Norton: a golden week-end

.By Laurent Tomas

It is on the famous and legendary Donington Park circuit, where Norton has recently installed his new factory that a lot of enthusiasts had met to exibit the models made by the most famous British brand.

Norton Owners Club took this opportunity to invite all the members to spend the week-end and discover the new Norton models.

The oldest Norton, a 1907 who won the Tourist Trophy on the Isle of Man this year with a Peugeot Frères engine as well as the very last,the Norton Rotary racer NRV588 developed by Brian Crighton with a Spondon framework and driven by Michael Dunlop in the last TT.

Parade of factory motorcycles took over throughout the weekend. Those machines were riden by renowned pilots such as : Alan Cathcart, Terry Rymer, Trevor Naton & Norman White.

The factory presented also the last tourism production, the Norton Commando 961SE that will be produced during the second quarter of 2009.

Alongside this unique environment, no less than 39 classic motorcycles races took place between Saturday and Sunday with over 1000 bikes .

English people have a real culture of the race bike and don't hesitate to put on the track the most mythical race bikes ever built.

There's a photo Gallery


Back to virtual city

Hi all
I come back to you after a month without the "internet machine", during which Franksider served valiantly the blog.
It feels good to resourcing and live the real adventure, forget the virtual for a while ...
I come back loaded with a lot of new original photos taken by Laurent, Benoit and me and we'll share them with you.

May 1971



A Jeff Decker Interview


A few weeks ago i ask Jeff Decker to answer for the Southsiders to the "Inside the Actor Studio" interview, after the Proust Questionnaire.
Here is what he answers :

1. What is your favorite word? : Aesthetic

2. What is your least favorite word? : O'l Skool

3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? : Well built mechanical objects that are ahead of their time & have endured molestation.

4. What turns you off creatively, spiritually or emotionally? : Poor attention to line, proportion & detail.

5. What sound or noise do you love? : Quiet.

6. What sound or noise do you hate? : A loud woman.

7. What is your favorite curse word? : There are no curse words left, in order to offend, one must use politically incorrect words such as nigger or faggot.

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? : Executive of a trust fund.

9. What profession would you not like to do? : Anything that required a desk, boss & set hours.

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? : I expected more... but you did good enough.

Thanks Jeff for the time you took to answer this questionnaire




Retro and Revival Style Today. An exhibition of photography, fashion and motorcycles.

Featuring: Ryo Bamba, Nick Clements, William Gentle, Matt Hind, Nathan Small and yours truly.

Monday 14th - Sunday 20th September 2009.
The Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, London E1 6QL.
Free Admission.

Sponsored by Men's File magazine (http://www.mensfile.com/)


The Queen of Speed


Hellé Nice was a model, dancer, and a Grand Prix motor racing driver.

At the time, the Paris area was one of the principal centres of the French car industry and there were numerous competitions for auto enthusiasts. Hellé Nice loved the thrill of driving fast cars and as such she jumped at the opportunity to compete in a racing event at the annual fair organized by fellow performers from the Paris entertainment world.

An athletic woman, she was also an avid downhill skier but an accident on the slopes severely damaged her knee and ended her dancing career. Perhaps inspired by Charlotte Versigny who had competed in a Talbot racer in the 1927 Grand Prix de la Baule, Hellé Nice decided to try her hand at professional auto racing. In 1929, driving an Omega-Six, she won an all-female Grand Prix race at Autodrome de Montlhéry in the process setting a new world land speed record for women. Capitalizing on her fame, the following year she toured the United States, racing at a variety of tracks in an American-made Miller racing car.

A short time after returning from America, at a café on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, Philippe de Rothschild introduced himself. For a time, the two shared a bed and the love of automobile racing. Rothschild had been racing his Bugatti and he introduced her to Ettore Bugatti. The owner of the very successful car company thought Hellé Nice would be an ideal person to add to the male drivers of his line of racing vehicles. Having been outspoken in her desire to compete with the men, she achieved her goal and in 1931 and drove a Bugatti T35C in five major Grand Prix races in France as well as in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. A master of showmanship, Hellé Nice was easily recognizable in her bright-blue race car. She loved every minute of her life and exploited her femininity, portraying herself as a fearless competitor up against hard-driving men. She wowed the crowds wherever she raced while adding to her income with a string of product endorsements. Although she did not win a Grand Prix race, she was a legitimate competitor, and frequently finished ahead of some of the top male drivers .

