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