Custom: Manx Norton Moderne

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If you wanted to capture the spirit of the original Manx Norton in a modern bike, which would you choose? Sebastien Beaupere picked the Buell XB because of its powerful air-cooled motor. Originally intending to stick that engine in a featherbed-style frame, he became convinced he couldn’t best the stock Buell item. He did swap in an original Manx seat, hand-formed aluminum bodywork and air-intakes and a leather headlight containing 60 LEDs arranged to form Norton’s old Isle of Man race number — 1.

The Manx Norton Moderne is being unveiled exclusively on HFL.

“At the beginning, I wanted to build a Norton Moderne and I needed a twin engine that was simple, powerful and without water cooling, so therefore I chose Buell XB12,” says Sebastien. “I wanted to put the engine of Buell within a true framework of Norton, but I realized that the Buell was very well conceived, without masses suspended, a low center of gravity, a short footing and it is rather small, close to the true Manx. Therefore I said to myself that it would be more judicious to modify the appearance of the Buell so that it resembles a new Norton and more still to a Manx.”

“Unceasingly, the designers plunge us in the retro néo,” continues the Frenchman. “I wanted a motor bike modern by its design and old by his aspect and therefore I used materials like aluminum, the leather and not plastic or carbon.”

“I replaced the fork and the back shock absorber with Ohlins to have many choices of adjustment, I wanted to have wheels with the spokes of a coffee racer, braking is of radial Brembo with Beringer discs without hole.”

“The airbox cover is out of aluminum, regaining the shapes of Norton Manx with his stopper Monza and it is fixed by a leather belt. I manufactured larger aluminum scoops so that the engine and especially the rear cylinder are cooled better. The saddle is the true saddle from a Manx, I thus modified the rear subframe to be able to adapt it.”

By day, Sebastien is a sculptor working in bronze, stainless steel and aluminum from his home in Avignon.

“The top yoke is also a truth of Norton Manx, on which I placed a headlight equipped with LEDs. There are 60 of them and they light well, this band of LEDs resembles, in fact, the white band of the number “1” which was affixed formerly on these motorbikes of race.”

“The windscreen is out of brass netting to make a repeat of color with the fork, but especially because, before being made out of plexiglass, they were out of netting and were rather to avoid mosquitos than the wind.”

“The exhaust has two exits like a GP bike. Don’t forget that Manx is a machine of circuit.”

“The motorbike functions very well, as well mechanically as visually, because with each stop, many are the people and motorcyclists who have doubts about what it is. Especially that the mark Norton has taken again to manufacturing. I am often asked if it is a prototype.”

“What is interesting it is that it is not a motorbike of museum, it is done to ride, more on the country road than downtown and, as I used materials worked with the hand, it does not have this industrial regularity there, it has already a patina, one lived.”

  • andy727

    Forgive my ignorance, it is a cool bike…but what is Norton about it besides the stickers and seat?

    • Erik

      To add to that, what is Manx about it, given that the Manx was a competition bike and a single.

  • Glenngineer

    Awesome. I’m not feeling the raw finish/lack of finish on the airbox cover, etc, but this is a cool bike that should go like fucking crazy and actually manages to be a little unique.

  • cookey

    The aluminium is great, shame about the poorly executed nose/fly screen and seat… and yeah wtf with the stickers? no need.

    • cookey

      sweet jesus i’ve just read the article… regurgitated nonsense.

      • Wes Siler


        • cookey

          Ok bad/lazy choice of words and I haven’t got the frame of mind to to put my finger on it right now. Not a comment on your writing… just confused/frustrated with the promise of that airbox cover, the “inspiration” and the Manx Norton stickers on a Buell styling exercise.

          It probably shouldn’t but it winds me up.

          You reckon those sculptures have Rodin stickers all over’em?

          • Wes Siler

            Ha, ok. I’m just sensitive to the word “regurgitate.” Every word you read on HFL is original.

            • cookey

              never in doubt

  • Scott-jay

    Good job!
    Re-working an XB in a style off Manx & Norton days is a cool and blends them nicely.
    All its names & logos, not-so-much.

  • jmdelgado13

    This is a nice concept, but it just isn’t working for me.

    I figure you can try to go two ways with this: Stylize a Buell to evoke the classic spirit of the Manx, or try to reinterpret the Buell as what the Manx would be if it had continued as a line to this point.

