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Norton Motorcycles


1962 Norton Navigator 1962 NORTON NAVIGATOR BACKGROUND Norton has always been known for big powerful bikes like the Manx and the Commando. But they also had a very ambitious line of smaller bikes that they originally built to respond to a change in British motoring law that was announced in 1958. Starting in 1960, first-time …

CLASSIC BRITISH RAT BIKES – BORN OF CHOPPERS When I was growing up and learning to ride, around 1970, people were chopping all kinds of things, not just Harleys. Lots of guys were chopping their Honda 350s, 450s & 750s. I even saw a Kawasaki Mach3 chopper once, with extended forks & no additional rake. …

CLASSIC BRITISH ROAD RACING MOTORCYCLES This 1969 Triumph Trident T150 Road Racer was campaigned by the legendary Gene Romero (above). The development of motorcycle racing has largely dominated many racing sports over time. The sport involves road racing, off road racing, both either on circuits or open courses and track racing. There is now a …

BACKGROUND OF NORTON ROTARY MOTORCYCLES Norton’s air-cooled, twin-rotor Wankel motorcycles made up a unique and interesting chapter in the history of this legendary classic British marque. After the last Commando rolled off the assembly line in 1975, things grew quiet at Norton until the early 1980s. Norton and merged with BSA in 1973 just as …

Phil Radford, Norton Parts Expert Extraordinaire, owner of Fair Spares America, Inc., & all-around nice guy, beside a freshly-rebuilt Commando engine. MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE When I pulled up to the non-descript commercial building in a large industrial complex in San Jose CA, the small sign that said “Fair Spares America, Inc.” would have …

NORTON MOTORCYCLE BOOKS Norton was always a design leader with bikes like the Norton Manx, the Dominator twins, and the game-changing Norton Commando. Check out all the great books we have about Nortons. We have a wide selection of books about Norton history, photo exposes, shop manuals, restoration guides and much more. If you’ve been …

NORTON COMMANDO PRODUCTION RACER BACKGROUND When British motorcycle industry giant AMC (Associated Motor Cycles) collapsed in 1967, the only brand in its once proud stable (which included Matchless, AJS, Sunbeam, James, Francis-Barnett, and Norton) the only one making money was Norton. And it was the Norton brand that enticed Manganese Bronze Holdings to buy the …

The Norton Cafe Racer EARLY NORTON CAFE RACER The Norton Manx, the BSA Gold Star and other big singles like them really paved the way, and laid the groundwork for Cafe Racers prior to World War II. After the war, a plethora of new bikes, including fast new vertical twins from Triumph, BSA, Norton, and …

1962 Norton Jubilee 250 twin 1962 NORTON JUBILEE – WHAT’S IN A NAME? The name Norton Jubilee paid homage to the 60th anniversary of Norton Motorcycle production at the time of its launch in 1958 at the Earls Court Motorcycle Show in London. It was a clear break from Norton tradition, but was built specifically …

1988 Norton Classic Rotary 1988 NORTON CLASSIC ROTARY BACKGROUND Norton’s air-cooled, twin-rotor Wankel motorcycle was a one-year-only run, with just 100 of them built in 1987 as 1987 and 1988 models. This makes it one of the world’s rarest production Nortons, and one of the rarest classic British motorcycles overall. It came at a time …

1962 Norton Dominator 88 1962 Norton Dominator 88 Engine A WORK IN PROGRESS In our efforts to complete our online index, and make this the world’s greatest website about classic British motorcycles, we’re building pages as fast as we can. The first thing we add are the pictures. Then come the specifications and then the …

AMC = Associated Motor Cycles BIRTH OF AN EMPIRE Associated Motor Cycles was more popularly known as AMC (not to be confused with ‘the other AMC’, American Motors Corporation, the US company that owned Rambler, Metro & Jeep, which sold out to Chrysler in 1987). Associated Motor Cycles was the result of various takeovers & …

CLUBMANS SHOW 2012 PICTURES WHAT A SHOW We’ve been talking about it for months now. The 25th Annual Clubman’s All-British Weekend took place on Saturday, March 31, 2012 at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds in San Jose CA. Sponsored by the BSA Owners Club of Northern California (BSAOCNC) sponsors this legendary show, which is the …

The Clubmans Show 2011 DON’T MISS THIS SHOW!! The Clubmans Show 2011 promises, as do all Clubmans Shows, to be a Must-See event for anyone with a love of Classic British Motorcycles. This is the 24th year of this amazing event. Sponsored by the Northern California Chapter of the BSA Owners Club, or BSAOC, the …

