Tagged: 1954

Brooklands Bomber: 1954 BSA Gold Star for Sale

1954 BSA Gold Star R Front

Built between 1938 and 1963, the BSA Gold Star is the classic British single and one of the most desirable classic sportbikes of all time. Displacing approximately 500cc, the alloy OHV-powered single weighed 380 lbs dry and featured a 4-speed gearbox. The “Gold Star” name commemorates a BSA that lapped the famous Brooklands racing circuit at over 100mph and was awarded the gold star pin to commemorate the achievement, although that original machine was a racing special running on alcohol with a 13:1 compression-ratio that might have made daily use a bit of a chore…

1954 BSA Gold Star L Rear

The first road bike to wear the Gold Star name displaced 496cc and was built up until the outbreak of World War II. Postwar, BSA introduced a 348cc version of the Gold Star, and this lightweight, basically hand-built hot rod was successful in a number of different competition classes, including both on-road and offroad racing. A 500cc version was reintroduced in 1950 and built alongside the 350 until 1956, when the 350 was discontinued.

1954 BSA Gold Star Clocks

This Gold Star features the optional “CB” engine with a slightly different appearance but, more importantly, reinforced internals for increased performance. This exact bike dyno’d at 38.2 bhp when new: Gold Stars were tested at the factory before being delivered to verify performance of each machine.

The seller includes quite a bit of history, along with maintenance and restoration history. From the original eBay listing: 1954 BSA Gold Star for Sale

History: Included documentation as provided by the Gold Star Owners Club, Great Britain Registrar shows that this bike dispatched to Hap Alzina, USA in Clubman trim on 4 December 1954 with engine number CB34GS308 and frame number CB32 1694.  A copy of the original factory Engine Brake Test is also supplied and shows this bike was tested in clubman configuration and produced a maximum B.H.P. of 38.2 at 6500 rpm fitted with a GP carb on Oct 21, 1954.

Also included in the auction is the original Lucas Mag/Dyno with new points installed.  There is nothing wrong with this mag/dyno.  I ran the bike with the Lucas installed for approximately 300 miles before installing the BTH.  I installed the BTH because I wanted the ability to set timing and forget about it and the advance curve.  I ran a BTH in my Velocette and loved it.  Note that the tag (see pics) on the BTH indicates Lucas.  BTH Components goes out of their way to retain authenticity in appearance.  The BTH is solid state and makes starting a breeze and allows the bike to idle nicely with the monobloc installed.  The TT carb is a racing carb and does not have an idle adj/stop screw, however, when up to running temp the bike does idle nicely with the TT.  There is also an original BSA tool kit included.  I did not take pics of the tool kit but can do upon request.

I installed the Nova Racing gear cluster because I was unhappy with the ratios of the original scrambler box in the rolling hills here in Northern California.  It doesn’t get any sweeter than a Nova 5 spd.  The clutch plates are near new with very little use.  I have put less than 1500 miles on the bike since installing the TT carb, Nova 5 spd, and BTH mag. 

This is essentially a new CB34 Gold Star with original engine and frame numbers as shipped from the factory in 1954.  The bike has been well cared for and is in pristine condition.  The title is clear and in my name.  It is registered in the state of California and expires in Feb this year.  I will most likely non-op the bike if it does not sell before Feb 16 as I am unable to ride it due to health issues. 

1954 BSA Gold Star L Front

Bidding is up to $15,000 with several days left on the auction. Gold Stars have held their value very well, and this one looks to be in nearly perfect condition with very desirable upgrades. They’re always in demand: if you’re a fan of classic British iron, you probably lust after a Gold Star… They embody everything people love about classic bikes: they’re fun, characterful, and involving. Parts are available to keep them running and they sound the part, with enough performance to make a weekend ride rewarding.

-tad

1954 BSA Gold Star R Side

Sophisticated Simplicity: 1939 Velocette KSS / MAC Special

1939 Velocette KSS Special R Front

For many riders, motorcycles are all about simplicity: throwing off the shackles of a roof and four doors, sound-deadening, automatic climate control, lane-change warning systems, info-tainment systems. And the real purists, be they lovers of modern or vintage machines, often gravitate towards single-cylinder machines like the Velocette KSS.

