NORTON SUS­PEN­SION

Real Classic - - Letters -

RC174 was an­other great read, espe­cially the Norton In­ter ar­ti­cle. As the owner of one of its less glam­orous sis­ters, a 1952 ES2, I’m par­tic­u­larly struck by the com­ment ‘ The In­ter sprung heel is, I be­lieve, much bet­ter than the same fit­ted to the ES2, due to the dif­fer­ent di­men­sions.’

I’ve seen sim­i­lar com­ments be­fore, most re­cently I be­lieve in Paul Miles’ com­par­i­son of the In­ter and Velo cammy mod­els. How­ever, I’m not at all sure to what this dif­fer­ence may be at­trib­uted. A read through the 1951-4 parts book shows that the en­tire rear sus­pen­sion con­sisted of iden­ti­cal components for all mod­els from the ES2 right through to the 30M and 40M Manx mod­els. Con­tem­po­rary cat­a­logue and road test pic­tures do show a very mi­nor dif­fer­ence in the in­cline of the rear units, with the cammy mod­els hav­ing the top slightly fur­ther for­ward than the ohv mod­els, but I can­not see how this would change the be­hav­iour in any dis­cernible way other than by mak­ing the sus­pen­sion slightly softer. I’d love to hear from some­one who can defini­tively an­swer the ques­tion.

I won­der why this dif­fer­ence in an­gle? Pos­si­bly it was to cater for the fact that the pushrod bike was much more likely to be bur­dened with a dou­ble adult chair? Or could it have been cho­sen as the ohc bikes per­sisted in us­ing the ver­ti­cal gear­box with its wear-prone ex­ter­nal cle­vis joints (although I’ve never un­der­stood why)? My ES2 has the much bet­ter lay-down gear­box – in fact one fac­tor which led me to choose this year over oth­ers when I was search­ing for a suit­able ma­chine.

I’ve al­ways ad­mired the ohc bikes from afar and be­lieve that Titch Allen for one felt the gar­den gate mod­els some of the most beau­ti­ful mo­tor­cy­cles ever pro­duced. But they have never, to me, jus­ti­fied their el­e­vated prices over their pro­le­tar­ian sta­ble­mates. Espe­cially when I read con­tem­po­rary road tests from The Mo­tor Cy­cle which show rel­a­tively small per­for­mance dif­fer­ences – 0-60 time of 16.4 sec­onds for the Model 30, 18.6 for the ES2, top speeds of 86 and 78mph re­spec­tively. And of course nowa­days Mike Pemberton and oth­ers have shown it pos­si­ble to re­lease many more horses from the hum­ble road­ster.

I’ll stick with my ar­ti­san’s bike and leave the ex­ot­ica (and oily trousers) to oth­ers. Although I have to ad­mit that those piecrust tanks are a joy to be­hold! Ian Soady, mem­ber 3405

I sus­pect the In­ter re­tains its fol­low­ing be­cause it is such a dual-per­son­al­ity mo­tor­cy­cle. The ones I’ve rid­den have been amaz­ingly soft and sweet at low revs, just as amenable as the pushrod sin­gles. Then they come on the cam and turn into to­tal hooli­gans. By con­trast, the tuned-to­be­jay­sus pushrod bikes I’ve rid­den have been hard to start and a bit of a hand­ful; plenty of per­for­mance but they seem to lose their charm­ing na­ture… Mind you, I wouldn’t want to own and main­tain a cammy Norton. I’ll stick to my Model 18 in stan­dard spec! Rowena

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