Clubman Classics is a personal blog inspired by the fearless, amateur road racers who competed in the 1947 - 1956 Isle Of Man Clubman's TT races and their production based machines.

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Norton Commando Metisse 750cc Racer

This Norton Commando Metisse 750cc racer is the latest addition to the CC stable, a bike we intend to race in 2015, once we've spent the 2014 season developing both it, and its rider.

According to its previous owner who campaigned it for up to 10 years, the motor is race ready with a compression ratio of 10.5:1, fitted with belt primary, race cams, large inlet valves and twin Mk2 Amals.

Friday 15 November 2013

FOR SALE: NSU 250 Racer

Clubman Classics is pleased to offer this very interesting little racer for sale, see the Vintage Classic NSU 250 Racer Ebay auction for more information, and to make a bid.

Tuesday 9 July 2013


The new Norton Domiracer is here!

Just when you thought the re-incarnated Commando was a posers machine, Norton release one of the most exciting looking British bikes in decades. Using what looks like a remodelled McCandless featherbed frame, alloy tank and a tweaked version of the existing 961cc air-cooled twin, the new Domiracer is achingly cool. MASSIVE WANT. Take a bow Stuart Garner!

News courtesy of MCN, out on Wednesday.

Coupe Moto Legende - Dijon Prenois

The 21st edition of the 2013 Coupe Moto Legende, held at Dijon Prenois in France on 1-2 June was attended by over 27,000 people. With support from BMW Motorrad, and as part of the brand's celebration of 90 years of passion, it was also the location for the unveiling of the Roland Sands BMW Concept 90 machine, which took part in a track parade of over 1000 BMWs.

Mike Pemberton of Pushrod Performance and his wife June joined myself, Bob and Neil 'the-other-son' Pemberton for three days of track riding around Dijon's very own ex-Formula One circuit, which serves-up a great mix of fast corners and gradient changes, plus a fast straight. Blighted by terrible weather on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday provided perfect conditions for plenty of BBQs and good honest, un-silenced track day fun.

Riding classic machines on track on the continent involves much less red-tape than in the UK - noise limits are virtually unheard of and whilst guidelines are set, European organisers seem to fully understand the nature of riding and operating vintage machines, which in turn helps to create a brilliant atmosphere. All our machines performed without fault throughout the weekend, resulting in plenty of track time.

From pre-war Harleys to exotic GP machinery, the range of bikes on show and on track was incredible - I saw enough Motosacoche, Motob├ęcane and Terrot machines to last a lifetime.

Wednesday 10 April 2013

British Historic Racing 2013 - The Race Bikes

It's been a quiet five months here on Clubman Classics, I put it down to reasons of a 'domestic nature'. Nothing to do with the missus, let's just say I'm learning fast that houses are a bottomless pit of work and money.

Entering both the 250 NSU Manx and the 350 Norton Manx in the BHR races in 2013 means I certainly have my work cut out. It also gives the other team member of Clubman Classics a chance to see the fruits of his winter labour in action more of the time - as long as I don't break them! The list of jobs needed to get both bikes race ready is long and arduous, but with just over a week to go before our first outing at Mallory Park for Round 1 of the British Historic Racing series on April 21st, the machines are very nearly track ready.

Following the last 250cc race of the season at Cadwell Park last year, (I very luckily missed Angela Cragg who came off on the Mountain - I hope she's fully recovered now) and where I secured a result of fourth in class, third if you discount the guest rider, the NSU Manx's motor has had a rebuild with an all-important balance factor adjustment and new timing settings. Last year's machine was underpowered and because of the vibrations difficult to hang on to. The niggling oil leak issues only drained my confidence further.

The 350 Manx on the other hand has had even more work done, including a high-level pipe and Lansdowne-spec fork internals. The last time I rode this bike was at the Spa Bikers Classic in 2011, where it ran rough the whole weekend, with poor handling. Competing on it for the first time in 2013, I'm looking forward to the extra power of a 350, albeit in a very similar chassis to the NSU Manx 250.

With both bikes booked in for rolling road sessions at JHS Racing in Keynsham this week, I can't wait to bump-start the season, hopefully with reliable and competitive companions.

