The modification of a motorcycle to improve its competitiveness has always been part of the racing game. However, the case of the post-war Vincent, particularly the twins, is quite interesting because they were raced well beyond the moment that the factory stopped the production. For about 15 years, racers were using the Vincent to adapt it to all disciplines like race track, sidecars, grass-track, drag-race, an evidence that the power plant one of the most competitive available at that time.

In fact, the already potent Black Shadow engines turned out to be a genuine beast when they were upgraded to Black Lightning specification. So boosting the engine, changing the brakes and the suspensions for more modern and competitive elements were just part of the very first steps, but soon started the hybridization. You can imagine that blending the Vincent Black Lightning engine with the most competitive rolling frame of the moment, crossed the mind of many pilots in the late 50s and early 60s. By that time, the Vincent was cheap as was the oldest Norton Manx after a few seasons. So was born the Norvin sometimes called the Vinton, which is more logical if we consider the Triton reference.

But the Norvin was not only a racing story and the recipe that was proven to be great on the track, it also inspired many workshops for street bikes. In that case the more affordable wideline base was used rather than the Manx frame, along with a Road-holder front fork and aftermarket parts. Engine mounts were even available for many combinations of frame for either stock units or chopped engines. Each project was a one-off and, as you can guess the reflects of the attention that the builder dedicated to the project, not to mention his own skills. In my opinion, only a few Norvin were greater than the sum of the parts they were made of, I came across a few of the best.

Philippe Guyony © 2014

One of the finest example of a Norvin that you can find. It combines the stock Norton Manx frame (wide loop above the gearbox, and very importantly the crankcases have not been cheeped to fit a Burman gearbox.
One of the finest example of a Norvin that you can find. It combines the stock Norton Manx frame (wide loop above the gearbox, and very importantly the crankcases have not been chopped to fit a Burman gearbox.
A road Norvin back in the 60s, caught on the street in England
A road Norvin back in the 60s, caught on the street in England
One of the finest Norvin I have seen. I love the straight pipes.
Another great Norvin. I love the straight pipes.
Mars Webster's Norvin, This one is one of my favorite Comet. Just behind an Egli Vincent by Godet. Indeed in a Featherbed, the led replacing the rear cylinder is gone and make the design much lighter. Just behind John Surtees' Lightning Replica (Surtees' one is Black) © Mars Webster.
Mars Webster’s Norvin is one of my favorite Comet. Indeed in a Featherbed, the feet replacing the rear cylinder is gone and make the design much lighter. Just behind John Surtees’ Lightning Replica.
© John Comé
Some Norvin have been built with a chopped frame like this bike with removed front tubes.
Some Norvin have been built with a chopped frame like this one that have the front tube removed.
Another very nice bike with an interesting color scheme.
Another very nice bike with an interesting color scheme. Displayed at the Barber Museum
Beautiful picture of Mark Warriner's Norvin in front of the Ace Cafe in London
Beautiful picture of Mark Warriner’s Norvin in front of the Ace Cafe in London
Norvin at the Classic Motorcycles Festival 2011 Pukekohe, NZ Amazing shots and copyrights from Spooky21
Norvin at the Classic Motorcycles Festival 2011, Pukekohe, NZ
Amazing shots and copyrights from Spooky21
Ken Phelps' Norvin in Australia.
Ken Phelps’ Norvin in Australia.
Unusual color scheme which works very well with the Black Shadow engine
Unusual color scheme which works very well with the Black Shadow engine. Document the Mighty Motor
To build a Norvin, you can do it yourself or you can contract a specialist like this one caught on Godet's bench.
To build or restore a Norvin, you can do it yourself or you can contract a specialist like this one caught on Godet’s bench. Note that the Vincent crankcases, have been chopped as it was current practices in the 1960s to save weight mate a box with closer ratio. While it is always somewhat unfortunate that a Vincent engine was modified that way in the first place, once it is done you have to deal with it. NorVin owner Peter Faulkner says that the cases on his bike came modified from a sidecar racer but in the other hand enabled him to fit a Quaife 5-speed gearbox and the bike is absolutely superb to ride…
JMC also propose new Norvin, this is pointless as the front tubes of the frame have been removed. Note as well the we aid geometry of the frame (space between engine and the front wheel)
JMC propose brand new NorVin, the front tubes of the frame have been removed. Note as well the weird geometry of the frame (space between engine and the front wheel)

More pictures on: www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.461413777282140.1073741859.439034106186774&type=1&l=d230ab0693

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5 thoughts

  1. in my opinion it is not ‘unfortunate’ that the cases have been chopped as mentioned about the NorVin on Patrick Godet’s bench… the cases on my NorVin came from a sidecar racer and were chopped…however this allowed me to put a Quaiffe 5 speed gearbox and it is absolutely superb to ride…

  2. Thanks Philippe…. I have owned a ‘C’ Shadow and I know how the standard Vincent gearbox transfers power to the road. I would not cut a unit Vincent power plant myself…but if somebody is using cases which have been cut in a former life..then it is a wonderful opportunity to install a quality transmission. Fabulous web page by the way.

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