The cylinder head, based upon its ‘CB’ Gold Star predecessor—and which had been revised for the DBD to accommodate one of the largest carburettors in the business—now featured shallower valve angles and a slightly larger inlet valve.
During that first season the inlet tract would be reduced to 1-7/16 inches to provide a small ‘turbulence lip’ which was claimed to improve performance.
Along with the DBD package came the ultra-close ratio RRT2 gearbox; RR for ultra-close ratio; T for Torrington needle-roller bearings; and a 2 because needle roller sets were fitted in both the sleeve gear, and at either end of the layshaft. The clutch (and later the drive chains) was also beefed up to handle the extra horses.
▲ BSA Gold Star gearbox.You need to go to night school to study the minutiae of these transmissions. There are dozens of permutations, some of which are considerably more expensive than others.
▲ This box is marked as standard (STD). But you can't take anything for granted. If you pay top money for, say, an RRT2 transmission, you'll want more than a handshake and a promise.
Cradling all this good, manly fun was what was essentially a stock (and for some riders a slightly humiliating) all-welded B33 frame, albeit one with revised lugs and brackets, and, of course, the hallowed GS number identification codes.
The front suspension was handled by BSA’s competent—but unremarkable—single-damped fork, while at the rear, a pair of Girling dampers smoothed the bumps from a competent enough swinging arm. And to keep this under control, this year’s Goldie also saw the introduction of the optional 190mm (7-1/2 inch) full width front brake offering increased friction area over the stock 8-inch single-sided item.
With its clip-on handlebars, swept back exhaust, quickly detachable silencer and easily removed electrical equipment (for competition purposes), the DBD34 was the perfect tool for the Clubman racing class—and, for a brief while, it even managed to keep the ever power-hungry Yanks tolerably quiet.
But none of this would be worth the £270 asking price (in 1956) had the engine, as with all Gold Stars, not been meticulously assembled by time served engineers using hand-chosen and perfectly fitting components, and then rigorously bench tested before delivery.
Factory options included alloy wheel rims, an aluminium fuel tank, a choice of compression ratios, and an Amal monobloc carburettor. It would have been cheap at double the price.
Trouble is, Gold Stars are one of the most faked bikes on the classic bike market. That might not matter if you want one mainly for the looks. Because any likely looking contender is still going to give you a pretty good riding thrill, and few people are riding these in anger anymore. Not on the street, anyway.
But if you're paying top money, and if you expect to get most if not all of your money back someday, you need to be certain of what you're buying. So what can you do? Well you can do your homework for a start. You can hunt around for a book on the Gold Star (there's only so much information you can squeeze out of an feature article such as this)
You can, and must, start looking at as many examples as possible and familiarise yourself with these motorcycles.
Or you can buy from a trusted dealer (with a guarantee written in blood). or you can buy from a trusted auction house.
And you can take a close look at the tips below. But NEVER buy a Gold Star sight-unseen, or any expensive motorcycle come to that. You might get lucky and pick up a true bargain. But plenty of people have very different experiences.
But is it any good as a general riding/touring machine or a commuter?
No. These bikes are hard work Hard to start, and not very easy to haul-up at speed. You ride on your wrists, and you'll quickly wear a dent in your right shinbone (if your ankle lasts that long). And if you haven't got back trouble now, you'll get there very quickly.
Is all this an exaggeration? Slightly, perhaps. But only slightly.
Unless you really want a top-of-the-line Goldie, our advice is to set your sights a little lower and buy an "honest" replica, and ideally one geared and tuned for general street use. The only part of your body where a DBD34 is easy is on the eye.
Yes, you can get to really love these motorcycles. But you know what they say? Love hurts sometimes.
1. Check the engine numbers and provenance meticulously. Fakes are common. But (and here's the rub) you can't trust the numbers. You need other provenance.
2. Check exactly what you're buying. Genuine Gold Stars are occasionally (and deliberately) sold minus period perfect parts including the gearbox and carburettor. You're well advised to photograph the offered bike and check with the Gold Star club (and then you run the risk of someone buying it out from behind your back; we warned).
3. Confusion abounds regarding the various BB Gold Stars, CB Gold Stars and DB models. If you're seriously looking for a Gold Star, study, study, study. It can make thousands of pounds of difference.
5. If you're planning to use your Gold Star for general street use, opt for one of the milder tuned models; perhaps a 350cc bike. The top-of-the-range, highly-tuned 500cc DBDs are tiresome in the extreme and, pose-ability aside, are just not convenient machines for daily use. Most won't tickover and are lumpy as hell below 3000rpm. There's a lot to be said in favour of a "genuine" and "honest" B31 or B33 Gold Star lookalike, of which there are quite a few around.
6. The Gold Star uses a peelable foil head gasket. Fitting it has to be very precisely done, and the gasket can quickly blow if the job isn't handled properly. So when buying, look for black stains around the head/barrel joint, especially if the compression feels less than it should.
7. Check that the magdyno is secure. These are held in place by a single strap. The magneto platform wears (usually due to loose fitment). Fixing it isn't particularly hard. But it's time-consuming, and that generally doesn't come free.
8. Gold Stars are frequently started on the centre stand. That stresses the mounting lugs and bolts. So check for a smooth centre-stand action, feel for excess side play and looseness, and look for obvious damage.
9. An SRM alternator conversion is a useful upgrade is you're planning a lot of touring. These put out more power and are more reliable.
10. Gold Stars were never supplied with Akront wheel rims. Nothing wrong with them, but Borrani and Dunlop rims are the real McCoy.