Monday, March 21, 2011


1902 Norton 'Energette'
 Spotted at auction currently in New Zealand is this ca.1902 proto-Norton, from the days when James Lansdowne was assembling French engines (Clement, Peugeot) into frames of his own design, to create his first own-make machines.  One of which, of course, just pipped Billy Wells on his Vindec Special to win the very first Isle of Man TT in 1907 (multi-cylinder class - the Peugeot engine was a v-twin). The 'Energette' is clearly a mo-ped, which is the typical starting point for most early motorcycle manufacturers who grew to bigger machinery after gaining experience with these first commercially-available motors.
Crankshaft flywheel on the Clement engine
A few 'Energettes' exist in museums and private hands - perhaps only 3 - one of which resides with the esteemed 'Dr. Norton', our own George Cohen.  He relates details of his own '02 on his excellent website:
"The Clement engine was 55 X 60mm bore and stroke ( about 140 cc) and had an atmospherically controlled inlet valve and a mechanically operated side exhaust valve. The crank, drive side main shaft and pin were all forged as one piece out of tough steel and case hardened and ground dead true afterwards. The aluminium crankcases were clamped to the inside of the front down tube and to the right of centre. The drive side main-shaft held a 7 ¼ inch O.D. flywheel which had either a sprocket or pulley bolted to the inside and consequently balanced the motor within the frame; so the theory goes! The pulley (or sprocket) then drove another pulley or sprocket, situated below, but in front of the pedal crank, and this, in turn drove the rear wheel pulley by the period leather belt. There were variations on this theme that sometimes included a jockey wheel to maintain the rear belt tension. The rest of the machine was basically a period bicycle and consequently pedals drove the rear wheel by the usual sprocket arrangement including a free-wheelin’ rear hub. A small petrol tank was suspended beneath the top frame rail, ignition was ‘electric with positive “make” trembler’; and ‘A coil, giving a strong spark and accumulator of 20ampere hours capacity’ (ref: Supplement to Motor Cycling 7.5.1902) The whole machined weighed about 70 lb (32kg) and was probably not much faster than a good athlete on a sports bicycle!" 

George Cohen, his 1902 Norton, and Sammy Miller (who has one too!)
The estimate for the Energette is $100,000-130,000, and the machine is documented from 1945 onwards, although at that price I'd ask a few questions and want a few photographs of the machine 'as found', and a good look at George Cohen's machine for comparison.  If its the real deal, there isn't much rarer on two wheels!


Anonymous said...

Goddamn it if I only I had the cash. It's time's like this you understand the allure of bank robbery.
- Silodrome

Anonymous said...

Very Good!!!

The Vintagent said...

There's much wrong with this machine, but if the frame and engine are correct, the rest is fairly straightforward to sort out. New wheels, mudguards, pedals, coil, etc...then have everything de-chromed!
Rub it down with pumice, et voila.

Anonymous said...

- Buzz K