C652SM "Ironing Board" (P100A )
"Geoff Duke" bike
Rotary motorcycle production effectively ended in 1993. When
after several years and many false promises the owners of the Shenstone
Norton factory failed to come up with their British designed
"Wunderbikes"- the V8 "Dementis" especially, often
announced, a combination of two Kawasaki ZX7R top halves on a common
crankcase being the one driving the NOC committee to hysteric ovations- in
1997 I foolishly decided to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Norton
with my own Norton motorcycle offering.
Motors GmbH, at the time owner of the Norton TM for nearly all of Europe,
was then financially strong and in the legal position to do it. For
the chassis we turned to Dave Pearce of Tigcraft, for engine and other
parts we landed a contract with BMW and for other components with MZ,
whose Scorpion model- initiated by Andover Norton, but that is another
story- gave us a lot of very competitively priced small components we
needed to complete the bike.
"Ironing Board", aptly named for its rather unfortunate
non-styling, was presented at the 1997 NEC Show, and ridden to the
exhibition centre by Geoff Duke, who then bitterly (and correctly!)
complained about the seat height. A typical mistake when the
development team consists solely of men, and experienced motorcyclists to
boot, all at least 6ft tall.
the bike got raving reviews for its roadholding and general performance-
no miracle in that it was nearly 20kg lighter than the BMW F650 from which
it had its engine- the general opinion was its looks let it down, so for
the production bikes we had Adam White of Factory Design, London,
transform it into a really nice machine.
ironing board was then used as the maid of all work, being the runaround
bike for Richard Negus at Norton Motors Ltd for a while, and then used as
the bike loaned to friends who came to visit and needed wheels; even as training bike for ladies about to take the motorcycle test.
And this is how it looks now,
15 years on.
Exhaust was chromed after the 1997 show. Richard Negus did not
like the steel side panels so he did his styling exercise with
plastic. Personally, I liked the steel panels better.