CLUBMANS ALL-BRITISH WEEKEND 2017 MAKES 30 YEARS Every year for the last 30 years, the BSA Owners Club of Northern California (BSAOCNC) has put on an all-British motorcycle show and ride that has been billed as the biggest in the West. This year’s Clubman’s All-British Weekend-2017, the 30th Annual, was on Saturday, March 25 this …

The Clubmans All-British Weekend-2014 27th ANNUAL CLUBMANS ALL-BRITISH WEEKEND-2014 This year’s Clubmans Show was a little smaller than last year, but just a impressive as ever, with a stunning array of Classic British Motorcycles, customs, choppers, bobbers, cafe racers, track racers, street trackers, and on and on. Sponsored by the BSAOCNC (BSA Owners Club of …

We not only covered the Clubmans All-British Weekend 2012, we set up a photo booth to take studio-grade pics of gorgeous classic British motoryclces. For more coverage of the show, and lots more eye-popping photos, go to our Clubmans Show 2012 Pictures page.   CLUBMANS All-BRITISH WEEKEND 2012 – The 25th Annual CLUBMAN’S SHOW If …

The Clubmans All-British Weekend 2005 had more than just gorgeous motorcycles. We had a celebrity. That’s racing legend Eddie Mulder on the left & BSAOC president Don Danmeier on the right, with the proud recipient of Best in Modified Class. THE BEST CLASSIC MOTORCYCLE SHOW AROUND I go to classic bike shows, auctions, rallies & …

CLUBMANS 2011 PHOTOS: WHAT A SHOW!! As always, this year’s Clubman’s All-British Weekend Motorcycle Show was fantastic!! While it felt like there weren’t quite as many bikes as last year, it also felt like the quality of the bikes entered was even better. Put on by the BSAOCNC (BSA Owners Club of Northern California as …

My Classic Motorcycle Restoration Project: My next cheap Classic Motorcycle Restoration Project: This sweet 1979 Triumph T140D Bonneville Special, pictured here in our state-of-the-art Research & Development Center (my garage). CLASSIC MOTORCYCLE RESTORATION PROJECT: THESE BIKES ARE CHEAP! Obviously, ‘cheap’ is a relative thing. But, when you think of what it costs to get into …

BSA Cafe Racers are not as common as Triumphs & Nortons. This 1969 BSA Rocket 3-based custom is nothing short of amazing. Built right, very fast! As long as we’re eyeing triples, check out this 1971 Rickman-Triumph Trident. Rickman made killer off-road racing frames, but they also built a broad series of road racing chassis, …

CROWDED MARKET The Norton Dominator was Norton’s entry into the crowded vertical twin market, & it was intended to capitalize on the success of, & hopefully steal some sales from, the trend-setting Triumph Speed Twin. When it was introduced in 1949, the 500cc Dominator Model 7 was a handsome enough machine. The new engine was …

EVOLUTION OF THE ATLAS The Norton Atlas evolved from the Norton Dominator line, which had grown since its inception in 1949 from 500 cc to 600cc then again to 650cc with the fire-breathing twin-carb Dominator 650SS. The Norton Atlas was the next logical step. The venerable Bert Hopwood-designed vertical twin that had started out life …

NORTON NAVIGATOR BACKGROUND Norton has always been known for big powerful bikes like the Manx and the Commando. But they also had a very ambitious line of smaller bikes that they originally built to respond to a change in British motoring law that was announced in 1958. Starting in 1960, first-time British motorcycle riders would …

1971 Norton Commando 1971 Norton Commando ROADSTER 4 NEW MODELS The 1971 Norton Commando line grew from 2 models in 1968 (Fastback & S), to 3 models at the beginning of the 1969 model year (Fastback, S & R), then dropped back down to 2 models by the end of 1969 (Fastback & R). Now …

2014 Norton Commando 961 2014 NORTON COMMANDO 961 BACKGROUND When the classic Commando went out of production in 1975, a battle over the rights to the name ensued. Ultimately UK business man Stuart Garner, who already owned Norton Racing Ltd acquired the rights to the Norton Commando brand. His new company, Norton Motorcycles Ltd, he …

1974 Norton Commando A 1974 NORTON COMMANDO FOR EVERY TASTE The Commando was available in a variety of configurations, all cosmetic packages, as they were all built on identical Commando engines, frames and running gear. While the first Commando was the Fastback, by 1974, the standard Norton Commando was the Roadster, which is the most …