Over the next several years, as the only female on the Grand Prix circuit, she continued to race Bugattis and Alfa Romeos against the greatest drivers of the day including Tazio Nuvolari, Robert Benoist, Rudolf Caracciola, Louis Chiron, Bernd Rosemeyer, Luigi Fagioli, and Jean-Pierre Wimille, amongst others. Like most race drivers, Hellé Nice competed not only in Grand Prix races but also took part in hill climbing events and road rallies all over Europe including the famous Monte Carlo Rally. On 10 September 1933, she was a competitor in one of the most tragic races in history. During the 1933 Italian Grand Prix at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, Giuseppe Campari, Baconin "Mario Umberto" Borzacchini and the Polish count Stanislas Czaikowski, three of the leading race drivers of the day, were killed.

images courtesy of : forum-auto.com


The mini-skirt Mob

The Mini-skirt mob

Driven by jealousy, the jilted leader of a female motorcycle gang instigates a sadistic reign of terror against her ex-lover and his new bride.


Endless Horizon


In 2005, motorcycle journalist Dan Walsh rode out of London on a Yamaha XT Desert Rat, headed for Africa. From Dakar to Ghana to South Africa, then on to North and South America, he kept his readers posted about his travels, along the way earning the label "the savior of motorcycle writing." Whether he's delivering judgments ("Chile will always be South America's supermodel sister--very beautiful but too long, too skinny, and too expensive to ride, and despite the groovy exterior, unpleasantly right-wing underneath.") or just describing another day on the road ("I get my bum pinched by a tranny, my pocket picked by a grifter and get a gun pulled on me by a one-eyed, one-armed midget who's upset cause I winked at him."), these reports from the gonzo frontier of motorcycle travel are never less than Technicolor, adrenaline-soaked, and coruscatingly funny. Lyrical, edgy, fraught with danger, despair and surreal highs and lows--this is a travelogue like no other. Walsh's postings take readers to Buenos Aires (where "revolutionary" means the angry poor invading the presidential palace, not a really small phone thats also a camera) and across the sub-Saharan savannah (like riding across a piece of toast with a mouthful of crackers); they feature Walsh being mistaken for a bum in New York, bashed by deadly tequila in Mexico, contracting typhoid in a dilapidated Bolivian hotel, biking "The Most Beautiful Road in the World" in Peru, being kidnapped in Kenya and finding downtown Soweto about as threatening as Stockport. And again and again they reveal Dan Walsh as the rightful heir to Ted Simon as the pre-eminent biker-rebel of our generation.


Gran Torino


I just saw the Gran Torino movie tonight just a pure Chef D'Oeuvre

Gran Torino is a 2008 American drama film directed and produced by Clint Eastwood, who also stars in the film. The film marks Eastwood's return to a lead acting role after four years, his last leading role having been in Million Dollar Baby. The film features a predominantly Hmong cast, as well as Eastwood's younger son, Scott Eastwood, playing "Trey". Eastwood's oldest son, Kyle Eastwood, provided the score. The film opened to theaters in a limited release in North America on December 12, 2008, and later to a worldwide release on January 9, 2009.

The story follows Walt Kowalski, a recently widowed Korean War veteran who is alienated from his family and angry at the entire world. On a dare by his cousin for initiation into a gang, Thao, Walt's young neighbor, tries to steal Walt's prized 1972 Ford Gran Torino. Walt develops a relationship with the boy and his family.

Gran Torino was a critical success, and became Eastwood's most lucrative film by grossing over $283 million worldwide.

Just a Pic


1968 T120 Bonneville

The original Triumph Bonneville was popular (particularly in its early years) for its performance compared to other available bikes. Although its motor was later enlarged to 750 cc, in the late 1970s and early 1980s sales abroad greatly suffered in competition with more modern Japanese motorbikes from Honda and other manufacturers. Domestically, however, the T140 remained the best-selling 750cc motorcycle against more sophisticated Japanese and Italian opposition , picking up the prestigious Motor Cycle News Machine Of The Year award in 1979.