Monday 26 November 2012

British Historic Racing - Snetterton, Rounds 4 & 5

I was unsure what to expect on my first trip to Snetterton. What I found was a very open, typically British airfield site, carefully disguised as racing circuit by current owners MSV. Snetterton enjoyed its 60th anniversary in 2012, whilst also benefitting from a multi-million pound resurface and re-design. The venue now offers several track layouts, with the VMCC/BHR organisers using the outer-perimeter 200 circuit.

The wind on June 16th 2012 was surprisingly strong and brisk, and with the relatively un-tried and tested NSU Norton 250 as my ride for the day, I was far from brimming with confidence. On top of that, we had a very slight oil leak from the exposed clutch plates which was finding its way onto the back tyre after several laps. After one or two more scary moments at Montreal and (ironically) Chapman corners, I managed to stay on and bag two last places. The bike struggled with vibrations, was down on power and had cold oily tyres! Nevertheless, due to a relatively poor turnout in my class - the Economy Appliances pre-63 250s, I scored points for a fourth place finish.

Thursday 15 November 2012

Norton Manx 350

Recent images of next year's Manx race bike. The bike is a combination of an early '54 frame with a '59 350 short stroke motor. Check back soon for more updates before testing starts in the new year...

Thursday 8 November 2012

Union Motorcyles

Union Motorcycles specialise in restoring and building British and European classic motorcycles, based in a barn in Nampa, Idaho. I spotted this brilliant logo on their Facebook page and just had to share it...

Wednesday 4 July 2012

Bikers’ Classic Spa Francorchamps 2012

Visiting Spa for the second time round is just as special as the first time. The track at Spa is a real rollercoaster ride, with changing cambers, uphill and downhill sections plus the added mix of unpredictable weather.

Featuring one of the worlds most famous corners, Eau Rouge, Spa is steeped in history. The Bikers’ Classic celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2012, and in addition to the annual public track sessions and GP demonstrations, the 2012 event hosted the return of the early 90s Superbikes, plus the 4 Hours of Spa endurance race – held at night!

If that wasn’t enough, the trade stands, live concert and electric atmosphere provided the ideal distraction.

We entered two bikes this year, myself riding the 1956 Norton Domiracer 500 and Bob astride the Norton Model 50 440, aka ‘The Green Meanie’.

 We also set up camp alongside Mike Pemberton of PushrodPerformance, and his wife June. Mike was riding his highly-developed red-framed Norton ES2 500.

Friday kicked-off with a dry session, a chance for track newbies Mike and Bob to learn the track while I settled in to riding the newly rebuilt Domiracer on track for only the second time. Mike recently rebuilt the Domi’s top end so I was under strict instructions to keep it under 5,000-5,500rpm, allowing the motor to bed-in.

Later in the day, humidity levels were very high and the two wet sessions provided a real test for our nerves. Several nasty looking accidents confirmed the low grip levels but we all came home safely. The day ended with a very dry warm evening, only heightening the excitement for the predicted dry weather on Saturday.

Saturday morning was glorious. Dry, fresh and much less humid, we were set for a great day of riding.

Three fantastic track sessions, plus a free t-shirt and a Belgian hamburger later, we also discovered that we were to be the first vehicles to circulate the original Spa Franchorchamps road circuit since it was last used in anger in 1978. Over 500 machines took to the closed public roads in a parade following the exact route of the very fast old track, passing through the infamous Masta Kink. The old track was eventually banned due to safety concerns from the drivers and riders. Despite not being born when it was last used, it was an emotional moment for us, the riders, as well as the countless local spectators who waved us round.

By 8pm, we were claiming our seats to watch the start of the 4 Hours of Spa night endurance race.

All entrants were dated pre-1980 with around 1000cc (or thereabouts), most machines sporting dual headlights in the style of the fantastic Bol d’or bikes.

Our three Nortons performed faultlessly throughout weekend, while the mix of dry and wet conditions served up a fantastic test of rider skill.

Despite the increasing amount of ear-piercing two-strokes and 2012’s Superbike theme, the Bikers’ Classic continues to serve up a brilliant celebration of classic and post-classic machines. Let’s hope the organisers target a 50s and 60s singles theme next year!

