSA Firebird/Lightning
'03 BMW R1150R Rockster
'76 Montesa 348 'Malcolm Rathmell' Cota
#38049 - 04/26/08 12:24 pm Re: BSA A10, A65 performance comparo  
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As far as the motor goes, the two major differences are the previously mentioned bore/stroke ratio, which lets the A65 rev higher (who regularly revs a standard A10 to 7200 rpm?) and the unit motor has a substantially better flowing head to take advantage of the higher revs, particularly the twin carb. Hence, the power potential for the A65 is much better, but it's all going to be at the top end. A10's may be a little bit more tractable throwing a bike around town or local twisties, but if you're really gonna spank or even race a bike, I don't think there's much contest. In that regard, the A65 motor also has a stronger crank, bigger TS journal and higher capacity oil pump (later models) to cope with the power.

And yes, I own both and I love 'em both for what they are.


A smattering:
'53 Gold Flash
'67 Royal Star
'71 Rickman Metisse
'40 Silver Star
'37 Rudge Special
sixtyseventy Lightboltrocket road racer...and many more.
#38050 - 04/26/08 4:54 pm Re: BSA A10, A65 performance comparo  
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Adam M. Online content
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Thanks guys, very interesting discussion and a really eye opener for me ( never used A10 on the road ). Like the lines of A10 much more than A65, and sooner or rather later smile will try to find one for myself.
Getting old with one perhaps will be easier smile

Adam M.

#38051 - 04/27/08 10:51 pm Re: BSA A10, A65 performance comparo  
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stu88 Offline
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"I have literally ridden the wheels off a few A-65's "(quoted). Must have been an interesting sight!


I am 79, not riding anymore because my knees and balance are shot.lasr bike was a 74 commando.
#38052 - 04/28/08 4:20 pm Re: BSA A10, A65 performance comparo  
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Interesting that Chris Vincent ran avery competitive A10 engine in his famous racing outfit. Legend had it that he was literally forced to use the A65 motor by BSA . They were getting a lot of bad publicity and poor sales with the early failures on the A65. As he was getting some help from BSA it is not suprising that he eventually did use the unit motors in 500 and 650 form.All of the other hot sidecar road racers followed the lead especially the Hanks family with some noteable success

#38053 - 04/28/08 7:36 pm Re: BSA A10, A65 performance comparo  
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Arnold Offline
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New Jersey
Having put thousands of miles on a 1955 A10 RR, thousands on a DBD 34 GS, thousands on a 1972 750 Norton Commando, and a few thousand on a 1963 twin port RGS (these are just my English bike experience) I can inform you all that the only "test" that counts is the enjoyment one gets from his/her machine. By the way I have never seriously believed any of the period road tests to be found in the magazines (my collection goes back to the fifties. I could never throw them out. I now read them for nostalgia).
Arnold

#38054 - 04/29/08 12:12 am Re: BSA A10, A65 performance comparo  
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stu88 Offline
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florida
Arnold
which was your fave??


I am 79, not riding anymore because my knees and balance are shot.lasr bike was a 74 commando.
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