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Guzzis @ Norton Motorcycles

Discussion in '24-7 Lounge' started by Chris Jessop, Jan 10, 2020.

  1. Chris Jessop

    Chris Jessop Cruisin' Guzzisti

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    Yesterday afternoon we visited the Norton factory near Castle Donington, Leicestershire. Organised last October, our tour of the factory lasted 1.5 hours and covered most aspects of production. Norton (quite rightly) make a big thing about their machines being hand-built. The amount of work that goes into making the frames, petrol tanks and exhaust systems is staggering. All this is done on site by skilled people who obviously take a great deal of pride in their work. It's refreshing to see motorcycles still being made this way.

    Our favourite machine was the Dominator Naked, it looks just right and is a thing of beauty. Prices range from approx. £10,000 GBP for the new Atlas Nomad 650 to £50,000 GBP for the supercharged Superlight SS which has a full carbon fibre chassis, rear frame, swing arm and wheels.

    Norton have a full order book and are expanding production this year to meet demand.

    Out of our group of 20 visitors we were the only ones who'd arrived on two-wheels. It was a cold day but riding conditions were spot on. We weren't allowed to take pictures in the motorcycle production area, but we could take pictures in the welding shop and the showroom.

    IMG_2158.JPG IMG_2162.JPG IMG_2166.JPG IMG_2175.JPG IMG_2176.JPG IMG_2168.JPG IMG_2179.JPG IMG_2182.JPG IMG_2170.JPG
     
  2. Raven

    Raven High Miler GT Famiglia

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    I just looked at their website. They have an interesting lineup of bikes. 84 HP from a 650cc is pretty good I'd say. $17,000 CAD is not bad for a hand made bike but $85,000 CAD for the SS is a little rich. What a sinister looking machine though!
     
  3. GTM®

    GTM® Administrator Staff Member GT di Razza Pura

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    Fun, thanks for posting. I'm intrigued with the brand, though a bit bittersweet with the battles with Kenny Dreer here in the States over the name - https://www.cycleworld.com/2010/09/09/the-real-commandos-special-feature/

    I have a few customers that have bought them, and they've been really problematic, some major (engine) and some more minor issues. Makes Guzzi seem like a Honda. ;)
     
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  4. Chris Jessop

    Chris Jessop Cruisin' Guzzisti

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    Todd, thanks for the Cycle World link, it makes interesting reading.

    Before the tour started we were given a short presentation on the history of Norton. Kenny Dreer was credited with keeping the brand alive and his teams development work in the USA. There's an American made Norton in the National Motorcycle Museum, Solihull. I'll have to have a closer look at it next time I'm there. Its silhouette certainly looked very similar to the 961 you can buy now.
     
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  5. GTM®

    GTM® Administrator Staff Member GT di Razza Pura

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    Welcome. I got to ride a Dreer Norton c2003 (or so) and spoke with him at length then while I was contributing at Cycle World.
    As I understand it, most everything he created and produced (including design files and all tooling) went to the UK when the deal was done, so it’s my understanding that it is nearly identical to the one I rode.
    I’ll reach out to Mark Hoyer, or David Edwards (bikeexif.com/david-edwards-cycle-world) who owns one, for more details.
     
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  6. Chris Jessop

    Chris Jessop Cruisin' Guzzisti

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    Since first posting this topic I've learnt so much more about Kenny Dreer and his pivotal role in the history of Norton. Prior to our visit to the Norton factory I had no idea that the four 961's being assembled in front of me* owed so much to Kenny and his team in Portland, Oregon.

    * Such a shame I couldn't take any photos.
     
  7. Brian UK

    Brian UK GT Reference

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    My memories of Norton go back to the Plumstead factory and all the crew there. Then on to Andover. Rather lost track in recent years.
     
