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Bike Review - Posted 8th February 2013
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Norton 750 Nomad Special

Aaron Toma's classic 750 has been in the family for nearly half a century. In that time, it's mutated into something a little different to the standard Nomad specification...

My Norton Nomad came into our family way back in the late 1960s or early 70s. It was originally my father's bike. When I first heard this machine the ground shook, my eardrums took a royal beating and I was in love at 13 years of age. The bike was always incomplete and had lived a hard life even before my father bought it. I ran it for a year or two until the barrel cracked, and then it was pushed into one of my grandfather's out-buildings and used for years to prop up boxes. Somewhere in the mid-1980s my uncle made a bet with a person involving Nortons and a case of a beer and, next thing I knew, the Norton was on its way to north central British Columbia, 600 miles from my home.

This is a standard one, from the left... Norton Nomad - as standard

My uncle was never satisfied with the bike and constantly was working on it. Over its life it was retro-fitted with wheels, brakes, gearbox and the top end off a 1969 Commando S. My father and uncle always thought the Nomad was an oddball but we never knew what it really was until 2000 or thereabouts. (See www. for background info on this model: the lowdown is that less than 400 of these desert-bred bikes were built at the end of the 1950s and early 60s, with the majority being shipped to the States).

This is a standard one, from the right... Norton Nomad - as standard

When my uncle passed away in 2005 I asked for first refusal on the Norton. I brought it home and promptly set to work on it. I did not imagine when I started that this was going to be an almost complete rebuild! I kept its modifications as much as I could, as it had spent most of its life in this state and I wanted to preserve what my late uncle had started. I love that fact that a modified Nomad gives the nut and bolt counters fits at bike shows and rallies. To me, a proper nut and bolt factory restoration would destroy the integrity and history of my bike.

In 2008 I finally had my 750 Nomad Special com-plete. It has an N15 bottom end, 750 Commando top end, gear box, clutch, wheels, brakes, N15 dual exhaust with Dommie silencers, Vincent bars, ES2 touring seat with modified ES2 oil tank and tool box (a nail biting eBay score), a brake pedal off a WW2 Norton (as far as I can tell) and lots and lots of homemade bits.

The original K2F magneto just wasn't up to the task of the hot summers we get here, with temperatures upwards of 90F, and I replaced it with a Hunt mag which I love.

Norton 750s on

In 2009, I took the Norton and my friend took his 1979 Le Mans II to our favourite rally on the shore of Kootenay Lake. We made the trip almost without incident, until… As I descended the Monashee pass my bike cut out. My heart sank. I imagined all sorts of mechanical disaster. It turned out the wind had caught the key in the headlight shell and turned off the bike! It was just the kind of prank my uncle would have pulled on me, laughing in his quiet way at the way I was on the verge of panic! For the life of me I have no idea how the wind did it… perhaps it wasn't the wind?

On the shore of Kootenay Lake... Norton Nomad - as resotred by Aaron

We had a mission that year. Our friend wanted to spread his dad's ashes off the back of his Norton and he wanted as many vintage bikes there as possible. I was there, on my Nomad Special. That night I won the Most Unique Vintage award at the rally. Our trip home was as pleasant as could be, the Norton and Moto Guzzi trading places on the highway in perfect harmony.

At the raly site...

Mission accomplished.


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