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Brackley Bike Festival - 21/8/11
Manx Demo with
Norton Owners Club

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  Photos of Manx Demo with NOC at Brackley
Bike Festival - 21/8/11
                Article Update : 24/08/11      

Following an invite from Martin Maynard, who with a small band of similar minded stalwarts of the Norton Owners Club, do a great job promoting our favourite silver brand, i.e. - the Norton single; I was asked if I would like to help fly the Manx flag, by demonstrating as many Manx Nortons as possible at the forthcoming Brackley Bike Festival, held on the 21st August - and as an added incentive, I was told they would like us to try and make as much noise as possible!
This yearly bike event takes place in the centre of the small town of Brackley in Northamptonshire, and is massive, with almost every kind of motorcycling gendre is some way catered for. As well as the different motorcycling stands and areas - which included club stands, demo's, and the chance to test ride a number of modern motorcycles - including Ducati's and Royal Enfields, there was even a fun fare and many none-motorcycle stalls there for the rest of the family - apart from anything else almost every kind of food stall you could imagine was there.

Martin and Manxes
Martin Maynard with a line of Manx Nortons. Mine are number 6 and number 8. Martins doubleknocker is no 69 - any reason for that number Martin?
Row of Manxes
Although not as many Manx's as had originally been planned were available for the demo, I would estimate we still had about 15 Manx and Racing International's on display in the afternoon
Although not really the type of meeting I would normally attend, I have to admit it was an impressive affair, and by early afternoon it seemed that the enitre centre of the town was heaving with people. What was really nice to see was the sheer diversity of people walking around. As well as large groups of all the expected motorcycling genders (particularly the custom bike brigade, who I assume helped create the meeting originally), what I really liked to see were all the other none motrocycling social groups there - groups of teenagers, older people, and particularly the amount of families out for the day, who looked like they had probably never been to a motorcycle meeting before. All mixed in with the hardfast motorcycle fraternities, but all looking to be having a good time, and with the weather being so good it, the event has a really good laid back atmosphere.

Manuel Hughes
It was also nice to have Graham, who now helps me part time doing the online catalog orders, come along for his first Norton meeting. I noticed on the day that both Graham, who is on the right, and Martin seem to have a soft spot for doughnuts!
As for the actual demonstrations - well we had been asked to come along and make some noise - no problems in that department! the centre high street had been cordoned off and there was an approximately 300 yard length of road, where through the day different types of motorcycle demonstrations were shown, including some pretty amazing stunt demonstrations and modern race bike demos.
Unfortunately, I do not think the organisers had taken into consideration that our old Manx racing bikes do not have any turning circle, and unlike modern bikes, cannot find neutral, as the clutch is really only used fo getting started off the line. Also, there was quite a convaluted route through to the demo area, so by the time many of us got there, our clutch's were already dragging - and a few runs each just added to the strain. I gave best on the 1938 bike after about 5 or 6 laps, by which time both the bike and I were well and truly overheated!
Waiting to go out
Waiting to go out for our first run . . . engines already getting hot!
Manuel Hughes
I ran my 1938 Racing International in the first event.
Here I am getting a push from my old grasstracking mate Manuel Hughes.
Manuel, who used to be a regular VMCC champinship winner on his JAP engined grasstrack bikes, lives very close to the town of Brackley, and came to say hello
Demo Area
This photo gives the perception of a large wide road, but the turning areas at the end were actually very narrow, and our bikes struggled to get round, with their limited turning circles
Demo Area
And the other end was not any better . . .
Doubleknocker in demo
As you would expect, the majority of bikes we were demonstrating were Featherbed Manx's
Gardengate Manx's
But we had a couple of exceptions - as well a my rigid, there was this 1940's Gardengate Manx, with its distinctive large capacity petrol and oil tanks
My 38 Inter
Unfortunately for me, the demo area did not prove long enough for me to figure out if my latest cylinder head surgery had been successful, as I was not able to hold it on full bore for more than a couple of seconds, which was a disappointment
Gardengate Manx's
But at least we made lots of the right sort of noise. Like me, this bike was probably the noisiest - 128 db, notice little kid in background!
Rigid at rest
The bikes were left out after their runs and seemed to get a lot of attention from spectators used to more moderm machinery

