The Norman Trials Bikes.



Hi Guy's.


I have spent best part of yesterday researching the "Norman". Breed...


 And you are right they, the trials bikes, seem to have only been made in small numbers.


 There was a resurgence after the works bikes, six or eight I think ran in the 1954 Scottish Six Days Trial, and this is the time I am interested in.



Photo Credited...

Here is that Scottish team in 1954...




Well it was a guy named Glynn Thomas  that had a Norman B2 trials bike that made me want to get into the trials game.

Bought from my friend Ted Freeman I now find out...


Photo Courtesy Edward Freeman...

This is a photo of a young Ted Freeman riding the B2 Norman in the Southern National Trial of 1955...

Story  at bottom of page...



So Norman Cycles Limited... 

 Being owned by TI from 1952? onwards did not help in the end, when the brothers retired  in 1962. TI (Tube Investments) seems to have lost all interest in the breed, and were happy to see the name slip away.


I must say I liked the simplicity of the design of the machine, although the last Norman B4C frame was the only welded construction with what looked like twin seat tubes, the cast lug frames on the previous generations were very pleasing to the eye.


And you know the old saying if something looks right it most usually works right.


Now a replica Norman might be the New James or Bantam?


Photo Charles and Fredrick Norman ...


Deryk Wylde had this drawing specially commissioned by Ted for

"Off Road Review".


You can see that from this  Ted Hardy drawing  the simplicity of the frame of the Norman B2C.

A simple lugged brazed front diamond with cast iron steering head and seat tube boss.

The steel engine cradle carries not only the engine, but the footrest assembly as well, and picks up with the swinging arm mounting.

The Armstrong designed leading arm forks were built by Norman, when Armstrong stopped making them in York. Norman Cycles had been helping with the development of these units, so

a licence was bought to produce the Mk2 Armstrong forks.



Thank's to Mark Gooding from the DOT. owners club for sending me this original drawing of the Armstrong Mk2 forks.



  And this company also supplied E CoTTon Motorcycles with these forks up until their closure. The rear shock units were also Armstrong.

There was a  21" front wheel  fitted and a 19" rear, Norman, and James, were the last companies to use 19" rear wheels in a lightweight machine.

The Villiers 9E,197cc engine was an option on the later B4C along with the 247cc 32A.

New Update 26/12/2019...


From Gary...

Dear Otterman...


I have just read your Norman article on the Norman trials bikes . You spent a lot of time researching this, well done.

Some of the frames shown are 1956 - 61 B2 / B3 roadster frames. Roadster models modified to trials spec. The curved sub frame were only made for a short time.


Piers is pictured with his B2C/S, the welded sub frames we modified and used on the later B4 models.


The B4 competition used the TF Blumfield / Qualcast hubs 6" cast iron  hubs not the earlier MotoAlloy alloy hubs, and the B2 roadster type tank. More of a parts bin bitsa. ~Oo>(Most Makes were Gary..)  I know one of the assembly line men Michael Turner, I knew the chief tester Les Hatch, they did not remember many B4 competitions being made.

Les told me the long frame was made for the Villiers 2T, 2" or so longer than the Frame for the 9E.


The Norman B4 Competition pictured is the sole example we know of, and its in Cornwall, now restored.


There are 2 Norman B2C/S Trials in the Dover Transport Museum. you can look up their web page.


Gary..."Nobby Norman" ....



Although the advert says by 1961 there were new features, the frame and a slightly different fuel tank shape were the the only things changed...

The frame now was a L shape front member ending at the seat mounting, a fabricated subframe with twin seat tubes met up with the engine cradle which now seems carried the full swinging arm mounting. The footrest position was also moved back compared with the Norman B2C.

The change in tank design seems to have come about because Norman were working closely with an Italian company, to try and update all models.

One of the quirks to the Norman was the re-tension of the up-swept exhaust system on its production machines, most trials lightweight machines now had the high-rise type system.

The other change was the use of different hubs which also could have come from Italy...Gary says Qualcast


Photo Courtesy Deryk Wylde.nostalgia books...

This 1962 shot from Deryk shows  Ken Edwards  riding what was said to be a Works "Norman".B2C.

This was about the time with the Ashford factory now closed, that "Tube Investments" were losing interest in the breed, it had been posted off to Raleigh in Nottingham, and allegedly a very last small batch of trials machines were built at another TI subsidiary in the Midlands.

The machines were probably built to fulfil dealers orders.


Note :That the machine above and below is fitted with TriumphTR20  front forks and hub in place of the Armstrong... or the Norman factory tele forks of  1954-5 and before...

The subframe on the machine is also different than the last production run, and it still has the Villiers 8E fourspeed engine unit fitted.


Photo Courtesy Deryk Wylde ORR.


The Norman Works Competition years.

