Sometimes we work with folks who want to have their hands on every fastener turn. And others, we get a sketch, an outline, or a text, and away they go. What started 5 years ago as a one-off NYC Norton motor build turned into one of the nicest motorcycles ever to hit the cobblestones in our big city… or perhaps any city.
Rewinding a bit: NYC Norton was secured to build up a ’72 Commando Combat motor with the addition of rebalanced crank for rigid mounting, a bigger cam, ported head, and all machining done to allow for a magneto in the traditional spot behind the cylinders – an elaborate mod requiring machining of the cases, fitting longer intermediate spindle, turning down the timing cover boss, and relieving the points cavity to fit the outboard cam sprocket. Forged JE pistons and Carrillo rods were fit, and a Mick Hemmings PW3 cam for good lift. We built the head with KPM Black Diamond valves and bronze guides and ported it to give a little more flow, and skimmed even further than a stock Combat, giving a measured 9.75:1 compression.
Once the motor was done it became a static art display, sitting prominently on our bench awaiting instructions on where to send it. Initially the idea was for our customer to source a dirt track chassis so he could dabble with a build in his garage out west, and obviously he was in no hurry. A year or so later, the call came in; would we be interested in the full build of a dirt track-inspired street bike? Yes! Yes we would! The NYC Norton shop is a sea of Commandos/Seeleys/Featherbeds, all built around superior “Roadholding”, so the opportunity to order off the menu was a welcome change. A short time later, a Tri-C Trackmaster replica frame was delivered to our shop, and the fun really began. The directive for the build discussed was very basic: Put all foot controls on the RH side (ala flat track racers), do just enough electronics to get it past inspection, and when in doubt, take cues from the famous Ron Wood / CR Axtell championship Norton twin downtube flat-tracker (which conveniently lived 20′ away from our lifts belonging to the collection of Jamie Waters). Lofty goals, but hey… let’s shoot for the stars. Armed with a couple of cocktail napkin sketches, we went to work.
First thing to do was to get the motor and gearbox in the frame with the proper plates. The gearbox was built from scratch using an HD shell and the increased wall thickness required some relieving of the plates beyond the usual affair. Then onto carbs and manifolds. Again, the charge here was to run Dell Orto PHF 34s, just like Axtell’s formula. We designed a custom manifold to create a smooth transition from the carb choke bore down to the inlet on the head while splaying the carb bodies slightly for space. The swingarm bushings that came with the chassis we not up to spec, so we turned down a custom set of perfectly fit bronze bushings with the same setup used in our championship-winning Titschmarsh Seeleys.
The primary is driven by a Steve Maney Racing 40mm Belt drive complete with anodized lightweight Commando clutch. Because of the wide belt and the aesthetic desire to run the G85 Primary this required cutting down the end of the Norton crankshaft and tapping to add front pulley fastening, and also necessitated adding a 1/2″ wide belly band for space between the inner and outer primary cover.
The front end is a Ceriani replica 35mm with caliper hangers. The front and rear wheels are Borranni 19″ flanged alloy rims laced with stainless spokes, and shod with Pirelli and Carlisle tires.
After mocking it all up, off it went to the plater. We nickel plated the chassis, swingarm, manifold, center stand, side stand, etc. All case covers were show polished. Velocity stacks and rear sprocket were gold anodised.
Wiring is very tidy and a simple harness runs from a key switch to a small battery under the single seat, which powers the 5″ Bates style headlight, Analog Motorcycles rear tail light, brake lights activated by hydraulic brake switches, and a small horn – enough to keep the coppers at bay.
Tachometer is a Veglia adapted to receive the proper ratio from a Norton Commando tachometer drive.
The tank was custom-fabbed by famed metal magician, Evan Wilcox. Evan also did some releiving under the tank to fit the Dell Ortos for better cable routing. Once done, it was obvious we couldn’t slap just any decal on this beauty so we secured the wonderful Jen Mussari (jenmussari.com) who had done some beautiful lettering work for Belstaff, among many other cool projects. Jen’s charge was to do a hand-done logo in gold leaf with clear coat over the top. When she brought the tank to our shop for the reveal it was like our baby was born!
These beautiful photos were shot by esteemed photographer Marian Sell (mariansell.com), whose 1936 Norton Inter is currently in heavy rotation in the NYC Norton shop, getting a bit of a rebirth. Marian knew exactly what to capture, and the snaps of the Trackmaster came out better than we’d expected.
List of features:
Trackmaster replica frame, nickel plated and polished
Custom bronze swingarm bushings ala NYC Norton Seeleys
Handmade tank by Evan Wilcox
Beautiful Hand-painted Gold Leaf Norton Logo by Jen Mussari
Ceriani 35mm front end
NYC Norton Performance Street Motor Build (balanced crank, 9.75:1 comp, pw3, carrillos, JE pistons, etc)
Joe Hunt Magneto
HD Gearbox Shell and rebuilt with new gear cluster
Dell Orto PHF34 pumper carbs
Custom exhaust in tuned dimensions
Hand made gear change and brake controls, on RH side, mimicking our NYC Norton rearset designs
Maney Belt Drive fit within Matchless G85CS Primary with widening belly band
Reed breather, plumbed
AP Racing front master
Hurst Airheart rear master
Barnes Disk Rotors
Barnes Spool Hub on rear with quick change knock-off sprockets
Bates 5″ Headlight
Bates-style custom fabricated rear tail light hand crafted by Analog Motorcycles
Veglia tachometer adapted to Norton Commando speedo drive