Monday, August 9, 2010

David Edwards’ P11


What’s former editor David Edwards been up to since leaving Cycle World magazine last year? He tells us he’s been putting his free time and severance pay to good use, “Buying cool old mo’cycles!” One of them is this custom 1967 Norton P11 special, a machine designed as a desert racer. The P11 concept started life as a prototype reportedly built by Californian Norton distributor Bob Blair, who installed an Atlas 750cc twin in the lightweight frame of a Matchless G85 CS.

The history of Edwards’ bike tallies with this: “It was purchased new by a Northern California roadrace/flat-track tuner, who rode the wheels off the thing,” he says. A long-term rebuild started in the ’70s then carried over into the ’80s: “This guy massaged just about every component of the bike. Grafted onto the stock P11 cases are the barrels, primary cover and timing chest from a Commando, and it breathes through big ol’ pumper Dell’Ortos.” The forks are Ceriani, wearing early Kosman rotors and Japanese calipers, and Edwards reckons the seat is from a Yamaha DT1.

The oil tank looks like a Harley XR750 item. “Apparently the tuner lavished an immense amount of time on this project, but sadly he never got to ride it again before his untimely death,” says Edwards. “When I bought the bike at auction, there were no fluids aboard and the insides of the mufflers were soot-free. Currently it’s being recommissioned so it’ll make noise once more—and I’m guessing lots of it!” Despite being over 40 years old, a stock ’67 P11 (or ‘Ranger’ in 1968) is no slouch: around 50hp propels just 170kg, and Edwards’ bike has an even better power-to-weight ratio. Who needs a Triumph Scrambler when you’ve got one of these? Besides collecting oddball bikes, by the way, Edwards is also consulting for the Motoring Department of the Bonhams auction house in the USA.


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