IT’S A NORBSA!

Built by a teenage tear­away to tackle short cir­cuit race­tracks, this is no trailer-queen café racer. Odgie talks to the man who raced it and his cousin who re­built it, and then lets the beast off the leash…

Real Classic - - Contents -

Built by a teenage tear­away to tackle short cir­cuit race­tracks, this is no trailer-queen café racer. Odgie talks to the man who raced it and his cousin who re­built it, and then lets the beast off the leash…

Drop a gear to third to get the revs near to four grand. Grab a hand­ful of throt­tle and wow, you’re rid­ing a com­plete rock­et­ship. The re­sult­ing ac­cel­er­a­tion hur­tles you for­ward, rid­ing the wave of torque that makes Brit twins so de­light­ful and Jap fours so bland, no mat­ter how fast they are. This A10-en­gined NorBSA has mid-range thrust that’s so ad­dic­tive you find your­self look­ing for cars to go ca­reer­ing past as you scream out of round­abouts. Hooli­gan? I guess the old rocker in your soul never leaves you... And this feath­erbed-framed café racer is more than fa­mil­iar with be­ing rid­den rapidly. First reg­is­tered as a ‘Nor­ton Spe­cial’ in 1968, it was tuned and raced by Neil back in the day, be­fore be­ing sym­pa­thet­i­cally re­stored by Steve in re­cent years. So we’ll hear their sto­ries, be­fore re­turn­ing for a short sprint in the sad­dle…

THE BOY RACER

‘I met the man who built this bike, Den­nis Livesey, when I was about 16

years old. I had a chopped BSA A10, but when I saw Den­nis’s A10 en­gine in a slim­line feath­erbed frame I was im­me­di­ately turned into a boy racer. Two years later, af­ter much sav­ing and sell­ing of valu­ables (one of which was an ex-works Aer­ma­c­chi 250 Ala Doro that I wish I had now), I paid 450 quid for it.

‘Den­nis bought the bike as a Golden Flash in a side­car out­fit. He took off the side­car on the spot and rode the Flash home. It then pro­gressed over the years, un­til he bought an­other frame from the weekly ads and it was reg­is­tered as a Nor­ton. Den­nis and a lo­cal char­ac­ter by the name of Bill Woods re­built and tuned the en­gine. Bill had a lit­tle mo­tor­bike shop which be­come Bill Heads, where he per­formed small and large mir­a­cles with ma­chin­ery. He used to tune the likes of Bul­ta­cos for the lo­cal lads who raced. One of his sto­ries was that of putting a fly on the sur­face of one of his pol­ished ports. If the fly didn’t slide all the way down it, it wasn’t smooth enough and he would pol­ish it again!

‘One of his larger mir­a­cles was that of turn­ing this stan­dard A10 en­gine with a sin­gle carb, al­loy head into one with twin GPs on it! He cut off the old man­i­fold and then pro­ceeded, us­ing a gas torch, to re­build the area around the ports with weld. Enough was re­built to ma­chine a new man­i­fold with al­most straight in­let tracts, and a new spacer was made to ab­sorb heat and main­tain the cor­rect tract length. The whole lot was bolted to­gether be­fore ma­chin­ing. Breath­ing took place through a pair of 1 5/32” GP2s from a Spit­fire.

‘ The rock­ers were light­ened and pol­ished. By light­ened, I mean they prob­a­bly lost some­where near the half of their weight! Pol­ish­ing was dif­fi­cult and was im­proved nearly ev­ery time I re­built the mo­tor. The same rock­ers re­main in the en­gine. Valves were stan­dard but light­ened. Pushrods stayed stan­dard be­cause the hol­low con­struc­tion made them very light to start with. The valve springs were re­placed with Amer­i­can Aero W&S springs com­plete with al­loy col­lets. The cam was an ex­treme pro­file known as Polo­dyne which was not kind to fol­low­ers, which were re­placed on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. The cam tim­ing idler gear was drilled for light­en­ing pur­poses.

‘When I bought the bike it had 10.5:1 pis­tons fit­ted; more about that later. In­side, the crankcases were pol­ished and the camshaft oil spill was blocked off in an at­tempt to cre­ate more oil pres­sure to the rock­ers. I don’t know if that was ef­fec­tive or not. In those days we used Cas­trol R40 as en­gine oil. It was very messy but al­ways spot­less in­side the mo­tor, with­out doubt the best you could buy. To prove that point, it cost an arm and a leg!

