If we take a look back at the emergence of the 1950s cafe racer movement it was the British motorcycle marques that dominated the scene. Names like Triumph, Norton, BSA and Vincent were synonymous with the motorcycles being built by young Brits who called themselves Rockers. Since then, many of those iconic British brands have struggled to stay afloat and some even closed their factory doors seemingly for good. One British motorcycle manufacturer that fell by the wayside after the emergence and domination of Japanese manufacturers was BSA motorcycles.
Birmingham Small Arms established the dedicated motorcycle manufacturing company BSA Motorcycles in 1919. At one point during their 53 years of operation, BSA Motorcycles were the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer due in part to a merger with Britain’s other top motorcycle manufacturer, Triumph. Unfortunately, due to some bad management decisions and the emergence of more technologically advanced and better performing Japanese motorcycles, BSA Motorcycles went into liquidation in 1972.
Fast forward to 2016 and the Indian multinational conglomerate Mahindra Group purchased BSA. Unfortunately, since then we’ve seen very little activity from the BSA brand, that is at least, until now. In late 2021 a subsidiary of the Mahindra Group called Classic Legends announced its plan to revive the BSA name. As part of the announcement they also unveiled an all-new BSA road bike – the 2022 BSA Gold Star 650.
2022 BSA Gold Star 650 Specifications
The 2022 BSA Gold Star 650 will be the latest addition to the markets current modern retro offering. Unlike many of the other motorcycles in this genre, the Gold Star 650 has very details that give away the fact that is a modern motorcycle. This is due to BSA adopting a strict retro classic design approach and the result is very convincing.
Similar to TVS Motor Company’s approach with Norton Motorcycles and Royal Enfield with its 650 twins, Mahindra Group established a UK headquarters to manage the design and engineering of their new BSA range. This will undoubtedly also help improve how the bikes are received by potential customers.
Interestingly BSA has gone with a rather unexpected engine layout on the Gold Star 650. Similar to the original Gold Stars the 2022 model is powered by a single-cylinder engine. This time however it’s a big liquid-cooled 652 cc DOHC single. The four-stroke engine features a 4 valve, dual spark head to meet strict Euro 5 emissions laws. The designers of the Gold Star also paid special attention to the look of the engine. Many of its features bear a strong resemblance to the original pre-unit Gold Star singles. An approach that further emphasises the bike’s convincing classic look.
The Gold Star 650 engine is suspended in a dual cradle, tubular steel frame. Conventional 41mm forks support the front end while the rear sits on twin, preload-adjustable shocks. The spoked alloy wheels are an 18/17 inch combo and will come wrapped in Pirelli Sportscomp rubber. Braking is provided by a single disc front and rear and Brembo callipers. ABS comes as standard but that’s the limit of the electronic performance enhancements you’ll find here.
As for the rest of the bike, the BSA Gold Star 650 wears a classic teardrop style fuel tank. The long flat saddle is ideal for two-up riding and there’s a spattering of shiny details like the chrome mirrors and fenders and polished engine cases. The wide handlebars and mid positioned foot controls set up a comfortable roadster riding position and the dash is made up of twin analogue dials with an LCD screen nestled between them.
BSA will be releasing the 2022 Gold Star 650 in a range of colours consisting of Insignia Red, Dawn Silver, Midnight Black, Highland Green and special ‘Legacy Edition’ Silver Sheen.
BSA Gold Star 650 vs Royal Enfield Interceptor 650
When the BSA Gold Star 650 hits the market in 2022 its closest rival will be the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650. So let’s take a quick look at how the 2 compare.
The water-cooled BSA and Enfield’s air/oil-cooled 650 twin share similar engine capacities although the BSA is ever so slightly larger at 652 c vs 648cc. In the power stakes, the Enfield pips the BSA at the post with 47hp and 52Nm compared to the thumpers 45hp and 52Nm. Although there’s not much in it, the Enfield clearly comes out on top in the power stakes. As to whether that equates to a noticeable performance difference it’ll come down to how BSA tune their big single.
When it comes to weight the Enfield comes out on top again. It is 202kg vs the Gold Star’s 213kg. Despite its lighter weight, the Enfield also boasts a larger fuel capacity of 13.7 litres in comparison to the BSA’s 12 litres. Both bikes have comparable suspension with conventional forks and twin rear shocks although the BSA has adjustable rear shocks. The BSA rolls on spoked alloy rims in an 18/17 inch combo. The Enfield gets matching 18s and both bikes come with Pirelli Phantom Sportscomp rubber as standard. Brakes are also very similar with both bikes featuring both front and rear discs.
As to which of the 2 bikes I’d go for, it’ll come down to 2 factors.
The first will be how that big single performs. Anyone who has had the opportunity to ride a single like Yamaha’s SR400 or Husqvarna’s Svartpilen 700 know how addictively fun these engines can be. From the way they rev to how they sound they really leave an impression. If the BSA delivers that same kind of sensory experience it’ll be hard to resist. Then there’s the price. The RE Interceptor 650 is an incredibly well-priced motorcycle. If the BSA is hoping to compete with it they will at the very least need to match that price point. Unfortunately, as yet we can’t confirm either of those points so we’ll just have to eagerly wait and see.