Showing posts with label Norton. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Norton. Show all posts

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Sunburst: NYC Norton’s dazzling 1972 Commando

If you live on the east coast of the USA and you need work doing on your Norton, there’s only one person to call: Kenny Cummings of NYC Norton in Jersey City, just outside Manhattan. Kenny’s a household name on the global Norton scene. It’s not hard to see why—his builds are an exquisite blend of performance and style. And, as with most old British iron, there’s usually a good story too.

Sunburst started with a call from an overseas number on the shop phone,” Kenny tells us. “On the other end was a pleasant voice with an unidentifiable accent. It was Joe, calling from a small country in the middle of the Mediterranean.” Joe had just bought a pristine Norton Commando in the States, and asked Kenny if he could add some performance and reliability mods. “We love that kind of work,” says Kenny. “But Joe’s Commando was just too nice to tear down.”

A new concept was required, and a ratty 1972 Commando appeared on the radar. It had lived a rough life: the crankcases even had a sloppy weld on the drive side half, a telltale sign a rod had broken through. Kenny decided to use as much of the donor as he could, while fitting some robust and reliable racing parts. He sourced a Maney lightweight crank, alloy cylinders, a Fullauto head, and JE 73mm forged pistons. The crank was balanced to 74%, the same factor used by NYC Norton’s championship-winning Seeley Commandos.
Other goodies include a Webcam racing cam and one of the last Maney exhaust systems ever to be made. “We kept the compression close to 10:1,” says Kenny. “High enough so the bike can be ridden on the street, while still being able to run on hi-octane pump gas.”
Carbs are Keihin FCR35s, with manifolds adapted to the Fullauto Norton cylinder heads. “The heads are the single biggest boost of power you can add off the shelf for your Commando. Proof is in the pudding, and the eating is good.”

Metal-bending artist Roger Titchmarsh supplied a mint Seeley Mk2 replica chassis from the UK, and Kenny started fabbing up custom engine plates. “We spent a lot of time spacing the AMC gearbox over to the left, five millimeters from the motor centerline, to give better chain clearance for the back tire.” A pair of custom alloy fork yokes went on, set up with a pinch-bolt top for quick geometry changes. Falcon shocks were fitted to the rear.
For the front wheel, Kenny bolted twin Hemmings 11.5-inch disks to a 6-bolt hub using AN aircraft bolts. The fork sliders are Norton Production Racer items and the disks have been drilled—removing 1.3lbs from each rotor. The calipers are AP Racing, pumped by a 16mm Brembo master cylinder.

The rims are 18-inch unflanged alloy, WM3 at the front and WM4 at the back. A neat touch: the rear wheel was built using a two-piece Triumph T140 replica billet hub, along with a Maney cush drive to give the gearbox a little relief from quick shifts and injudicious throttle use. Tires are Bridgestone BT45 Battalaxes. The primary side of the bike was built using a 30mm belt drive that increases the primary ratio—meaning less torque shock to the gearbox. There’s also a trick high-output alternator, keeping a low profile behind the alloy belt guard cover.

The bodywork is equally divine. “Joe turned us on to FlatRacer in the UK and their Sprint 1/2 fairing,” says Kenny. “It’s heavier than the racing bodywork we often use, but that allowed us to alter the shape of the fairing to get the custom fit we needed.” The vibrant color scheme is certainly a departure from the more conservative natural alloy or black and gold chosen by most of NYC Norton’s Seeley customers.
“Joe knew he wanted something bold, but he wasn’t sure exactly what. After much back and forth, we seemed to stall a bit.

“Later, while sitting in my home studio, an idea dawned on me as I sat plunking out some parts on my guitar. I realized this was a motif that was very important to me—the cherry sunburst of my favorite vintage Gibson Les Paul. Joe was 100% on board. “This made it very personal. The last philosophical hurdle had been cleared.”
Kenny’s go-to guy for paint is Brent Budgor from the Vintage Vendor. “As we worked through the shading process of the sunburst motif, I learned that Brent too had a Les Paul that he’d stripped and painted—so he understood the concept from the get-go.”

Brent laid out the Norton logo and pins in a gold undercoat, then sprayed the major color over. Once the bodywork was back, the bike was buttoned up in short order. Kenny called his old friend and fellow racing competitor, the photographer Doug MacRae. It was time to shoot. “This is a serious bike,” says Kenny. “It’s pretty, but its foundation is a top-spec, competitive 750 racer weighing 300 pounds, adapted for the street.
“The bike starts on first kick and is an absolute blast to ride. It has the famous Seeley handling and Commando torque, without any sacrifice. No, it is not Papa’s Norton, and perhaps the cobblestones of NYC streets might rattle its tight suspension a bit.

