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Norton Nomad N15
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If you love the looks of the Norton/Matchless 'desert sleds' then here's where it all started: with a hotted-up Dominator back in 1958...

The Norton Nomad was initially an export-only model produced in the late 1950s for the American market, equipped and styled to suit the West Coast desert racers.

Oi! Who pinched the rear light? Norton Nomad N15

Differing in many respects from the better-known Dominator 99 twin, the Nomad has a single downtube frame similar to that of the 600cc Model 77 but with a tubular engine cradle in place of a forging. A lightweight swinging arm with oval tubing accommodates the 4.00-section scrambles-pattern rear tyre, while the Roadholder forks are a mix of long stanchions, short sliders, external springs and alloy damper rods. When the QD centre- and side-stands were removed, there was a full eight inches of clearance between the Nomad and the ground, which meant that it really could compete in enduro events and even the odd scramble. However, as it weighed 400lb it required some courage on the part of the rider!

For maximum performance on or off the road you cannot beat the breath taking acceleration and sustained high speed of this rugged, handsome and extremely practical dual purpose mount. Norton Nomad N15 Sales Leaflet

Interesting engine features include the big-valve cylinder head not seen on the Dominator until 1959, a compression ratio of 9:1, and a pair of handed Amal 276 1-1/16in carburettors on stub mountings, with Vokes air filters. The two-into-one exhaust system terminates in a silencer peculiar to this model. The small fuel tank, high handlebars and alloy mudguards are typical off-road wear but a white-topped seat cover seems inappropriate.

The wheels are full-width light alloy Norton hubs with an 8-inch SLS brake at the front and a 7-inch drum at the rear. The gearbox is a standard AMC 4-speeder.

Norton claimed to have boosted engine torque at lower engine revs, and reckoned that the Nomad produced around 22bhp at 3500rpm, rising to a maximum of 36bhp at 6000rpm.

The first Nomad to arrive in the USA finished eighth out of more than 800 starters in 1958's Big Bear Run enduro. Only around 300 600cc Nomads were made from 1958 to 1960, along with fewer than 50 variants fitted with 500cc engines.

Dominator stuff on

What is it with seats on restored British bikes? Why do they never seem to fit? 1958 Norton Nomad N15

A beautifully restored example of Norton's first North American market scrambler is a new addition to the National Motorcycle Museum's unrivalled collection of British bikes. Dating from 1958, this 600cc Nomad twin was originally shipped to McGill Motors in Montreal, Canada. UK buyers couldn't lay their hands on a Nomad for several years, although a few 497cc and 597cc versions did finally trickle onto the home market.

The Nomad certainly started something - it wasn't long before 750 engines were being slotted into a scrambler chassis… but that's another story!


The Nomad is on display at the UK's National Motorcycle Museum, which you'll find on the M42/A45 junction.

The NMM is open every day from 10am to 6pm (except 24-26 December). Admission costs Adults £6.95, Senior Citizens £4.95, Children (under 15) £4.95, Family Tickets (2 adults with 2 children) £20.


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