The BSA Gold Star -
by Mick Walker
Hardcover: 260 pages
Dimensions (inches): 8-5/8 x 8-3/8 x 7/8
Publisher: Redline Books, Tyne & Wear, UK 2004
wBW Book Review by Bill C. for webBikeWorld.com
We've been slightly critical of the
fecundity of Mick Walker's genius for turning out scads
of motorcycle books. It just seems that a few too
many of the books were put together very quickly to
capitalize on a new trend, with stock photos and text
that seem more like filler than as something that
provides unique insight.
Maybe it's the fault of Walker's editors
or publishers or maybe we're being just a bit too fussy.
Or maybe with 100+ books to his name there's simply
bound to be a few duds here and there. I recently
counted Mick Walker books in a bibliography and got too
tired to continue after I reached 85. One thing's
for sure -- he's prolific.
That's also not to say that his books
aren't enlightening, because they are. And
sometimes there's no other choice -- if you want to know
everything there is to learn about, for example, some
obscure bike like the AJS 7R, only Mick can be your
So in that regard, Mick Walker has been
the motorcyclist's historian of record for many years.
And every once and a while, I'll find another Mick
Walker book that is truly a gem, like this incredible
documentary of The BSA Gold Star.
Motorcycling has such a rich and varied
history and it's a real shame when, as I often witness,
young motorcyclists either don't know or don't care
about how we got to where we are today. Incredible
rides like the Suzuki GSX-R1000, the Kawasaki ZX-14 or
the Triumph Speed Triple didn't just appear out of thin
air. They have a long history of painstaking
design and development behind them that, when taken step
by step, has allowed them to come into being.
And many of today's wonderful machines
are indebted to the BSA Gold Star. This bike,
which was released in its initial form in 1938, was sold
in one form or another for the next 25 years. The
"Goldie", in its various forms, excelled for road work,
trials, scrambling (now called Motocross) and racing.
The Gold Star was the definitive "Café
Racer" of the 1960's and became an icon in Europe and
the United States. Walker tells the story of what
happened when BSA, who was somewhat embarrassed by the
rebellious crowd who popularized the bike, announced
that production of that model was ending. The bike
was so popular that BSA's U.S. dealer network promptly
refused to stock any of the other BSA models unless the
Gold Star was included in the product mix!
My familiarity with the bike came not as
an owner but as an admirer. It always seemed too
raw and brutal for me, especially in the tooth-rattling
500cc versions that were more common in my youth.
Walker makes a good case for the earlier 350cc models as
the definitive Gold Star, which also made better racing
The book's nearly square format,
heavyweight calendar-type paper, hard cover binding and
decent cover make it a great coffee table book for
smaller homes. But although it's loaded with good
quality photos in both black and white and color, it's
also packed with tons of information on this very
interesting and important motorcycle.
From the history of BSA and their early
models through the Clubmans, Scrambles, Thruxton, Trials
and more, Walker demonstrates that when he has the time
and the passion, he can score aces. Even if you
don't know a Gold Star from an Empire Star, if you love
motorcycles and their history, you'll probably enjoy
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