Tagged: Atlas

Frisky Featherbed: 1965 Norton Atlas for Sale

1964 Norton Dominator L Side

Often overlooked in favor of the more rakish Commando and more famous Triumph Bonneville, the Norton Atlas offers familiar British twin strengths with its own particular charms. The parallel twin may be the perfect motorcycle powerplant. Compact, simpler, and easier to package than a v-twin or inline-four, smoother and more sophisticated than a single, the layout was used extensively by the British biking industry in the 1960s and 1970s. Unfortunately, the layout’s Achilles heel is vibration, especially in larger displacement applications.

1964 Norton Dominator Engine

Certainly vibration was an issue as Norton’s twins grew past 500cc, eventually necessitating the Commando’s innovative Isolastic frame, but handling certainly wasn’t a problem for the Atlas: it was fitted with the famous “featherbed” frame, so named after racer Harold Daniell described the 1950 racebike that originally used a similar design as being so smooth and comfortable it was “like riding on a featherbed.”

1964 Norton Dominator Dash

Today’s example has been well-maintained and features some appropriate, period-correct updates and modifications along with tons of character and patina.

1964 Norton Dominator Primary

From the original eBay listing: 1965 Norton Atlas for Sale

This auction is for a very good example of a great British motorcycle, don’t overlook the Atlas model: they are very sought after on the other side of the pond and my personal experience has been that it has out performed my other similar Brit twins, Triumphs and BSAs included.

It is still a low mileage mostly original bike even has  the std size factory dished top pistons for low compression are still in their noticed them when I decarbonized the top end also that is the original seat covering in place.

Here is a list of repairs and up-grades that I have done since I owned the bike and It probably has only covered 7k afterwards(other bikes to ride)

6 start oil pump drive, cam chain replaced, mag chain replaced, oil distribution seal for crank changed, gearbox sprocket  changed, solid state voltage regulator, Boyer dual coil, 1968 Commando distributor in place of magneto with electronic ignition now starts with key.

Bob Newby primary belt drive, best on the market, cost $780 eliminated oil leaks from the badly designed steel primary cover and as an added benefit bike has less vibration also changed to the newer laminated style stator. Norvil pushrod seal conversion insures clutch stays dry.

Clutch now has a sweet take up and very light lever pull. 

If you are a  collector the Frame and Engine numbers do match. 

This  motorcycle is a collectible model that won’t depreciate with its slim line “featherbed frame” really is a joy to ride, extremely stable for a classic bike and can handle  100 mile weekend  day rides in the summer months even on the highway with no over-heating!

1964 Norton Dominator Front Wheel

The seller also includes a list of some original parts that are included. It’s obviously been enthusiast-owned and well cared for, although with no takers at the $5,500 starting bid, the seller may be aiming high, even considering the condition.


1964 Norton Dominator R Side

The Perfect Cafe Racer: 1966 Norton Atlas for Sale

1966 Norton Atlas Cafe R Side Front

At first glance, the tank shape suggests that this is a classic Norton Commando, but the upright engine reveals the truth: this is a very well put-together Norton Atlas café racer. When building the perfect café bike, many builders prefer the more sleekly-canted engine from the later Commando that supposedly improved center of gravity, but likely just looked cool and created additional space for carburetors. Redesigning the engine for the Commando was easy for the same reason it’s very easy to mix-and-match parts from these bikes: the pre-unit gearbox.

1966 Norton Atlas Cafe L Side

While an obviously outdated design, even when new, Norton made it work well, and their parallel-twins were the bikes to beat on both road and track: the “Featherbed” frame gave famously sharp handling and the engines could tuned to be very powerful, yet the package remained relatively lightweight.

1966 Norton Atlas Cafe Dash

The seller’s description mentions significant engine work that stresses balancing and lightening, a great idea, since the 750 twin did have some issues with vibration. The original Dominator was powered by a 500cc version of the engine, but successive increases in displacement exacerbated the vibration inherent in a parallel-twin design. The 650cc Atlas was the last of the line before the famous “Isolastic” system was designed for the Commando, intended to keep that bike from literally shaking itself to pieces.

1966 Norton Atlas Cafe L Side Detail

From the original eBay listing: 1966 Norton Atlas 750cc Café Racer

I am the second owner. I have owned and ridden this classic for 7 years, I ride it mostly on weekend rides ( about 1200 miles since purchased) and it always brings a smile to my face. It has always been stored indoors, only seen dry weather and has never to my knowledge been dropped.

No expense was spared in creating a beautiful café racer typical of the late 60’s/early 70’s; the detailing is superb. This bike uses real original café parts, not reproductions.