(Photo now above)

The factory did have a competition side, Karl Pugh, Brian Butt, Gerry Mills, Clive Mills, Don Barret, G. Russel, Ray Peacock and Sid Wicken were entered by the factory in the Scottish Six day trials in the early 1950's. The Scottish Norman agent Ian McIntyre won the 125cc SSDT class outright in 1953.

The successes of the 1953 team were celebrated in the 1954 sales brochure.

But 1955 was to be the factories last year at the Scottish.

The Norman B2C, B2C/S & B4C were produced mainly for off road riders in club competition.

They were very popular and successful in the South East of England. Derek Minter the famous road racer was loaned machines by the factory and featured in publicity for the road going models. Derek used to enter a special factory twin cylinder trials machine in winter trials competitions. It was rumoured that frames tested at MIRA test facility that broke were converted into some of the trials bike output...



Photo Courtesy Deryk Wylde.ORR.


Here is a picture of Dave Lane?  registration number on the Norman bike, looks like PEL 454 or 464  and with Norman Factory forks fitted    Norman's own brand before using the Armstrong forks... and a D3 BSA Bantam type front hub? was this another works bike or one that Ken Edwards took over later with PKT 464...



Photo Offroad Archive. with permission from Deryk.


Better view of Ken Edwards showing the rounded rear subframe of the Norman, not common with the production B2C machines, and more like the Sun Wasp frame from the sister company... and with a larger silencer fitted.



I have just gone through the entries of machines in the Max King "Trials Riding" book and the machine that is missing is the Norman B2C-B4C ? Why?


Fig 6, is the D.M.W. 249 Mk10 trials Model with the pressed steel frame, and the DOT. 250  " Works Replica".  Fig 7. underneath.

 But No Norman B2C or B4C,


Even the Fig 8, Francis Barnett 249 Model 85 Trials, that we know has been copied by everyone as a Mick Andrews Replica MAR James, when the "Commando",  was nothing like this bike, and they both had that terrible AMC twostroke engine fitted...

So the Norman with so little numbers of trials models built was shunned by the trials world at the time as virtually Non existent.

What a True,True, Shame.


 The Norman Brother's  ran the factory then they took the investment, and were  under the wing of "Tube Investments", that move seems to have taken all of the pride in the Norman Mark out of the public and commercial eye for some reason...

The other TI company under the wing Reynolds Tube must have been supplying tube to the factory though one would think?

 And I hope it was them that supplied the tapered front down tube that prevented the frame breaking underneath the steering head after tests at MIRA proved that this was a weak point in the design. 




You can see by May 1961. Norman Cycles LTD had a new address at Lenton Boulevard Nottingham.

Tube Investments were themselves after selling off various other companies under their wing  sold to Smiths Industries in the year 2000, they then vanished. TI was later set back up as fluid engineering company.


Updated 03/12/2017.


"MY  Norman Tale".


It was a rigid Norman trials bike that got me interested in observation trials, as a boy.

Growing up in a small village to the south of Banbury..."South Newington" in Oxfordshire, I used to have the task of droving the milking cows to their field, as often has was possible when not at school.

It was then that I used to block the road with the volume of the herd, and on most occasions would meet Glynn Thomas on his Norman Trials bike winding his way through the herd.

He used the bike for work every day, and competed on it at weekends.

Glynn lived with his family at a farm at the top of the hill,"Paradise Farm" South Newington, and with only a rough cart track to get to it, the trials bike was the best option.

I vowed to myself seeing this little bike most days, that this is what I wanted to do, own a trials bike.

So later when a bit older and five pound in a jam jar, I purchased a plunger framed  James for that precisely  sum amount.

It was parked on the side of the road just outside the village with a £5 pound price tag  painted on an old board.

A New 3-50x18 back tyre and rim,and a 275-19 Dunlop trials universal on the front, a couple of alloy guards, and I had my very first trials bike,

And I remember Glynn taking a look at the bike on my first trial I rode in. But if it was not for seeing the little Norman trials bike most days I may never had got interested in observed motorcycle trials.

Happy Days...


Photo Courtesy Deryk Wylde ORR-e

Dave Annis from Cheltenham riding his B2C Norman.



A recently Sold B4C Norman trials, one of a very few built.


Piers Kurrein's Recently renovated Norman B2C/S...

Photo Mortons,

 "Old Bike Mart". Take a look.


 What a superb job.

I wish I owned that bike.



Another from Deryk Wylde ORR-e


An Irish competitor riding a Norman B2C in the Scottish Six Days Trial.

 about 1955, I recon,the other rider is John Giles riding a works Triumph Trophy. 


We now have this stunning example of the Norman trials bike owned by the collector in Scotland.



Write up about this machine later.



Villiers 8E, engine, Albion four speed gearbox.



A good example of the breed this machine. Do you note though, hardly two of the frames used seem the same...  After reading Gary's post, it now seems the Norman trials bikes were all built in the factory workshop, using what road frames were available as a basis... proper cottage stuff...



Armstrong forks also varied in the link dimensions from one bike to another.

New story and photo's later...12/07/2020...



More Norman's later.