“But there’s not a back road in the world this bike can’t eat alive.” The NYC Norton site has a wealth of riveting detail on this build. But don’t head over there unless you’ve got time to spare—and a firm grip on your credit card.
NYC Norton | Facebook | Images by Douglas MacRae | Instagram
Sunburst: A dazzling 1972 Seeley Commando from NYC Norton.
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Saturday, October 10, 2015

Norton Atlas – Machine Shed

Written by Martin Hodgson.
The custom motorcycle business has a hierarchy that is more organic than most; it’s not about money or ego but sheer ability. At its most pure form it is simply about the quality, creativity and workmanship of the bikes you build. Australia’s Matt Machine is one of the builders at the top. Living an idyllic life in the bush, his creations are as real and honest as the environment around him and this Norton custom was deemed so good it won “Best British” at the Born Free 7 show.
But this Norton didn’t come together like most builds, it wasn’t a customer order or a bike planned out and built from predetermined parts but a culmination of more than a decade of Matt’s life and evolution as a builder. “I went to a clearance sale of an old motorcycle workshop around the early 2000s and I picked up a late 30s Norton rigid frame and girder front end by chance” says the man who also happens to be an architect by trade.
At the same time Matt was stilling living in the city, Newtown, Sydney and on the living room floor of his small terrace home was screwing together a ’66 Norton Atlas motor. With two lots of classic British machinery in his possession one night he had an idea, a little bit of fun, “measure up the crankcase mount holes and the frame cradle holes to see how close a match they were and there it was, the motor fit straight into the frame and sat in the cradle.”
From there the Norton was slowly pieced together over the space of a year, it was featured in a magazine, ridden by Matt to a number of shows and moved with him to the country where it got a good flogging up and down the dirt roads. For years to follow it would sit in his shed, collecting the dust that is swept in when the winds blow or a car comes up the driveway and Matt focussed on other projects.
Then as he was considering a full refurb Mike and Grant the men behind Born Free in the US suggested he stick it on a plane and take it over for BF7. That honour was all the motivation that was needed and the bike that is now pictured before you started its final journey. The frame is a 1937 Norton ES2 rigid with the exquisite girder front end from the same year. It not only looks the business but the triangular design provides impressive strength for its light weight and the anti-dive nature of a girder fork provides great feel even under hard braking.
The paint work comes courtesy of the exceptionally talented Victorian painter Karl of KDS Designs who laid down the black enamel with the tank getting a hand-lettered Norton logo in an old English white that works beautifully with the less is more design of the entire build. The black paint work extends to pieces like the new rear fender that sits over the back tyre perfectly following its contours and finishing in a flip-up duck bill.
The new oil tank is one of many of Matt’s creations, originally he felt the bike ran hotter than it should and the increased capacity has solved that problem. But it’s the craftsmanship combined with the function that makes it such a work of art. Sculpted from steel it sits perfectly in the frame, the filler neck cut from exhaust pipe and the feed pipes curves not distracting from the bikes flowing lines.
That Atlas 750 motor is a 1966 unit that’ll shake, rattle and roll you all the way down the road and in a lightweight ‘30s frame it is a sheer brute! The top end breathes easy thanks to a well ported head and the addition of a high lift cam. Tipping in the air/fuel mixture is a beautiful old Italian, a single Dell’Orto PHF 32 A carb for which Matt fabricated a new inlet to support the change. Those stunning exhaust pipes are handcrafted by Matt from stainless steel, internally baffled, multiple diameters were tried and tried again until Matt had the exact form and function he was after. Shifting through a Norton 4 speed box with an open primary it gives you a distinctly mechanical visual look to match the thunderous roar of the engine.
Sending that barking mad power to the ground, or trying to anyway, is an Avon MkII tyre that provides the vintage look and is fitted to a 16 inch rim in a satin nickel finish. The hub and brake are Triumph items that have been stripped and overhauled with black enamel to finish. The front is a Norton hub and brake, Triumph conical brake plate and the massive 21 inch rim also receives the nickel treatment and is wrapped in another Avon product the popular Speedmaster. Steering the Norton was once left to a set of flat bars but for the trip to the US it now features a more bobber like pair mounted to the risers, with black grips and just the levers and throttle assembly for the ultimate in minimalism.
Then there are the little items that you appreciate the more you look over the bike, the handcrafted engine plates, BCM taillight, the alloy pegs from Throwback Cycle Parts and the Magneto with total loss battery system. But perhaps my favourite part of the build is Matt’s variation on a chopper seat, yes it is sprung like a unit you’d see on a bobber, but both the base and foam extend over the tank and to the rear over the fender. With the ultimate Australian finishing touch a Kangaroo skin cover sourced from the nation’s capital just a short drive from Matt’s farm.
Just writing about Matt Machine’s creations is an intimidating process; I spent hours looking over his Instagram account getting a feel for what inspires him and analysing the progress pictures of the build to see how he works. A world-class builder, architect, fabricator and show winner; he also happens to be a hell of a nice guy from the Australian bush who is not even close to done when it comes to taking on the challenges that await. Just be sure to follow the ride.

