Yes, That’s a Norton: Meet the Norvarna

Meet the Norvarna, a dual-sport custom Norton Commando.

Norvarna side view

The Norvarna was built to handle the rough dirt roads of Death Valley.

Photo By Lee Greenwell

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We get all kinds of interesting phone calls, tips, emails and photos of motorcycle-related creations large and small, weird and wonderful — and sometimes just downright nutty. Several of those adjectives could be used to describe Lee Greenwell’s custom Norton, but we love it. We’ll let him explain. — Ed. 

“This project started out as a completely stock 1974 Norton 850 Roadster. I purchased this bike new from Ironhorse Motorcycle Works, a Norton dealer in Salt Lake City, Utah. After riding this bike around for 20 years, I was offered a job in Death Valley National Park at a remote backcountry campground. Access to my new place of residence was a 50-mile rough dirt road, not suited for a Norton street bike. The bike went into storage. After missing riding the Norton for 15 years, I decided to adapt the Norton into a dual-purpose dirt/street bike. Something I could ride where I live.

“Having owned a Husqvarna dealership in the 1970s, I had access to many Husqvarna parts. The donor bike was a 1980 Husky 390. The Husqvarna front forks, Öhlins rear shocks, Husky front and rear wheel assemblies, handlebars, Magura levers and throttle, and a Husky folding shift lever were used.

“Adapting the Husky parts to fit the Norton was surprisingly easy. The front forks slipped right into the Norton fork yokes. The upper fork yoke required some welding and machining to get the pinch bolt to function correctly. The rear wheel bolted right on and used the stock Husky axle. The rear Öhlins shocks bolted right on and gave 8 inches of wheel travel. The front fork damping rods had to be shortened to give 9 inches of front wheel travel. Surprisingly, the Husky folding shift lever slipped right on to the Norton shift shaft. The splines were the same!

“The bike is a joy to ride on dirt roads and still cruises well on the highway. With the increased wheel travel it has a plush, smooth ride on rough dirt roads. It handles better than a KTM 950 Super Enduro that I also own. I call my creation a ‘Norvarna.’” MC