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RealClassic July 2021

RealClassic magazine features the very best British motorcycles from all eras, plus charismatic Continental machines (and the odd Japanese classics crops up occasionally, too). Long term classic riders will recognise many of the members of the RC team, which includes authors, historians and journalists like Steve Wilson, Dave Minton, Matt Vale, Odgie, Jacqueline 'PUB' Bickerstaff, Rowena Hoseason and editor Frank Westworth -- but the magazine's key feature is that it is firmly grounded in the real world. Our articles are written by real life riders and reflect far more than a simple road test ever can. We're never scared of getting grubby in The Shed (and we even admit it when things go horribly wrong!)

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United Kingdom
Mortons Media Group, Ltd
$4.57(Incl. tax)
$39.55(Incl. tax)
12 Issues

in this issue

3 min
from the front

I suffer from a few blind spots when it comes to maintaining my motorcycles. I’m decently good at changing the oil and cleaning or replacing any filtration devices that the manufacturers kindly fitted. I’m OK when it comes to adjusting and lubing the chains, too, and continue a mostly cheerful campaign to maintain lube levels in primary chaincases, even those which vent to atmosphere and so … ah … breathe a little energetically should a chap open the throttle for a prolonged time. Ten minutes counts as a prolonged time with the Matchless CSR twin, but the much-maligned G5 lightweight 350 from the same factory appears to lose no lube at all. Hateful. It will never catch on. Cables are another source of the gentle satisfaction which comes with setting a…

13 min
the luxury lightweight

My dream bike is a top quality, small capacity roadster. Not a budget bike, built down to a price, but a high-spec well-equipped all-rounder. A proper motorcycle, one which is simply smaller in every respect than the brawny great barges which purport to be middleweights these days. I want all mod cons but in miniature: a compact machine which is easy to manoeuvre, has plenty of performance and can cope with crowded roads, and which is ready to rev at the push of a button. Oddly enough, Norton made just that motorcycle… …almost 60 years ago. We can thank Joe Berliner for coming up with the concept. The US importer was struggling to sell Norton’s lightweight twins to his sophisticated customers. The average American wasn’t keen on kickstarting his mo’sickle so…

1 min
tech talk

Although the Norton light twins are almost never compared favourably with their Triumph equivalents (the 3TA and 5TA), in fact the engineering is much more modern, not least because it was a clean sheet design rather than a 1950s upgrade of a 1930s original. It’s a clever and compact design, with a slim central flywheel keeping the width down and with very short pushrods splayed at a wide angle to keep the height down. Note also the lack of external top end fasteners and oil lines. In common with AJS and Matchless twins, the cylinder heads are separate, and use eccentric spindles to adjust the valves. Wide joint surface areas mean that they shouldn’t leak, while the rocker supports are cast into the rockers to the covers are under no loads…

1 min
norton electra fact pack

Engine ohv parallel twin Bore / stroke 66 x 56mm Capacity 384cc Compression 7.9:1 Output 25bhp @ 6800rpm Carburettor Amal 7/8” Monobloc 375 Ignition Coil, twin contact breakers Electrics Wipac 85W alternator, x2 6V batteries Starter Kick / Lucas M3 Gearbox Norton four-speed Clutch Wet, multiplate Primary drive Duplex chain Final drive Chain Front suspension Roadholder tele forks Rear suspension Swinging arm, x2 Girling adjustable shocks Front brake 8” sls drum Rear brake 7” sls drum Wheelbase 51.5” Ground clearance 5.25” Seat height 30” Weight 355lb fuelled Braking 38ft from 30mph Quarter mile 17.8 seconds Top speed 83mph Price new £259.10 in 1964…

2 min
spring forwards

Like a pair of stiff, blue Levi jeans, the Electra’s initially harsh front end actually improved with wear and tear, becoming more compliant at higher mileage. So if you buy an original ES400 now, then the chances are it’ll have well run-in front suspension. Unfortunately, some folks get a bit carried away when it comes to ‘restoration’, and might strip the front end if the fork legs are cosmetically scruffy. That same restorer might decide to fit new springs – because they’re not especially expensive, and you might as well do the job properly while everything is in pieces… The green blobs of paint on the old springs might raise an eyebrow, but few folk now would know it signifies the softer springs that were specified for the Navigator and Electra.…

3 min
taken for a ride

Clicksoddit. A familiar story to Norton pilots operating their electric limbs. However, what can be grunt-inducing kicker operation on a beefy 850 Commando is simply simplicity itself on a neat sweet 400. Kick, Brumm. That’s it. And once it’s warm and the battery’s benefited from a few miles on the bike’s surprisingly vigorous charging system, the quaint red button usually does its pointless stuff. This bike boasts electronic ignition, and is therefore truly pointless Then there’s the big bike boom from the twin slim silencers. On our bike – the one in the shots, of course – the exhaust is a pattern but very accurate system from Feked, and it sounds superb. Just like a big twin – just with rather less low-down vibes. As I already said, this bike’s been…