Iconic Britbike brand BSA, now owned by Mahindra in India, puts the new Gold Star 650 into production

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Disclosure: The author is a former BSA A50 owner and current Royal Enfield INT650 owner

Britbike brands once considered lost to the decline of the industrial age continue to make a comeback, with Birmingham Small Arms, aka BSA, being the latest resurrection through investment or outright India-based ownership.

With the revival of BSA, owned by Mahindra, Classic Legends, it makes three significant resurrections of the britbike brand across the sub-continent, with TVS reviving Norton and agricorp Eicher Group bringing Royal Enfield into the modern era (and the international markets). Mahindra also operates specialist bicycle manufacturer Jawa and other brands of small displacement motorcycles.

Technically, Royal Enfield was Indian owned and operated for decades after it closed in the UK in the 1970s, but it is on this list for important contextual reasons, the main one being relocation. After some delays, the new BSA has put its first new bike on the market, and it wears the most important of the BSA badges: Gold Star.

BSA’s Gold Star has been the gold standard of motorcycling for decades, first hitting the market in 1938 and riding the popularity of BSA – BSA has been the biggest motorcycle brand in the world for some time – for 25 years. It started out as a 350cc single and quickly grew to 500cc. The air-cooled engine could produce power in the mid-30s at the time, and it was eventually joined by a long line of BSA 500 and 650cc twins as the clock started to tick down. This author has owned a BSA A50 500cc twin for several years.

The new Gold Star is still a one-lung single, but it starts in the 650cc class (652cc, to be exact) and while it certainly looks like a classic bike, it has a lot of technology under the skin that should help- the to keep pace with other retro-modern machines in its class, such as Royal Enfield’s popular INT650 and 650 GT twins.

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The new 650 Gold Star will come standard with electric start (and no backup kickstarter), liquid cooling, digital fuel injection, ABS anti-lock Brembo disc brakes, a five-speed gearbox and a head 4-valve for the deep-breathing single. cylinder. Small LCD panels in the proper “counter-clockwise” analog-style instruments – including a small clock in the headlight shell – relay the fuel level and a few other bits of data.

Despite liquid cooling, which requires a radiator in front of the motor, the motor retains cooling fins to complete the retro look. A flat seat with strap, a shiny 3-gallon tank with the famous BSA badging, spoked wheels and full fenders set the right retro styling notes. The front fork offers no adjustability while riders can increase preload on both rear shocks to haul passengers and gear. Power output from the modern engine is in the mid-range 40 horsepower, which should be enough to haul the 437-pound Gold Star and triple-digit rider (known historically as “the ton”), if not barely.

The first Gold Stars will cost £6,500 when they first arrive in the UK, although the company is now based in India, where the bikes will eventually do battle with the well-established Royal Enfield machines, which are icons nuns at the limit with the riders. the. North America will undoubtedly get them at some point, probably around the $7,000 price point. Kawasaki’s W-800 rings in at around $9,000, and Royal Enfield’s 650 twins, which have suddenly caught the attention of American riders, start at around $6,000 if you can find one.

Another iconic British marque being relaunched in India – Norton – is likely to hit the US and international markets soon, although the new Nortons will be larger in displacement, more modern, more luxurious and more expensive than the BSA and Royal Enfield offerings. We hope to get a BSA gold star for review when they become available in the US.

Who’s next? Smaller British brands AJS and Ariel remain in hibernation, waiting in the wings for angel investors to descend from their financial skyscrapers to bring them back to their former glory. Stay tuned.

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