Norton Motorbike History

Norton is a British motorcycle maker, originally from Birmingham but now based at Donington Park. Current CEO is English businessman Stuart Garner. Norton was started in 1898 by James L. Norton to produce motorcycle parts, but by 1902 the company had started their own bike production, albeit with engines from other manufacturers. In 1908 they started selling their own complete machines including engines.

Norton also has a significant racing pedigree, in fact it is likely to be this heritage that has endeared Norton to many fans of motorcycle racing, and also ensured that the Norton brand has been revived several times. The first edition of the world-famous Isle of Man TT race was won by a Norton in the twin-cylinder class. Norton bikes also won the senior race 10 times between 1947 and 1954. Famous Norton historical models were the Dominator, the Commando and the Atlas.

Even though Norton enjoyed considerable success on the racetrack, commercial sales were faltering, and in 1953 the Norton company was sold to Associated Motorcycles Company (AMC). AMC made significant improvements to Norton, especially in the important areas of frame and gearbox. Competition from Japanese manufacturer and a dwindling home market drove AMC itself to insolvency.

In the 1980’s the company underwent several changes in ownership, a testament to the brand value addition wrought by racing. The company was relaunched in 1988, winning the senior TT race at the Isle of Man. But again commercial sales were disappointing. It was during this time that Norton experimented with the unusual Wankel rotary engines from Mazda.

Norton Model Range

Norton’s models on sale in New Zealand are the Commando, Classic Commander, the F1 and the F1 Sport.

Looking at buying a Norton motorbike? Check the bike history of any Norton by entering its number plate in the field above.