‘An RRT2 box was fit­ted to the stan­dard BSA clutch. Den­nis had kept the kick­start but I did away with this, partly be­cause when it was hot it didn’t like start­ing and partly I had learned from his mishap of a bro­ken an­kle! I also had other plans that in­volved more than rac­ing around the pub­lic roads.

‘ The frame was the some­what un­pop­u­lar slim­line ver­sion from, I think, an ES2, as it has a squashed top tube. The frame was fit­ted with stan­dard shocks and short Road­hold­ers, a Dom­i­na­tor back wheel and a Manx con­i­cal front, both with al­loy rims. The front wheel had the most amaz­ing ba­con slicer you have ever seen. It also had en­try and exit air scoops. Why, I do not know be­cause it didn’t work be­yond trig­ger­ing a slight dip in the forks! The ex­hausts were swept back with Dun­stall

Deci­bel ‘si­lencers’. It sounded awe­some.

‘ The café racer look con­tin­ued with John Tickle clip-ons, an alu­minium five-gal­lon tank, fi­bre­glass cen­tral oil tank, dou­ble plas­tic seat with very lit­tle to hold it on and a Ci­bie head­light which was lit­tle more than a can­dle with no bat­tery to power it. There was just enough chrome to set off the stain­less guards and all the pol­ished alu­minium.

‘ The bike was ad­mired at all the lo­cal haunts around town. The run up to the Five Barred Gate was about a mile and ev­ery­one used to ham­mer down that hill to get a ton. One evening a lo­cal young hooli­gan ca­reered up the main road into Pre­ston at over 100mph, leav­ing po­lice cars in his wake. He was caught when he stopped at the bus stop to pick up his girl­friend. Den­nis got a hefty fine and a ban.

‘And then I got my hands on the NorBSA. It was im­pres­sive to ride, even though it didn’t stop, and it came with lots of prob­lems. It was hard to start and I had in­her­ited a twisted crank and odd crankcases. The start­ing prob­lems never went away, so in­stead of con­tin­u­ally risk­ing a bro­ken foot (or worse), I cured the prob­lem by do­ing away with the kick­start al­to­gether. I kept fit by bump­ing it!

‘ The crank was stan­dard so was given a grind. It then had an 1/8” ma­chined off ei­ther side of the fly­wheel and was sent for bal­anc­ing. It was pol­ished to a mir­ror fin­ish, as were the rods. I re­built things and went out to play. Be­ing a novice with this kind of ma­chin­ery meant a lot of hours off the road, learn­ing about what I had done wrong last time I built it. Sev­eral head gas­kets, clutches, chains, etc, and an­other costly court case, helped to make up my mind. Let’s have a go at rac­ing it.

‘In 1976 I ap­plied for my very first rac­ing li­cence. I en­tered a race late in that sum­mer at the lo­cal cir­cuit at Lon­gridge. It was tiny and en­closed in the bot­tom of a quarry.

‘By this time the NorBSA had changed some­what from the one I’d bought.

The rear hub had been re­placed with a gen­uine Manx hub

built into what

I thought was an ad­e­quate WM2 rim. I got rid of the front Manx con­i­cal hub (£45), in favour of the much ma­ligned CMA eight-leader (£75). The first time I went to use it I nearly went over the han­dle­bars. You could lit­er­ally stand the bike on end. First stop­pie!

‘ The clutch was a night­mare and con­tin­u­ally slipped, which made the bike dif­fi­cult to start. Ei­ther the clutch would burn out or it was just so un­com­fort­able that the bike was un­ride­able. I soon learned how to change gear with­out the clutch. To solve this, I had to get an old-style unit main­shaft and fit it into the RRT2 box. With a bit of ma­chin­ing and spe­cial lit­tle bits, I was able to fit a Com­mando clutch on the end of it. Add some Bri­tish Aero­space ma­chin­ing and riv­et­ing and a du­plex chain… Hey presto: a clutch that doesn’t slip!

‘Be­cause of its past abuse the A10 en­gine was al­ways blow­ing head gas­kets. This was solved by re­plac­ing the 10.5:1 pis­tons with 9.5:1 ones, al­though they were more like 10:1 as the head had been ma­chined way be­yond stan­dard tol­er­ances.

‘I went to work on light­en­ing and strip­ping ev­ery­thing off the bike it didn’t need. There are still the scars of that work nowa­days, bits of ti­ta­nium and Allen screws with half the head miss­ing.