Late Featherbed
This late Featherbed was not with us, but in one of the main display areas. I think it is actually a Molnar Manx and went well

Other Interesting Stuff
Our first session was put on quite early - about 11.00am, so we had chance to have a breather before going out for a second session in the early afternoon, which gave a chance to go round and look at some of the other bikes arriving and some of the other demos. There was a very sprightly demo put on by the early Jap bike racing brigade - I confess I did not see it, but it sounded good! There was also some interesting Cafe bikes there, with many of the owners looking just right for propping up the coffee bar at the Ace Cafe - who, of course, also had a stall there! For me the nicest cafe racer I saw was a very nicely put together Norvin, with all the right bits, including unchopped Vinnie twin engine, TT carbs and Manx hubs. The owner knew his stuff and told me that, like me, he was second generation Vinnie and the bike had been in the family a long time. Anyway - it was close enough a Norton, so demo'd with our mob in both sessions.
For me it was also a good opportunity to have a a chat with Patrick Walker, who was there with his Works Norton setup - his doubleknocker engines looked excellent, and he had also bought his own singlecknocker - a lovely pre-war racing Gardengate 350

Lovely Norvin really looked the part, with all the right bits.
The ultimate Cafe Racer
Works Van and engine
Patrick Walkers late 1930's 350 looks just right in front of his 'Works' van and one his DOHC engines
Patrick on Bike
Patrick sat on bike, talking to another Manx owner (whose name unfortunately I did not catch)
Works Engine
A 'Works' DOHC engine, that Patrick manufactures - it looked a very professionally made piece of kit
Pre-War 350
Very nice pre-war Model 50 350cc, spotted in the vintage bike section close to our own area
Featherbed 350
. . . .and in the same car park, a nicely presented Featherbed 350 provided an interesting comparison
Featherbed 350
Purposeful 'Working' Manx, which is being ran in the Lansdowne series and owned by the gent talking to Patrick above
Flat Tanker
This early 16H flat tanker looked like it had been ridden to the event and made a lovely comparison to the JPS Commando sat behind it
Flat Tanker
Swopping allegiance! Trying out fellow Manx owner Brian Glover's other love - his replica Honda 250 1960's racer - lovely bike
Second Session
We ran a second session in the early afternoon, and for this I switched over to my 1955 doubleknocker. This bike is not really any quieter than my 38 bike - not really sure why both these bikes are so loud, but even for Manx's they both seem to have a certain crack about them.
Anyway, again we were ushered into the stretch of High Street that was been used as an arena, and again we all did some short blasts and made the appropriate noises, which hopefully gave the crowds a good insight into what a racing grid sounded like before the modern world of noise meters became a necessary evil.
The one gripe I think we would all have is that, again, the organisers had not considered the turning circle these old racing bikes need, and therefore it was difficult to turn the bikes round in the small space provided. This added to the high gearing most of us had, meant for the the majority of us, within a few runs, clutch's were dragging badly and the bikes were becoming very difficult to ride.
For my own part, I had forgotten how high the gearing was on my doubleknocker and consequently I was having to give an awful lot of clutch slipping and revs to get away cleanly, and was probably doing 70mph in first gear! After about 6-8 runs of doing this my clutch was totally shot, with smoke coming up from it and almost no drive at all! I am told it sounded and looked good, but it turned out to be a very expensive day, with the need to replace two sets of clutch plates!
Apart from that though, a really nice day, and although not my normal 'bag' it is an event I would wholeheartedly recommend you visiting next year
Bump Starting
Starting my 1955 doubleknocker for the second session. Phil who is pushing is another Manx owner who bought his beautiful 1934 race Inter, which had been in his family for many years
bikes in arena
By the afternoon session the crowds had started to turn up - and by mid afternoon the town centre was packed
Norvin in arena
Big Vincent cafe racer on open pipes made a nice addition to our group
Another of our NOC group, on his doubleckocker with upswept exhaust
DOHC in arena
Yours truly, slipping clutch and making noise with open megga
Fried Clutch
. . . and that is what a fried clutch looks like. This was taken 15 minutes after I stopped, when we poured some water on it to see if it had cooled down yet . . . evidently not!

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