1939 Velocette KSS Special L Rear

Single cylinder bikes represent motorcycling at its most elemental: fewer parts to break and fewer parts to maintain, along with plenty of torque and charisma. Who needs a tachometer with that spread of power? Just shift it by feel. And while that simplicity and economy means that modern single-cylinder motorcycles are typically of the cheap and durable variety, that hasn’t always been the case.

1939 Velocette KSS Special R Engine

Based in Birmingham, in the United Kingdom, Velocette built their enviable reputation for durability with machines like the KSS 350cc. The “K” series bikes were very innovative, with a bevel-drive and tower shaft-driven overhead cam engine and a foot-operated gearshift with the very first positive-stop, something found on basically every modern motorcycle.

1939 Velocette KSS Special R Tank

Later “M” series machines switched to a much cheaper-to-produce engine with pushrod-operated valves, but used an improved frame and suspension based on the racing “K” bikes.

This particular example features the best of both worlds: a refined and sophisticated bevel-drive engine with the improved handling of the later frame and suspension, making it a period-correct hotrod. Perhaps an all-original KSS would be worth more money, but this hybrid should make a better overall motorcycle…

1939 Velocette KSS Special R Rear Suspension

From the original eBay listing: 1939 Velocette KSS/MAC Special for sale

The marriage of a KSS motor with the more current MAC rolling chassis was a fairly common practice that resulted in a far better platform for the OHC KSS motor.  Classic Motorcycle & Mechanics tested one in July ’92 and came away impressed with the combo.  This example (’39 KSS motor # KSS9121 and ’54 MAC chassis # RS7479) was built by a Velo expert in the Florida area during ’91 and ’92 and acquired by the current owner in 2004.  He rode it occasionally over the next few years and decomissioned it for display in his climate controlled collection in 2008.  He considered the machine to be a fine example with no mechanical issues.

1939 Velocette KSS Special Dash

I love how the seller refers to the 1954 MAC chassis not as “later” but as “more current”. Ha! It’s all relative, I guess… In any event, this bike is in beautiful, but not over-restored condition, although I’m not sure just what it would take to “recommission” it for road use. It’s only been off the road for a few years, so hopefully it won’t take too much effort: this bike deserves to be ridden.

-tad

1939 Velocette KSS Special R Rear

1954 Moto Guzzi Falcone for Sale

1954 Moto Guzzi Falcone R Side

If you’re only cursorily familiar with Moto Guzzi, it’s likely you associate them primarily with their iconic v-twin, which is odd, considering that, for so much of their history is steeped in the big, thumping singles like this Moto Guzzi Falcone.

Motorcycle manufacturers become victims of their own success: introduce a successful model, and you’re forever trapped in that mould, forced to include features, technologies, or a specific engine configuration long after it is useless as anything other than a character trait.

And forget the truth of history: most buyers have some vague idea of “heritage” but don’t really know all that much about the marques they’ve chosen as extensions of themselves: Italian bike buyers have so long had to justify the higher prices their machines commanded and their perceived unreliability, that they’re surprisingly conservative when it comes to change, and you risk upsetting the apple cart if you, say, radically restyle your iconic superbike, even if the actual machine performs better in almost every way.

When Moto Guzzi was working on a modern superbike back in the 90’s, the designs that were leaked featured modern, four-valve heads, liquid cooling… and a v-twin with a longitudinal crankshaft. Yeah, it was going to be 75° instead of the traditional 90° and it was going to feature chain drive to the rear wheel. But the main goal in choosing that configuration seemed to have been to keep the machine recognizably Guzzi, rather than for any real performance benefit.

1954 Moto Guzzi Falcone Dash1954 Moto Guzzi Falcone Rear

Produced from 1950 to 1963, the Falcone, or “Hawk” in Italian, followed Guzzi’s bird-name convention of the period. It featured telescopic forks and their famous “horizontal” single that allowed for good access to cooling airflow and a low center of gravity. The distinctive exposed flywheel kept engine castings light and compact, since they didn’t actually have to surround the spinning mass, while the flywheel itself remained heavy enough to smooth out the juddering power pulses of the big single and helped the bike pull cleanly from low revs. The low center of gravity made for excellent handling and the machine was famed for its smoothness, durability, simplicity, and high-quality construction.