‘Race day came around and ev­ery­one came to watch. I came last that day and I wasn’t happy. That would never hap­pen

again. I was some­what green, and the bike was way over-geared. I could barely get into second gear. It also didn’t ap­pear to han­dle too well. Back to the draw­ing board and to lose more weight.

‘Ain­tree was the place to go, with fast cor­ners and a big long straight. But when I got there, what a pig it was in the han­dling dept. In my opin­ion, if some­one else can go that fast into a cor­ner, then my feath­erbed should also. Try again. So we chucked the stan­dard rear shocks away and got some gas shocks. What a dif­fer­ence: an inch and a half longer and some real damp­ing. The bike was on rails. I couldn’t go too fast. It steered much more quickly and now all it needed was an­other 20 horses!

‘ This time I found out the lim­i­ta­tions of an 8ls front stop­per. Af­ter five laps of Ain­tree’s back straight and the need to stop at the end of it, the brake didn’t work very well. Ev­ery lap the straight got a bit shorter and I got no end of stick from the pit crew for putting the brakes on.

‘I started to learn to ride. Rac­ing was a shock when I first went out on track. You think be­cause you can blow off a 1000cc Suzuki on the road, that you will be able to do the same on a track. Not quite so. Af­ter the ini­tial fright and then shock of be­ing passed by my com­peti­tors, as if I was stood still, I re­alised I had a wee bit to learn. I could not be­lieve how quickly you could make a bike go; how much it would bend, twist, slide and gen­er­ally tie it­self in knots be­fore ev­ery­thing gave up.

‘I never fell off that bike, on road or track, apart from one in­ci­dent out­side a ho­tel on the Isle of Man. Af­ter re­build­ing the clutch, we bumped it along the pave­ment with a mate push­ing me. Un­be­known to me, I had a boot lace un­done which parked it­self un­der the back wheel as I came to a stand­still and tried to put my foot down. There was a line of hun­dreds of bikes on side­stands on my right, and I had no right foot. Slowly but surely I teetered to the right… My mate tried to stop me by grab­bing the seat, which ob­vi­ously came off in his hands! Down I went. I missed the line of bikes by inches. I still have night­mares of those bikes all top­pling over them­selves, like domi­noes…

‘ The next meet­ing at Ain­tree was the last time I raced the NorBSA. Flat out down the rail­way straight I had the dis­tinct feel­ing the bike was try­ing to pull it­self to pieces. The vi­bra­tion

was ter­ri­ble, like noth­ing I had ex­pe­ri­enced be­fore. Clutch in and I free­wheeled to the pits. On in­ves­ti­ga­tion we found the bar­rels had sep­a­rated from the crankcases. The only thing hold­ing it to­gether was the head steady, and the frame must have been flex­ing up and down. It was time to aban­don the project and buy a two-stroke!

‘I put the NorBSA back into road­go­ing con­di­tion, but even­tu­ally rac­ing took over and it was stripped and put away into boxes at my brother’s house while I worked over­seas.

‘Be­fore it was put into stor­age, I’d be­gun or­gan­is­ing the NorBSA for a full re­build. The plan had been to build a show bike which would also work on track, with a spare en­gine for that pur­pose. I had started to ac­cu­mu­late the nec­es­sary spares and had a new cam made for it. In its new in­car­na­tion, the NorBSA would have a roller tim­ing side main bear­ing and a new head. I had some Du­ral plate for new yokes, a new oil tank and planned 18” rims to fit proper rub­ber. I reck­oned I could get it revving more quickly by putting on a belt drive, thus light­en­ing the drive train. It was go­ing to breathe through a cor­rect length ex­haust sys­tem with­out ob­struc­tions.

‘Rods, pis­tons and crank were bal­anced to suit each other. The brake was re­lined ready for all the pa­tient time re­quired to cor­rectly set it up. I even had thoughts of an elec­tronic ig­ni­tion. One of its ben­e­fits would be a rev counter that works, in­stead of hav­ing to wait for the rev counter to catch up or the valves bounc­ing be­fore stab­bing the gear lever!

‘In 2009 my brother de­cided to move home and the bike with all of its spares and tools all had to go. What to do? I wanted the NorBSA to stay in the fam­ily. It was worth far more than money to me – so I just gave it away. It just wanted to see it in one piece, and to be able to ride it oc­ca­sion­ally and give it a right good past­ing. Just like my old me­chanic used to say – he put a lit­tle note on the bike tank be­fore prac­tice on the IoM – ‘Down the hill, turn right and WRING ITS NECK!’

