The latest British marque to be revived is the legendary BSA. Last week John Nutting tried out the new Gold Star at the UK launch, check out what he thought... Photography: BSA Motorcycles 

Budding bikers these days are probably unaware that BSA was once the world’s biggest producer of motorcycles. Likewise even their fathers. After all, it’s been almost half a century since the last proper BSA was made in 1973. We check out the Gold Star range…

In many circles the BSA brand is one of the strongest and lives on signage and clothing products. Now they're finally back with a new motorcycle!

In many circles the BSA brand is one of the strongest and lives on signage and clothing products. Now they’re finally back with a new motorcycle!

In many circles the BSA brand is one of the strongest and lives on signage and clothing products. That’s why Classic Legends, part of the large Indian-based Mahidra industrial group with sales of US$19 billion a year, bought the name in 2016 with a plan to revive the manufacture of BSA motorcycles in their spiritual home of Birmingham.

Now, after delays resulting the UK’s departure from the EU and COVID-related supply-chain interruptions, the first production models of the new BSA, called the Gold Star recalling the fabled sportsbike of the fifties, have been have been launched to the press.

The first production models of the new BSA, called the Gold Star recalling the fabled sports bike of the fifties, have been have been launched to the press.

The first production models of the new BSA, called the Gold Star recalling the fabled sportsbike of the fifties, have been have been launched to the press.

When the Gold Star was first revealed at last December’s Motorcycle Live Show at the NEC, Mahindra chairman Anand Mahindra outlined how he saw it developing.

“BSA reigned supreme during the golden era of British motorcycles, renowned for their spirit and impeccable workmanship,” he said. “We’re incredibly honoured to be showcasing a new model that captures the DNA of such a legendary brand, which stamped an undeniable mark on the world of motorcycling. The next chapter in the brand’s history is going to be an exciting ride.”

Good news for learner riders! The BSA Gold Star is LAMs approved...

Good news for learner riders! The BSA Gold Star is LAMS approved… But at this stage is not coming to Australia…

Now, after further delays, BSA is back with the expectation that the Gold Star will be arriving in the showrooms of a growing network of dealers from mid-August. The new Gold Star is an A2 (LAMS in Australia) licence compliant machine aimed at first-time riders who may know the fabled BSA name but never had the opportunity to buy one new.


Link

It is pitched competitively in the market for classic retro machines like Royal Enfield’s cheaper 650cc Interceptor twin and the more expensive Triumph 900cc twins. Prices of the Gold Star start at £6,500 (A$11,440) for the base Highland Green version, while the Insignia Red, Midnight Black and Dawn Silver versions with more complex graphics are £6,800 (A$11,970).

Australia pricing is TBA, but the UK pricing converts to a starting price of roughly $11,440 AUD.

Australia pricing and arrival is TBA, but the UK pricing converts to a starting price of roughly $11,440 AUD.

Top of the range is the Silver Sheen Legacy, featuring chromed mudguards (rather than plastic), mirrors and levers, polished engine covers, a seat with white beading, and a gloss black finish on the instruments, headlight cover and footpegs, which is priced at £7,000 (A$12,325). The bulk of the sales are expected to be of the top model. 

At the launch of the range at the Millbrook proving ground near Milton Keynes, Ashish Singh Joshi, a director of BSA Company Ltd which is owned by Classic Legends of which he is chief executive, said: “We’re delighted to announce the price of the new Gold Star. The response from the crowds at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, where the bike made its dynamic debut, and more recently, the Brooklands Motorcycle Show, has been fantastic.



“BSA has a rich history within the British motorcycle industry, and it will be very special to see the bikes back out on the road when the first deliveries arrive later this summer.” He has emphasised the importance of having the BSA designed in the UK, engineered in the UK and tested in the UK. “It’s a British bike and has to have a British ethos”.

Joshi leads a management team that are dyed-in-the-wool motorcyclists. He worked for a few years with Triumph Motorcycles in the UK before joining Royal Enfield and is therefore steeped in an understanding of the growing market for classically-styled machines. 

Anuparn Tharega is the founder of Classic Legends, part of the motorcycle operations at Mahindra, which is a leading producer of bikes in India with brands that include Jawa and Yezdi.

Anuparn Tharega is the founder of Classic Legends, part of the motorcycle operations at Mahindra, which is a leading producer of bikes in India with brands that include Jawa and Yezdi.

Equally enthusiastic is Anuparn Tharega, founder of Classic Legends, who has his own collection of machines. This is a bike from the UK for the world,” says AT, as he is known. “We will start in the UK, then move into Europe, the US and Australasia.”

