BSA Gold Star- First US Test Ride

March 22, 2024 | By Mike Seate

As advertised, cafe Racer magazine is the first US publication to throw a leg over the sculpted saddle of the re-born BSA’s Gold Star 650. Our test rider Mark Mederski volunteered to evaluate the 21st century take on the British classic single and he returned from the experience wearing a grin large enough to swallow his helmet and then some, The full road test will appear in cafe racer magazine’s April/May issue, on sale April 8th, but pop open a cold one and dig into this sample of Mark’s ride aboard a retro neo-classic that’s bound to change the cafe racer game for many, many riders.


Paying no attention to internet road tests, or what advertising tells you, why not hop on a new bike and see what you think? No preconceptions. That’s what I did when I got a brief test ride on the new BSA Gold Star. In short, I really like this motorcycle.

Over the past decade, our options in smaller and simpler bikes have grown. 350s, 400’s and 500s abound from all makers and they’re selling well if my streetside survey is accurate. But this is something a bit different, this BSA Gold Star. First off, it has a pretty large, 650cc DOHC four-valve motor based on a Rotax design, and its got some grunt. In fact, after one quick illegal U-turn, I casually whacked the throttle and then said, glad I was holding on… And the power, through accurate fuel injection, is all over, right from the bottom of the rev range. I sensed no vibration; maybe the bar end dampers help with that.

But my brain had yet to engage with my test ride questions, like, how does this thing actually ride? In short, it’s one of those, I wouldn’t change a thing, situations. Seat to pegs, perfect. Low bars for nice control and the cafe racer crouch, if needed? Perfect. Likewise, the clutch, shifter location, and the front and rear brake action are familiar with nothing twitchy or grabby. Perfect.

So far I’ve avoided the cosmetics side of this bike and just dwelt on function. But what is a motorcycle without styling, good detail, fit and finish, polished alloy and chrome plating? The Gold Star has some nice logos and badges to show off its heritage and spice things up. You can see in my photos, there are no functional spot welds showing and no moldings to cover up little mass-production glitches. This is a very well styled, well finished machine. Its designers referenced the original 1950/1960’s BSA Gold Star, the original universal street, track and trail bike and brought it into the 21st Century.

By that, I mean, the classic lines are there, but instead of zinc or cad-plated hex bolts, we see a wide use of stainless steel button-head Allen screws and bolts. OK, these are not for purists, but man, they look good. Most of the 650’s engine case bolts are domed hex bolts with integrated washers which are sleek and durable. And if you’re familiar with old British bikes, the speedo and tach gauges here are something to appreciate. Similar in form to the old Smith’s Chronometrics, they have a certain classic purity and with just one idiot light in each unit, they work to my eye.