Slimline featherbed frame; alloy Real “Lyta” short circuit tank; polished alloy oil tank; frame, swing arm, primary cover, etc. powder coated; alloy parts are all polished; Commando forks; hard chromed stanchions; triple clamps machined from aircraft Dural (aluminum); Akront stainless, flanged wheels; stainless spokes; lightened hubs; rare, magnesium racing Lockheed front brake and master cyl. with drilled front disk; all fasteners are stainless steel; stainless fenders.

Engine dynamically balanced and head flowed; lightened and polished valve gear; genuine Dunstall camshaft; 850 oil pump with modified flow to head and spin-on filter modification; Superblend bearings; magneto ignition; new Amal 930 Concentric carbs (installed by Brian Slark); g’box also with Superblend bearings and all new gears and bushes; chain-driven Barnett clutch. Many more features.

As with all pre-Commando, primary chain Nortons, weeps some oil out of the primary case, but is otherwise oil tight. Starts first kick (usually), handles and stops as you would expect from a featherbed frame/disk brake classic. Acceleration from 4,500 rpm is exhilarating. This is a bike you can ride and enjoy!!!

The engine work should go a long way towards making this bike smooth on the road. I’d imagine this still isn’t great for touring, but I doubt anyone looking at these plans to use it for that, or would care much if they did.

1966 Norton Atlas Cafe Oil Tank

That oil tank is an especially beautiful piece, the color choice is classic and simple, and the single mirror is a very nice, authentic café-racer touch although, for US roads, I think I’d move it to the left-hand bar…

My fantasy garage definitely includes a 60’s British parallel-twin, and this is exactly the type of bike I’d want. Bidding is active and up to $9,000 with less than one day to go on the auction, so jump in quickly!


1966 Norton Atlas Cafe R Side

1964 Norton Atlas Race Bike for Sale

1964 Norton Atlas L Rear

Powered by Norton’s proven parallel twin and suspended in their simple and rigid “Featherbed Frame”, the bike, the Atlas features classic British styling and an evocative name. The British biking industry is rightly famed for its singles and parallel twins, and Norton used both to great effect, first with their long-lived Manx, a bike so elemental and right it was competitive literally for decades, then in a line of twins starting with the Dominator.

1964 Norton Atlas R Rear

The 500cc Dominator gave way to the 750cc Atlas. With lower compression and a single carburetor, it wasn’t much more powerful than the “Dommie” on paper, but supplied the torque and displacement required for strong US sales, the major goal of the model. As displacement grew, so did vibration, to the point where a solution was required before the introduction of the later Commando.

1964 Norton Atlas Dash

Reving to 7,500rpm and making over 70hp, this particular bike might possibly vibrate enough to shake your teeth loose, but it’s intended as a race bike so that really shouldn’t matter too much! And it has all that wonderful naked metal to stare at while the feeling comes back into your hands and feet.

1964 Norton Atlas R Suspension

From the original eBay listing: 1964 Norton Atlas Race Bike for Sale

Here’s a professionally built, fully sorted Norton Atlas 750 race bike. The bike was built, developed and raced by Les Cook of Cook’s Norton Service as a rolling business card in AHRMA’s BEARS (British European American Racing Series) class. The frame is a modified slimline Norton featherbed, WITH TITLE!

This final version of the bike spares no expense in terms of mechanical components. Nearly everything is top shelf (and very pricey) aftermarket, from the Steve Maney Racing engine, ignition, exhaust, and belt drive, to the TT Industries, drum selector, magnesium-cased racing gearbox. Just the Maney parts and TT Industries gearbox sell new for approximately $15k. Add to that alloy fuel, oil and catch tanks, shouldered alloy wheels, Lockheed Racing caliper front disk, Grimeca cush-drive rear hub, Works Performance shocks, electronic racing tach, two race seats (Manx-style and alloy cone type), Amal Mk2 carbs, magnesium steering clamps, and Cosentino Engineering cartridge fork internals, and the major parts total grows to well over $22k, before considering all the miscellaneous items: cables, manifolds, clip-ons, timing set, race tires, chain, petcocks, plumbing, hand and foot levers, and wiring. Figure another $1k for those items. Then there’s professional assembly of the race engine, $3-5k. So, just the parts and engine build and we’re around $27k. But then, this bike is complete, available now, fully sorted, fully safety-wired and with a fabricated alloy belly pan, newly made fairing mounts (no fairing though). If you tried to build a Norton slimline featherbed-based race bike of similar specification, you’d be in to it for at least $25-30k, plus a few hundred hours more in assembly, tuning, sorting, safety wiring, etc. What’s your time worth?

According to Les’s dyno sheets, this bike generates 72.1 rear wheel horsepower at 7400 rpm and 59.1 ft-lbs torque at 5300 rpm. Importantly, hp was 70 or higher from 6500 to 7500 rpm and torque is 50 ft-lbs or more from 4200-7500rpm. This is a well-tuned, well-sorted stonker of an engine!

