BSA GOLD STAR - 2022
By GARETH CHARLTON - 18 Jul 22
BSA is back. The Gold Star is back. And on a scorching day at a tarmac playground hidden deep in the English countryside I was invited to ride a machine I have only ever heard spoken of in tones of hushed reverie. Named after the medal received by one of its predecessors for lapping Brooklands circuit at over 100mph the original Gold Star was the metal of choice for the Ton-up boys, Clubman TT Racers and Sunday Scramblers of the 50’s and 60’s. Fast forward to the 2020’s and the reborn 650 Gold Star is gunning for those who remember fondly what it was but also a new & entirely different generation of admirers.
This was a day to ride so I will keep the preamble brief. BSA was purchased by the Mahindra Group in 2016, their intentions to manufacture in the UK were sadly scuppered by the carnage of the years since but it remains the future plan. For now, the Goldie is assembled in Mahindra’s native India with machines expected to be delivered into a network of UK dealers mid-August priced from a respectable £6500 to £7000 (+ otr charges) depending on your colour of choice. Thankfully my favourite, the Highland Green is the cheapest scheme. The pictures tell far more than any words how damn handsome this machine is. A faithful homage to the DBD34, it is covered in delightful touches and unfortunately encumbered with a few modern necessities – more on those later. Overall it is a machine that will forever raise a smile as the garage door lifts and command a second glance before it closes.
Time to ride. God I love a single. The heart of the Goldie had to be a thumper, the 500cc displacement of the original has swelled to a 652cc powertrain in which a host of sophisticated manufacturing techniques have sought to balance and smooth the inherent vices of the single layout whilst preserving its character. It is a brilliant motor. Definitely not the fastest at 45bhp, nor perhaps the most refined, but perfectly befitting the 2022 Goldie.
Millbrook proving ground was the venue for the day’s fun and games, a test facility for both two and four wheelers Millbrook boasts a host of real road simulations. Whether pootling between the hedgerows or chin on tank, throttle to the stop tickling the ton on the banked oval circuit, the motor proved a willing and compelling companion. I eagerly await that Ton-up Club members card…
Swinging through the complex bends of the faux Alpine course (including the infamous Aston Martin flipper from Casino Royale) was a fun yet reassuring experience with the Brembo brakes arresting momentum of the 213kg Beeza with great assurity. The suspension on the machine of the slighter rider ahead of me definitely looked a sight more composed than it felt beneath my weightier-self and would (like most machines in this price bracket) benefit from fine-tuning or upgrade to suit the rider and use. Or just ride, adapt and smile. Romping through the tight layout of a supposed “city course” that better resembled cooked spaghetti thrown at the floor was a complete hoot and the pace at which the lead rider conducted the route eye-widening..
Back in the 50’s the DBD34 was defined as a super-sport machine. Today’s iteration is clearly a world away from that moniker, but I wager I had a deal more fun wringing the neck of the Goldie and exploring its capabilities as opposed to clinging on to a current super-sport and exposing my own. Perhaps I was just born in the wrong era, but as todays roads seem to slow with traffic and tech, a machine with the dynamic capabilities of the Goldie makes more and more sense.
Now for the fun part, this is Bike Shed after all and this is a motorcycle crying out for a little tinkering or full-bore customisation. One of the best things about the original machine was its adaptability. Yes, the café-racer is the first vision that springs to mind, but with the swapsies of a few key parts the old Goldie did everything well, Scrambles, Trials, Flat-Track… The inspiration is endless and I have no doubt that come our 2023 Show we will see the new Gold Star reimagined as all of the above and everything in between. No bobbers please.
What would I do to it? Those aforementioned modern necessities can go for a start. The fugly switchgear, prominent USB charging ports and catalytic converter the size of an over-fed feline curled up in the frame rails all need a new home. While we are shedding kilos a quick glance under the seat reveals a bolt-on subframe that could fast be swapped or altered, you can keep your (all-be-it lovely) fork shrouds and the radiator seemingly sourced from an Austin Mini could use some detailed thought. A single seat, some short guards, slim-line side panels, upswept exhaust that celebrates as oppose to apologises for the thump, clip-ons, rear-sets, and sticky tires pretty please. A brief chat with the ever-growing BSA team reveals a few more ponies could easily be corralled from the motor and suddenly we are having even more fun. The beautiful reverse sweeping clocks can stay, perhaps framed with a bullet-style fairing… But I digress. Necessary? Absolutely not. Part of the fun? Absolutely yes.
Whether owned, once ridden or long lusted for, BSA has always been a marque to command a place in the heart of many motorcyclists. With the new Gold Star, BSA are looking to add a new generation of riders to that hearty club. Have they made a machine that can do this? I sure as hell believe so. BSA, it is great to have you back.
@garethcharlton wore -