“I’ve by no means sat on a working Norton earlier than,” photographer Marian Promote declares proudly. He’s simply completed dialing on this 750 cc Seeley Norton Commando—a course of that concerned a number of warmth cycles, ignition timing changes, carb syncing classes, cylinder head re-torques, and valve clearance resets. Now, a yr after shopping for it as a rolling chassis, Marian’s first functioning Norton is lastly full.
“It runs like a clockwork,” he provides. “It jogs my memory of the Porsche 928 my grandfather owned once I was a child, when it comes to the engine sound and really feel. It has a really strong pull within the mid-range too.”
The Seeley Norton couldn’t be extra completely different from Marian’s common day by day runner—a street-legal Husqvarna FS450. However it’s not the primary time he’s flirted with classic or British equipment. He’s been twiddling with bikes since he was a child—and he as soon as purchased a mid-30s Norton with the intention of restoring it.
“After I was 16 years outdated, I began tuning my Vespas and Lambrettas in Germany, as a result of my buddies and I had been very aggressive,” he tells us. “No matter mechanical abilities I’ve now got here from the world of Italian scooters.”
“In 2014 I went to the Manx Grand Prix on the Isle of Man, and for the primary time I noticed a non-scooter bike that I actually appreciated; a 1936 Norton Worldwide 30. Just a few months later I purchased one in Canada, in a very disassembled state, pondering ‘I can simply wing it.’ However just a few years later I gave in and contacted NYC Norton.”
As its identify states, NYC Norton is a Norton specialist store in New Jersey, owned by the educated Kenny Cummings. Marian’s 1936 venture won’t have panned out as deliberate, but it surely did introduce him to Kenny and the 2 quickly grew to become buddies.
“Each time I walked into Kenny’s store,” says Marian, “I needed to move this row of fantastic-looking race bikes. Norton Commandos, Matchless G50s, Manx Nortons, Nourish Engineering; individuals would pay cash simply to have a look at these bikes. Kenny is a rock star and a celeb within the classic racing world—his bikes are among the most interesting bikes I’ve ever seen.”
“On the finish of final yr, Kenny instructed me that his buddy John was trying to promote his race bikes, so I visited NYC Norton once more to check out them. However as an alternative of shopping for a full race bike, I bought my palms on a rolling chassis that was amassing mud within the nook of Kenny’s store.”
The chassis got here from a race bike that John had constructed along with the Canadian Norton guru and racer, Herb Becker; a short-stroke 500 cc Commando. The bike scored a number of AHRMA (American Historic Racing Motorbike Affiliation) wins and podiums, earlier than being retired.
Marian snapped it up and began taking inventory. The bundle included a Seeley Mk2 reproduction body, constructed by Roger Titchmarsh within the UK. It got here with 18” Akront wheels, a Fontana four-leading-shoe entrance brake, a Manx rear hub, and Ceriani GP forks.
“With Kenny’s assist and experience, I began shopping for elements for a Seeley Norton Commando 750 street-legal racer,” says Marian. “I constructed the bike in order that it may be raced within the AHRMA 750 class, which requires the parts to be true to the particular period of the construct. For example, I made a decision on round-slide Mikunis, as a result of flat slide carburettors weren’t but a factor in 1969.”
“I assembled the engine instances and prime finish at Kenny’s store underneath his supervision, and from there I moved the construct into my front room. I stripped the paint to disclose the attractive bronze brazing from Roger Titchmarsh and began constructing customized brackets. I suppose the whole lot on this bike is customized, since, as Kenny says, there’s no ‘Seeley store’.”
For the engine, Marian used a Molnar racing crankshaft and crankcases, matched to a Norton Commando Fight cam and heads. The transmission is a five-speed affair with GP-style shifting (one up, 4 down), whereas the belt pulley and clutch come from Maney. The engine’s fed by a pair of Mikuni VM32 carbs and exhales by way of a two-into-one exhaust from Minnovation Racing within the UK.
Marian purchased the Seeley Norton’s rolling chassis with Molnar gas and oil tanks already put in, so solely half of the bodywork needed to be sourced contemporary. A Kirby fairing was fitted to the bike; it and the race-style tail part are completed in black to distinction the normal silver tank, appropriately.
The Norton has all-new wiring too, with a brand new loom strung round a Motogadget mo.unit management field, tucked beneath the seat. The flip indicators, switchgear, and tachometer are from Motogadget too, however the latter’s been disguised with a duplicate Smiths face to present it a period-correct look. The LED taillight is from Australia’s Goal Constructed Moto, the rear-set pegs are from NYC Norton, and the tires are Avon Roadriders.
There’s a smorgasbord of much less obvious mods too, however proper now, Marian is concentrated on how a lot enjoyable he’s having driving the factor. “I’m not used to driving this low to the bottom,” he explains. “This Norton needs to tilt, and feels very secure on the straights in addition to within the turns.”
Marian can be fast so as to add that he has a protracted listing of individuals to thank for serving to him put the Seeley Norton collectively—except for Kenny, in fact. Aleksey at WorksMFG helped to manufacture the exhaust and did some extra bronze-brazing work. Marian’s neighbor, Julian Potulicki, who occurs to be an oil painter, did the art work on the gas tank, oil tank, and windshield.
Roger Titchmarsh fabricated extra brackets to carry the fairing and headlight in place, Joel Levine took the tacho aside and fitted the Smiths face, and Marian’s buddy, Andi, supplied limitless assist and electrical recommendation.
“And my girlfriend Annalise has been, and nonetheless is, very affected person about having a motorcycle in our front room. It’s simpler now that the bike is multi functional piece, as an alternative of getting a thousand items of oily, British bike Lego flying round.”