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Can Norton make its marque again?

mercurycrest

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
This looks like a continuation of Portland, Oregon builder, Kenny Dreer's Norton. He needed investors so he let them get controlling interest and when he finally had a running Proto-Type, the investors, bought him out and stopped the project. Last time I talked to him, a couple of years ago, he was not a happy camper to say the least. The bike in the photo is one of the Dreer Nortons. I wish the new owner the best with his project, the Dreer Norton deserves a chance.
Cheers, John
 

Tnecniv Edipar

Well Known and Active Website User
Non-VOC Member
Problem is that Norton has had to many unsuccessful resurrections and the name is now tainted. I wouldn't trust anything short of a major manufacturer reintroducing the brand.
 

Tom Gaynor

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Nortons

Dreer: word commonly in use in Scotland meaning "sad", or "dismal" or "unappealing" as in "aye, a gey dreer day". A day when that soft, insistent drizzle penetrates Barbour suits and only stops when it senses the marrow in your bones... common in summer...
But a new Commando, using modern technology like the new Bonneville, and as reliable, now THAT's something I might buy.
 

Tnecniv Edipar

Well Known and Active Website User
Non-VOC Member
No , but he invested significant capital into starting what has become a major company. I recall lots of scepticism when the initial range was announced , but I saw the factory ,as my business had become a supplier to them , and immediately realised Bloor knew his stuff and this was going to succeed.
 

Robert Watson

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VOC Member
If I recall correctly, Bloor was a major company, with several major contracts for sub supply of parts to the British automobile industry

Robert
 

Tnecniv Edipar

Well Known and Active Website User
Non-VOC Member
If I recall correctly, Bloor was a major company, with several major contracts for sub supply of parts to the British automobile industry

Robert

No , he made his money from house building. Actually started out as a plasterer , then started to buy and sell property. He bought the Triumph name etc when the original Triumph eventually collapsed and started the new Triumph with £75M of his own money , never borrowed anything from a bank.
 

alscomet

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
new norton

Robert,
Its a facinating story the reappearance of Triumph,I actually own one of the LF Harris Machines that were made under license from Bloor ,hope the Nortons get off the ground . just a brief story. al
Triumph Bonneville
In the late 1950s, the Triumph Motorcycle Company at Meriden, England, produced their most successful, and what was to become their most well known motorbike, the Bonneville.
The bike was a modified version of the previous Thunderbird model - a 650cc with twin cylinders and carburettors to make it the fastest production bike of its time. In the early '60s it was the bike that most coffee bar cowboys lusted after with its wild acceleration and handling. On a good day, with the wind in the right direction, the rider prone and a lack of flapping clothing, the production model could push 115mph, and lightly breathed on could top the ton 20. It was also said that it 'looked as if it were doing a hundred miles an hour while standing still' and was known affectionately by its riders as 'the Bonnie'
It was named after the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, USA, where, in 1959, ridden by a Texan, Johnny Allen, it exceeded the motorcycle speed record with a speed of 214.47 miles per hour. In order to do this sort of speed, the bike itself was encased in a low, cigar-shaped streamliner body with a small stabilising fin and decorated with the Lone Star of Texas on the nose. The record was never officially recognised by the governing body, the Federation Internationale Motocycliste as they alleged that incorrect timing equipment had been used.
The Bonneville remained in production until the demise of the Triumph company in 1983 when, after the closure of the factory, a prolonged sit-in by the work force, and a reopening as a workers' co-operative, they finally succumbed to economic pressures. Even then, such was the enthusiasm for the model that a licence to produce Bonnevilles was granted to enthusiast Les Harris, who carried on producing a limited number of bikes known as 'Harris Bonnevilles' from a small factory in Devon until 1988.
The Bonneville evolved over its 20-odd year production history, but not always for the better. The major part of the production was aimed at the export market, primarily to the USA, and increasing laws on noise emissions took their toll on the bike's performance. Eventually the engine size was increased to 750cc, partly to maintain the bike's sporting abilities. The early Bonnevilles, particularly from 1961-2, known as 'pre unit' models because they had a separate engine and gearbox, are the most sought after by enthusiastic collectors and bikers suffering from fits of nostalgia, while the bikes built around 1968-70 are generally thought to be the most 'sorted'
It could fairly claim to be the 'Fastest Motorcycle in the World' as during the '60s it notched up an impressive list of world records and wins in production bike racing. In '62 another American, Bill Johnson, pushed the record to 230mph and in 1970 Bob Leppan went to 264mph in another streamliner named Gyronaut, this time with two Bonneville engines in tandem. In England and Europe the Bonnie won several endurance races including the Thruxton 500 miles, and in '69 piloted by Malcolm Uphill won the Production TT in the Isle of Man at an average speed of 99.99mph. This included the first lap of the TT course at over 100mph by a production bike.
The site of the old Meriden factory is now a housing estate which includes a 'Bonneville Close' which is probably the only road to be named after a motorcycle. A new company now produces Triumph motor cycles using the old model names on modern bikes. They have not as yet used the Bonneville name; perhaps they will in the future, but hopefully it will be on something rather special as it has a hard act to follow. The Bonnie still has an enthusiastic following and there is an active Triumph Owners Motor Cycle Club whose members still keep the motors running.
 

