The Birmingham Small Arms Company was founded in England in 1861 with a logo of three stacked rifles.
True to their name, they made firearms and ammunition, but they also made one sweetheart of a motorbike.
By 1880 they were manufacturing their first bicycles and by the 1960’s their 650 Lightning was a legend.
Beloved by professionals and enthusiasts alike, the 1969 650 BSA Lightning was the moto-rockstar of its day.
Two cylinders, four speed gear box, a claimed 52 horses and a top end of 112.
But it would wobble in hard turns and you almost had to make an appointment to stop, so lame and unresponsive were the brakes.
And forget rain, the electrical system by LUCAS--also founded in Birmingham in 1860--- sucked so hard that a cloudy day could make the spark plugs sputter.
Plus, the vertically split crankcase guaranteed you’d oil the sidewalk before long.
But it sure was hip.
A gold one saved James Bond’s life by firing rockets in Thunderball.
Alas, that same year the Japanese launched the HONDA CB 750, a four cylinder machine (two more!) with more horsepower, an electric start, five gears instead of four, 13 more MPH on top and a disk brake at the front that actually stopped it.
And somehow it all managed to cost less; the beginning of the end for British bikes.
BSA faded and by 1987... they had tanked.
Have a safe weekend!