Af­ter rid­ing a rigid Tri­umph bob­ber for years, Classic Bike snap­per Gary Margerum has found so­lace in an un­re­stored 1967 BSA A65. He re­lates his ex­pe­ri­ences



Un­til ear­lier this year, I was rid­ing around on a Meri­den Tri­umph bob­ber, but I fan­cied a change – and saw an op­por­tu­nity to get two bikes in­stead of one. So I sold the bob­ber, bought the bike I re­ally fan­cied – a 1975 Har­ley-david­son Shov­el­head – and had some cash left over.

Rather than leave the money in the bank, and wait for her in­doors to spend it, I kept an eye open for an­other rea­son­ablypriced classic that I could use every day. Pretty soon a ’67 BSA Thun­der­bolt came up on ebay – it failed to sell, so I con­tacted the owner af­ter the auc­tion. He said it had one pre­vi­ous owner, who had used it with a side­car at­tached. He claimed that the 30,000 miles on the clock were gen­uine and that the cases had never been apart. When I came to look at it, it was clear that ev­ery­thing on the bike was orig­i­nal ex­cept for the tyres and pipes, so I agreed to buy it off him for two grand.

I wanted an un­der­stated classic. A use­able, ev­ery­day kind of hack with a bit of charisma, a bit of soul, not over-re­stored. And the price was right. The ap­peal­ing thing for me was that it had the patina of 50 years of use.

I wasn’t look­ing for a BSA specif­i­cally, but the fact that it was a 1967 bike was a nice touch – that was the year I was born. The brown log­book re­vealed that it had first been reg­is­tered in May that year – the very month I was born.

There’s no way I wanted to re­store it. I wanted to keep it orig­i­nal. And af­ter the Tri­umph bob­ber with its hard­tail rear end, the Beeza was much softer and more comfy. I just fit­ted new tyres and tubes, cleaned the carb and ad­justed the tap­pets, and it was on the road. We took it in the van to Wheels and Waves in Biar­ritz and stopped off at a mate’s on the way down for a few days off, where I rode it around. I was do­ing back­roads stuff, stop­ping off at cafés with the lads – I was us­ing it as a café racer!

In Biar­ritz it was used as a hack for col­lect­ing pro­vi­sions from the near­est town. I re­ally en­joyed rid­ing it, but then first and third gears went AWOL. Af­ter nurs­ing it back to the camp­site, I took off the gear­box side cover to find the selector spring had bro­ken. We hunted around un­suc­cess­fully for ma­te­ri­als to re­pair it, but them bumped into the grounds­man of the camp­site, who hap­pened to be English. He loaned us his work­shop, in which my mate Jim an I made a spring out of a bar­beque skewer! Once more, I had a full se­lec­tion of gears – just ready for the ‘Punks Peak’ hill climb the next day.

Sadly, it proved to be a tem­po­rary re­pair. I lost sec­ond gear on the hill and re­mem­ber rail­ing around the out­side of Dutch (the guy who runs the Bike Shed in Shored­itch) on one of the tight hair­pins in a shower of sparks. I con­tin­ued to use the bike for the rest of the week­end with just two gears. Back in the UK, I got hold of the right parts and fixed it prop­erly. I’ve had BSAS be­fore – a B25SS Gold Star, with a shoe­box si­lencer, which split reg­u­larly when it back­fired; my dad taught me to weld it up. And I had a Ban­tam – a D3 en­gine in a D1 frame, if my mem­ory serves me well.

My BSA is a bit agri­cul­tural – I think Tri­umph twins are a lit­tle bit more re­fined, but then a 1967 Tri­umph would be twice the price. And although I was told A65s have bot­tom-end is­sues, it seems my mo­tor’s never been apart and is still go­ing strong.

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