Classic Legends is just part of the motorcycle operations at Mahindra, which is a leading producer of bikes in India with brands that include Jawa and Yezdi, both of which have ranges of roadster, scrambler and adventure machines with engines up to 334cc. Mahindra also recently bought a controlling share in Peugeot’s two-wheeler business.

There is plenty of experience behind the design and development of the new BSA, which was carried out in the UK by the company’s own engineers who collaborated with Graz University of Technology in Austria.

There is plenty of experience behind the design and development of the new BSA, which was carried out in the UK by the company’s own engineers who collaborated with Graz University of Technology in Austria.

So there is plenty of experience behind the design and development of the new BSA, which was carried out in the UK by the company’s own engineers who collaborated with Graz University of Technology in Austria, which also has done work for KTM. Chassis design was carried out by another technical partner, UK-based Ricardo Motorcycles.


CFMOTO 300SR

Joshi describes the core values of the new Gold Star as “authenticity, honesty and reliability”. Although this might have been achieved by using one of BSA’s later twins as the theme, it was the sporty 500cc DBD34 Gold Star single that was seen as the more iconic.



The team have done what I think is a great job in capturing the lines of the original, with styling chief Balrag Ghataore, formerly a director of UK-based Redline Design, talking of the key features such as a the ‘vertical look’ and ‘distinctive parts’ with especially the key line through the headlamp’s centre to the fuel tank and seat. He’s especially proud of getting the fit of the chrome-plated steel tank and seat right above the frame tubes, which also have to contain the airbox, battery and oil tank.


BMW Q3 R18

The proportions and ergonomics of the Gold Star are ideal for relaxed riding. The seat is slim and at 780mm from the ground you can stand astride with room to spare. The fold-up footpegs are trim but easy to find and the handlebar comfortably positioned.

"The proportions and ergonomics of the Gold Star are ideal for relaxed riding. The seat is slim and at 780mm from the ground you can stand astride with room to spare."

“The proportions and ergonomics of the Gold Star are ideal for relaxed riding. The seat is slim and at 780mm from the ground you can stand astride with room to spare.”

There’s a good view ahead, with the rev counter and speedo featuring authentic-looking dials that read clockwise from 2 o’clock, just as the old chronometric instruments did while where the ammeter used to be in the headlamp is a small display of information like oil pressure, indicators, ABS, and the like. Being a British bike owner, I felt at home.


McLeods

After switching on the machine with the key between the dials, the engine fires up promptly at the touch of the button next to the twistgrip, and settles into a 1500rpm idle. For a big single, the unit feels surprisingly smooth but has a substance to it. That’s because its uses a single engine-speed balance shaft at the front of the cases to keep vibration in check. To meet Euro5 emission regs, the engine is liquid cooled with the radiator up front being a ‘necessary evil’.



The exhaust note is very subdued through the Gold Star ‘twitter-style’ pipe which has been revised since last year’s launch, with the ugly cover at the top cut back only to conceal the plumbing to the catalyser unit below the radiator. At speed though the bike emits a pleasing ‘thrum’ but many owners are likely to replace the pipe with something more rorty.


CFMOTO 300SR

To maintain the look of the old Gold Star engine the top-end has substantial but only cosmetic finning. Swept volume is 652cc with a highly-oversquare bore and stroke of 100 x 83mm. Hidden beneath the fuel tank the cylinder-head contains double-overhead camshafts and twin inlet and exhaust valves, driven by an inverted-tooth chain on the same side as the primary drive gears and clutch, which is a slipper type. Interestingly, the crankshaft is a built-up unit with a floating big-end bush. Lubrication is dry sump with pressure and scavenge pumps fed by an oil tank under the left side below the seat, which can be unlocked to access the battery after the plastic cover is unclipped.



Maintaining the look of a B-series BSA single, the ‘timing cover’ on the right side conceals the alternator and ignition system, which feeds twin spark plugs which are no doubt necessary with a high 11.5 to 1 compression ratio. But the ‘pushrod’ tunnel is vestigial and to me looks too much like an afterthought. The front end is pure BSA with the mudguard’s stays at the correct angle and attached like many of the components with stylish stainless dome-head cap screws.


“Newcomers to motorcycles will find the Gold Star easy to handle despite a dry weight of 198kg, which makes it a bit heavier than the Royal Enfield 650.”


Newcomers to motorcycles will find the Gold Star easy to handle despite a dry weight of 198kg, which makes it a bit heavier than the Royal Enfield 650. But it doesn’t feel intimidating and this extends to the crisp selection in the five-speed gearbox and light clutch action. The steel frame is made of welded tubing and castings with a good paint finish. Geometry is modernish with a generous 1,425mm wheelbase and shallowish 26.5 degree head angle. So steering is initially light while stable at speed.

