BSA GOLD STAR (2022 - on) Review

Highlights

  • Iconic British badge revived
  • 45bhp, 652cc single cylinder
  • Lots of old school detailing

At a glance

Power: 45 bhp
Seat height: Low (30.7 in / 780 mm)
Weight: Medium (470 lbs / 213 kg)

Prices

New £6,500
Used N/A

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Everything about the way BSA’s new Gold Star looks and goes is a homage to the original 1950s version. This isn’t a retro dripping with hidden tech, big power and a hefty price tag, it’s a 45bhp single cylinder roadster designed to deliver the simple pleasure of riding.

Like the BSA Goldstar DBD34 it’s inspired by, it’s a certified member of the ton-up club, but unlike the original there are there are concessions to modern day convenience, reliability and safety: ABS, fuel injection, an electric start and a modern-day, oil-tight engine.

BSA have created a machine that focuses on single cylinder simplicity and riding enjoyment. The Gold Star isn’t the fastest or best handling retro out there, but neither is it pretending to be.

BSA Gold Star on the road

Instead, it’s easy to ride, solid and reassuring, but still quick if you want it to be. It’s nicely finished, detailed and comes with a rumbling, but not too shouty classic British soundtrack. The BSA isn’t an iconic badge slapped on a generic motorcycle, it’s well thought out and the perfect steed for newer riders, or for those who just want to take it easy.

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
3 out of 5 (3/5)

The Gold Star uses a tubular steel frame and box section swingarm, with built in flex for cornering feel. Conventional 41mm forks wear shrouds to cover the stanchions, like the original and twin rear shocks have five stage preload adjustment.

Spoked wheels are shod with period-looking Pirelli Phantom Sportcomp tyres (100/90 x 18 front, 150/70 x 17 rear) and the single 320mm front disc is gripped by a twin piston sliding pin Brembo caliper with a single piston ByBre caliper at the rear.

Our first ride of the new ‘Goldie’ is at Millbrook near Bedford. For BSA to showcase it at an automotive testing facility (it’s the place with the banked speed bowl and where Bond barrel rolls his Aston in Casino Royale), may seem odd, but the final homologation process is still ongoing. We’ll have to wait until mid-August 2022, after the first bikes hit dealers before we can ride it in its natural environment, on the road.

BSA Gold Star from above

Millbrook has several look-a-like undulating country roads loops that mimic the real thing, though. It gives us a clinical idea of how the Gold Star will perform in the real world but misses out the emotive stuff, like how it will feel sauntering between leafy hedgerows on a sunny Sunday. The environment doesn’t play to the BSA’s strengths, but it does allow us to see what’s lurking beneath the iconic British badge.

From a purely dynamic point of view the first thing you feel is the BSA’s bulk (it weighs 213kg fully fuelled) and through fast, bumpy corners the bars are busy in your hands as the suspension gamely attempts to keep control.

That said the Pirelli Phantom Sportcomp tyres dig in and the Gold Star always goes where you point it, especially if you drag the back brake to calm things down. The front Brembo is surprisingly powerful (BSA claim -0.9g deceleration) with more feel than many of its more expensive rivals, but it’s easy to set the ABS off under hard braking.

BSA Gold Star rear

Ride quality can be harsh on rough tarmac and unlike some retro rivals that deliberately make an 18in front wheel feel like a 17, the BSA is heavy steering and flops into very low speed corners.

That’s what the BSA is like without the rose-tinted specs, but let’s quickly put them back on. The Gold Star isn’t a bike for pure A to B speed, it’s all about the journey. If you want high performance and sharp handling from your retro the more expensive offerings from Ducati, BMW and Triumph will be more up your street.

BSA are targeting older folk who may have lusted after the original back in the day, but crucially they also want to entice new riders on their saddles, which is great for the future of motorcycling.

BSA Gold Star front wheel

Its badge, old-school styling, affordable price tag and an A2 licence-friendly will all go a long way to achieve their goals. The BSA is also simple to ride and its upright riding position is spacious, relaxed and natural, even for the tall. Shorter riders will feel at home on its low, 780mm too.

Although heavy, the Gold Star is still nimble, balanced and controllable at low speed. Its ride lacks a certain refinement, but the more time you spend with it, to understand how it likes to be ridden, its simple, feelgood appeal grows and grows.

The pleasure derived from riding the Gold Star comes from its easy character, soundtrack and the sneaky glances in shop windows as you ride by. It’s only a single, but what more do you really need on the road nowadays? It’ll still get a wiggle on if you twist its arm, though and most of all it’s a bike that will genuinely make you smile.

BSA Gold Star turning left

Engine

Next up: Reliability
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Made with partners Rotax and with the help of Ricardo engineering, the Gold Star is powered by a liquid-cooled 45bhp, 652cc single cylinder DOHC, 4v engine with a dry sump, five-speed gearbox and fuel injection.

They’ve kept vibrations to a minimum with things like silent chains and manufacturing tolerances are tight - the crank is dipped in liquid nitrogen before being pressed into place and electron beam melting is done to create the intricate oilways.

The single produces a big wodge of torque from 1500rom to 6500rpm and the power curve is smooth. The speedo goes up to 130mph, BSA claim 103mph top whack. It’s in a light state of tune, so expect more bhp for future models.