Peter Stokes

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
The site of the old Meriden factory is now a housing estate which includes a 'Bonneville Close' which is probably the only road to be named after a motorcycle. .[/quote]

There is Rue Norvins in Montmartre!!
 
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Len Matthews

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
I recall wandering around dealer's showroom soon after the "new" Triumphs appeared when a comment was overheard; "Pity you haven't got any British bikes in stock". The salesman said "Yes we have, you've just walked past one." pointing to one of Mr. Bloor's creations.It was easy to see why the enquirer didn't notice it because it was a dead ringer of most Japanese sports machines and appeared to be assembled from imported components. ND instruments,Mikuni carbs, etc, etc, Nothing wrong with that, it was (and is) the kind of product that sells. Mr. Bloor would have made a big mistake to put the old style Meriden twins and triples back on the market. Reviving famous marques from the past seldom succeeds but maybe a "new" Norton will be popular.
 

mercurycrest

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Here's the website for the new Nortons: nortonmotorcycles.com/company . I think if Dreer's old company could have got proper funding, they'd have sold plenty of them. They remind me a lot off the RTV Egli that showed so much promise.
Cheers, John
 

Tom Gaynor

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Bonnevilles

Given that the Harley v-Rod is actually designed by Porche, and that the Harley ohc vee-four, yes, ohc vee-four, of 1980, was also designed by Porche, why wouldn't Bloor go outside Britain to have a bike designed? It's accessories industry died 30 years ago when the industry went belly-up.
New Bonnevilles are hugely popular, particularly with olders rider who want the performance of their youth without constant maintenance. A friend, who owns a Vin Twin and a Comet, AND a Triumph 3 cylinder megabike (the 2.1 or whatever behemoth) and an Indian Chief, and various Harleys, confesses, shamefacedly, that of all his bikes, he enjoys the Bonneville most. If a modern Bonnie no longer does 120 mph, no problem. He's no longer interested in doing 120 mph. It's adequate, and still has the looks that Turner gave it in the first place. A little overweight now, perhaps - but aren't we all?
 
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Tnecniv Edipar

Well Known and Active Website User
Non-VOC Member
Personally I find the retro versions of thoroughbred classics offensive to the eye. The "new" Bonnie , Ducati S , SS & GT's , etc , etc are an abhorrent mess of aesthetic corruption. Having owned a '69 Bonnie and still own a 1975 Ducati Sport I simply could never find their pastiche retro repro's of any any appeal whatsoever.
Forcing the engine appearance of a modern replica to appear superficially similar to the original for the sake of marketing but for no mechanical reason is an appalling travesty. The same applies to any of the attempts of a "new" Vincent , although thankfully the engine has never been retro'ed. Imagine though if some manufacturer produced a retro Vincent with a new engine totally modern inside but made to look similar to the original !! The thought makes me nauseous !!! Now if some company produced a totally modern machine , with the Vincent name inspired by the Vincent philosophy of rule breaking design and quality of manufacture, say something like the Britten V1000 , now that would be a tribute !!
 

bmetcalf

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
I agree on the Duc. When I finally bought my 1st new bike in 30 years, I wanted the Sport replica, but didn't like it and got a Buell instead. It doesn't copy anything.
 

Tom Gaynor

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Replicas

I don't want a Bonneville myself (although I could almost be tempted by a 1967 model in production racing trim...), but if you wanted a bike like the bikes of your youth, sit-up-and-beg, light, moderate performance, but without the hassle of maintenance or a rebuild, perhaps because you lacked the patience and skill for either, what would you buy? And is the Royal Enfield a replica, or the real deal? The "new" Shadow was undoubtedly a replica, and no-one has pretended otherwise. Whatever, I observe that both Bonnie and RE seem to sell astonishingly well, albeit to people without our fine sense of aesthetics. Minis too, come to think of it.
I HAVE completely overhauled a 1970's Ducati (although I didn't actually fit the new big-end myself), and ridden it for thousands of miles thereafter. I know perfectly well however that very few owners could contemplate doing that, or even, perhaps, afford to have "a restorer" do it for them.
I'm not prepared to turn up my nose at people who lack my skills. It's a broad church, and their hearts are in the right place. The more people on bikes that look like a means of transport for ordinary mortals, rather than a tool for Valentino Rossi, the better. It's something I'm very conscious of. I think a motorcycle is transport: the media regard it as a toy.
 

vapide

Well Known and Active Website User
Non-VOC Member
I'm confused. Is that an all new engine, or yet another bitsa upgrade of the old one? If the former, why on earth would they settle for a 2 valve pushrod twin? Come to think of it, the head (what little you can see of it) has almost a BSA look to it.
 

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