ROB NORTH: THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN TORCH

Classic Racer - - IN DETAIL -

Few men have be­come so closely iden­ti­fied with the work they did for an es­tab­lished man­u­fac­turer as Robin North, best known as Rob and cre­ator of the frames for the BSA/ Tri­umph F750 rac­ing triples which 45 years ago were the last hur­rah of Bri­tain’s dy­ing mo­tor­cy­cle in­dus­try. To­day, 77-year old Rob lives in Cal­i­for­nia, and still works ev­ery day in his RN Fab­ri­ca­tions work­shop in Na­tional City, just 15 miles from the Mex­i­can bor­der. Vis­it­ing him there un­cov­ered the real story be­hind the cre­ation of the frame de­sign which al­lowed the Union Flag to be waved one fi­nal time atop the win­ner’s rostrum at Day­tona in 1971, with Dick Mann vic­to­ri­ous in that year’s 200-miler on a Rob North-framed BSA 3. 17-year old Rob be­gan work­ing for Doug Beasley, builder of spe­cial frames for 250cc Ve­lo­cettes, and it was there that he met Tri­umph fac­tory tester Percy Tait, who was rid­ing a Beasley Velo in the Light­weight class, for which Tri­umph didn’t have a bike. The two be­came friends, and af­ter North

set up his own fab­ri­ca­tion busi­ness in 1967 he worked on the Reynolds-framed 650 Tri­umph which Tait was rac­ing, to cor­rect the more un­pre­dictable han­dling that came with in­creased power from the fac­tory tuned en­gine. Tait reck­oned North’s al­ter­ations im­proved the han­dling con­sid­er­ably. Rob said: “In 1968 I had a shop in Bed­worth, about 10 miles north of the Tri­umph fac­tory at Meri­den, and I was work­ing for my­self mak­ing frames for speed­way bikes and side­cars. I’d known Percy Tait for about 10 years, and had done some work on his 650 Tri­umph twin to get it to han­dle with the in­creased power they were get­ting. “So then Percy wanted me to build a com­plete frame for a fac­tory tuned 500cc en­gine, so I built two very sim­i­lar to the later triples, and they seemed to go okay in Percy’s hands. I al­ways fo­cused on get­ting th e steer­ing head good and stiff to stop it flex­ing – that’s why my frames were al­ways so sta­ble. . “Any­way, the triple had now come out, so Percy asked me if I wanted to build a frame for it for him to ride – noth­ing to do with the fac­tory at that stage, just him and me. I ob­vi­ously said yes, so he brought me a crank­case and a di­a­mond part of a frame that he’d found in the cel­lar un­der­neath the Ex­per­i­men­tal Depart­ment at Tri­umph, and I made up a jig for it, us­ing this up­per frame di­a­mond which in­cluded the steer­ing head. Percy ad­vised where he wanted the en­gine to be – we moved it one and a half inches fur­ther for­ward com­pared with the street­bike to put more weight on the front wheel, and the same amount up for ex­tra ground clear­ance with the wider en­gine. “I made the jig with all the di­men­sions that he asked for us­ing scrap an­gle iron, be­cause it was sup­posed to be just a one-off ex­er­cise be­tween me and Percy.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.