BSA Gold Star

The BSA Gold Star is a motorcycle made by BSA from 1938 to 1963. They were 350 cc and 500 cc single-cylinder four-stroke production motorcycles known for being among the fastest bikes of the 1950s. Being hand built and with many optional performance modifications available, each motorcycle came from the factory with documented dynamometer test results, allowing the new owner to see the horsepower produced.

1956 BSA Gold Star
BSA DBD34 Gold Star
ManufacturerBirmingham Small Arms Company (BSA Motorcycles Ltd. from 1954)
Predecessor1955 BSA Gold Star DB34
Successor1971 BSA B50
ClassClubmans racer
Enginealloy air cooled ohv 499 cc single cylinder
Transmission4-speed gearbox with wet multiplate clutch
Wheelbase56 inches (1,400 mm)[1]
Seat height30.5 inches (770 mm)[1]
Weight380 lb (170 kg)[1] (dry)
Fuel capacity4 imperial gallons (18 l)[2]
RelatedBSA B33
BSA Rocket Gold Star


In 1937, Wal Handley lapped the Brooklands circuit at over 100 mph (160 km/h) on a BSA Empire Star, and was awarded one of the traditional Gold Star pins for the feat. That inspired BSA to produce the BSA Gold Star.[3] The first Gold Star was an M24 model. It had an alloy 496 cc engine, an Electron alloy gearbox, and a rigid frame made of light tubes devoid of sidecar attachment lugs. This model continued up to the start of World War II.[4]

1948 YB32 and YB34

After the war, the all alloy 348 cc B32 and 499 cc B34 Gold Star were released,[5] with a very large list of optional components. Once ordered the bike was assembled by hand, and the engine bench tested. They were 20 lb (9.1 kg) lighter than the comparable cast iron barrel and head B series single. They were successful in the 350 class from 1949 to 1956. They could be specified in tourer, trials, ISDT, scrambles, racing or Clubmans trim.[4] The YB is taken from the beginning of the engine number YB is 1948, ZB is 1949 on.[5]

1949 ZB32 and ZB34

The 499 cc B34 Gold Star had a modified crankshaft and a different design main bearing. The 350 continued. Plunger frames were available as an option.[5] In 1950 both received larger front brakes. In 1952 the 500 gets a new Bert Hopwood design head, and the 350 had a new head of that design the following year.[4]

1953 BB34 and BB32

In 1953, a swingarm duplex frame was introduced,although rigid and plunger frames were still available, along with an improved gearbox.[4]

1954 CB34 and CB32

An optional CB engine was given more and squarer finning, a stronger crankshaft, a shorter connecting rod, oval flywheels (500), improved valve gear, and an Amal GP carburettor.[4]

1955 DB32 and DB34

The DB Gold Star had an improved oil feed to the crankshaft, and finned front brakes. If the buyer specified Clubman cams and timing, he also received a special silencer. At the end of this year the BB and CB models were discontinued.[4] The 350cc DB32 continued in production until 1962.[5]

1956 DBD34

The 500 cc DBD34 was introduced in 1956, with clip-on handlebars, a finned alloy engine with a newly designed head,[5] chrome plated fuel tank, 38 mm ( 1 1/2" ) bell-mouth Amal carburettor and swept-back exhaust. The DBD34 had a 110 mph (180 km/h) top speed.[6] The Gold Star dominated the Isle of Man Clubmans TT that year.[7] Later models had an ultra close-ratio gearbox (RRT2)[8] with a very high first gear, enabling 60 mph (97 km/h) plus before changing up to second. Amongst the options available were a tachometer and a 190mm full width front brake that gave a larger lining area than the standard 8" single sided unit.[8] A scrambles version was also offered.[9]

Production ended in 1963.[5]

Gold Star Daytona

In 1954, BSA wanted to win the prestigious Daytona 200 race. During the 1950s, the race was run partly on asphalt and partly on the beach at Daytona. A team of works prepared Gold Stars and A7 Shooting Stars were entered.[10] The race was won by a Shooting Star with a Gold Star in 3rd place. A replica of the works Gold Star was offered to the public. The specification included a rigid frame, which saved 50lbs over the swinging-arm frame.[11] Engine modifications included using a 350cc head, which had a better downdraught angle, machined to 500cc dimensions and fitted with a large inlet valve. The engine produced 44bhp.[12] The model was also offered in subsequent years.[5]

A swining arm version, known by the factory as "USA Short Circuit" was also produced in 1956 and 1957.[13]

Gold Star Catalina

In 1956, Chuck Minert won the Catalina Grand Prix on a modified Gold Star.[14] (The Catalina Grand Prix was a popular 100-mile race race on the island of Santa Catalina off the coast of Los Angeles.[15] In 1956 more than 1,000 bikes started the race.)[14] Modifications included a larger fuel tank, an air scoop on the front brake and a 19" front wheel.[14]

US west coast BSA distributor, Hap Alzina, persuaded the factory to produce a replica named after the race.[14] The Gold Star Catalina was manufactured from 1959 to 1963.[5]

End of production

Towards the end the Gold Star was only offered in scrambles, or Clubmans trim. In 1963 Lucas ceased to produce the magneto used in the B series, and that line of singles was ended. The demise of the Lucas magneto was a prime reason that BSA and Triumph reconfigured their pre-unit-construction parallel twins into engines with integral gearboxes, simultaneously converting the ignition system from magneto to battery & coil. The Gold Star was not considered for progression to unit-construction, and instead the 250 cc BSA C15 was developed (via the B40) into the 500 cc B50. Although the B50 never attained the kudos of the DBD34, a B50 fielded by Mead & Tomkinson once held the class lap record in the Production TT, as well as gaining results at the 24-hour endurance races the Le Mans Bol d'Or and at the Montjuïc circuit in Barcelona.[16] CCM used BSA B50 bottom ends in their early specials.[17] [18]

Isle of Man TT wins

BSA Gold Stars won the following Isle of Man TT races.

