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Norton Featherbed frames and custom built copies

Discussion in 'Other Norton Motorcycles' started by Johnnymac, Jun 1, 2014.

  1. Johnnymac

    Johnnymac VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2011
    Hi Guys. Just wondering if any of you have used a replica/copy of a featherbed frame on any projects? They are getting harder to find and there seem to be newly made options out there. i.e. Andover Norton sells a new Featherbed frame. There's a guy in Chicago and also Philadelphia who makes a nice one too.

    Would a bike built on a "replica" featherbed frame be worth any less than a genuine featherbed frame? I'm not going to be doing any projects for a while since we just celebrated the birth of our second child last week.... but I'm toying with the idea in the future at some point.

    Thanks
     
  2. acotrel

    acotrel

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2012
    There are replica Featherbed frames being made here in Australia. If you are building a race bike and want to use 18 inch wheels, some are made with 26 degree head angles. It makes the bike handle like a 70s Suzuki two stroke, which to my mind is not really what an old style British bike should be about. The Manx frame of the 50s had 24.5 degree head angle and 19 inch wheels. With the centre of gravity correct as in a 500cc Manx Norton, the bike feels very positive and stable coming out of corners and inspires confidence. The 26 degree head angle bike is quite different - more modern and quick steering. If you intend to go that way, you probably need to discuss fork offsets with the maker.
     
  3. Johnnymac

    Johnnymac VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2011
    Thanks Acotrel. Any idea what a "non-Norton" featherbed frame would do to the value of a bike?
     
  4. Fast Eddie

    Fast Eddie VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2013
    There are quite a few replica featherbed makers. I've used those made by Dave Degens of Dresda Autos and would do so again without hesitation.
    A good frame maker will use material that is stronger and lighter than original. There are different opinions on this, Dresda use T45.
    These guys also have a good reputation: http://www.manxnorton.co.nz/
    As to what it would do to the value, if you're talking about an original Manx in collectable condition, it will devalue it. For a Triton etc, it will add value I believe.
    The issue is that a new frame comes with no papers, or more specifically no real identity, so getting it registered for road use requires some thought.
     
  5. Rohan

    Rohan

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2010
    Too right ! - previous threads here have been all over the shop on this strength business...

    There is also the minor matter that original featherbed frames come in 4 versions, of about 20 minor sub-varieties, at least. !?
    Genuine Manx frames -made in 531 hi-tensile tubing, common road featherbeds in mild steel tubing, and Inter frames in cold drawn seamless A tubing.
    And mild steel tubing for slimline type frames .

    Note also that all the road-going frames came with (considerable) bracing around the steering head,
    where the Manx racing frames came with none.
    Some of the replica makers go either way.
    Frames without bracing for road use may be a little bit of a gamble, strength wise ??

    Value is in the eye of the beholder. ?
    Genuine manx frames are streets ahead of anything else, as already mentioned.
     
  6. Rohan

    Rohan

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2010
    There is a bit of a contradiction here ?
    Smaller head angles will make it more agile. ??
    And smaller IS more modern. ???

    And where did you get that 24.5 degrees from anyway ?
    Some folks say the slimlines were 24 degrees,
    and some say they were ALL the same...
     
  7. texasSlick

    texasSlick VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2013
    I agree with Fast Eddie....a Norton engined replica frame = less value, but an alternate engine = more value.

    That said, with the passage of time, as original FB's become extinct, the value of the replica will come up regardless of engine.

    If I were a younger man, I would go with a replica, and stuff in a 150 - 180 HP V four. Such a beast demands respect on its muscle, not pedigree.

    Tell us what you plan to build.

    Slick
     
  8. ashman

    ashman

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    I am lucky I own a orginal 57 Wideline frame and a orginal 60 Slimline frame, I have also seen a few copy frames around, a few well built but have also seen some badly built frames, I can pick a copy frame pretty easy, but if you are going to pay up to $2,000 for a copy you want to be sure its a good copy but you won't know till what ever you build is on the road and of course that will take time to get use to riding it, after building my 850 Wideline Featherbed it took me about 2 to 3 months of riding it to learn how the bike handled and how to push it throught the corners as well learning how far I can stand it up doing long wheelies, I can tell you I can get it to stand straight up without it going to far back where its going to flip, it gets to a point that you can still hold the power on and not flip and with the Norton gearbox you can upshift while on the back wheel and keep the power on.

    So wheather a copy frame will do this I don't know as I have never ridden one, but there are still a lot of orginal frames to be found, but finding one that is still straight or hasn't been repaired in someway is another thing, you got to know what you are looking at, my 850 Featherbed has been built with 19" wheels and handles great but my 650 Slimline has been changed to 18"rear wheel so won't know what effect that will have as I am still building it and have never rode it but can't wait to try it out.

    Ashley
     
  9. madass140

    madass140 VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2011
    "Tell us what you plan to build."
    well not what I would build but here are some of the Featherbed based projects that I have supplied wheels etc for recently
    Laverda 1000/Norton, Norvins a plenty, Trident/Norton, Tritons, Ducati/Norton, I'm currently building a set of wheels for a
    Benelli/Norton yep 6 cylinder.
     
  10. Johnnymac

    Johnnymac VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2011
    Well I have wanted a Triton for a very long time. But unfortunately I have rather meager motorcycle funds at the moment and even less time. (As I mentioned above, we just had another child last week. A little girl named Islay (Pronounced "Eye-la" for those of you who aren't Scottish) I''ve come across a very cool bike that's a custom featherbed frame (With a 25.5 head degree) and a 1967 Kawasaki W650 motor. The W650 motor is a BSA clone. It's a very good price and a runner. I could eventually, over time should I choose, swap out the Kawasaki motor and drop in a Triumph...(Or a Vincent ---if one falls from the sky and lands in my back yard.) Here is what the motor looks like in the frame.

