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#890925 09/17/22 10:57 am
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Joined: May 2022
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'67 BSA A65 Chopper

Here is my 1967 BSA Lightning. I bought this bike sometime around 2008. It was the first motorcycle I ever bought and the first one I ever rode. It was about as UN-mechanically sound as it could have ever been, but I was completely oblivious at the time. After I bought it, I got it running a little bit better. Almost crashed in my neighbors yard because I had no idea how to ride a motorcycle. Once I got the hang of it, I rode it around the block a few times to get it running better. Along with some mechanical fixes, I rewired most of it. The very first time I tried to ride it further than the edge of town, It broke down on me about 15 miles from home; completely out of commission and puking oil everywhere.

Over the next decade (and then some) I worked on it about 3-4 weeks per year. Sometimes skipping a year or more all together. Some people gave me a hard time about not working on it more. Some people try to get me to sell it. I'm sure most people thought it would never again see the light of day. I always had the vision in my head of the bike I wanted, but the combination of motorcycle ignorance, chasing girls, lack of motivation, and dealing with normal life stuff kept me from progressing faster on the build. Those first couple month-long thrashes left me with a pretty cool looking rolling bike, but little progress was made for a long time. After moving three times, buying a house, getting married, having a tree fall on/in our shop, moving my parents/our business, and building a 1970 Ford Econoline with my dad, things finally settled down enough that I could get back to the bike.

I live in the mid-west. St. Louis, MO to be exact. I have never liked winter time. Growing up around hot rods and just absolutely loving everything about summer - I have always wanted to live in southern California. Well, I guess I have Covid-19 to thank, because my dream finally came true. Last summer, my wife was fed up with travel nurses making 3x the amount of money she was making in the I.C.U., so she asked me if I wanted to move to So Cal so she could be a travel nurse and make that money herself. OBVIOUSLY I said yes! Okay....now that I think of it, I guess I have her to thank for the moving to So-Cal thing. Hehe. Anyway, we loaded up our cats, clothes, my tools, and Tetrised my disassembled bike into the back of my van. We spent December - April in Huntington Beach. I found a place three blocks from the beach that had a garage and got to work on my BSA. I finally got to ride it for the very first time (in this form) the day before we were to move back to St. Louis. That last week in Surf City was a lot more motorcycle tinkering and a lot less packing to move back home, but getting to ride my motorcycle around Huntington Beach those two times made it totally worth it! Luckily my wife is the kindest person I know and was very understanding and helpful in my pursuit of southern California chopper dreams.

I could probably write a book about building this bike, but I don't feel like writing much more and I'm not sure anyone cares to read a transcription of my awful memory about a 12-14 year intermittent project. Here is a list of some key components. If anyone has questions about something specific, I'll do my best to answer them.
  • I only used the engine (which I had rebuilt) and the rear brake/hub/rim from the bike that this started from.
  • Front end: 1970's Fury Springer
  • Front Wheel: 21" Mandap rim laced to Tri/BSA twin leading shoe drum
  • Hardtail: Weld-On made by David Bird
  • Gas Tank: BSA tank that my dad and I narrowed
  • Oil Tank: Cal-Custom, small block Ford valve cover. I cut it in half, mated the bottoms of each half, and welded it together.
  • Handlebars: Front Street Cycle
  • Lights: Headlight is (I think) a fog light off of a Porche or VW. I'm not for sure, but thats what the guy at the swap meet told me when I bought them. The taillights are vintage truck cab marker lights
  • Fit and Finish: This isn't the final form of the bike. Eventually I am going to chrome the exhaust, springer, and taillights. I think the tank, fender, and frame will be painted maroon.