BSA Gold Star engine

On the outside the engine is made to look like an old BSA with cooling fins, curved engine cases, BSA logos and a brushed stainless steel pea shooter-style exhaust. The cat is hidden behind the front frame tubes. The radiator looks out of place compared to its granddad, but then there was no Euro5 back in the 50s and you quickly get used to it.

Other than dual channel Continental ABS and an electric start there are no other rider aids…and it’s none the worse for it.

Despite its modest power its single cylinder engine is keen all the way through the revs and up to the magic ton, but the fuel injection can be snatchy picking up a closed throttle.

BSA Gold Star clocks

Both the clutch and five speed gearbox have a light, accurate action. Best of all is the grumble from its single cylinder engine. It’s a quintessential nod to BSAs of the past and mixes smoothness with just the right amount of vibes. In a world where most retros are twins and triples, the BSA is refreshingly different.

Thanks to Euro5 it’s nowhere near as vocal as an old British single, but its shouts loud enough when you give it some stick and when there’s a few Gold Stars chattering together the glorious din is like something out of a Goodwood Revival paddock.

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The Gold Star is built down to a price, so don’t expect Ducati levels of seduction, but everything is neat, tidy and well finished. It’s too early to say how the BSA will stand the test of time, but it’s been made with the might of Mahindra behind it and developed and tested in collaboration with some of the motorcycle industry’s big hitters, like Rotax and Ricardo in Europe and India.

BSA Gold Star in chrome finish

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Royal Enfield’s Indian-made Interceptor 650 is the BSA’s most obvious rival and prices start at £6039, making it a fair bit cheaper. Like the BSA the Interceptor 650 is a simple, retro-styled machine with a re-imagined British badge. Launched in 2018 it’s been a constant sales smash and multiple MCN award winner.

It has a smooth and perky 47bhp parallel twin cylinder engine with the kind of ride quality and road handling that belies its basic chassis set-up. The BSA will have its work cut out to even match the Royal Enfield, let alone better it, but its engine could prove to be the more characterful and they actually both weigh the same. We can’t wait to ride them back-to-back.

BSA Gold Star fuel cap

Equipment

3 out of 5 (3/5)

BSA is one of Britain’s most iconic motorcycle brands, next to Triumph and Norton. Most of us won’t remember them the first time around, back in the oily fog of the old days, but those three letters are evocative as they come.

BSA originally made guns, which is where their name comes from: ‘Birmingham Small Arms company Ltd’ They’ve also produced cars, bicycles and in 1903 formed as a motorcycle company. They disappeared in 1973 after once being the biggest bike manufacture in the world, churning out BSA Bantams, Rocket IIIs and of course Gold Stars. In their 50s heyday one in four bikes sold was a BSA.

The BSA name was bought by Classic Legends in 2016 (who also have Jawa and Jezdi in their stable), which is a subsidiary of the Indian engineering conglomerate: the Mahindra Group. Designed by BSA’s UK team, the new Gold Star’s development began in 2018, but it suffered all kind of delays as a result of world events of the past couple of years.

BSA Gold Star indicator lights

The BSA needed to look good and it does, but there are some things that don’t appear quite right at first glance: like the radiator and a USB charging pod stuck up on the left handlebar. It’s nicely detailed, from the old school BSA badges, Brembos and beautifully penned lines to mimic the original Goldstar DBD34.

The 12-litre tank is chromed and painted with pinstripe detail and the fuel cap is engraved with BSA logo. They claim 70.6mpg and a 186-mile range. The plush bench seat is detailed with a Union Jack tag and an embossed BSA logo on the back.

Analogue clocks have speedo and tacho needles that sweep around face when the ignition is turned on and start at ‘one o’clock’. Tiny digital displays show fuel level, trip and odometer, although they’re hard to read. Where an amp meter would have lived on the 50s BSA, is now a dial containing the warning lights and indicators, although they’re tricky to see in bright sunlight.

BSA Gold Star seat

Switchgear looks generic and not in keeping with the retro style. It’s easy to knock the hazard switch with your throttle hand. Old school grips have BSA logos.

Only one version is available for now, although expect different variants and even whole new BSA models in the future, where the ultimate goal will be to move production to the UK. Accessories include luggage, crash guards, bar end mirrors, fly screen, jackets, helmets and t-shirts.

Its available in Green (£6500) or Red, Black, or Silver with chrome tank sections (£6800). Then there’s the £7000 ‘Silver Sheen Legacy’ version for the full DBD34 homage with chrome mudguards and mirrors, polished engine covers, white seat beading, and gloss black instrument surrounds, headlight cover and footpegs.

BSA Gold Star right side on the road

Specs

Engine size 652cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled, 4v, single
Frame type Tubular steel double cradle
Fuel capacity 12 litres
Seat height 780mm
Bike weight 213kg
Front suspension 41mm forks non-adjustable
Rear suspension Twin shocks adjustable for preload
Front brake 320mm front discs with twin-piston Brembo caliper. ABS
Rear brake 255mm disc with single-piston ByBre caliper ABS
Front tyre size 100/90 x 18
Rear tyre size 150/70 x 17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 70.6 mpg
Annual road tax £101
Annual service cost -
New price £6,500
Used price -
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two years

Top speed & performance

Max power 45 bhp
Max torque 41 ft-lb
Top speed 103 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 186 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

2022: BSA Gold Star launched

Other versions

None.

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