1964 Norton Atlas Carbs

The listing also includes a comprehensive account of the parts that went into the build and a bit of history. This bike isn’t quite complete, but wouldn’t take very much to make it so: just add fairing. Or you could just ride it as-is. Take this beast to the track, or maybe convert it to street duty? I wonder just what that would require… Either way, you’ve got some pretty serious performance on tap for a fifty year old motorcycle!

Bidding is almost at $13,000 with five days left on the auction. Jump in now for this chance to own a fire-breathing British classic!


1964 Norton Atlas L Side


1965 Norton Atlas for Sale

The Norton Atlas was a development of the Dominator and was originally designed for export to the US to sate our hunger for bigger engines and moar power.  Featuring a bored-out, low-compression version of the 500cc Dominator motor and fed by a single Amal carb, the big-bore version produced a healthy 55hp but vibrated excessively when rigidly mounted in the frame.  This vibration was a serious problem and led to the development of the “isolastic” mounting system of the Commando that used a series of elastic rubber bushes to isolate the big parallel twin’s significant vibration.

Click the link to see the original eBay listing: 1965 Norton Atlas for Sale.







This bike is decked out in a beautiful silver and black paint scheme intended to evoke the earlier Norton Manx single-cylinder race bikes and the effect is very flattering.  The owner is clearly an enthusiast and the original add includes a comprehensive list of parts and work that has been done:

Alternator, Exhaust Pipes, Custom footpegs.

New handlebars, headlamp,  Custom Mudguards(front and rear)

Custom alloy oil tank and custom alloy Gas tank(all Alloy parts custom hand made in Atlanta)

New rear lamp and new rear suspension units.

Custom seat(Alloy again) in Manx style.

New speedometer(shows 0 miles, but rebuilt engine has been run in before the speedo was installed, so she is good to ride straight off)

New switches and wiring.

Throttle cable and throttle new.

Headlamp holder(brackets).

Custom Alloy instrument brackets.

New mufflers(bike sounds great, listen to the bike in one of the videos)

New tires(front is a Barracuda and back is a Dunlap)

Carbs have been rebuilt as have the front forks and magneto(bike does not use a battery)

Frame and many other parts have been powdercoated(really adds to the neat overall appearance of the bike)

4 speed transmission was found to be in good nick and it shifts well.

This has got to be one of the coolest bikes on Ebay.  It’s worth it for the custom alloy parts and the slimline Featherbed frame alone !







He’s also included several nice video clips of the bike starting and running:

Norton Start From Cold

Norton Idle and Rev

At the time of this writing, there are no bids on this bike, but I’d expect that to change: this is an extremely classy bike, ready to vibrate its adoring new owner’s hands into glorious numbness!



1960 Norton Dominator 99

The one thing about Classic Motorcycles is that you will never see or hear about every single one. You may know the Manufacture, and be a fan of some of the models, but because we are here in the US, we only ever really see the models that were made for the US market. This Dominator 99 offered over on UK eBay was something that never really made it over here in great numbers, so it is often an overlooked Birmingham special.

Bert Hopewell is that man who designed and develop the Dominator line in 1948 with the Model 7 Dominator. It started out as a 500cc bike with a frame that was NOT the famed Featherbed frame. When it did get the Featherbed, it became the Dominator 88. Because of the fame of the Featherbed has to raise the question, how many Dominator’s were separated from their engines to became Tritons?

When the Dominator grew to be the 99 it now had a 596cc engine that was producing about 31hp at 7000rpm. Improvements in oiling and cooling had been incorporated as it grew, and by the end in 1962 the Featherbed frame was helped in stopping by full width hubs, and added performance with an all alloy cylinder head.

From the Seller

A good, true example of a British classic bike! Comes with one key, hand book, service book and looks the part. Part service history and just two previous owners, with the second owner having owned it since 1964! Runs and rides fine, well maintained and looked after, but it would also be great as a restoration project

But 600cc was not going to make it in the all important US market. So the Dominator 99 grew to become the 650ss Dominator (I think the Dominator 111 would have been better) with 650cc of British power. But in the land of the Cubic Inch, this was still not good enough, and the Atlas was shot over to America with a 750cc engine. After the Atlas fell to earth, the Commando was next in line, both based on the original design from Bert. If you want to be and importer you can place your bid here on eBay.UK

On a side note the 500cc Dominator was the platform for Norton’s final factory racing effort. It was called the Domiracer and had success in both the Isle of Man TT and races such as the Thruxton 500. When Norton closed its own racing department, a guy named Paul Dunstall bought up the racing cast offs and was able to grow into a nice aftermarket supplier. BB