Finally, as anybody who has built something from little to nothing knows, it doesn't usually happen without the help of good friends and kind people who are more knowledgeable and skilled than you. I'd be remiss to not mention the folks who really helped me make this a reality.
  • First of all my dad, Nick Sr., is always my biggest supporter and the first to help me out figure how to do crazy stuff like take about 16 inches out of a 70's springer that came off of a Shovelhead. Even though he has never been into bikes, his knowledge and skill in fabrication and engineering has been invaluable.
  • My friend Joey Ukrop has helped me so much with this that I for sure wouldn't be riding it without him. His help ran the gamut from flying to Stl from San Francisco just to thrash on it for 5 days with me, to being a sounding board for ideas, to letting me bring my bike up to S.F. from Huntington Beach and helping me work on it along with his friends Yama and Mike.
  • Those 2 guys (Yama and Mike) share a space where they work on and build bikes in the bay area d.b.a. Mazi Moto and Green Thumb Cycles. They essentially gave me the keys to their space and helped me work on it for 3 days straight. They both helped with some fab work and assembly while I was up there, and Yama did a bunch of tig welding for me.
  • My buddy Tom and his dad Rich who basically got me into motorcycles and set an example to always wear the proper riding gear. Oh and Tom had to test ride the bike for me when I bought it because I didn't know how to ride! haha!
  • Joe Lovatto, who machined the bearing cups and made a top clamp for the springer out of a blank chunk of steel.
  • Brian Fox for doing some frame welding and welding the springer back together.
  • Joe Hall for doing some important tig welding.
  • My good friend and metal man extraordinaire, Luke Johnson, for opening up his shop to me and Joey to work on the bike while also lending a hand and doing a lot more tig welding on the oil tank and sissy bar.
  • Meatball, who rebuilt the engine years ago, and also helped me get it fired up for the first time when I was in Huntington Beach.
  • So many strangers on different internet forums that helped me out with info whether they know it or not. This place for one! Also, JockeyJournal, ChopCult, YouTube, the HAMB, people on Instagram, etc.
  • Friends who didn't mind answering my endless motorcycle questions. Dave Young, Gary Opitz, Wild Card Ben, Wesley Wren, Dustin Themm, Johnny Sparkle, Randy from the SoCal BSA club, and I'm sure I'm forgetting a lot of people.
  • Then there are the pals who just supported me in little, but impactful ways, like helping me mount some brackets, or just encouraging me and being excited for me. My cousin's Ryan and Michael, Nick Ballesteros, Nick Armas, Randy Harris, Megan Gibson, J.P. Lyons, Kevin Jackson, Bobblehead, Jerry Edwards, my Mom, my Sister, Steve McGovern, Steve Bailey, Bill Bierman.
  • There are even so many businesses and companies out there that have helped me make this bike possible. Lowbrow Customs, David Bird, River City Cycle Supply, The Bonneville Shop, Buchanan Spoke and Rim, Pyrotech, Klempfs, Classic British Spares, Donelson Cycles, Steadfast Cycles, Dice Magazine, Craig Tirey, Wil from Alton.
  • St. Louis Vintage Bike Night. The people that ran/run it: Doug Sconce, Marcella Hawley, Stephen Jehle. The people I met there: Jeremy Sanders, Kyle Pelletier, Vinny and his dad.
  • This is the place i'm saving for the people that don't come to mind at the moment.
  • And of course, my wife Megan! She has been so supportive of me and my silly, expensive, time-consuming project.
Last edited by Nick32vic; 09/17/22 11:04 am.
1 member likes this: kurt fischer
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I love it man, and welcome!!

[Linked Image]


Jon W.


1957 6T Thunderbird 650
1968 T100R Daytona 500
1971 TR6R Tiger 650
1970 BSA A65F 650
1955 Tiger 100 - Project
1971 BSA A65 650 - Project
1972 Norton Commando 750 "Combat"


"Every time I listen to AC/DC, so do my neighbors"

1 member likes this: Nick32vic
Joined: Aug 2021
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Art you can ride!

Joined: Aug 2001
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GREAT STORY! Thanks for posting this build Odyssey! fun read, and I think your time in SoCal was about perfect,…… got out before the real CA attitude got under the skin! Narrowed Tank? Cool bike!


Down to ‘69 T120R now a Tr6R tribute bike
‘70 TR6C “happy in the hills”
‘67 A65L numbers match, “best effort” from basket *
Gone:
‘66 A65L“in ‘95 getting back in the game”+ empty ‘67 Case&Frame *
‘69 A65L
‘68 A65L “red bike” basket, sold & made whole by BB member
‘68 A65F nice Tribute bike
‘65 A50L bitsa from spare parts, Son’s fun
‘62 A10 Spitfire
‘65 T120R sad case, saved by BB member
'65 XLCH “scratched THAT itch”……
‘93 K1100RS heavy metal (should be gone, still here…)
Joined: Jan 2014
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Likes: 93
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...you have an eye for great lines and stance.


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