▲ Jesse Bassett; the driving force behind
The Gasbox, and evidently a force to be reckoned with.
▲ Beautifully executed rear fender
support and tailight. Class engineering.
▲ BSA's 650cc "power egg" engine.
The styling of these motors tends to polarise opinion with many riders disliking the smooth, organic contours. But we like it plenty. It suits the clean lines of the bike for that classic 1970s neat chop look.
▲ Check out the handlebar levers and
the slim, fuss-free rider's eye view. Perfect.
▲ Made to order not down to a low budget but up to a high standard. Prices are typically anything from $20,000-$40,000,
[for details, click here]
No, the Gasbox isn't the bike. The Gasbox is Jesse Bassett's custom shop in Lakewood, Ohio, USA. Think Cleveland. The shop was opened in 2009 and specializes in custom fabrication and vintage motorcycles.
Jesse, who has more than twelve years of mechanical and fabrication experience—including engine work, repairing, restoring, customizing, and building motorcycles—began this 1965 650cc BSA A65L Lightning project in 2009 when one of his customers brought in a rigid chopper to be customized.
After dissembling the entire bike, all that was left was the engine, frame, and stock BSA QD rear wheel.
Jesse’s customer, Brett Scully, wanted a girder fork, so Jesse sourced one from a BSA M20. He had to fabricate a new top clamp, neck stem and new linkage. Jesse used antique "faucet" handles (tap handles in BritSpeak) for the friction damper adjustment knob simply because of the look of the porcelain and brass. By adjusting the rake, offset and height of the fork, he was able to obtain the correct frame stance.
The rear wheel is stock BSA 18-incher powder-coated black with stainless spokes and a Coker tyre. The front wheel is a thirty-six spoke 21-incher laced to a BSA Bantam hub and shod with an Avon tyre. Both front and rear drums were "windowed out" in a mill, and then the shoes were drilled.
Fuel and oil tank
The fuel tank began as an oil-in-frame Triumph item that has been chopped and fitted with late model Harley style rubber mounts. Jesse found a local die maker to duplicate the BSA golden flash emblems and cast them in bronze. Jesse fabricated the oil tank from scratch, then fitted it with the cap and fittings of a 1960’s BSA stock item and rubber mounted the entire assembly.
The engine was disassembled and polished. The sludge trap was cleaned. The "notorious" BSA crank bushing was upgraded, and the cylinders were bored and fitted with the next size over pistons. Compression is 9:1. Jesse fabricated the exhaust pipes from stainless steel and styled them after BSA high-level scrambler pipes. The ignition system is a ubiquitous Boyer unit.
The handlebars were formed as part of the girder fork top clamp. The levers are Cook replicas typical of pre-war British bikes. The grips are made of the same leather as the seat. The headlight is a fender light from an early MG and had to be modified to adapt to the girder.
The paint is black with gold-leaf and red striping by Jerry Koenigsmark of Jerry’s House of Kolor. The leather work was done by Jason’s Custom Upholstery. All of the polishing and nickel plating was handled by Jason’s Show Quality Metal Finishing.
Jesse's shop, we hear, is a pretty anonymous place. Driving right past it without noticing it is easily done. But inside, as many as fifty machines are lined up awaiting various forms of attention. His customers are happy to wait months for Jesses to do what he does best. No doubt, his reputation is growing along with increasing trade.
Typical prices for Gasbox bikes are around twenty grand. US dollars, that is.
By the time you read this, it's hoped that Jesse will have relocated to an old fire station in North Olmsted which offers a lot more space and will give him a chance to spread his wings even further.
Our view of the bike?
We love it. It's nicely understated and impeccably detailed. The lines are smooth and fuss-free. It's just about as basic and as straight-to-the-point as you can get. So okay, there's not going to be much stopping power. But you always ride bikes within their own limits, and intelligent engine braking will take out most of the unwanted excitement just as long as you don't get too cocky. Job done.
Want to see more of Jesse's projects? Check out the shop at: