cNw #038’s Story – The Norton Café Motorcycle

The Café started out as a thought as most customs do. The idea was to build something that would have the look of a classic Cafe’ but with modern touches so the bike wouldn’t feel dated. Custom bike builders are pushing the limits out there today but I believe that the stripped down British bikes built in the 50′ and 60′ truly are timeless and the look is hard to beat.

Building a custom just for the looks as so many are, is so much easier than making it work as well. # 038 even though compromised a bit with regards to comfort was never intended as a show bike but rather a machine that would run, handle and stop as well as possible given the limitations of the design. For instance the front 4 leading shoe brake certainly doesn’t perform as well as modern disc but works better than any drum (with a couple of exceptions) and as well or better than most discs from the 70’s era.

Because the frame geometry was left untouched and the bike was lowered it handles exceptionally well like most Commandos. The Lowering will compromise ground clearance but the lower center of gravity is very noticeable and exciting in corners. Koni shocks and a 38mm Marzocchi fork ensure that suspension is on par with engine performance.

Speaking of the engine it was built with attitude in mind. Among numerous performance modifications the Head work combined with an aggressive Cam and big bore Exhaust makes this machine ‘rock’. What really launches this machine is the use of dual Keihn ‘pumper’ flat slide carbs with velocity stacks. These carbs combined with the above mentioned mods makes the machine as fast as you would want a classic machine to be even though its extremely friendly and works great just ‘puttin’ down the road, feeling good.

I could take a lot of time to talk about what makes this machine and what all went into it but a picture says more than thousand words so I am just going to let you look for your self. The bike took a year to build (I guess I wouldn’t have won one of those bike build offs) and even though very challenging at times more fun and exciting to build than anything else that I have built in the past.

Matt Rambow