"Newcomers to motorcycles will find the Gold Star easy to handle despite a dry weight of 198kg, which makes it a bit heavier than the Royal Enfield 650."

No complaints in terms of the handling. In fact, John mentioned that new riders will have no problems on the Gold Star.

The classic look is as much to do with the wheels and fittings. While aluminium alloy, the 36-spoked unvalanced rims are wide enough (2.5 x 18in front and 4.25 x 17in rear) to take modern Pirelli tubeless tyres that are more than grippy enough. The bike feels well planted at speeds up to 140km/h but although I found the suspension comfortable and compliant while carving through the ups and downs of Millbrook’s road network it got a bit squirrelly on the circular bowl when approaching the ton, which is what the BSA people said the bike was capable of.


RatedR Parts

That’s what I’d expect from a claimed 45bhp, the maximum allowed for A2 licence holders. Top gear – at 5.0 to 1 that gives 154km/h at 6,500rpm – is more of an overdrive for cruising: at an indicated 112km/h the rev counter showed 4,300rpm but it feels more lazy than that.

It's great to see the Gold Star follows the formula of old BSA's with the reliability of a modern motorcycle.

It’s great to see the Gold Star follows the formula of old BSA’s with the reliability of a modern motorcycle.

Much was made of the engine’s flexibility according to Joshi is largely due to its maximum torque of 55Nm being delivered at modest revs, meaning that response from the ride-by-wire twistgrip improves as the revs drop. The pickup was remarkably clean all through the range, without any jerkiness off idle. BSA claims that fuel consumption using the World Motorcycle Test Cycle procedure is just over 3.3L/100km, giving a useful range on the 12-litre tank of at least 240km.


“The pickup was remarkably clean all through the range, without any jerkiness off idle.”


The BSA’s braking, with dual-channel ABS, was particularly reassuring. Disc brakes may not have the classic look but the Brembos, with the 320mm front disc gripped by a dual-piston caliper up front and a smaller 255mm rear with a floating caliper, offered smoothly-controlled stopping power with no obvious risk of locking.



Modern features include a handlebar mounted USB port, and a power socket for things like heated jackets. But diehards will wonder why the Gold Star doesn’t have a centre-stand, as on the original. Such is the nature of fitting everything into a modern machine, including the ABS tackle which is underneath the swingarm pivot, that there’s no room. 

BSA is planning to offer a wide range of accessories for the bike, and expects aftermarket specialists to get involved, so a centrestand, for those who like lubricating their drive chain on a Sunday morning, might arrive later.

The next BSA we see might be in electric form, so stay tuned for that...

The next BSA we see might be in electric form, so stay tuned for that…

That’s all part of a wider strategy to build BSA. In due course, assembly of the bike will come to the UK (it’s made on a special production line adjacent to the others at the plant in India) and will join projects such as an electric bike, for which BSA has been awarded a multi-million grant from the UK government to develop with Ricardo.

In many circles the BSA brand is one of the strongest and lives on signage and clothing products. Now they're finally back with a new motorcycle!

2022 BSA Gold Star Specifications

bsacompany.co.uk

Price: Aus pricing and availability TBA
Colours: Insignia Red, Dawn Silver, Midnight Black, Highland Green and Silver Sheen (Legacy Edition).
Claimed Power: 45bhp@6,500rpm
Claimed Torque: 55Nm@4,000rpm
Dry Weight: 198kg
Fuel capacity: 12L


Engine: Liquid-cooled, four-stroke, single-cylinder, four-valve, DOHC, 100 x 83mm bore x stroke, 652cc, 11.5:1 compression, dry dump, digital inductive ignition with twin plugs, electronic fuel injection, five speed gearbox 2.75, 1.75, 1.31, 1.05 and 0.88 to 1 ratios, 530 chain, ratio 2.94 to 1 final drive, Wet multiplate slipper type clutch.


Chassis: Duplex tubular steel cradle
Suspension: Telescopic fork, 41mm legs (f) twin shocks, adjustable preload (r).
Brakes: Single 320mm disc, dual piston Brembo, ABS (f) 255mm disc, ABS (r)
Wheels: Laced spoke, aluminium rim, MT2.50-18 (f) MT4.25-17 (r) Tyres: Pirelli Phantom Sportcomp, 100/90-18 (f), 150/70-R17 (r).


Dimensions:
Seat height: 780mm
Wheelbase: 1425mm
Rake: 26.5degrees


Instruments: Analogue dash


Editor’s Note: If you are reading this article on any website other than BikeReview.com.au, please report it to BikeReview via our contact page, as it has been stolen or re-published without authority.


Kawasaki
Share this:Share on Facebook
Facebook
Tweet about this on Twitter
Twitter