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 be limited to bikes with 250cc of displacement or less for some period of time. So, everyone in the business rushed to expand it’s line of lightweight bikes. Norton responded with the 1958 250 Jubilee, a nice 250 twin designed by the legendary Bert Hopwood, who would move to Triumph and do big things there also. By 1960, they’d punched the 250 out to a 350 and renamed it the 350 Navigator.
NAVIGATOR GOES PARTS BIN-DIVING
Unfortunately, the rest of the bike was an amalgamation of odds and ends from the AMC parts bin. The frame was from parent-company AMC’s last-generation of middleweights. The front forks, wheels and brakes were from Francis-Barnett, not exactly a name that carried any weight. They even chose to use an older gearbox behind that nice new engine. No doubt done for cost-cutting, but the results were mixed. They weren’t particularly fast, or smooth, or reliable. Nothing stood out as exceptional. The Norton Navigator remained in production until 1966. They also offered an optional special edition called the Navigator Deluxe that had enclosed rear bodywork, very much like a Bathtub Triumphs, but a lot prettier.
ABOVE: The Navigator Deluxe added enclosed bodywork to the Navigator. It added weight and made maintenance more difficult. But they were meant to make the bikes easier to clean up after riding in the hostile English weather.