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Vibrations: better ride a Commando than a BSA Lightning 650

Vibrations: better ride a Commando than a BSA Lightning 650

Postby pierodn » Tue Dec 13, 2016 1:40 pm

Hi.
Usually i ride with Commando but today, with a good weather and 16 degree, i have had a riding to Naples and return, about 180 Km., with my BSA that i didnt ride from more than five years.
Well, if with Commando i feel the vibrations only "among" the legs, today i felt the vibrations much more annoying on the hands from the handlebar twist grips.
I can say that is better ride with Commando, more fast and confortable.
But the Lightning is a small funny bike too.
Ciao.
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Re: Vibrations: better ride a Commando than a BSA Lightning

Postby gripper » Tue Dec 13, 2016 2:57 pm

I bought a oil in frame Thunderbolt in bits about twenty years ago. Looked ok when I'd rebuilt it, but wouldn't pull the skin off a rice pudding without shaking all over. No wonder the British bike industry went down the crapper. Those Beezers needed some serious re-engineering to make them good. Quite a short stroke engine though.

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Re: Vibrations: better ride a Commando than a BSA Lightning

Postby Matchless » Tue Dec 13, 2016 4:06 pm

I had a 1969 Lightning almost twenty years ago. It was scruffy but original so I decided to ride it for a year before rebuilding it. That plan was soon abandoned when I realised how badly it vibrated. it was so bad I was frightened it would explode if I revved it beyond five grand. When I stripped it for the rebuild the engine still had the BSA pistons & the crank was still on the standard bearing sizes. The crank went to SRM for dynamic balancing (68%) & the difference was astounding. It would cruise at 85mph & rev to 7000rpm with no problem.
If only BSA had done things properly they might still be in business.

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Re: Vibrations: better ride a Commando than a BSA Lightning

Postby Danno » Tue Dec 13, 2016 6:10 pm

Matchless wrote:I had a 1969 Lightning almost twenty years ago. It was scruffy but original so I decided to ride it for a year before rebuilding it. That plan was soon abandoned when I realised how badly it vibrated. it was so bad I was frightened it would explode if I revved it beyond five grand. When I stripped it for the rebuild the engine still had the BSA pistons & the crank was still on the standard bearing sizes. The crank went to SRM for dynamic balancing (68%) & the difference was astounding. It would cruise at 85mph & rev to 7000rpm with no problem.
If only BSA had done things properly they might still be in business.


Other than from an aesthetic standpoint, I always liked BSAs more than Triumphs. A 'glas-tanked Firebird Scrambler with high pipes (ala SS or P-11) is still one of the best-looking Britbikes ever. Never a fan of the chromed tanks.

A friend has a '68 Lightning in his living room. I's been completely drained of fluids and it STILL leaks.
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Re: Vibrations: better ride a Commando than a BSA Lightning

Postby Danno » Tue Dec 13, 2016 6:10 pm

Matchless wrote:I had a 1969 Lightning almost twenty years ago. It was scruffy but original so I decided to ride it for a year before rebuilding it. That plan was soon abandoned when I realised how badly it vibrated. it was so bad I was frightened it would explode if I revved it beyond five grand. When I stripped it for the rebuild the engine still had the BSA pistons & the crank was still on the standard bearing sizes. The crank went to SRM for dynamic balancing (68%) & the difference was astounding. It would cruise at 85mph & rev to 7000rpm with no problem.
If only BSA had done things properly they might still be in business.


Other than from an aesthetic standpoint, I always liked BSAs more than Triumphs. A 'glas-tanked Firebird Scrambler with high pipes (ala SS or P-11) is still one of the best-looking Britbikes ever. Never a fan of the chromed tanks.


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A friend has a '68 Lightning in his living room. It's been completely drained of fluids and it STILL leaks.
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Re: Vibrations: better ride a Commando than a BSA Lightning

Postby nortriubuell » Tue Dec 13, 2016 6:33 pm

I agree, that Firebird scrambler is SUPER cool 8) 8) 8)
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Re: Vibrations: better ride a Commando than a BSA Lightning

Postby DogT » Tue Dec 13, 2016 8:04 pm

My first bike was a 1950 B33 500 BSA single. That thing would put your arms to sleep in about 15 minutes, but it sure had the thumper sound and torque. I had it in Monterey, CA when I was at the Army Language School in '63. I drove it to Yosemite, PCH to Santa Barbara, and all over the Monterey Peninsula. When you're 20 years old, you can tolerate it. I wish I had a picture of it, It had a tractor type seat with the little pad on the rear fender, and solid rear end. I would give guys a ride up the hill to the ALS on that pad and they would never ask again. Good old days???
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Re: Vibrations: better ride a Commando than a BSA Lightning

Postby grandpaul » Wed Dec 14, 2016 7:14 am

I will report back fairly soon on how I like this mostly-69 BSA Firebird dressed up as a Lightning. I haven't had time to complete the make-run and get a license plate for it so I can get it out and about for some road work...

