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Bike Review - Posted Friday 13th December 2013
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Norman B3 and B4 Sport

We featured a Norman twin back in the July issue of RealClassic magazine. Turns out, plenty of RC readers have experience of these Villiers-powered two-stroke classics, too...

I very much enjoyed the article on the Norman B4 Sports twin in RC111. The write up was very good and more or less as I would have expected. The pictures are superb. The bike was restored by a member of the Norman Motorcycle and Cycle Club, Ron Warrener, a few years ago. By the way the flyscreen is actually in the correct place as it would have been originally - as shown on the original 1961 brochure.

Norman B4 Brochure...

In January 1962 as a 16 year old I was one of the teenagers who, Rowena rightly said, did not get a glimpse of the B4 Sports. I went into my local Norman dealers, Brook Motorcycles in Chatham, only to be told that the different models in the factory were made in batches and at that time it wasn't the B4's turn. In reality the factory had stopped production earlier in 1961 and the remaining parts were subsequently transported to Raleigh's works in the midlands where a further batch was produced later in 1962 just to use up the surplus parts. After considering many of the other options at the time (Ariel Arrow Super Sports, BSA C15 SS80, Matchless G5 CSR, etc), I bought an Ambassador Sports Super S mainly on the strength of a road test that showed the Ambassador had a top speed of a couple of mph more than most of the others!

A whiff of blue smoke...
Villiers Lightweights on

The B3 Sports that was the forerunner of the B4 was subject to a road test by John Thorpe for Motor Cyclist Illustrated in 1959. He went to the factory and picked out a bike from the production line, had it sealed to prevent factory 'tuning', and then picked it up from the works after it had been completed. He then carried out the road test which was very impressive, A couple of weeks later Mr Thorpe took the bike to Brands Hatch where Derek Minter thrashed it round the short circuit in one minute 11 seconds, a time of 62.87mph. At the very next meeting at Brands the 250cc race was won by Bob Anderson on a fully fledged racing machine (an REG) only 2.74mph faster. I believe Derek had quite close ties with the Norman factory and was loaned a trials bike to keep fit with during the winter months. He was later used to advertise the new B4 Sports in the weekly motorcycling mags.

By the way the two riders of the B3 Sports that came second in the 1959 Thruxton race are still going strong and are members of the Norman club.

It's a real shame that myself and many other youngsters were deprived of Norman ownership as the sales could have financed the next generation of Norman lightweights - a very racy 250 with a four-stroke Italian Mi-val engine was under development. I think that would have been a real flyer. Raleigh were not really interested in motorcycle or moped production; they just bought out all the bicycle companies that were in competition with them and shut them down
Tony Gutteridge

Daffodils unaffected by two-stroke fumes...

I had a 197cc Norman B2 with Villiers engine. My then local motorcycle shop in Gillingham was a Norman and Velocette agent. I did fancy the B4 sports when it came out, but by then I had moved on to a 500. Regarding the steering on the Norman, the first passenger I carried was as I left nightschool. I attempted a left turn but with the extra weight went straight across the road and almost up the pavement on the other side! All corners on that ride were taken with caution! After that I got used to the handling.

The brakes were all right at the time. A lot of manufacturers used the same brake and front forks. However, Ambassador used the 250 engine in their bike, and I believe that they used an 8-inch front brake instead of the 6-inch SLS brake fitted to the Norman.
Roy Workman

The brakes were all right at the time...

My second motorbike was a Norman twin. There was neither fly screen nor ace bars, so it must have been a B3. Finished in red with a flip-up Monza-style fuel cap, it looked the bee's knees. If I remember rightly I bought it for 25 from Jack Hubbard motorcycles in Braintree. It proved to be difficult to start: a fault eventually traced to a loose connection on the flywheel mag; easily fixed and no further trouble. Lovely to ride, the Villiers 2T was smooth, sonorous and relatively brisk.

I did not get the chance to sell the Norman; an unidentified person decided to steal it one August evening in 1968. 884 WVW disappeared for good and eventually the insurers paid out 25. It was eventually replaced by a Greeves 25DC which, in turn, was sold to fund a Velocette Venom.

The DVLA website has no record of the Norman; does it exist as an entirety or perhaps as a dispersed set of parts?
Andrew Tucker

Frontwheel pointed shyly to one side...

If Andrew's bike had a flip-up fuel cap then it would definitely have been a B4. The B3 tank had a bayonet type cap as fitted to most old British bikes. Both the B3 and B4 Sports were fitted with identical flyscreens and dropped (but not ace type) handlebars. If his B4 was missing its flyscreen then it had either been discarded by a previous owner or it was a Roadster model.
TonyG


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