  8. GTM®

    GTM® Administrator Staff Member GT di Razza Pura

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  9. Chris Jessop

    Chris Jessop Cruisin' Guzzisti

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    Yes, very sad news indeed. During our visit everything was so positive regarding their order book and their plans for expanding production. That Cycle World feature certainly puts the financial situation into perspective. I hope everything works out for their dedicated employees and customers who have paid money upfront for motorcycles.
     
  10. mother goose

    mother goose Just got it firing!

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    I was lucky enough to see a rotary Norton being raced. Man what a fantastic sound it made. I hadn't really got to excited about the latest Norton to be honest sure they are a great looking bike but I had heard the were plagued with reliability issues and very expensive where as in the same league there is a whole host of classicly styled twin cylinder bikes for far less money that are providing reliable service. It's nice to take your bike out for a ride but it's so much nicer if it brings you home surely it's not too much to ask at this stage of the game. I am more impressed with the Royal Enfield 650 for practically half the price of the Norton and considerably less than a Triumph twin if we are talking old British brand name bikes. The Enfield are selling like hot cakes so just as well they are nice bikes. That got a frame designed by Harris and when I was a school boy they were the frame makers before the alloy beam frames became all the rage. Still 100 jobs gone and all the people getting ripped off left right and center its a very sad day indeed.
     
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  11. PaulDavies

    PaulDavies Cruisin' Guzzisti GT Contributor

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    watch them at the TT

     
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  12. GuzziMoto

    GuzziMoto GT Reference GT Contributor

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    That is one of my all time favorite racebikes at the TT.
    Thanks for posting that.
     
  13. Chris Jessop

    Chris Jessop Cruisin' Guzzisti

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    Good news this week regarding Norton.

    norton a .jpg norton b.jpg
     
  14. Raven

    Raven High Miler GT Famiglia

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    Wow good news. Royal Enfield and Norton are now made in India. My friends wife even bought a BMW 310 which he claims is made in India.
     
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  15. blakbird

    blakbird Cruisin' Guzzisti GT Famiglia

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    I'm in 2 minds about whether thats good news or not so good news. I'm far from impressed with the Performance of the Royal Enfields being sold in the USA.

    As an Ex-Pat Brit with a 80 mile round trip to work on motorways and narrow, twisty country roads, my favorite daily riders were Nortons, until I aquired my first Guzzi.

    My Nortons seemed to handle and perform well in all conditions. Really enjoyed riding them a lot.

    My concern is based on how "Retro" the RE's are in almost every way.

    I'd be really dissapointed to see Nortons get the same treatment.
     
  16. kiwi dave

    kiwi dave GT Reference

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    I saw one of the new generation Norton Commando at a bike shop in Auckland. It looked the same old Norton with updated brakes and suspension.

    But the price was ridiculous. I can't remember the exact figure, but I think I could have purchased two V85s for the same price. I don't think they are available anymore, whether any sold is unlikely.
     
  17. Chris Jessop

    Chris Jessop Cruisin' Guzzisti

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    norton.jpg

    More good news about Norton, they're now hiring again.
     
  18. scottmastrocinque

    scottmastrocinque Scott Mastrocinque GT Famiglia

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    :think:

    Oh yeah...

    When I think of quality made goods, India is the first word that pops into my head.
     
  19. Meldrew

    Meldrew Cruisin' Guzzisti GT Contributor

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    To be fair India is fast becoming a major player in world trade specially in the pharmaceutical and tech industries. I've been quite impressed with some of the Royal Enfield offerings and the new 500 is a stunner and if they can keep the Norton name afloat with quality, reasonable priced offerings then I say go for it. I think the quality control of some of the big marques in the bike industry now leaves a lot to be desired with prices reaching silly levels. I've got no intention of changing the Eldorado anyway so it can see me into retirement and beyond :).
     
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  20. GuzziMoto

    GuzziMoto GT Reference GT Contributor

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    I have looked at the various Royal Enfield options. And honestly, there are many aspects of the build quality that are impressive. Many other brands, including Guzzi, would be doing well to build them that well.
     

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