THE RE­STORER

‘About 15 years ago, the doorbell chimed. This wasn’t par­tic­u­larly un­usual, it had done it be­fore. What was un­usual was that my cousin Neil was on the doorstep, and about 25 years had elapsed since he had last tra­versed that hal­lowed en­try. “I’ve been talk­ing to your kid,” Pre­ston di­alect for “brother”, “and he said you might be able to help me…”

‘As young­sters, all us cousins had been se­ri­ously bike mad. With droves of mates we rode field Ban­tams, any­thing Vil­liers 8E, C11s, etc. We turned 16 and grad­u­ated to 250 road bikes and then moved onto se­ri­ous stuff like A10s and Thun­der­birds. A Tri­umph T150V (BTE 713L any­one?) was my swan­song in the early 1970s. We got mar­ried to nice girls who didn’t re­ally like bikes, got cars, had mort­gages and kids, lost touch and couldn’t af­ford bikes. Neil how­ever com­bined all the afore­said with road rac­ing and a scuba div­ing busi­ness! And now he had a propo­si­tion for me. “You re­mem­ber that black BSA I used to race a bit?”

I didn’t. “If you want to keep it here you can use it.”

‘I didn’t. Re­ally; I had 12 bikes of my own. ‘ “It’s in boxes at our kid’s and he’s sick of it.” ‘I’d have to build it as well!

‘ “Your kid said you’ve got loads of sheds.” ‘I had, still have, too many for any sane per­son. So I said no, gen­tly, too gen­tly, be­cause he in­sisted. I soft­ened. I said that I could store it but not build it, or I would buy it. Neil needed a van, so we did a deal in which nom­i­nally I would own the bike but spir­i­tu­ally it would still be his. I col­lected the boxes and promptly ig­nored them for the next five years.

‘Even­tu­ally I had some spare time, rare enough, but even more rarely this ar­rived at the same time as a bit of spare cash. I got the boxes down and was pleas­antly sur­prised to find that the ‘BSA’ was in fact a NorBSA. I rum­maged, in­creas­ingly im­pressed, through the boxes to find a slim­line frame, Manx rear wheel, a 12” dou­ble-side 8ls CLS front hub, short Road­hold­ers, long range al­loy tank, cen­tral oil tank and a twin-carb A10 mo­tor (!), a pair of GP carbs and an RRT2 box – and loads of pe­riod spares, new and sec­ond­hand.

‘I did a loose as­sem­bly. The po­ten­tial was enor­mous. It needed pipes and si­lencers, a seat, guards, ca­bles, a wiring loom and lamps to get it to road spec. These were bought in one go at Unity Equipe, who hap­pened to have a set of un­plated swept­backs and Goldies which were per­fect for the look I wanted.

‘ The build was quite straight­for­ward. The re­sult was, to my eyes, a trans­port back to 1968 and the Che­quered Flag cof­fee bar in Ley­land which was THE place to go for bikes and rocker cul­ture. That place was prob­a­bly as close as you got to a north­ern Ace Café. I was a reg­u­lar even be­fore I was six­teen. Most nights of the week the place was mobbed. There would be a hun­dred or more bikes lined up, all com­ing and go­ing, noise and oil, leather and white silk, sea boot socks over long boot tops. We must have made life hell for the res­i­dents. Em­bar­rasses me even now.

‘ Three broth­ers came to the café who built and rode NorBSAs with long tanks, short seats and clip-ons. These bikes were so beau­ti­ful, so per­fect, that they drew at­ten­tion from even the most sea­soned rid­ers. The im­pres­sion they made on me (I was six­teen at the time and rid­ing an Ar­ro­wised Leader) has never faded. They epit­o­mised the essence of a 1960s café racer, a look and an aura many at­tempt to repli­cate. You had to be there – and I was!

‘I de­cided to leave the bike hon­est, to go for an as­sem­bly which would pre­serve the pre-dis­man­tle con­di­tion. It had been in quite good cos­metic or­der any­way, with scratches, bumps and bruises in­dica­tive of en­thu­si­as­tic use. Me­chan­i­cally all was well. Neil had put away the parts in ready-to-use con­di­tion, in well seg­re­gated or­der, and they had sur­vived well. I had the crank jour­nals pol­ished, fit­ted a new tim­ing side main bush (none of your ex­pen­sive and un­nec­es­sary con­ver­sions here), assem­bled the rest and put it all to­gether. In a nod to the afore­men­tioned bush I fit­ted a spin-on oil fil­ter, as I do to ev­ery bike that passes through my hands.

