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At the con­clu­sion of his story about his BSA A7 Shoot­ing Star in RC156, Craig Whit­taker won­ders whether he should swap it for a Golden Flash. My ad­vice would be ‘prob­a­bly not’.

Back in 1964/65 I was run­ning a 1954 500 Match­less G9 Club­man; good look­ing, well-en­gi­neered, but a bit slow for my 20 year-old self. I de­cided I needed a 650, and found a late 1950s Golden Flash ad­ver­tised by Slo­combe’s of Neas­den. I’d owned sev­eral BSAs, in­clud­ing a cou­ple of el­derly A7s, so knew roughly what to ex­pect, but I still can’t be­lieve what I did next. I was in col­lege in Worces­ter­shire, so rang Slo­combe’s (with whom I’d never dealt pre­vi­ously) from the col­lege pay­phone. After a brief con­ver­sa­tion and purely on the strength of the ad­vert (one or two lines of text stat­ing make, model, year, mileage and price: no pho­to­graphs in the 1960s) I said ‘I’ll have it. Can you send it to Worces­ter?’

‘OK’ they said, ‘send us the money and we’ll put it on the train.’

So that’s ex­actly what hap­pened; the first time I saw FNH 37 it was stand­ing on the plat­form at Shrub Hill sta­tion. It was mi­nus its plug leads (ap­par­ently lib­er­ated en route) and un­sur­pris­ingly the fuel tank was empty, but it looked clean and tidy and oth­er­wise ready to go (and it was black, which I wasn’t ex­pect­ing, but that was OK). It was de­liv­ered home in a British Rail­ways box van (those were the days) and the log­book ar­rived in the post.

After a quick check over and with new plug leads and some fuel in the tank, we were ready to go. I rode it through the spring and sum­mer of 1965, and it was pretty much ev­ery­thing I had hoped for; rea­son­ably fast, com­fort­able and sure footed, with a nice ex­haust note to boot. It was eas­ily my best bike so far, but my en­joy­ment was cur­tailed by a late sum­mer col­li­sion with a Mor­ris Mi­nor. It speared into my near­side at a 45 de­gree an­gle while its driver was ap­par­ently look­ing else­where.

I don’t have a ‘be­fore’ shot, but my brother recorded the re­sult of the crash; you will see from the shape of the tank that I was ex­tremely for­tu­nate to es­cape se­ri­ous in­jury. I was com­pletely un­scathed by the ac­tual im­pact, my only in­juries be­ing abra­sions to my hands and knees when I skated along the tar­mac after be­ing thrown over the bars; painful, but far from life threat­en­ing. Oh, and I scratched my newly painted crash hat. In al­most mod­ern par­lance, I dodged a can­non­ball that day.

The Flash was sidelined while my so­lic­i­tor bat­tled with the car driver’s in­sur­ers. I rode through the fol­low­ing win­ter on a 350 Royal En­field Model G and, in the spring, I bought a circa 1960 A7 Shoot­ing Star in pearles­cent green. This was a more con­ven­tional pur­chase; I ac­tu­ally saw the bike and gave it a test ride be­fore buy­ing, and it turned out to be a real gem. I tore about on it for sev­eral months, en­joy­ing ev­ery minute and think­ing ‘ This is a re­ally good bike; it would be even bet­ter with a 650 en­gine’.

I still had the wreck­age of the Golden Flash. The en­gine seemed to be OK so I did a swap. I wasn’t dis­ap­pointed by the re­sult­ing hy­brid, but nor was I par­tic­u­larly ex­cited. The stan­dard A10 en­gine is cred­ited with a few more horse­power than the A7SS, but these are de­liv­ered in a slightly dif­fer­ent way; more shire horse than race horse, me­thinks. I couldn’t re­ally tell the dif­fer­ence and, had I not al­ready sold the Shoot­ing Star en­gine to a lad who hoped to slot it into his B31, I would prob­a­bly have swapped back.

I have no hands-on ex­pe­ri­ence of the Su­per Rocket / Road Rocket vari­ants, but would say that if you just want sig­nif­i­cantly more power, that’s the way to go; on pa­per, they are clearly a more pow­er­ful ver­sion of the Shoot­ing Star. Not so the Golden Flash. How­ever, if you just want a big soft twin that’s easy to look after and a real plea­sure to ride, go get one. Dave Wind­mill, mem­ber 3944

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