Before the Gold Star: 1934 BSA 350 Blue Star

Before BSA’s Gold Star, the Blue Star was marketed as a commuter bike for the everyman: practical, with long maintenance intervals.

| July/August 2019

BSA-sideview

1934 BSA 350 BLUE STAR

Engine: 348cc air-cooled OHV 4-stroke, single cylinder (twin exhaust ports), 71mm x 88mm bore and stroke, 9.5:1 compression ratio, 18hp (est.)
Top speed: 75mph (est.)
Carburetion: Single Amal 276 carburetor
Transmission: 4-speed, foot shift, chain final drive
Electrics: Lucas magneto and generator
Frame/wheelbase: Twin downtube cradle frame 54in (1,371.6mm)
Suspension: Leading link sprung forks, dual legs with single spring front, rigid rear
Brakes: 7in (178mm) drums front and rear
Tires: 3.5 x 19in front, 100/90 x 19in rear
Weight: 360lb (163.6kg)
Seat height: 28in (711mm)
Fuel capacity: 2gal (7.5ltr) (est.)
Price then/now: £70 ($350) (est.)/$2,500-$7,500

About three years ago, Kim Williams was with a group of friends at the late, lamented British Clubman’s Show, which up until 2018 was a much-looked-forward-to event in San Jose, California. Kim is a master welder and likes to ride and rebuild motorcycles in his spare time, which is limited due to the number of people with broken frames and hard luck stories who flock to his door.

One of the features of the Clubman show was a sale corral. “Have you seen the Blue Star?” asked Dan Bockmeyer, friend of Kim and a Britbike stalwart. Dan Smith, the restorer and owner of this prewar classic, had come down from British Columbia to sell this BSA. Kim figured Bockmeyer would buy the bike, but later he saw Smith wandering around the show. Kim asked Smith if he had sold the bike. Smith said that Bockmeyer wouldn’t pay his asking price.

BSA-front



Kim wanted that bike. “I’ll take it.” he said. There was a little problem of payment. The show was on Saturday, Kim couldn’t get enough cash out of the bank before Monday, and Smith wanted to go home Sunday. Kim offered Smith a check. Smith was not about to take a check from someone he didn’t know. “Who will vouch for you?” Luckily, Kim had more than a few friends present who knew Smith as well. “I will!” said Frank Recoder, another Britbike aficionado. “If Frank will vouch for you, you must be OK,” Smith said. The deal was struck. Kim has been enjoying his little single ever since.

From rifles to bicycles

The Birmingham Small Arms company, which began in 1861 producing rifles for British infantry, branched out into bicycle manufacturing in 1880. Bicycles led naturally to motorcycles, and the first BSA motorcycle appeared for sale in 1910. The BSA Co. stressed reliability and affordability. Until the late 1950s, automobiles were too expensive for the average English working person, who either got to work on a motorcycle or took public transportation. Economy and the ability to start up every morning were the main selling points for motorcycles in England, and BSA was good at giving people what they wanted. One of the company’s slogans was, “One in four is a BSA.” For a time, BSA owned the largest motorcycle factory in the world.

Craig
6/11/2019 10:39:00 AM

To improve air flow as stated in the article....


WishfulThinking
6/6/2019 4:42:24 PM

Nice bike! I would like to know why they put two exhaust pipes on a single. Can someone explain?




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