‘Noth­ing was re­painted. I made a seat sub­frame, added the new parts which had been suit­ably ‘aged’, had Brightspar­k re­con­di­tion the mag, re­placed the GP carbs (sold on eBay for an ab­so­lutely ex­or­bi­tant sum) with Con­centrics, fit­ted new ca­bles and there it was, done!

‘ The NorBSA started eas­ily enough and af­ter a bit of fettling ran re­ally well, de­spite me hav­ing fit­ted the wrong cam (one of Neil’s ex­per­i­ments). But it be­came ob­vi­ous that some­thing was amiss with the big front brake. It dragged so badly that I could barely

push the bike around, yet when I squeezed the lever it came back to the bar and I could still – just – push the bike.

‘A chat with Neil re­vealed that he’d had the brake fully re­built at CLS and since then it had been un­used. Be­fore that, when rac­ing the brake had been ‘on or off’, needed a lot of warm­ing up and was barely work­ing by the end of a race. I tried sev­eral at­tempts at im­prov­ing things and Neil made some use­ful mods to the pull and stops ar­range­ments but all to no avail.

‘I couldn’t risk the brake on the road, so I made an un­pop­u­lar (Neil was aghast) de­ci­sion. The CLS eight-leader is a very rare thing, quite beau­ti­ful, ideal nowa­days for a show bike, but in its day it was quickly su­per­seded by lighter, sim­pler, less ex­pen­sive and lower main­te­nance disc brakes. I de­cided to sell it. I found a ten year-old ad on­line, posted by an Amer­i­can col­lec­tor. He specif­i­cally wanted ex­actly what I had. Amaz­ingly he still wanted one! He paid me to ship it and the cash paid for a 230mm 4ls dou­ble-side Robin­son replica from Disco Volante. I put it into a new al­loy rim and still had half the money left.

‘ That brake made the bike use­able. It still looked good but per­haps not quite as im­pres­sive as the CLS. The bike is very quick and now stops im­pres­sively – I highly rec­om­mend this brake. The gear­ing is too low, which means that first gear is rel­a­tively easy to get away in. This helps some­what with the long slip prob­lems usu­ally en­coun­tered with an RRT2 box. That gear­box, cou­pled to the Com­mando bronze clutch on an early A10 short main­shaft and a belt drive, gives a very pos­i­tive and quick close ra­tio gearchange. It’s an easy bike to ride if you can stand the rid­ing po­si­tion: I can’t, I’m too tall and too old! 20 miles each way is enough. So it’s fast and it’s a looker. But does it han­dle?

‘ The rai­son d’être of feath­erbed spe­cials is the pur­suit of han­dling and looks. Speed was al­ways avail­able with a Nor­ton lump. A 600/650 Dommi was for all prac­ti­cal pur­poses as quick and as tune­able as a BSA or Tri­umph twin, and an Atlas was stun­ningly quick in its day, al­though none of them were per­haps as im­pres­sive cc for cc as a good Venom. No, we spe­cial builders re­ally were af­ter some­thing we could call our own, some­thing with an out­stand­ing abil­ity to han­dle exquisitel­y un­der fast treat­ment. So does the NorBSA meet ex­pec­ta­tions?

‘ These days I mostly use my 1969 Com­mando for spir­ited work. It’s a good one and han­dles as well as can be ex­pected for a Com­mando. I’ve had it 20 years, I love it, but...

‘...the NorBSA is com­pletely dif­fer­ent. The bal­ance is rad­i­cally dif­fer­ent and it’s lighter, and the er­gonomics are – well – un­com­pro­mis­ing. Where I would have to man­age the Com­mando around a fast dif­fi­cult bend, get re­ally in­volved in keep­ing it on a line, the NorBSA needs very lit­tle in­put. Just a lean of the head and a shift in the seat (knees tucked in, feet back, wrists low and arse in the air, of course) sends it where you want it. It’s in­cred­i­bly taut and in­tu­itive, steers very quickly and drops down / stands up ef­fort­lessly. It’s a trib­ute to Neil’s long pa­tient hours de­vel­op­ing it on the short tracks Eng­land and to the in­spired work of the McCand­less / Nor­ton de­vel­op­ment part­ner­ship.’

