Star-Crossed Scrambler: BSA-Velocette "VeloStar"

Meet the VeloStar: a Velocette 500 single in a BSA Gold Star frame with suspension from a Husky. Yes, we’re serious.

| September/October 2016

Velostar Street Scrambler
Velocette 499cc air-cooled OHV single, 86mm x 86mm bore and stroke, 10:1 compression ratio (8.75:1 stock), 40hp-plus (39hp @ 6,200rpm stock)
Top speed:
100mph (est.)
Single 32mm Amal Concentric
4-speed, chain final drive
12v, solid state BT-H magneto (BT-H racing magneto stock)
BSA Gold Star dual downtube steel cradle/57.25in (1,454mm)
Husqvarna telescopic forks front (BSA telescopic forks stock), dual Öhlins shocks w/adjustable preload rear (dual Girlings stock)
6in (152mm) SLS drum front, 8in (203mm) SLS drum rear
90/90 x 21in front, 120/90 x 18in rear
Weight (dry):
320lb (145.5kg)
Seat height:
33in (838mm)
Fuel capacity:
3.5gal (13.25ltr)

Ever since an enterprising mechanic first fastened a stationary engine to a bicycle, motorcycle builders have been mixing and matching engines and chassis. In the early years, it was usually motivated by expediency. Many motorcycle makers — especially in Britain — were small companies that had started out building bicycles. Most could turn out a motorcycle chassis and running gear, but the expertise, equipment and machine tools to produce a motorcycle engine required a significantly larger investment.

As a result, it was not uncommon to find that your Sun, Cotton, Rex, OK-Supreme or even Vincent-HRD was powered by a proprietary engine from Villiers, Blackburne, Rudge or JAP. In fact, the most prestigious bike maker of his day, George Brough, never built an engine of his own, relying on JAP and Matchless to power his Superior motorcycles.

But by the 1950s, the British motorcycle industry had consolidated, and proprietary engine makers all but disappeared — save for the ubiquitous Villiers 2-stroke. Engine swapping now focused on matching the superior handling of, say, the Norton Featherbed frame and the tuning potential of, for example, a Triumph 650cc engine. It’s said the Triton came about as a result of the popularity of Formula 3 auto racing in the early 1950s. Formula 3 limited capacity to 500cc, and the engine of choice was the double overhead cam Norton Manx. Norton refused to sell its engines separately, so engine-less Manx chassis started appearing in the classifieds. The custom building era is older than you might think.

The Velocette engine

bike on highway

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