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Friday, June 6, 2014

Norton 850 Commando by Federal Moto

Norton 850 Commando built by Federal Moto of Canada.
There’s a new name to look out for on the custom scene: Federal Moto. It’s a startup workshop from Canada, and this remarkable Norton 850 Commando resto-mod is the company’s first build.

The guys behind Federal are friends Shaun Brandt, Randy Venhuis, and Justin Benson. Their purpose is simple: create one-of-a-kind custom motorcycles, with functional riding gear to follow.
Norton 850 Commando built by Federal Moto of Canada.
For their first bike build, the guys wanted to push the envelope of Western Canadian motorcycle culture. “Seventies Japanese bikes are a dime-a-dozen in farmers’ fields across BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan,” says Brandt.

“British bikes are much tougher to come by, so they’re more expensive and less likely to be tinkered with. The ones you do see are usually restored to their original state.”
There’s a certain fear and responsibility that comes with re-imagining the rare, but following the status quo doesn’t inspire progression. Federal have diverted from the norm, and this build merits a close examination.
Norton 850 Commando built by Federal Moto of Canada.
‘The Ace’ is a 1974 Commando that was discovered on a farm in Rimbey, Alberta. It ran—barely—but had a ton of attitude, and that was enough. “We wanted to create a surf style tracker that you could ride around the city, or cruise through the Rockies all the way to the coast.”

Federal decided to maintain the soul of the bike, but made major design changes to the shape and feel. “We hope that the original employees at Norton would be fighting each other to take it for a spin if it rolled onto the factory floor.”
Federal took Norton right down to the frame. Commandos have a thick center tube that slants downward towards the tail of the bike, making it very difficult to create a line from headlight to taillight. So Federal cut the rear section of the tube out and reshaped the frame to have one clean line.
Norton 850 Commando built by Federal Moto of Canada.
“It took some engineering, but we’ve welded and formed the frame to be just as strong as the original. After that we shortened the frame by 18 inches and shaped a new rear hoop. This was the beginning of the tracker shape we were going after.”

The wheels went back on, to gauge how beefy the tires could be. The winners were 19” Coker Diamond Treads that fit the era of the bike. Then every piece of excess metal was removed from the frame—including the tabs, the oil tank mounts, the fender mounts, the center stand, and the rear foot peg mounts. Anything that didn’t make the bike run.
“We cut nearly 30 pounds of weight. Before sending the frame to powder coating, we mounted brackets for a ’71 Norton oil tank, formed the seat pan, and machined new brackets for the fenders, lights, exhaust, and ignition.”
Norton 850 Commando built by Federal Moto of Canada.
Salvageable parts were sanded and polished in-house, with replacement items sourced through local guru John Oland. “This build would not have been possible without John’s willingness to share his knowledge of vintage motorcycles. The guy is a legend,” says Brandt.

The engine itself is all original, aside from electronic ignition. Federal pulled it apart and inspected, cleaned and polished everything. They got the valves dialed in, bored the pistons, and replaced the piston rings. “Well worth it, considering it’s got even more compression than an industrial trash compactor!”
The fenders are mid-50s Triumph items rescued from a junk pile, reshaped and finished in matte black. For the exhaust pipework, Federal purchased ’71 Norton Commando SS pipes—and chopped about a foot off them, before attaching reverse megaphone mufflers from Australia’s Modern Motorcycle Company.
Norton 850 Commando built by Federal Moto of Canada.
Tiny ‘bullet’ lights handle the blinking and braking duties, with a 5¾-inch black headlight up front—substantially lowered to maintain the lines of the bike. There’s a new wiring harness and an Antigravity 4-cell battery tucked under the seat. The bulky original instrumentation is gone, replaced by a mini version of the Smiths speedometer that can be seen on many vintage British bikes.

To keep the bars clean, Federal drilled them out and installed 12mm push buttons for the signals and horn. “We then drilled a hole in the headlight housing and installed an on/off switch, so that the 4-cell battery had enough power to start the bike—as opposed to having the headlight on when the ignition is running.”
All of this was brought together with a BSA A10/A65 Low handlebar, sticking to the bike’s British roots. Other final touches included 1970s Tommaselli Natural gum rubber grips, ordered direct from the factory in Italy, and simple footpegs machined in-house.
Norton 850 Commando built by Federal Moto of Canada.
Federal kept the original rear brake, and replaced the front with a Tokico two-piston assembly and a Katana 750 rotor—machining a new mounting bracket for the forks.

