Norton ES2

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Norton ES2
Norton ES2 500cc (1961) (21067396499).jpg
1961 slimline featherbed-framed version
ManufacturerNorton Motors Ltd, Aston, Birmingham
Parent companyAMC Ltd from 1953[1]
PredecessorModel 18 1922-27[1]
SuccessorNorton ES2 Mk2 (Norton badged Matchless) 1965-1966[2]
Engine490cc OHV air cooled single
Top speed82 mph[1]
Power25 bhp @ 5500 rpm, 1960 spec[3]
Transmission4 speed gearbox to chain final drive
Brakes8.00 x 1.25 inches front, 7.00 x 1.25 rear from 1959
Tires3.00 front, 3.50 rear x 19 inch from 1959
Wheelbase56 inches
Seat height31.5 inches
Weight380 pounds (170 kg) (dry)
392 pounds (178 kg) (wet)
Fuel capacity3.5 gals
Oil capacity4 pints
Fuel consumption50 to 60mpg

The Norton ES2 is a Norton motorcycle produced from 1927 until 1964. From 1965, a different machine was produced for a short time by parent manufacturer AMC, based on a Matchless but badged as Norton ES2 Mk2.


1949 ES2

It was a long stroke single, always 79mm x 100mm bore and stroke, originally launched as a sports motorcycle but throughout its long life it was gradually overtaken by more powerful models.

It remained popular due to its reliability and ease of maintenance, as well as the traditional design. From 1947 the ES2 had an innovative hydraulically damped telescopic front fork and race developed rear plunger suspension. From 1953 it had a single downtube swinging-arm frame.

Featherbed frame[edit]

From 1959 it used the Rex McCandless designed Featherbed frame, with upgrades featuring an improved AMC gearbox, revised cylinder head, crankshaft-mounted Lucas RM15 60-watt alternator with coil ignition and an 8-inch front brake with full width hubs front and rear.[1] The wideline Featherbed-framed bike was road tested in The Motor Cycle 4 June 1959 issue and was reported to have a mean top speed of 82 mph with petrol consumption of 56 mpg at 60 mph.[1]

Slimline featherbed frame[edit]

For 1961, in common with other large-engined Nortons, the bike was further improved with the Slimline frame with upper frame rails narrowed and a restyled slimmer fuel tank.[4]


ES2 Mk2 bearing an 'E' suffix (1967) English registration plate

The last ES2 was introduced in late 1964. A Matchless-based machine with Norton badges, it was produced for two years before final discontinuation, coincident with the commercial failure of the AMC Group.[5][6]

A report in a 1980 UK magazine stated:[7]

The slow but immensely likeable Featherbed-framed 350 Model 50 and 500 ES2 Norton ohv singles were dropped and in their place appeared the Model 50 MkII and ES2 MkII, or, with Norton badges hastily tacked on the side, the Matchless G3 and G80. They failed to fool anyone, let alone the buying public. In 1966 the heavyweight singles were all but a memory...


  1. ^ a b c d e f The Motor Cycle, Road Test, 4 June 1959
  2. ^ Robinson, James (6 June 2012). "Norton ES2 and Matchless G3". Classic Motorcycle. Archived from the original on 23 June 2012. Retrieved 29 March 2013.
  3. ^ Motor Cycle Data Book, George Newnes Ltd, London 1960
  4. ^ "Norton ES2". Retrieved 2008-10-24.
  5. ^ Motorcycle Mechanics, December 1964, editorial p.3 "(Earls Court) Show - not much new." "Two Matchless singles christened the Mark II versions of famous and former Norton models by virtue of a Norton badge". Accessed and added 2015-01-21
  6. ^ Motorcycle Mechanics, December 1964, pp.29-31 "What's new? Bill Lawless takes a look at the 1965 models." "Messrs AMC reintroduce the once popular Model 50 and ES2 Nortons by calling them the Mark II models and sticking Norton badges on Matchless G3 and G80 machines". Accessed and added 2015-01-22
  7. ^ Classic Bike, February/March 1980, pp.56-60, AMC's heavyweight singles Accessed 31 December 2017
  • Bacon, R, Norton Singles, Osprey Publishing, 1983 Power Output: 21 hp Fuel capacity: 2.75 Imp gal (1947–58), 3.5 Imp gal (1958-63)

See also[edit]