TAKEN FOR A RIDE

Thank­fully Steve had al­ready started the mo­tor. That’s a hefty look­ing kick­start and a hefty look­ing en­gine and I’m at my usual ten stone of flat-track rac­ing weight. Throw a leg over the bike – ah, clip-ons, I re­mem­ber them. It’s many, many a long year since I stretched over a

tank. My usual rid­ing is up front and high and wide, off-road style. A cou­ple of quick blips of the throt­tle con­firmed the en­gine’s free-revving, in­stant re­sponse. That sug­gests not only ex­cel­lent car­bu­ra­tion, but it gains revs so quickly there’s def­i­nitely a light­ened fly­wheel in there…

Footrests. Where the hell are the footrests? No, they can’t pos­si­bly be that high. Three feet off the ground? It de­fies hu­man bi­ol­ogy that my legs will bend that much. Check the feel from the brake levers, then snick into first (up, de­spite the re­versed gear lever, as the cam­plate in­side the box is re­versed as well). Feed the clutch – RRT2 gear­box, it will be close-ra­tio but a high first – and keep the mo­tor run­ning to head out on the high­way.

This bike is fast. You’d ex­pect that, given its rac­ing her­itage, but its cur­rent state of tune isn’t par­tic­u­larly high. Com­pres­sion ra­tio is stan­dard but the art is in the cam choice and the very care­ful and ex­ten­sive cylin­der head work. It’s a clever com­bi­na­tion. Go gen­tle on the throt­tle and the bike is very tractable, so it’s easy-go­ing in traf­fic. If you ask it to work hard be­low 3500rpm you can in­duce a tad of mega­phoni­tis, but why would you? De­spite the some­what bru­tal ap­pear­ance of the gear lever, its po­si­tion­ing is per­fect, and se­lec­tion up or down is just an in­ten­tion away.

I’m not a great fan of light­ened fly­wheels on off-road bikes where trac­tion is more im­por­tant, but on a race / fast road bike, with enough weight to keep the rear wheel planted, they cer­tainly free up a bunch of revs very quickly. Snick into fourth, and the mo­tor takes it in its stride, it doesn’t even feel the load of a higher gear. Five grand sees you hit­ting around 85mph. In an old, open-face hel­met that was fast enough for me, thank you.

Han­dling is as good as a well set-up BSA du­plex frame can be. I al­ways find them a bril­liant road frame, neu­tral, for­giv­ing and planted all at the same time. I find the feath­erbed re­quires just that lit­tle bit of ex­tra rider in­put. You’ve got to ac­tively lay it into the turns hard to get the best of it, whereas the BSA al­ways seems that bit more will­ing to in­ter­pret your de­sires all on its own.

That im­pres­sive front brake lives up to its ap­pear­ance. It makes you won­der why discs were ever in­vented, that del­i­cate feel and feed­back you never get with cal­lipers. I re­alise hard rac­ing use would still fade any drum brake but, for a bike like this, the dou­ble-sider is both pe­riod cor­rect and op­er­a­tionally per­fect.

Down­sides? The rear edges of the tank are an­gled sharp enough to dig into your thighs, espe­cially un­der heav­ing brak­ing, and af­ter a twenty minute blast your wrists, back and neck all know about it. But that’s a café racer for you, and I’d hap­pily have rid­den it for an­other hour. You only feel the agony when you slow down – keep it pinned and the adren­a­line rush takes care of the pain and then some.

And pinned is re­ally where it’s at, play­ing with the gear­box, rolling the throt­tle on and off, carv­ing up the traf­fic. This is a re­ally well set-up and thought about mo­tor­cy­cle. This is power and taut­ness and han­dling and co­her­ence and ev­ery­thing work­ing in har­mony and just plain Fun. This is high­speed Bri­tish bik­ing at its finest.

A some­what spe­cial spe­cial, and a re­fresh­ing change from more usual Tri­umph pow­ered de­vices

What it says on the tank, then

Did we men­tion that there’s a tap in the oil line?

How the works works. Fold­away kick­start, rather epic gear lever, cen­tral oil tank, a BSA gear­box and a big tap on the oil line

Heavy breath­ing here

Ta cho driveis­taken from the mag­neto’sdrivepin­ion. Did­we­men­tion the oil tap?

A rapidly spin­ning clutch can do bad things to a boot. So…

Neat bal­ance bar for the twin brakes

The eagle-eyed will in­stantly spot that the pri­mary drive is not en­tirely stock. Ob­serve the bright red drive belt and the Com­mando di­aphragm spring clutch

Short Road­holder forks hold the front end up, while brak­ing is han­dled by a truly re­mark­able an­chor, a 230mm 4ls dou­ble-side Robin­son replica from Disco Volante

The loud end…

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