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1968 BSA Thunderbolt

Discussion in 'Bike Reviews, Questions and Suggestions' started by Fronk, Jan 25, 2013.

  1. I've had my Beeza about six months now, and she's carried me just over six thousand miles, from about 15000 on the clock. Thankfully she's always managed to get me home.

    Here's my review:

    BSA A65 Thunderbolt - Thunderous noise + 1xD6; Wandering steering +1; Shattering Vibration +2xD12; Keen senses +3; oil expulsion +6; Brake penalty requires constitution check; Backtrack! Minus 2xD6 movement; Gold penalty - 1xD12 gold penalty per day.
    Immunity: Speed awareness
    Special Bonuses: 2xD6 Chance encounter with Rambling Old Man; What's That Noise? (Perception check); Shrapnell attack! (use 3x per day)


  2. #2 mattb, Jan 25, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2013
    Such bikes are rambling old man magnets. I invite them to kickstart my bike these days as a way of ending of the conversation and riding off. It always works on the ones with ok hips.

    Is there an equivalent of Hitchcocks for these? I mean for new, vital engine parts. I long for a Golden Flash, made good for demanding riding (heat and distance).
    • Like Like x 1
  3. There's SRM for many newer parts, but aside from clutch bits (I've thrown in a SRM 7 plate clutch, which is amazing) most things are 'out of stock', including the 750 bore kit. It seems most Brit bikes don't have a unified shopfront for everything, such as Hitchcocks. Every part can be found, but it's the trick of finding who. It makes me incredibly thankful for Hitchcocks for Enfields.

    But generally you can get everything for them. The real trick is ensuring parts fit - I've ordered four replacement kickstart cotter pins each from different suppliers, and not a single one fitted. They were all different. So I'm still on the original one, which is battered in with a bent and stripped thread for the nut which will no longer fit.

    One time the tank mounting nut and associated washer and rubber stopper flew away (couldn't find them!) and not a single one ordered was the same or would fit.

    I'm not sure who to blame... BSA using any old part that would fit in the five-odd years leading up to the demise, or poor quality control from current suppliers.

    I have to hand it to BSA, she'll start first go, everytime. Even if people are watching.
  4. That's the concern, especially for a fellow like me who has very limited technical skills or tools. I'd rather a '50s twin, and there's something about the BSAs that has always gripped, but I wonder whether I won't end up going the easy path and just getting a later Triumph, for which the prices are nice eg and parts easier to get. It is nice to see though that the market seems to have flattened (I assume the GFC) and all the nice, common classics from the '40s through to the '70s have come back to, or peaked at, reasonable prices for the time being.... There was a point where rubbish was asking high prices, and that's certainly still the case with '70s Jap bikes.
  5. I wouldn't worry too much about technical skills. If you get a copy of a factory manual, everything is extremely easy to learn. A bike like the A65 is incredibly easy to work on, and most Brit twins have fairly solid bottom ends. Nowhere near as bad as our Enfields. Quite honestly, every mile on this bike I've thrashed. They were built as daily riders, so I don't see the point in being careful and babying it. I was after a good A65 for about a year before I got this one, and in that year I saw average prices go up between 2 - 3k. You're only seeing the odd ~6k Triumph because they're imported cheap from the states. Soon they'll go back to the circa 8k price for a fair working one with average cosmetics. I'd get one soon, because the prices won't go down. The most likely things to go wrong are things virbrating off; compared to the stories you hear actual mechanical failure is uncommon. As long as you keep a keen eye on various nuts and bolts, they're actually very easy to live with, and I'd imagine a pre-unit twin to be the same.
  6. True. The worst things about most Brit twins (and what will actually stop them) are the electrical/ignition systems and the carbs. Good quality fixes for both are available for anything vaguely common and should take care of 90% of likely breakdowns.
  7. Certainly - Anything electrical can be improved on dramatically. And cheaply. Mind you, I'm still on the original wiring loom which is actually very robust and strong, with just the Zenner Diode replaced with a decent Reg/Rec. (still on points). Charges just fine.

    I'm actually convinced that Lucas isn't in fact evil. Just not great - I don't think automotive electrics in general were terribly dependable until the '80s. I've never had a Lucas part go wrong that I couldn't rebuild with ease (try rebuilding any modern electrical component! Everything is sealed or has 'tamper proof' rubbish all over them). I think the real problem is cheap and dodgy reproduction Lucas parts made in India... And like many Indian parts, they're roughly the same size, roughly the same shape, and say Lucas on them. But that's about it.

    Each of these rants/posts though comes directly from owning a Brit bike. The thing is - if you own one of these contraptions - there is no escaping them. You're constantly thinking of the machine and what the machine might need. There are certain changes you might make to the bike which, in theory, should not make the bike run rougher or smoother. But they do. That time you slept with awful woman at the pub that was horrible enough to not remember her name, but you can still remember her pet ferret's name? Yup, after that the bike will start running extremely rich, foul a spark plug and the timing will then need adjustment.

    The reason why every old fellow who tells you he should never have sold his old Brit bike is only saying that because the old Brit bike he sold never gave him permission to sell it in the first place, and he feels bad for letting the machine down. The bike was the one who owned him.