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Remembering The BSA Gold Star Clubman

BSA Gold Star Clubman

When it comes to classic motorbikes, few do it better than the 1961 BSA Gold Star Clubman. The BSA Gold Star Clubman was a custom project by BSA Motorcycles, a British company founded in 1919 and responsible for producing weapons, motorcycles, bicycles, and cars . The BSA Gold Star Clubman came about interestingly. In the 1930s, BSA motorcycles had started their production of single-cylinder motorbikes. By 1937, they introduced the Empire Star with a 500cc engine. It was then that Wal Handley, a well-known racer of the time, took the Empire Star out to the speedway and won the 1937 English Championship, receiving a gold star in the tournament. Mr. Handley's success on the speedway with Empire Star boosted BSA sales and made them realize that the single-cylinder bikes they were making were a much better way to go for races like this. BSA then started making larger bikes, and in 1938, they released higher-performing 300cc and 500cc bikes, giving them the name BSA Gold Star. This was an excellent bike in its own right. Its gold star designation came from the gold star that Wal Handley received. So, the BSA Gold Star Clubman was created as a tribute to the BSA Empire Star, and it stood as a homage to its predecessor.

The BMA Gold Star Engine

The BMA Gold Star engine is a smaller version of the BSA L-Series engine, appearing in the 1930s. The engine for this bike was a 500cc engine single unit! This engine was great for racing and driving on dirt tracks. With its distinctive single exhaust, you could see the engine from a distance, just like the classic British bikes. Although the BMA Gold Star was a success on many levels, it wasn't precisely what BSA Motorcycles had in mind when they created it. Many believed that this bike was similar to Norton motorbikes, another famous British company that produced motorcycles and vehicles. After all, Norton had produced a single-cylinder bike known as the A10. It's important to note that the BMA Gold Star bike is one of the rarest bikes by BSA, and therefore it is highly prized. It was also the first racing single-cylinder motorcycle built in England, making it a unique piece of machinery.

The Gold Star Clubman's Debut

Launched in 1937 to much acclaim, the Gold Star Clubman had several improvements over previous models. The most significant was that BSA fitted overhead valves for the first time on the motorbike, which increased power output by one-third. Other modifications included an improved front brake thanks to more prominent drums, new handlebars, and an extended swing arm to improve stability when cornering. In addition, the Gold Star Clubman was fitted with an improved version of the traditional BSA single-overhead-camshaft 500cc engine. BSA Motorcycles upgraded the top end of the bike's engine with new twin Amal carburetors and a higher compression ratio which boosted power to a claimed 39bhp. This performance enabled the 500cc BSA Gold Star Clubman to hit a top speed of 70mph – at least five mph faster than its predecessor and so fast that it could catch sports cars in its prime.

The Gold Star Clubman Design

The Gold Star Clubman's new streamlined design resulted from BSA using motorcycles for road and on-track racing. The close-coupled frame and smaller-capacity engine made the bike easier to handle and more suitable for racing. It also meant that the bike's top speed was five miles per hour faster than previous BSA models. In addition, this bike featured a lightweight 5-gallon fuel tank with a bullet seat, which gave the rider better control during races. BSA also added a blue and white racing stripe to the tank. During the 1930s, BSA introduced several other features to improve road safety, including disc brakes on all four wheels, higher handlebars, and a curved fuel tank. The Gold Star Clubman was a very successful bike, and the BSA's racing success with the model prompted them to make the bike for road use.

The Gearbox

BSA produced the Gold Star Clubman with a four-speed gearbox which improved previous three-speed models. This new road bike also had a new magneto ignition system, with a coil fitted inside the magneto instead of outside. The crankcase was a single unit and had no covers. It also had polished rocker covers and an engine capacity of 500cc.

The Brakes

BSA fitted a new, more effective front brake on the Clubman model. This new disc brake had an increased diameter of 10 inches from cast iron. It also had a dust cover that protected the disc's pinion and hub. The Clubman also had an improved front brake pad made of rubber to fit directly onto the rim. Also, BSA fitted the bike with high-performance tires developed specifically for dirt track racing, allowing the bike to corner with more excellent stability. The BSA Gold Star Clubman proved to be an excellent bike for racing and was widely popular among sports enthusiasts. The 1950s saw several new 500cc BSA singles released, including the BSA Lightning, the BSA Rocket 3, and even the new BSA Gold Star Thunderbird. The Gold Star Clubman improved previous models and proved a fast bike that could take on sports cars during the 1930s.


The Gold Star Clubman was one of the fastest motorcycles BSA had produced, and it never failed to attract crowds. The bike's top speed was 68mph at its top, and the only thing that stood in its way was the wind! It could go from 0-60mph in 6 seconds when racing. Although it performed like a speed bike, it had a very streetwise design. This motorcycle weighed only 45kg, which meant that it was relaxing to ride and designed to be driven on the road at a constant speed. Many famous motorcycle riders used the BSA Gold Star Clubman during the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. The most famous riders of these bikes include Eddie Hems, Arthur Pollitt, Ken Wharton, Wal Handley, and Fred Marriott.

Summing Up

The BSA Gold Star Clubman provided a great racing and commuting bike during the 1930s. It came with a 500cc engine that could reach speeds of 68mph. The bike's lightweight and powerful engine made it both nimble and fast, making it a great road bike at the time. Unquestionably, the BSA Gold Star is a great motorcycle. Not many bikes can boast such design brilliance despite the very small-scale production of this motorcycle of the time.

Benjamin Smith

Written by Benjamin Smith

Benjamin Smith is one of the managing editors of Moneyinc. Ben's been focusing on the auto and motorcycle sector since 2005. He's written over 1000 articles in the space and continues to learn about it each day. His favorite car is "any Bugatti" and he's a die hard Harley Davidson fan.

Read more posts by Benjamin Smith

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