A custom two-tone Italian leather seat was sewn to perfection by local upholster Tyler Wheeler, keeping the transition seam angled inline with the frame piece that sits below it. The tank was sandblasted, the dents fixed, and then repainted in off-white with an original gold vinyl Norton logo. Last but not least, Federal sanded the crud off of the gas cap and coated it flat black, to pop off the tank.
The result is simply stunning, and all the more remarkable for being a new shop’s first build. The next bikes in the queue are a 1974 Honda CB360 and a 1971 BMW R75. We’ll be keeping an eye out for them.
If you’re within distance of Edmonton, Alberta, head over to the Iconoclast Koffiehuis for the Federal Moto launch party this Saturday. If that’s too far, the Federal Moto website and Facebook page are just a click away.
The post Norton 850 Commando by Federal Moto appeared first on Bike EXIF.

Monday, March 17, 2014

1971 Norton Commando LR Fastback Special

Written by Martin Hodgson
The Norton Commando with its Isle of Man heritage and five times Motor Cycle News “Machine of the Year” award is special enough, but this particular 1971 Fastback Special has a tale that starts with the man who rescued Norton from its British grave. Across the Atlantic Kenny Dreer was the man behind Portland based Vintage Rebuilds who salvaged the Norton name in the 1990’s and commenced work on reviving the brand to its former glory under the Norton America banner.
George Kraus from GEK Restorations tells how his dream of building the ultimate Commando that is now pictured before you first came to mind. “It was an all-night drive back from the San Jose BSA Clubman Show, about 1993 or ’94 with Kenny Dreer. The sleep deprived drive developed a drug-like effect on us two vintage crazed individuals and in our hyperactive minds, we designed the perfect “Manx Commando”. To get his hands on a Commando, George designed Kenny’s original Vintage Rebuilds and Restorations brochure in exchange for a core bike and all the parts and services at cost price.
To get the most out of the legendary Norton, George set about working in his small home workshop performing all the upgrades that Dreer had designed over the years. From the three bolt swing arm to the 30mm belt-drive and the handmade wiring harness with aircraft connectors and complete solid state electronics only the very best was added to the ’71. Custom designed and handmade rear-sets were added along with an external oil filter, machine turned and polished stainless steel hardware and machined vents in the drums.
For the Cafe Manx look ‘Roadholder’ Front Forks with full covers from the late Atlas models were installed and the wheels are Aront aluminum rims laced with Buchanan stainless steel spokes. The seat is an aftermarket design originally intended for use on a Triumph, it was split down the middle and widen to suit the Commando frame then re-molded to add the mounting hardware. So good was the result the design was used on a number of Dreer’s restorations at Vintage Rebuilds.
The tank was discovered at Fair Spares America and turned out to be an old Interpol unit complete with battery and radio trough. As it was just like the Long Range tank George desired he had a new top section designed and welded in to restore the flowing lines to non-police spec. While many may believe the paint is a factory Norton colour it is actually a Chrysler hue spotted at the Portland Auto Show complete with graphics and pinstriping by Mitch Kim. Hand-made aluminum front fender stays and license plate frame complete the clean look.
From its very early days in Birmingham to the Dreer years in America, Norton has been known for quality design and workmanship. That ethos is continued not only with the immaculate presentation that this Commando displays but affirmed by more than 23,000 miles of trouble free riding George has had at the controls since the restoration was completed.

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Saturday, February 1, 2014

Racing Shadow

On the advice of Master Roberto Totti, who I met on Friday night at the party, Mr. Martini, discussing cafe racer classic taste, told me about a beautiful Norvin CR 1000 with the fantastic 8-cam drum brakes at the show and I went to look for .

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So we're talking about Vincent engine embedded within the frame Norton, the concept of café racers of the golden era taken to the extreme intake of each rockers.
I looked for it I found the stand of Style Italian, people who have style in their blood and are present in the environment for many years with good bike.
Original frame, rust found in Scotland with original booklet that shows that it was 'already' been assembled with Vincent engine in C 1958.
Motor Vincent C 1950 in which we put D heads for the exit of the carburetor on the left post. Original exhaust Vincent Rapide changed.
Fork spring kit with short Roadholder Dresden
Brake rare 8 cams Dresden done by CMA
Manx conical rear hub
Tool Smith Vincent Black Shadow
Means dumbbells Manx < br> original 60's aluminum tank that holds oil and gas
seat / tail holder original aluminum
Vincent Rapide

Gianluca has been so kind as to send me pictures also other pictures from outside instead of all those who have within the fair

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