Beauty And The Beast.

You will know for sure that we make the fastest Nortons in the world of classic racing, but we also make the most beautiful – and that's official!

A couple of years ago, we worked with motojournalist Frank Melling ( who had some very strong ideas about what a beautiful classic race bike should look like. What Frank had in mind was a Manx which had been styled in an Italian factory – a bit like an FB Mondial made on a good day in Bracebridge Street!

Frank is also a huge Mike Hailwood fan and wanted to produce an homage to the 1961/62 Ecurie Sportive Manx Norton which Mike's father, Stan, had built at vast cost for his superstar son to ride. You can read the story here:

What neither of us would do was to produce a fake Ecurie Sportive Norton. In fact, this would have been quite easy to do but Frank was militantly against the idea and we never do fake anything at Works Racing! So, the Ecurie Sportive Norton we made is what Stan would have bought for Mike in 2017 – and, clearly, he would have come to us for the bike.

It took a lot of time and effort to produce what Frank wanted – an awful lot! For example, all the engine plates are milled out to save the weight of three gnats' eyelashes but we also wrote the CNC programme to replicate pocket milling. Then the plates were anodised so that they always look beautiful.

Frank didn't like the practical, Lansdowne, silencers but wanted a long, tapering FB Mondial or Moto Morini silencer so we made one just for the bike out of titanium. The bike had to be silenced because Frank wanted to race his Norton in Britain, rather than just take it out for an occasional parade, and this means that the bike has to run at 105dba. Despite being beautiful, it does rather better than 105dba running comfortably inside the noise limit whenever it is tested.

It wasn’t an afternoon's work getting everything just as Frank wanted – and we both had to keep calm on occasions and compromise!

Mechanically, the bike is very much our normal 86 bore, Lansdowne specification, motor but we've tried out some new things – most of which have worked. Where they didn't, we’ve learned valuable lessons which have now been incorporated into our production engines.

The engine runs on Silkolene 15w-50 fully synthetic oil ( which is what we specify for all our engines. This oil provides low drag and excellent engine protection even when the motor is used hard. It lets the engine rev more freely than using castor oil but still provides excellent protection for the crank.

Frank has also spent a lot of time on Steve Hammond's Motrac Racing ( dyno at the Chester University's Faculty of Engineering and Science and we're also using this data to improve customers' engines.

The gearbox is a standard six speeder from Mick Hemmings with a belt drive and Works Racing alloy clutch. These are what we use on all our bikes and Frank is completely happy with them.

A near neighbour of Frank's is Maxton Engineering ( and Ron and Richard have equipped the Ecurie Sportive bike with their very latest TT60 gas pressurised rear shocks and GP20 cartridge front suspension. This is suspension that Hailwood could only dream of and Frank is involved in an on going programme of development, the results of which are coming back to us for our production bikes.

Frank says: "The Ecurie Sportive bike is outstandingly the best classic race bike I have ever ridden. It's completely vice free in terms of handling can be ridden either in a classic style - ideal for fat, bald, old wrinklies like me – or, heaven help me, with my knee deliberately on the deck."

"Patrick has built an outstanding motor which Steve Hammond has got performing to its optimum level. I wanted a really nice, friendly engine and so Patrick has gone for torque and usability rather than maximum power. It's a lovely thing to ride with almost road bike pulling power but still plenty fast enough to run with any other Manx or G.50."

"It’s a really clever piece of engineering to get such an easy to use engine which is also properly quick."

Frank claims that he is now 'retired', and only rides round looking at the views, but even so the Ecurie Sportive bike has won races this season – a fact which Melling puts down to the quality of the bike and the lunches which his wife Carol provides in the paddock.

Carol is not only a gourmet sandwich maker but has a big part to play in the bike's appearance because whenever it is seen in public crowds gather round. Carol says: "I'm always proud of our bikes, and cannot imagine Frank racing on a bike which is not well presented, but the Norton is really something special and I enjoy getting it into immaculate condition."

"It's such a beautiful motorcycle to begin with that it would be a crime not to have it in top condition."

And the bike did look breathtakingly beautiful at October's Classic Bike Show in Stafford where it was the star attraction as Frank was selling his new book Ride of My Life.

Clearly, Frank and Carol love the Ecurie Sportive bike, and we think that it is beautiful too, but maybe we’re all a bit biased. Then perhaps not - because the bike won the prestigious 'Best Exhibit' award at Stafford beating some exotic opposition such a lovely Gilera '4' and a whole host of Japanese works bikes.

So, you have always known about the quality of our engineering and that we produce engines with beastly power, but now you can see that we can also do award winning beauty too.