Tattoo Project’s 1970 BSA Lightning
Building a custom bike can be one hell of a challenge. And we’re not just talking about the skinned knuckles and cold nights with nothing but a greasy lump of metal to keep you warm. No, what we’re really getting at is the more intellectual aspects of a customisation. The seemingly simple decisions you have to make about what to do with the bike that will successfully take it from ‘hate’ to ‘great’. Having done this ourselves, we are all too familiar with just how infuriating choosing a seat, picking rubber, or routing an exhaust can be. Thoughts race through your head. “Is this a cliché… is it original… will it look cool?” These things can eat you alive if you let them, but then along comes a bike that slaps you right in your navel-gazing, self-important face. Cue the latest build from Rudy Banny’s Tattoo Project Custom Motorcycles. It takes no la-di-da, avanté garde approaches, yet like a simple slice of apple pie and ice cream, it totally manages to hit the spot.
Here’s Tattoo’s chief, Rudy Banny. “I bought this 1970 BSA Lightning 6 years ago. Apparently the dude at Quality Custom Cycles in Cali brought it back from the dead, and sold to a friend of his that then sold it to me. I kept some of the stuff that QCC did the same, but then I added quite a few of my own touches which I hope make it really sing.”
The stuff that Rudy didn’t bin was a short as it was sweet. “I kept the simple Wassell pipes with the brass tips, the Triumph front end, and the vintage King Bee headlight.”
“Apart from many smaller mods, the main modifications I made to the Beezer include removing the side covers to expose the kick-ass dog collar battery strap, cutting off the frame loop and replacing the stock seat with a NitroHeads unit,” he notes. Let’s hope it was one of ours, then.
“I also added an old-school tail light to the underside of the rear fender, and lengthened the swing arm 3.5 inches. This gave me the more aggressive stance that I was looking for.” It’s the little touches that make all the difference. A simple twist on what you’d expect for a brake light mount seems as revolutionary as it is simple. Impressive stuff.
Lastly, Rudy went new-school to add a little contrast. “The final and most expensive touch was mounting the Ohlins shocks. To me, they really make it.” He concluses by saying, “I love this scrappy bike. It’s as loud and fast and mean as it is beautiful.” We hear you Rudy. Well, we would hear you if you’d just kill that British parallel twin idling next to you.