OK kids, grab a beer (or beverage of choice) and kick back. I got a tale to tell.
After much thought on the matter, I recently decided I'd sell one (or possibly more) bikes and just get some different stuff to ride. I'm sure as heck not getting any younger and I do have my "List" of bikes I want to own & ride while I can.
My first thought was to off the Big Rig- my lovely 2002 K1200RS, which I've owned for nearly 10 years. YES it's a fantastic machine, and I just dumped a massive pile of hard earned $$$ into the thing- so what better time to sell a bike that many people aren't fully enamored of (many folks still haven't gotten over the "treasonous" act by BMW Motorrad of inventing an engine other than a horizontal opposed twin- go figure)?
Well after a few weeks on various sites and pages, I finally managed to send the mighty K to a new home.
SO. What next then? I've kinda always had a hankering for a Ducati ST series bike. A later one would suit me, say an 05 ST3s, or similar vintage ST4s. Then again, Im not a complete masochist, and I'm sure as hell not made of money- so moving down The List, my thoughts next went to a bike I was looking at when I bought the K1200- a Triumph Sprint GT.
Triumph had rousing success with the Sprint ST bikes, The 1050 triple is amazing and the ST was a super-sporty "sport tourer" with hard emphasis on "Sport". They had a great run on these bikes and decided for all the world, to update and upgrade the Sprint. So they made it longer, improved many things about it, simmered it down somewhat and turned the ST into the GT- designed specifically for all-day, long distance 2-up comfort touring, maintaining more than a casual nod to the "sport" aspects of "sport touring" (for example, the GT retained its chain drive- no drive shaft). The new Sprint was widely acknowledged to be a bike that got everything right- yet somehow, it failed to generate mass appeal! Triumph made it for a few years, I believe from 2011 to about 2014 or 2015, then again without fanfare, swept it under the proverbial rug. They dropped it like a hot potato and created the bloated (but no doubt lovely [*whatever*]) Trophy. Which to me looks like a massive cow.The Trophy is infinitely more complex with all manner of electronic gizmos and stuff.... I was never a fan however.
So a couple weeks back I began hunting for a Sprint GT. Well it didn't take me long to realize that the few people who ever bought one must abso-fliipin-lutely LOVE the bike. Because DARN few ever come up for sale! I missed one after another on sites like Cycletrader dot com. I considered buying one from England and importing it to the US., I looked high and low, and may STILL have one coming my way eventually.... had a whole conversation with a guy who has some physical difficulties and cannot ride much longer, so he's mulling it over... blah blah blah.
Meanwhile back at the ranch, I'm continuously poring over motorcycle ads in places like Craig's list and [email protected]
Marketplace.... and a few local BSAs keep popping up. Well most of these guys, what the heck are they thinking? A Bitsa for 8,000 $$$? A 69 Lightning? Not a chance in H E Double EL, Bucko. But one of them had an enticing story line along with it- although the photos were total [email protected]
The guy's tale of the bike mentioned an old, long dead friend of mine, DT Howard. DT had apparently worked on the bike, or the guy was friends with DT. Or something. Let's say he had my attention. Even tho the pix were garbage the bike purportedly sat in a basement for 40 years, this dude rescued it in 2008, DT worked on the thing, then dude.... failed to ride the doggone bike! When I went to look at the thing after he upgraded his photos, he said he'd barely put 300 miles on it!
Hold that thought.
Meanwhile back in 2019 The Lovely Miss C & I flew over to England to ride one of Shaun's BSAs to the BSA International in the Cotswolds. It wes fabulous etc- BUT nearing the end of the week there, Cynthia & I were walking around, basically just shooting the breeze and gawking at bikes, when she turned to me, (and by now were standing with a few friends) and said: "SO... WHY don't you have a BSA?" Far as I was concerned those were marching orders! The end result was that ever since, I've had at least half an eye out for a bike. A BSA. BUT not just any BSA, it had to be THE BSA.
