The born-again BSA Gold Star 650 has been widely acclaimed for its successful visual link to the original bike built 60 years ago. The man responsible for this is 47-year old British designer Bal Ghataore, so let’s hear from him how he achieved this.
AC: Bal, by the time you were born in 1975 BSA had been dead and buried for three years, so creating what’s essentially a tribute to the original Gold Star can’t have been easy. What’s your background?
BG: I’m a designer by trade, but although I was born in London I moved to the Midlands when I was very young. So I grew up in the Coventry area, and I’ve been Midlands-based for most of my life so much so that the first time I went abroad, believe it or not, was for my honeymoon! I was the guy who was holidaying at Skegness each summer while my friends went off to Majorca. But this means I grew up in what used to be BSA’s back yard, and having always loved motorcycles as I grew up I was certainly aware of BSA’s significance and heritage, even if they didn’t make them anymore.
I went to Coventry University where I did Automotive Design, then in 1996 I started at a company called Renfrew Group, where I began working with clients on developing bikes. But eventually in October 2008 I and some other guys from there founded our own company called Redline Studios in Leicester, and we carried on working with several firms in the motorbike industry, including Triumph, Moto Guzzi, Aprilia, Peugeot, CCM, Garelli and so on.
AC: So when did you start work on the BSA?
BG: The first time we chatted to Ashish was in 2015, but he didn’t mention it would be BSA! We had a short conversation at the Milan Show, and he was telling us about his plans to resurrect a historic brand, a British icon, what did we think of that? Well, that started to get us excited, and when we went away from that meeting, myself and my colleague Alan Ainsworth who was also one of the designers who worked on the design, we said, sounds like BSA, the way Ashish is getting so excited about it, the way he’s talking about reviving an icon. So then we met up again late in 2016, and it was then he revealed to us they’d secured the BSA name, and it all got very exciting after that. Basically at Redline Studios there were four people who all worked on creating this bike, so it was myself, Alan Ainsworth, Daniel Field and Andrew Wardle who collectively designed and developed it.
It was in 2017 we first started working on it, and essentially it was ourselves at Redline, Ricardo Motorcycles, Graz Technical University in Austria, and Classic Legends, the parent company. The four of us UK firms got together in Leamington Spa, at Ricardo’s, and that’s where we got briefed by Ashish and told what he wants. From that point on we started working on the bike, but then in July 2021 I joined BSA from Redline, but we’re still continuing to work with them, just that I’m now full-time with BSA and nobody else.
AC: So as the lead designer, back in 2017 what were you told that they were looking for you to do in creating a born-again BSA Gold Star?
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