In case you haven’t heard, BSA is back — and the brand wants to offer its all-new Gold Star 650 model in the United States “some time in 2023” after launching the bike in Europe first.
The reborn Gold Star is a 652 cc, single-cylinder homage to one of the most iconic BSAs ever built, although this nostalgic reincarnation won't be as performance-oriented as its namesake was. Instead, the new model is positioned as an affordable and fully modern motorcycle that invites a new generation of BSA riders.
Before looking over the basic specs, here’s a crash course on BSA’s history, since it’s been 50 years since the last Beezas rolled off the assembly line.
The rise and fall of BSA
The Birmingham Small Arms Company Limited (BSA) got its start as a firearms manufacturer in 1861. Birmingham was the center of English gun production at the time, which meant that it also attracted the top industrial technologies and talents. BSA’s success allowed it to branch out into manufacturing other products, including bicycles, and a motorized bicycle was introduced in 1910.
BSA flourished in the first half of the 20th century, bolstered by huge wartime production contracts. The brand built a strong reputation with beloved motorcycles like the Gold Star, the Super Rocket, and the Bantam. For a period of time in the 1950s, BSA was the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer. Other famous models like the A65-series 650 cc twins and the Rocket III triple followed.
Competition from other brands and chronic mismanagement, among other issues, put the BSA empire in decline by the early 1970s. By 1973, the once-mighty marque was out of the game entirely.
New life for an old brand
Indian vehicle manufacturer Mahindra acquired its remains of BSA in 2016 for its Classic Legends division of retro motorcycles. BSA is actually the third historic brand in Classic Legends’ portfolio, which rebooted both Jawa and Yezdi in recent years. The Gold Star was an entirely separate project, and it does not share its chassis or engine with the Jawas or Yezdis.
“For us, the new BSA Gold Star is not just a motorcycle, but an emotion, and we pursued the journey of bringing BSA back with the utmost passion,” said Ashish Singh Joshi, Director of BSA. Joshi previously worked in leadership positions at Triumph and Royal Enfield.
The Gold Star 650 is a 652 cc, liquid-cooled standard producing a claimed 45 horsepower and 41 foot-pounds of torque. It has dual overhead cams, a five-speed transmission, and a claimed wet weight of 469 pounds. These figures, along with the bike’s traditional suspension setup, put the Gold Star in the same territory as Royal Enfield’s 650 twins and arguably Kawasaki’s W800.
The new BSA includes plenty of references to the past, of course, like the big ol’ Gold Star tank badges, chrome tank panels, classic lines, and BSA “three gun” logos on various covers. It’s available in Insignia Red, Dawn Silver, Midnight Black, and Highland Green.
The overall package isn’t hard on the eyes, and as a competitor to Royal Enfield’s offerings, it might not be too hard on the wallet, either. A base Interceptor 650 is £6,039 in the UK, and the launch price for a Gold Star is £6,800. With Interceptors starting at $6,199 in the United States, the BSA Gold Star should have an MSRP of roughly $7,000 when it arrives. Classic Legends still needs to build out its dealer network, so you won’t find any information on stateside BSA dealers quite yet. Maybe Mahindra’s existing connections with powersports dealerships can be extended to BSA bikes.
Older riders who remember BSA’s glory days won’t find the same fire-breathing Gold Stars they remember once these motorcycles arrive. The new models look to be gentler and far more approachable, with style taking priority over outright performance. Common Tread will keep an eye out for future developments from BSA, and we hope to get some riding impressions in 2023.
|2023 BSA Gold Star 650 (UK Specifications)|
|Price (MSRP)||$TBA (USA)|
|Engine||652 cc, liquid-cooled, four-valve, single cylinder|
|Claimed horsepower||45 @ 6,000 rpm|
|Claimed torque||41 foot-pounds @ 4,000 rpm|
|Frame||Tubular steel double cradle|
|Front suspension||41 mm fork, non-adjustable; 4.7 inches of travel|
|Rear suspension||Twin shock, adjustable for preload; 4.3 inches of travel|
|Front brake||Single Brembo twin-piston caliper, 320 mm discs, ABS|
|Rear brake||Bybre single-piston caliper, 255 mm disc, ABS|
|Seat height||30.7 inches|
|Fuel capacity||3.2 gallons|
|Tires||Pirelli Phantom Sportscomp, 100/90R19 front, 150/70R17 rear|
|Claimed weight||469 pounds|