Norton C652 Pre-Production Press Bike
Small-Run Production
Before the C652 could go into production something had to be done about its styling, and, before that, about some general components. Whilst the "Ironing Board" used Honda forks and instrumentation and Yamaha SR500 hubs, the production bikes switched to the far superior Paioli forks specially made by Paioli for the project, and BMW F650 hubs. Again the BMW airbox- in slightly modified form.- was used, and the seat rounded and, through that modification, mounted slightly lower.

Dave Pearce of Tigcraft named Adam White as a designer with an affinity to motorcycles, and as one he had cooperated with in other projects. Adam redesigned petrol tank and seat of the 652; the front was changed anyway, the rather over-engineered Paioli front fork resulting in never-before-seen stability in the front end, combined with the flickability of the rest of the chassis. Was it not for the still too great seat height it was the perfect motorcycle for girls, being very light and giving a very reasuring feedback.

The picture above shows our first production bikes with the "pre-production" one on the left. It is the only one with the light grey/grey seat- for production bikes we used the more practical dark grey/black one. Still even the pre-production idea was better than the orange Adam White had suggested!
As the Norton Motors GmbH parts business took an unpredictable plunge in 1997/98 against previous years money became a problem. So in the end only the ten customers who had paid deposits got their bikes built. All further orders were rejected because, even though the bike was ridiculously expensive for the time- 21.000 Deutschmarks!- we really did not make a Deutschmark per bike, and all further bikes just meant more premiums for the very expensive product liability insurance, not to mention the risk of warranty claims which, fortunately, we never had any bar two speedo cables.

The pressbike became the well-loved runaround bike for Tim and myself for many years. Tim travelled the south of Europe on it- Sardinia, Croatia, Italy etc- and I used it on many an Alpine tour with friends, it being ideal on tight and twisty roads. It is so predictable and safe one can actually slide it, controlled, over both wheels in bends.

The bike was crashed by me twice- first on Most race course in 1998, due to not paying attention and realizing I was approaching a bend too fast, a few days before it was to be tested by a German motorcycle magazine; the second time in Scotland in 2010, same cause, but this time I ran out of road and was happily rolling through a meadow at high speed until I encountered a ditch some thoughtless farmer had dug in right angle to my line of approach...... Since then I have taken to being more attentive in traffic! The bike is still in bits..... I have been repaired!

Below left: Tim Seifert, Sardinia 2009, right Alto Adige (Alps) 2009.

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