    I am about the pull the trigger tomorrow and buy this bad boy unless the above mentioned Vincent falls from the sky and lands in my backyard.


    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  11. texasSlick

    texasSlick VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2013
    Nice!

    And a nice workshop too!

    I cannot fault the Jap engines, but as Hobot says..."ugh!" The "hinge in the middle" Jap frames should require their designers to fall upon their hair-kari swords, or maybe it's their slide rules .... There I go again, showing my age.

    Good luck with it....it will be a runner, and handler. I love my Featherbed Atlas....I probably would have killed myself on anything else in my younger days.

    Slick

    PS: congratulations on your new daughter
     
  12. cjandme

    cjandme

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2011
    Good looking bike, if you get it , i believe you will be the only kid on the block with one :) I say "Go For It" !!..... also framecrafters make a replica featherbed that looks good too , you can see pictures of them on their website, however as you said this bike is a runner :twisted:
     
  13. grandpaul

    grandpaul VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2008
    W1, i believe. Nice!
     
  14. Johnnymac

    Johnnymac VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2011
    Yes sir, a Kawasaki W1 650. I don't know much about them but from what I've researched, they are a BSA A10 clone essentially.
     
  15. Fast Eddie

    Fast Eddie VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2013
    Johnny, that bike has the potential to be a stunning cafe racer! As someone has already posted, you can ride that anywhere, and I mean anywhere, in the knowledge that there will not be another there!

    That will make a very cool bike indeed.

    Personally I would keep the existing slimline frame. Dresda do a mod to cut all the rear loops off for the shock mounts and replace with a more Manx like set up, I'm sure you could do similar locally, but thats for the future.

    Those Kawasaki's are very collectable in their own right these days, but the chances of finding a rolling chassis to reunite the engine with are zero. So that's a perfect excuse to keep it as is!

    What are you going to put on the tank... kawaTon... NorSaki... Nearly-a-Norbsa...??
     
  16. Bernhard

    Bernhard

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2011
    Re; “but finding one that is still straight or hasn't been repaired in someway is another thing”
    To blooming true, as I have found a lot of the second-hand ones have been bent or butchered in some way. In reality the second-hand prices are now ridiculous, and I am considering getting a new one made-the only problem is it will not be a pre-1973 chassis therefore will not be road fund tax exempt in the UK
     
  17. acotrel

    acotrel

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2012
    The 26 degree head angle is used with 18 inch wheels, it is the combination of rake and trail which gives the move towards self-steering and tightening the bike's line in corners. It also changes the feel under braking conditions. Most bike are set up to become stable under brakes. The 26 degree head angle frames tend to be used like 70s two strokes, you brake up to the corner and tip in rather than taking a smooth positive line. An original Manx with the 24.5 degree head angle and 19 inch wheels feels a lot different, it tends to be stable going into corners and feels very positive coming out, however changing line in corners to ride around others is not so easy. If I was building a racer using an engine other than a manx, I'd use the 26 degree frame. If I was building a replica manx or fixing a genuine one, I'd always use the 24.5 degree frame and 19 inch wheels - the objective is different - authenticity. Why would you want a manx Norton which handled like a Suzuki two stroke ? - that is not why you ride the bike - the experience is different.

    Rohan - about the 24.5 degrees. I asked my friend who has a genuine manx frame (about 1955 model) and I can assure you he would know. Buy yourself a magnetic base protractor and start measuring a few head angles and the trails associated with various wheel sizes. Then ride the bikes and find out how they handle. The difference in geometry can be very slight, however give major differences in handling. One of the major things which alters the handling of a manx Norton is the turn-buckle which strains the motor to the steering head.
    I don't know why I'm telling you this. You should find out for yourself and pay for the bandages involved in getting the experience.
     
  18. Rohan

    Rohan

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2010
    You can tell the difference between 24.5 degrees and 24 degrees and 26 degrees by 'falling off them' ??

    I've never seen that 24.5 degrees quoted anywhere else.

    Bikes under brakes generally dive their front forks - which steepens the steering head angle,
    and would if anything make them less stable. ?
    (thats why anti-dive front forks were all the rage at one stage)
    And why the undived angle has to allow for this...
     
  19. ashman

    ashman

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    In the late 70s a friend of mine seen a 1967 Kawasaki W650 sitting in our local Honda shop, he asked the owner about it and said it was trade in, it sat in the corner collecting dust, he asked how much he wanted for it and the owner said he be glad to get rid of it, so my mate told him he only had $150 and he got it, he took it home gave it a good clean up and put a set of pull back bars on it and just rode it and rode it and rode it, it just kept going starting first kick every time.

    It changed a few owners over the years and my mate brought it back again about 3 years after he sold it, but it was running the same, very reliable, it just kept going, it had a hard life from everone that brought it, after my mate sold it for the second time it went away from our local area to never be seen again, but it changed hands between mates in our area and was around for over 6 years.

    I say if you have a chance to buy the one in the Featherbed, I say go for it, you won't regret it at all.

    Ashley
     
  20. dave M

    dave M

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2005
    Johnny, this is a unique motorcycle and in the field of 'specials' it is indeed quite special. i would jump at this opportunity and keep it as it is. If the Vincent engine falls into your garden get another frame and build it into that. As to what to call it since the full name of the company is 'Kawasaki Heavy Industries' why not call it 'Heavy Feather Saki' this sounds like some weird kind of radioactive moonshine and I suspect you could supplement your income by registering the name and selling the booze to Hobot to run his bikes and feed his hogs!
     

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