The end of the story (you wish) is that when this dude posted better pix of his bike that my dead friend worked on... it sure LOOKED like THE BSA. From what I could see, the bike looked like an unmolested machine with every nut, bolt, bit & bob intact. The paint looked solid. It looked like original paint. Not even heavily patinaed, But the patine seemed true, it seemed authentic. So I messaged the guy and asked if I could come see the bike- an A65T Thunderbolt- 1966. Stuck away in some back yard shed.
Did you ever have a "magic moment" with a random person, where it was like dominoes falling, quite naturally, one after another, into the perfect pattern? That was what our conversation was like. It was pretty much all around our mutual long lost buddy, DT Howard. And meanwhile... the bike. My immediate take away was this: this bike, for what it is, isn't necessarily anything special. Single carb 650, they made, quite literally, 10s of thousands of these. It's as plain as plain can be. What I told him is this: this bike is extraordinary in that everything is there. Not one bolt had been changed. Not one part removed. It was never repainted, it was not molested. The paint isn't perfect, the bike has its (very minor) flaws- scratches. Dings. A smallish dent in the tank. This bike, I decided, is a one-in-a-thousand literal "survivor". It's as though you could look at BSAs for sale for ages and not find this bike, in this condition. There's a [email protected]
AIR PUMP under the seat. It still has its original tool kit!
I bought the thing. In the space of a few minutes (practically) I went from importing a modern space-ship super bike from England (remember I was hot for a Sprint GT) to buying a 1966 BSA that had only been ridden a few miles in its entire lifetime. To do the math, 2021 - 1966 = 55 years. 5516 miles on the clock- and I have zero reason to believe these are not for real, honest miles. 5516 miles. Divide those into 55 years. This bike has been ridden about 100 miles PER YEAR. Except I know it sat for 40 years, but never mind that,
Dubba-u. Tee. Eff. How does this even happen.
Cynthia was like, "you did what?" & "you bought....a what?" to which I responded gleefully, as only a 5 year old 64 year old could, HECKF*CKINYEAH MAMA I DID. BUT YOU GOTTA SEE THIS BIKE. And she replied.... well I won't repeat it, let's just say her response wasn't as enthusiastic as I might have hoped. Her "enthusiasm" was nowhere near the level of my own.
I told dude, in no uncertain terms, "Your bike is a total dream. I'll f*ckin take it. Let me give you this 500.00 and I'll see you in the mornin with the rest of the $."
SO today I went over there with cash in hand, and we rolled the bike out of the shed into daylight. OK, first REAL solid look at the thing. Not as peaches-&-cream as I thought, OK so it's possible I had my head in the clouds and couldn't see straight when I first peeped it. BUT. Even in daylight, I was still thrilled.
And so it goes, that on this day of our lord, 13 April, 2021, I became the proud owner of a 1966 BSA.
My 1st Beeza.
Of all the bikes I've owned... and the numbers aren't huge, I've never been so excited. Wade popped by just now to see the bike in person. I'll let him chime in on it, bu tty say he was impressed could be something of an understatement.
So, it's a done deal. I've officially crossed over to The Dark Side.
I've owned Triumphs (still have a matched pair).
I've owned a Norton Commando (which I still have).
I've owned a spate of BMWs (still have the trusty R100RS)
All current motorcycles are officially antique tho- a 1st for me!
Until today, I'd never owned a BSA. Until Miss C chirped up at the BSA International... I'd never even considered owning one. SO you're probably bored to tears by now, and understandably so. Without further ado, then, here is my "new" bike.
AND here is a link to all my pix of the bike. My new-to-me BSA A65T, BSA Thunderbolt. Our very own @andylorenz tells me that according to the numbers, my bike was dispatched to New Jersey on 16 March, 1966. And it never has gone very far from there in its lifetime. HERE IS A LINK
to the gallery of photos in Zenfolio. I have a few more pix to add yet, but there is certainly enough here to see the bike in all its glory.
The deal is 100% done, I have the new title and a brand-new, shiny Antique tag bolted up to the bike. It's all but ready to ride. Im having it gone through to make sure it's OK n stuff. I fully expect to be riding it by early-mid May.
Meanwhile the hunt for a Sprint GT goes on.
Yee and indeed, haw. The future on The Dark Side never looked so bright.