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Re: Vibrations: better ride a Commando than a BSA Lightning

Postby worntorn » Wed Dec 14, 2016 8:08 am

There are perhaps 3 old Brit bikes that are quite good for covering long distances and have enough speed/power to deal with modern traffic plus climbing mountain grades loaded. Not in any order of greatness
1. Norton Commando
2. The Vincent twin
3. Triumph/ BSA Meriden triple

I have an old BSA A10 Super Rocket, a 1963 Model which was the end of the line for the A 10s and also the most developed of the A 10s. The powerplant is identical to the much ballyhooed RGS, in fact so is the rolling chassis other than a couple of tiny details that do not affect handling.
The motor is in perfect condition with 2% leakdown.
I wouldn't take it on a long trip thru the mountains, it doesn't have adequate power and the vibes, though not awful, would get to be annoying in a hurry.

I've ridden a 650 Triumph, it was similar. I was 1500 miles from home at the time and had just gotten off the Vincent. I remember thinking how painful it would have been to ride the Triumph all the way home instead of the Vincent, which has good legs and can cruise up hills fast and smooth. Two up plus luggage or solo, it doesn't really matter much.
By comparison the Triumph felt like a sidewalk scooter.

The Commando also does a great job. The 850 engine is really nice and I've read that the MK3 is the smoothest of the bunch.
It certainly is smooth at speed.
Wouldn't mind trying a good 750 for this one day.

Last year at the Vintage gathering in Winthrop, WA. I chatted with the owner of a nice looking A65 which had been ridden there from 150 miles away. I asked about power/vibes etc. He said that for sustained running, ie more than about a mile, 60 MPH was about as fast as he would run it. After that the vibrations were too much and on the big hills climbing to Winthrop, 60 was about all it would manage anyway.


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Re: Vibrations: better ride a Commando than a BSA Lightning

Postby baz » Fri Dec 16, 2016 9:08 am

34 years ago i had an oif a65 lightning it was original never been apart ,it was pretty quick always a little quicker than my mates t120v ,but the vibration was awful a mate of mine now has an a65 oif thunderbolt that is really smooth so i would say re balancing these motors would be well worthwhile because maybe BSA by that time were not to careful about what they punted out the door !!
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Re: Vibrations: better ride a Commando than a BSA Lightning

Postby 84ok » Sat Apr 08, 2017 7:49 am

how did 68% # come up?


Matchless wrote:I had a 1969 Lightning almost twenty years ago. It was scruffy but original so I decided to ride it for a year before rebuilding it. That plan was soon abandoned when I realised how badly it vibrated. it was so bad I was frightened it would explode if I revved it beyond five grand. When I stripped it for the rebuild the engine still had the BSA pistons & the crank was still on the standard bearing sizes. The crank went to SRM for dynamic balancing (68%) & the difference was astounding. It would cruise at 85mph & rev to 7000rpm with no problem.
If only BSA had done things properly they might still be in business.
x74 the torque be with you

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Re: Vibrations: better ride a Commando than a BSA Lightning

Postby RoadScholar » Thu May 11, 2017 6:47 pm

A few days ago I found and purchased a 1970 Lightning, I am well aware of the propensity for the machine to vibrate, although I suspect that in the zero to 60 speed range the vibes are not much of a big deal. I had a 1970 T120R back in the day and was amazed at the level of vibration it put out above 65 MPH, but I was in my 20s and didn't think much of it; that is until I rode a Commando, night and day...

The motorcycle is in excellent condition and for $5K I couldn't resist. My plan is to install the roller drive side bearing and have the engine dynamically balanced. I am blessed in that one of the best balancing services is about 10 miles from my shop.

Having the Lightning completes a set of Brit bikes I have ben after for years, A Triumph, A Norton and a BSA, I dream of adding a Velocette and a Vincent; I have recently completed a 441 Victor Special.
The allure of a motorcycle is also it's bane
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Re: Vibrations: better ride a Commando than a BSA Lightning

Postby grandpaul » Fri May 12, 2017 6:44 am

RoadScholar wrote:Having the Lightning completes a set of Brit bikes I have been after for years, A Triumph, A Norton and a BSA...

With the acquisition of the one I posted a few replies back, I finally did that...
Image

I don't think I'll ever achieve Vincent ownership...

Edit - not sure why AccessNorton chopped off my Norton?
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