Monday 11 June 2012

British Historic Racing - Cadwell Park, Rounds 2 & 3

The NSU 250 Sportmax replica at Cadwell Park on 19 and 20 May, racing in the Economy Appliances pre-1962 250cc race at Rounds 2 & 3 of the BHR championship.

Bottom of the Mountain

Hall Bends

Bottom of the Mountain

Tuesday 17 April 2012

British Historic Racing - Mallory Park, Round 1

Round one of the British Historic Racing championships was held at Mallory Park last Sunday 15 April in glorious but chilly sunshine. I decided to ride the tried and tested 1954 NSU Sportmax replica I raced last year in the pre-63 250cc solos as the NSU Norton is still not fully race ready.

Having raced the bike quite a few times last year, I was quietly confident before practice. As it was a sunny, crisp but quite cold day, my mechanic decided to fit a slightly larger carb jet. The bike felt faster than I remembered it, we also raised the rear shocks to speed up the handling. Things were looking good.

Come the first race of the day, I was allocated 7th on the grid - dead last. At least I had nothing to lose. My start was disappointing however as I failed to find second gear after what was a pretty decent launch. I then spent the next five laps chasing the backmarkers and after three laps found myself in fourth place. The race was then red flagged following a red flag incident.

The second race after lunch saw me sat in pole position - all was to play for and I had my eyes set on a podium finish. I managed another good launch but once again fluffed second gear, this time only worse. I found myself dead last, sixth again. The field managed to pull away and all I could manage was to harass the rider in fifth position through some of the tighter turns.

So, before Cadwell next month I will be practicing my starts, (especially selecting second) and looking for some more power with a larger carb to help me on the 'mini-Nurburgring's' long straights.

Until next time...

Monday 16 April 2012

Isle of Man Senior TT 1961

These fantastic images are a selection of a photos taken at practice for the Senior TT of 1961, by John Byatt and provided by Harold Nuttall. Thanks Harold!

Tom Phillis with Works Honda 249cc 4 cylinder

Manx Norton unfaired with no race numbers

Ralph Rensen and A E Shaw, both on Manx Nortons

Bob McIntyre pushing Alistair Kings Manx past No. 65, ridden by T Pound of Australia

Works Norton Domiracer, Tom Phillis lapped at 100mph in the race

Fabulous Beart Norton Manx, with special "Sabrina" petrol tank

Bob McIntyre Works 249 Honda 4

Gary Hocking Works 350 MV Agusta

Saturday 24 March 2012

Mallory Park Test Day - NSU Norton

These photos were taken at the recent Mallory Park test day on March 22nd - first time out for the NSU Norton! The new machine performed faultlessly apart from a trapped breather pipe that meant a little oil began escaping through the filler cap - an easy fix. The new bike replaces the NSU Sportmax replica that I campaigned in the VMCC Economy Appliances Championship in 2011.

Mallory Park is a relatively simple track but one that takes time to perfect. From the first gear bus stop chicane to the very fast Gerrards, it's a track that demands a combination of slow and fast bike control. My favourite corner has to be the devils elbow, a slightly downhill left-hander just before you cross the start/finish straight. One of the other great things about Mallory is the number of 'lines' at each corner. The track is quite wide, allowing plenty of overtaking and even spectators are well catered for thanks to the raised viewing banks.

The NSU Norton is a 250cc NSU Max engine, cradled in an un-modified Manx Norton featherbed frame. The first thing you notice is the front mounted oil tank, located low, out in front making the most of the cool air-flow- it also helps maintain a low centre of gravity. The next major difference to the original Norton layout is the drive-side. Located on the right-hand side, instead of the left, the NSU engine/gearbox unit is also self-contained.

Heading out onto the track for the first time the NSU gearbox is as sweet as a nut. Fitted with Sportmax cams, the engine thrives on revs and only past 3000/4000rpm does it come on song. The following 4/5 laps gave me chance to enjoy the fantastic handling while running-in the new engine. The first race is in 3 weeks time back at Mallory Park, I can't wait!

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