The original Triumph Bonneville was a 650 cc parallel-twin (two-cylinder) motorcycle manufactured by Triumph Engineering Co Ltd and later by Norton Villiers Triumph between 1959 and 1974. It was based on the company's Tiger 110 and was fitted with the Tiger's optional twin 1 3/16 in Amal monobloc carburettors as standard, along with that model's high-performance inlet camshaft. Initially it was produced with a pre-unit construction engine which enabled the bike to comfortably achieve 115 mph without further modification, but later (in 1963) a unit construction model was introduced which was stiffer and more compact, including additional bracing at the steering head and swing arm. The steering angle was altered and improved forks were fitted a couple of years later, which, together with the increased stiffness enabled overall performance to match that of the Bonneville's rivals. Later T120 Bonnevilles used a new frame which contained the engine oil instead of using a separate tank; this became known as the oil in frame version. The T120 engine, both in standard configuration and especially when tuned for increased performance, was popular in café racers such as Tribsas and particularly Tritons.


Paul Grace : Anarchy on the road


Paul Grace started out as a musician, followed by a long career as a design engineer within the film industry.

he enjoy motorcycle adventure travel, Motocross racing and anything creative.

Over the last year, Paul Grace kept a diary of his motorcycling life aboard Royal Enfield motorcycles. His travels included country fairs, bike nights, the Himalayas and more, and all these adventures appear in his new book...

Those expecting the memoirs of a young revolutionary will be disappointed - the author is not young and does not have a beard! He has, however, had many years of riding motorcycles, which has resulted in a rich tapestry of experience and strong views on many aspects of life. (courtesy of realclassic)


Matt "Machine"


In his previous life, Matt was a popular architect from Sydney, but twenty years ago, he began to build and restore his first bikes.
Its taken him twenty years to get to the point of being able to set up his workshop...tools....enough space...he had to move to the country to get this space.
the workshop is at the farm.....which is about 3 hours south of Sydney....in a town called Braidwood.

The Workshop is named "MACHINE" after the Jim Jarmusch movie "DEAD MAN" starring Johnny Depp...in that movie he visits a back of nowhere country town called Machine....he is travelling on a train from the east coast to the frontier in the west....and the last stop on the line is Machine..

Matt love pre 1970 bikes...his birth year...mostly british ( Nortons addicted, Rudge etc)...and 42-69 harleys... He was very into Ducatis at one point and had a couple of concourse winning bikes but the cost of running italian bikes there (parts etc) killed it for him.

His favourite bike in the whole world is the Norton50 model es2....he rode it every day for about 8 years...and will never sell it....it the cheapest bike he ever bought....He's still in love with it after 15 years...and it never let him down...

With the new business...MACHINE...He want to dedicate himself to being the best fabricator he can...and like architecture...he want to strip it back to the bones...reveal the structure...dispense with ornament for ornaments sake and remove anything superfluous...making the machine lighter, faster, and all that..

but more...he want it to be about loving the construction and assembly of the elements...with a bike he can control the assembly of the parts...its the reason the architecture has crippled him...there are so many other external forces and influences he cant control....

In my opinion Matt has built the most interesting Norton Bobber/Racer, don't change anything Matt it's perfect...

Matt like to build the bikes for himself and then sell....but he's also building a couple for customers....and would like to build maybe 3 or 4 a year for customers.....that would be ideal....

Matt's Blog Here



A rattling Norton Sidecar


Once again my friend Bill from SoCal is surprising me.
He took those pictures in El Mirage and what can i say but "RESPECT"

It had been rattling around in my head for a long time so I had to build it. A brief spec is a homemade frame of 3"x 2" rect. tubing with 1" sq. bracing. The front wheel is from an Austin Mini and the forks a cut up Kawasaki. Steering is by linkage. The engine is another Weslake pushrod 500 speedway and the gearbox is an AMC from a Matchless.

The rear wheel is an 18" Triumph and the sidecar wheel is a 5" kart wheel.
The engine has been in my Norton and has ran 203 kph. 200+kph is the goal for the sidecar.

I think it is capable but will take a bit of work. I ran in in June at El Mirage. That was its first run and it turned 171 kph. July was slightly better at 179 kph. It would have been a lot faster but I had a problem with the kill switch activating. The next outing will be Sept. and the target is 190 kph.


European Airstream Meeting


Yesterday evening, the weather was stormy and too much windy to take the bikes. The atmosphere reminded me the movie " The War of the Worlds".

So we've gone with the Mustang and the Beetle to the fourth European Airstram Meeting. Eighty miles from Toulouse there's a farm and a special Camping.

The Boss Peter an Englishman and his original family receive only "Airstream" trailers and vehicles over 25 five years old.

The place near the Pyreneean mountains is hard to find but that's your guarantee for tranquility.

Take a look on the Gallery

A good place for a next bike trip...


Just a Rudge pic