    I think what you are getting here instead is a case of “What do you get if a Manx mated with a Buell?” Sort of like crossing a Manx cat with a Rottweiler. I mean, they both got stubby tails, right? It should work…

  • andehans

    If he only used a wankel instead of a v-twin..

  • Emmet

    that’s an aggressive looking bike, regardless of what name is on the tank/speedo/frame/airbox/swingarm/engine case…

  • Dumptruckfoxtrot

    If only Buell had made some sort of air cooled single he could have adapted.

    This is a combination if two really great bikes but somehow when you put them together they seem less cool than either on their own.

  • Andreas

    Looks awesome, and modern take on the Manx.

    A friend of mine is btw building a Sportster enigine in a featherbed, he calls it a HarDon. (harton)

  • moby grape

    Is it April 1st already?

  • JonB

    He called it a coffee racer—rad.

    I like the bike a lot, a lot a lot.

    • Chris Davis

      Of course, that’s why he used a filter for the windscreen.

  • UrbanRider

    Yeh I dig it, one man’s pleasure….

  • Richard

    He should have put the motor in a featherbed frame. I get the idea of the bike but the execution is just a bit ‘off’ to me. The lines of the Buell frame just dont jive with the bodywork. I like the tail and the airbox cover on their own, but with the modern design of the Buell frame it’s almost as if the bike is confused.

    Just my two cents, and thats why I pay my subscription. Keep up the good work guys.

  • Barry

    Blech. Why even bother breaking out the Norton name if it’s just an uglied up XB? And that takes a lot. Nobody is gonna call an XB beautiful. Good artists borrow, great artists steal, but hacks put stickers on things hoping you won’t notice what they did.

  • george_fla

    This thing is wrong on so many levels mostly the fact that it IS a Buell,NOT a Norton Manx.

  • Beale

    To sum up: “I was thinking a lot about Nortons while building this Buell”.

  • Stephen

    Dont like it either, looks very confused to me. as if he just slpped some cafe bits on a bike that clearly doesnt want for it.

    but i guess everyone goes there own way right?

  • Trev

    Any specifications on this bike? Or is it just really close to a stock XB?

    • Wes Siler

      I don’t get all that excited about listing a bunch of meaningless numbers. It’s an XB12 with an open exhaust, light wheels, fancy brakes and fancier suspension. So lets say +10bhp and -a few pounds of unsprung.

  • BuellDoc

    A new look via Old School art. If he had a frame the Buell Blast…no that would be dragging the Norton name through slow dead dirt. I think more would accept it if he had gone the Metal Mad Max build.

  • Mike

    What is this? I don’t even.

    I could think of better new bikes to base a Norton Moderne – a Norton.
    A Norton, this is not.

    Call it what it is – a Buell cafe.. in that respect it’s great – nice tank, the headlight is interesting, but aside from the decal, what makes it any more a Norton than a Ferrari?

  • BMW11GS


  • HammSammich

    Eh, I’m sure it’s a very fun/fast bike to ride, but the Buell base doesn’t really have much in common with the Manx, aesthetically or mechanically. From my perspective, what we have here is a cool custom Buell cafe racer / Retro-modern GP Bike in it’s own right…no need to call upon the spirit of the Norton Manx to improve it. Ditch the Norton logos everywhere, and maybe design a Buell logo that is reminiscent of the Norton Script.

  • paul

    Mum wants her pasta strainer back…

  • beaupere

    Hello everyone,
    I am Sebastien, it is me which is modified the buell, and I thank you for your comments, and criticisms which I find rather hard but objective, and I understood that you do not like the stickers, I also think that I will withdraw them, but I think that you did not understand the direction of my work, it did not act to make copy but to find a spirit quite simply.
    we are in a company where we are identified with marks like reference marks,
    don’t have not shirts or caps representing your make of car, motor bike, of helmet to the colors of your preferred pilot, and isn’t it for that you are like him???
    if I had not put of sticker, that would have criticized me?
    what me interress, it is to know if you like the silhouette, if aluminum better rough or is varnished,….
    and there is a proverb which says: criticism is easy but art is difficult…
    in your turn to show me your project and achievements!!!
    thank you

    • BeastIncarnate

      The featured photo that starts the article is the least flattering for the bike. It has a great silhouette and the other angles are great. I like the finish of the fuel tank.