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.”