GEARBOX: The RRT2 has needle roller bearings all over the place and has a close ratio with a high first gear. Yes, you'll need a few more revs than usual and you may have to slip the clutch a little to set off. Pattern component parts are available to replace the BSA clutch but, if It's going to be behind the primary cover, why not upgrade to a bullet proof NEB speedway unit or something similar, if it'll stand 70 odd horses of speedway,
It'll stand what the Goldie can hand out. Alternatively, you can fit a standard gearbox. Standard gearbox and Concentric carburettor, very sensible, but hey when's a Goldie ever been sensible folks? They run B33...
FRONT BRAKE: The full width 190mm hub Is the one most sought after and for sure it looks really good but in reality it's no better than the single sided eight inch job. In fact, most of the racing Goldles discard the former In favour of the latter.
a vintage and veteran enthusiast.
BSA's Gold Stars are, In my opinion, more than the sum of their parts. The DBD34 and DB32 are based upon the humble B31/3. The Goldies are still two-valve, pushrod four-strokes so why do they go so well? The Rocket Goldie twin also has its roots in 'lesser' machines in the range - but offers performance beyond what is reasonable to expect.
My first ride on a 500cc Gold Star was a few years ago. As it happened I'd been testing three modern singles in the week preceding my Goldie initiation. Though the BSA was naturally more difficult to start, once going it was in no way disgraced, comparing favourably with the half century newer, supposedly more sophisticated jobs.
Having been further acquainted with Goldies since, the opportunity to ride all three back to back made an interesting comparison. I was familiar with the DB32, having been privileged to put a few miles on it over the summer (the worst miles on it were earlier when the mag1 packed up a mile from a friend's house, who volunteered to fetch his trailer from home to retrieve me and the 350, which he duly did - only he 'forgot' to bring any straps back, leaving me to sit on the bike, on the trailer, for what was probably the most nerve-racking mile of my life...). I liked the 350 - sure, it's not as quick as its siblings but it's still a sprightly performer and with a Concentric and stock gearbox, it's a whole lot easier to live with. It's no slouch either, happy to cruise at the legal limit and a fair bit more if demanded.
The 500cc Goldie offers more - though with that, comes more compression, thus making it harder to start. However, it does make for a more exciting ride especially as our subject bike retains its GP carb' and RRT2 gearbox. If the 350 is a friendly pup, then the 500 has a snarl. As this one has scrambles cams, it's the snappiest of the three under acceleration - noticeably quicker than the 350 and on a par with the RGS.
Finally, the RGS. To many, these offer the best compromise between ease of use and performance. A Rocket Goldie is an exciting motorcycle to ride. What's more, as soon as the the throttle is twisted, the RGS really goes, a classic with performance that genuinely keeps ahead of most modern traffic. Sure, it's still tricky to start - with no valve lifter it's just a case of kicking as hard as possible - and riding position is as uncompromising as the other two.
Which one would I have? Practically speaking, to use regularly, it would have to be the 350 - the looks of the 500 but better mannered, but if you want a Goldie it has to be a 500 Clubman with all its foibles, so perhaps the RGS offers the best compromise, with the poke of the 500 but slightly more civilised. In fact, I'll just have them all please.
a dedicated single cylinder man.
Kid in a sweet shop springs to mind here. Having spent nearly 200 miles in the saddle of the 350 the day previous, I opted for the 500 to ride to our photo destination. I followed the starting procedure as described previously and was rewarded with instant and noisy life with the obligatory puff of castor oil smoke putting a smile on everyone's face.
Up into first, a fistful of wide open GP, a tiny bit of clutch slip and soon I'm off down the road at a rate. Clutch and gearbox perfect, brakes good and the engine's acceleration excellent as the scrambles cams punch in the power to the midrange. Lovely sound on the over-run too. A feathered throttle makes the engine splutter a bit but once this is sorted this will be a terrific piece of kit.
While very similar, just the fatter dip-on rubbers give the RGS an altogether different feel. By virtue of its extra cylinder, the RGS sounds and feels faster than the 500 but in reality, there's little in it, but who cares? It's a little bit heavier but that only manifests itself when pushing it, on the road it's as nimble as the rest and corners beautifully. Get away with the close box is easy enough, the torque of the twin making clutch abuse not so much the necessity of the single. The Monobloc breathes perfectly, guaranteeing successful downward change throttle blips every time.
The 350 is a little beauty and a delight to ride. I could live with the Concentric carburettor but would prefer the close gearbox, there's too much of a gap in the ratios for my liking on the standard box, for what is essentially a sporty engine. Other than that I can't fault it.
Which one would I choose? Difficult. From an investment point of view, either of the bigger two. From an enjoyment point, being a single cylinder fan, either of the singles. From a performance point, the 500. Yep, I'll go with the 500.
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