From the original eBay listing: 1954 Moto Guzzi Falcone for Sale

For auction is my 1954 Falcone. This bike is a beautiful restored motorcycle about 13 years on the restoration. It has been garaged and covered with an occasional ride a couple times a year. It starts on the first kick. 3 days ago I took the pics and a running video that I can send you if interested. On start up the fuel petcocks were dripping. I drove it 5 miles and when I returned It had a bit of oil mist on the back fender. It did have a oil drip. It shifts and drives excellent. I have put around 100 miles on this bike during my ownership driving to local shows and meets.  It takes the show as the chrome work is flawless.  This motorcycle will be a very nice addition to any collection.

1954 Moto Guzzi Falcone L Front1954 Moto Guzzi Falcone R Rear

This one is not quite perfect perhaps, with a couple fluid drips but, looking at the miles, it’s clear that just means it actually gets ridden. There’s a pretty active community that adores these bikes, and parts are available to keep them running. And run they do: designed with locomotive torque in mind, they will basically pull from a walking pace in top gear with the engine turning over so slowly you can literally count the combustion events. Plus there’s the always amusing benefit of having your left boot tip polished to a mirror sheen by that exposed flywheel…

-tad

For Sale: 1954 Moto Guzzi Falcone

One of my good friends has a late model Moto Guzzi: a V11.  The bike is bright green with a red frame, and about as Italian as it’s possible to be, with its sticky-outy cylinders, shaft drive and general weirdness.  But people see that little eagle on the tank and still ask him, “Is that a Harley?”

That little eagle on the tank is in honor of Giovanni Ravelli, one of the trio of young, Italian aviators who planned to start Moto Guzzi while serving together during World War I.  Ravelli was killed in the closing days of the conflict, but his surviving comrades founded the other company that uses an eagle in their iconography.

It’s tragic that a manufacturer as old and storied as Moto Guzzi could be so unknown here in the states.  You’d think that, with bikes like the El Dorado and Ambassador nearly out-Harleying Harley when it comes to mile-gobbling cruisers, they’d be a better remembered by the American public.  They were even used extensively by the Los Angeles Police Department for a time and feature in a number of 70’s films, including the Clint Eastwood film “Magnum Force.”

But, prior to the V-twin powered V7 of the late 60’s, Moto Guzzi was famous for its big singles.

For Sale: 1954 Moto Guzzi Falcone

Successful on the street and in racing, the “horizontal single” was a distinctive looking machine, with the barrel pointing forwards and a long, sleek silhouette.  The gearbox arrangement did not allow for a traditional flywheel to have sufficient mass, so Guzzi hung a flywheel outside the cases that looked for all the world like a giant deli meat-slicer.

The bike’s center of gravity was very low and the bike had relatively small frontal area, decreasing drag and allowing the 500cc motor’s 23hp to push the bike to surprising velocities. The engines typically have a very lazy character: you can just about count the combustion events at idle and they’ll just thump along for hours on end at the bike’s 85mph top speed.

Produced between 1950 and 1963, the Falcone is an iconic, much sought-after bike.

From the seller:

10 year old restoration.  AMCA judged in 01 as a J2. Probably under 20 miles since restored. A beautiful bike, the chrome in near-perfect shape. Paint is very nice.  It is a 1 kick start. I have owned for 4 years. It started to drip fuel last year on the tank to carb line, but I never replaced, just drained the tank.  It drips oil from behind the fly wheel. I dont know if this is normal or not. Purchased as an investment and planned to hold onto for more than 4 years however my circumstances have changed. Without doubt the most admired motorcycle that I have owned.

It’s a pretty nice, usable vintage bike that sounds to be in nice shape, barring a few minor leaks that one would expect from bike this age.  It’d also be a surprisingly classy way to buff your left shoe to a mirror-like shine.

-td