‘It feels like it was made yes­ter­day’ Con­tin­ued over SPEC

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week -

Stick­ing the most charis­matic Bri­tish en­gine in the best Bri­tish frame isn’t a new idea. Ogri rode a Norvin in 1971, and this Vin­cent Rapide en­gine has lived in its Nor­ton Featherbed frame since at least 1960. Owner John Jones bought it five years ago, just af­ter an ‘ex­pert re­build’. The fact that the carbs were touch­ing the frame made him sus­pi­cious, so he and a friend stripped the mo­tor. “It was just as well we did,” says John. “The crank oil feed went straight through and out the other side. It’s sup­posed to feed the big end bear­ings.”

They re­built the en­tire bike, care­fully sort­ing out the prob­lems that af­flict most Norvin projects, among them the chain guard, oil tank, footrests/ kick­start, cen­tre stand and brakes. “The trick is mak­ing it ride­able. For ex­am­ple, the stan­dard Vin­cent kick­start can’t work. So we got two CB750 kick­starts and made one long one out of them. The dis­ad­van­tage is it’s so high, so the bike needs to be on the cen­tre­stand when you kick it. There’s nowhere un­der the bike to at­tach a con­ven­tional cen­tre­stand spring, so it’s got a flat-coil cam­era spring – from a big cam­era.”

Ride this Norvin and it’s im­pos­si­ble to be­lieve it’s from the early 1950s. This is MCN’S Bruce Dunn, who is more used to track test­ing R1s and Du­catis than rid­ing clas­sic spe­cials. “When I was a me­chanic we used to get old Bri­tish bikes in the shop some­times for rou­tine stuff. I was never im­pressed. But that Norvin feels like it was made yes­ter­day. The throt­tle re­sponse and in­stant ac­cel­er­a­tion feel decades newer than they are. And the chas­sis is beau­ti­ful. Not what I ex­pected at all.”

Tiny tank means there’s only a 30-mile range, but what a 30 miles! Cus­tom-made cen­tre­stand is the key to kick­start­ing John Jones’s new-old Norvin This Norvin looks the part and goes too Vin­cent Rapide en­gines and Nor­ton Featherbed frames have been combi

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