A new dawn at Norton Motorcycle Company

One of the great names in British motorcycling is rising again under new ownership and with new state-of-the-art machining technology. The Norton name is synonymous with the golden age of British motorcycling that ran from the end of the 19th century to the second decade of the 21st. It is a history that takes in Grand Prix wins in the 1930s to World Championships in the 50s.

Alas, the decline of British motorbike manufacturing led the company to the brink of bankruptcy and it was only the intervention of Indian motorbike manufacturing giant, TVS, which saved it in 2020. Following the new investment, a willingness to embrace new ways of working led Norton to examine its bike frame fabrication processes.

“Previously, we’d been hand bending and hand scalloping the bike frames because we didn’t know how to do anything different,” says Adam Green, senior manufacturing process engineer at Norton Motorcycles. “We looked at various options, but wanted to invest in the best-available machine. Mazak are the kind of people we want to be doing business with.”

Norton specified a VTC 800/30SLR, manufactured in nearby Worcester, which has a high-capacity working area and a wide door opening making it suitable for larger workpieces, such as motorbike frames.

“The size of the frame meant we needed a big machine, but also one that could work to very high tolerances,” says Green. “It’s all about repeatability. The machine takes away manual process. Now every single dimension will be within 0.2 mm of each other. We’ve tightened tolerances up by 80%, whereas previously there was 6 mm of difference at times from one frame to another.”
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