Cover Bikes

1971 BSA Thunderbolt 650

August 1, 2012
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Our August 2012 cover bike is owned by Bill Clay from Grandview, Missouri. His 1971 BSA Thunderbolt was selected as the winning bike at our Cover Bike Search at Russo’s Pizza & Pub in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. We photographed cover model search finalist Crystal, on his bike for this month’s cover.

Owner: Bill Clay

City: Grandview, Missouri


- Year/Make/Model: 1971 BSA Thunderbolt 650

- Fabricated by: Myself. I didn’t want it to look like a 1971.

- Assembled by: Kerby Harding, plus a lot of other good friends.

- Chromed by: Mostly Cycle Chrome of Independence, and alloy from Browns of Kentucky.


- Make/Size: Stock BSA 650 with hardened valve seats.

- Carburetor: Amal 932. It’s the stock original 928, but the head and intake were ported for 932

- Air Cleaner: Stock

- Pipes: Aftermarket pipes and mufflers.


- Make/Model: BSA 4-speed w/right foot shift.


- Type: Stock

- Extension: Reduced 1 inch

- Builder: Us

Wheels, Tires & Brakes


- Type: Stock

- Size: 19 inch

- Tire: 3.25x19

- Brake: Twin leading shoe


- Type: Stock

- Size: 18 inch

- Tire: 4.00x18

- Brake: Twin leading shoe


- Frame: Powder coated by RMF in Grandview, Missouri

- Molding: Stock

- Paint: Talley’s Auto Body in Lee’s Summit, Missouri

- Color: Original Sterling Moss


- Bars: Lower than stock.

- Fenders: Stock

- Headlight: Stock

- Taillight: Stock

- Speedometer: Stock

- Pegs: Stock

- Grips: Period

- Mirrors: Period

- Gas Tank: Original 4 gallon, acquired from Wales

- Seat: Self-designed, made in England.

Other Information: This bike was built in England in 1971, and was purchased new by my Dad in May of 1971. I bought the bike from him in 1994 and started restoration in 1996. Kerby took the first ride in 2004. You can read the whole story here.

Vintage photos by Bill Clay

Studio photos by Bruce Stimpson with Stimpson Photography.

Published in Cover Bikes