BSA’S sporting single can be a brute to kickstart. But there is a ray of hope for those with dodgy knees – fit an adapted Yamaha electric boot. Here’s how...
How to fit an electric starter to a BSA Gold Star. It’s good for your knee
As the police report later recorded, I was riding a Norton Dominator on a straight stretch of road when a car pulled out from a private road and crashed into me. I flew over the bonnet and ended up lying in a pool of petrol because the alloy tank had burst. When I got my breath back, I wiggled my toes and fingers, noted that my shoulder ached and my right knee hurt like hell... and was dragged away from the smoking Domi in case it caught fire. Police, two fire engines and an ambulance with paramedics arrived to clear the mess and scoop me up.
So there I was, lying on a blanket while the paramedics cut off my clothes, when the car driver walked up. She had obviously been thinking about how to avoid blame. “You were travelling so fast that I didn’t see you,” she said, after taking the cigarette from her mouth. I wasn’t in the mood for talk, but took the oxygen mask off and replied: “If you didn’t see me, how do you know how fast I was travelling?” The policeman had to turn away to stifle his laughter.
Four years later and my knee is still giving me problems, so I have to look after it. But there’s a DBD34 Gold Star in the garage that I love riding. Bringing the Goldie up to date with an electric starter had to be the answer. And that’s where Phil Pearson and John Edwards (bsagoldstar.bike) come in. They designed a conversion using a Yamaha starter motor that works perfectly, but is so unobtrusive that you have to get down on your knees (or one good knee) and look underneath the primary chaincase to see any sign of the modification. The £1495 kit can be fitted to any Goldie, B31 or B33 with an alloy chaincase.
Fitting is straightforward, as Phil Pearson Junior demonstrates. A simple wiring diagram is supplied with the kit. Because the Yamaha starter motor is for a 12-volt negative earth bike, the BSA’S six-volt Lucas dynamo has to be converted to generate 12 volts by installing the new regulator, and the polarity of the field magnet changed to positive earth (this is a simple operation that involves connecting the negative terminal of the battery to the chassis and briefly touching the positive lead of the battery to the F terminal of the dynamo so that you see a small spark – repeatedly ‘flashing’ the F terminal a few times will change the dynamo field magnet to the correct polarity).
After a day in Phil’s workshop my Goldie was ready. I turned on the petrol, pressed down the choke lever on the Mikuni – another sensible modification – and retarded the ignition. Then I squeezed the little valve lifter lever to the handlebar and hit the starter button. The engine spun over quickly, I dropped the valve lifter, and my DBD34 fired immediately. Easy.
I’m going to miss going through the time-honoured ritual of kickstarting this most sporting of British singles. But I’m sure my knee will thank me for it.
The kit comes with everything you need, including all gaskets