Me & My Bike
1962 BSA A65 RIDER Clay Devening AGE 69 HOME Lexington, Virginia OCCUPATION Retired Dentist
• I BOUGHT IT IN 1972. If I had been able to wave the magic wand and get the bike I wanted, it would have been a Triumph Bonneville. Two of my buddies had Bonnevilles, and I loved BSAS, British bikes, but I just happened to be slightly fixated on Triumph. And so, when a classmate said, “I’ve got this bike, $350, it’s a BSA,” I said, “Oh, well, it’s not a Triumph Bonneville, but it’s a BSA.” I have to admit, I wanted a bike with a 2-gallon tank. That’s a 4-gallon tank, and skinny little chrome fenders, and not such large side covers, just because I thought that looked sportier.
This didn’t look sporty, because it wasn’t the color it is now, for one thing. It was red, but it was more of a deep, faded-out burgundy. It took a while for it to grow on me. And then every time we went out for a ride, my buddies on their Triumphs were stopped on the side of the road trying to keep the things running. After I bought the thing, for 10 years I didn’t do anything but put gas in it, and oil and tires when it needed them. It was the most reliable thing going—then some mice ate the wiring and that complicated things a little bit. But I got it because I wanted a British motorcycle, the price was right, and I flat-out loved it.
I put about 10,000 miles on it in the years
Other than my family, it is the most continuous part of my life.
right after I bought it, and then eventually it just sat in our carport for 10 years. It was really sadlooking. I hated that faded burgundy so much that I took all the body parts off and painted it green. It looked like somebody had splattered spinach on it. When you just take a spray can to it, it never comes out looking like you thought it was going to look. About a year and a half ago, I took it over to Mechanicsville, Virginia, to Ron Grim at G6 Motosports; he’s exclusive to British bikes and vintage Harleys, and for the first time ever, a mechanic got into the engine. I had the head done, and man, did it sound good. I rode it back from Richmond that day and spent the next 500 miles just breaking it in.
I gave a minute’s thought to selling it when we moved up here, and I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Other than my family, it is the most continuous part of my life. You know, I jump on and ride it, and it feels just like when I first bought it. I am a much better rider now than I was then. I was lucky that I didn’t hurt myself those first few years. But riding is what it’s for. It’s got a low center of gravity and just drops into curves like nobody’s business. It sticks to the road with just nothing between me and the wind. I don’t know, it’s just kind of like feeling youthful again. I’m not over the hill yet, but you know.