YearRaceWinnerLapsTimeSpeed (mph)
1949Clubmans Junior TTHarold Clark1.30.21.675.18[19]
1950Clubmans Junior TTB A Jackson2.[20]
1951Clubmans Junior TTBrian Purslow2.[21]
1952Clubmans Junior TTEric Houseley41:54:45.278.92[22]
1953Clubmans Junior TTDerek T Powell41.52.57.880.17[23]
1954Clubmans Senior TTAlistair King41:[24]
1954Clubmans Junior TTPhillip Palmer41:50.39.481.83[25]
1955Clubmans Senior TTEddie Dow91:22:23[26]70.73
1955Clubmans Junior TTJimmy Buchan91:25:24.0[26]68.23
1956Clubmans Senior TTBernard Codd31:18:40.6[27]86.33
1956Clubmans Junior TTBernard Codd31:22:48.4[27]82.02

See also

Further reading

  • Bacon, Roy H. (1982). BSA Gold Star and Other Singles (First ed.). Osprey Publishing. ISBN 9780850454475. ASIN 0850454476.
  • Bacon, Roy H. (2012). BSA Singles Restoration. Andover Norton International Ltd. ISBN 9780957066526. ASIN 095706652X.
  • Bacon, Roy (1872). The Illustrated History of BSA Motorcycles by Roy Bacon. Ramboro Books PLC. ISBN 1 85648 232 4.
  • Gardner, John (1985). B. S. A. Gold Star. G T Foulis & Co Ltd. ISBN 9780854294831. ASIN 085429483X.
  • Golland, A. (1978). Goldie: The Development History of the Gold Star B.S.A. G T Foulis & Co Ltd. ISBN 9780854292332. ASIN 0854292330.
  • Prew, George. The Gold Star Book.
  • Wilson, Steve (2000). BSA Motor Cycles Since 1950 (New ed.). Haynes Manuals Inc. ISBN 9781859606735. ASIN 1859606733.
  • The BSA Gold Star: Motorcycle History. Redline. 2004. ISBN 9781855209350. ASIN 1855209357.


  1. " Standard Bike Specs". Archived from the original on 9 January 2007. Retrieved 8 January 2007.
  2. " DBD34". Archived from the original on 18 March 2008. Retrieved 9 January 2007.
  3. " Sidebar Fact". Archived from the original on 9 October 2007. Retrieved 10 December 2006.
  4. " BSA Gold Star". Archived from the original on 30 December 2006. Retrieved 11 January 2007.
  5. Jones, Rob; Trigwell, Ray. "BSAOC Year Listing". Archived from the original on 7 October 2019.
  6. Wilson, Hugo. (1993) The Ultimate Motor-Cycle Book p.69 1960 BSA Gold Star DBD34. Dorling Kindersley ISBN 0751300438 Accessed and added 2014-08-24
  7. "BSA DBD34 Clubman Gold Star Buyers Guide & specifications". Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  8. "BSA DBD34 Clubman Gold Star Buyers Guide Part 2". Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  9. "History - BSA Gold Star Owners Club". BSA Gold Star Owners Club.
  10. "BSA Gold Star Daytona". .Motorcycle Specs. Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  11. "Retrospective: BSA A7 Shooting Star 500cc: 1954-1962". Rider Magazine. 8 July 2013. Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  12. Walker, Mick (2004). The BSA Gold Star. Redline Books. p. 191. ISBN 9780954435738. Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  13. "Engine & Frame Numbers by Year - BSA Gold Star Owners Club". BSA Gold Star Owners Club. Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  14. "BSA Gold Star Catalina Scrambler and Chuck Minert - 1959". Early Years Of MX. Archived from the original on 28 December 2016. Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  15. "Historical Races - The Catalina Grand Prix". FastHouse. 12 April 2016. Archived from the original on 4 July 2018. Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  16. "BSA B50 racing". Archived from the original on 2 April 2012.
  17. " BSA B50". Archived from the original on 19 March 2006. Retrieved 8 January 2007.
  18. "". Archived from the original on 24 July 2012.
  19. "Race Results - Isle of Man TT Official Website". Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  20. "Race Results - Isle of Man TT Official Website". Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  21. "Race Results - Isle of Man TT Official Website". Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  22. "Race Results - Isle of Man TT Official Website". Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  23. "Race Results - Isle of Man TT Official Website". Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  24. "Race Results - Isle of Man TT Official Website". Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  25. "Race Results - Isle of Man TT Official Website". Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  26. Cook, R. A. B. (ed.). Motor Cycling Sports Yearbook 1956. Temple Press Ltd. p. 159.
  27. Cook, R. A. B. (ed.). Motor Cycling Sports Yearbook 1957. Temple Press Ltd. pp. 148–149.
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