1962 Norton Dominator 650SS 1962 NORTON DOMINATOR 650SS BACKGROUND The story starts not with a Norton, but with the 1938 Triumph 500 Speed Twin, the world’s first “modern” vertical twin. The rest of the British motorcycle industry went nuts and rushed to field their own 500 twins. But WWII got in the way, putting things …

1957 Norton Manx 1957 NORTON MANX BACKGROUND The Norton Manx was developed in 1937, in both SOHC and DOHC form, to compete in and win the Isle of Man TT. Before fully developed, World War II intervened, and production of the Manx was delayed until 1946. The Manx quickly gained a reputation for its speed …

1967 Norton Atlas 750 1967 NORTON ATLAS HISTORY The story starts not with a Norton at all, but with the 1938 Triumph 500 Speed Twin, the world’s first “modern” vertical twin. The rest of the British motorcycle industry went nuts and rushed to field their own 500 twins. But WWII got in the way, putting …

1970 Norton Commando ABOVE: The 1970 Norton Commando came in a new guise: The Norton Commando Roadster, or Type R. A new tank & seat, conventional rear fender & those voluptuous upswept pipes! Establishes the ‘Commando look’ in the public mindset. NEW ROADSTER The 1970 Norton Commando line grew to three models, then shrunk back …

1973 Norton Commando ABOVE: 1973 Norton Commando 750 Roadster was more or less the “standard” Commando. BACK ON TRACK After the dismal finish of the 1972 model year, thanks to the Combat engine, 1973 was a good year for Norton Motorcycles. The entire model line had benefited from the engine fixes developed to counter the …

1968 Norton Commando ABOVE: The first 1968 Norton Commando was the Commando Fastback, pictured here in this British racing green, with silver side covers, which is correct for a 1968 Norton Commando. HOW IT ALL BEGAN The first Norton Commandos were all Fastbacks, designated Model 20M3, although they weren’t referred to as Commando Fastbacks, just …

1951 Norton International 1951 NORTON INTERNATIONAL BACKGROUND The International was sort of the road-going version of Norton’s factory racer, the Manx. It came in two sizes: the 490 cc (500) Model 30 and the 349cc (350) Model 40. Both came with the Manx’s exotic shaft-and-bevel-gear-driven single overhead cam in a heavily-finned all-alloy top end. Because …

1975 Norton Commando ABOVE: 1975 Norton Commando MkIII Roadster in Union Jack paint scheme. TROUBLE BEHIND THE SCENES While the Norton Commando was enjoying reasonable success in the marketplace, other problems, both inside & outside the company wreaked havoc with Norton Motorcycles finances. By 1975, the Meriden Triumph fiasco was dying down finally, but the …

1962 Norton Navigator Deluxe 1962 NORTON NAVIGATOR DELUXE BACKGROUND Norton has always been known for big powerful bikes like the Manx and the Commando. But they also had a very ambitious line of smaller bikes that they originally built to respond to a change in British motoring law that was announced in 1958. Starting in …

1972 Norton Commando 1972 NORTON COMMANDO MODEL DESIGNATIONS All four road models became MkIVs & one completely new model was added, the Commando Interstate, meant to be a long-distance touring bike, with a 5-gallon fuel tank. ENGINE CHANGES FOR ALL MODELS All models got reinforced crankcase castings with more internal webbing around the main bearings, …

1970 Norton Mercury 1970 NORTON MERCURY BACKGROUND The Norton Mercury-series ran from 1968 to 1970 and represents the last model in the Dominator family. With Featherbed Frame production having ended in 1968 with the death of the Dominator 650SS and Atlas 750, and the launch of the new Commando. Production records indicate that all Mercury’s …

1969 Norton Dominator 650SS 1969 NORTON DOMINATOR 650SS BACKGROUND The story starts not with a Norton, but with the 1938 Triumph 500 Speed Twin, the world’s first “modern” vertical twin. The rest of the British motorcycle industry went nuts and rushed to field their own 500 twins. But WWII got in the way, putting things …

1989 Norton F1 Rotary 1989 NORTON F1 ROTARY BACKGROUND Norton’s liquid-cooled, twin-rotor Wankel motorcycle, the F1, was produced from 1989-1991, and was produced in very low numbers, typical of Norton’s rotary motorcycle business of the day . It was the ultimate development of Norton’s rotary engine program, following several generations of air-cooled twin-rotor Wankel-powered bikes, …