John Player Norton Monocoque Replicas

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Only four John Player Norton Monocoques were built in 1973, but Peter Williams, the bike’s original designer and pilot, plans to build 25 replicas.
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Only four John Player Norton Monocoques were built in 1973, but Peter Williams, the bike’s original designer and pilot, plans to build 25 replicas.

Former Norton engineer and factory rider Peter Williams has
announced that his company, Peter Williams Motorcycles,
will produce 25 replicas of the famous 1973 John Player Norton Monocoque.
Williams says he was inspired to craft the replicas to celebrate the 40th
anniversary of the original Monocoques he built while at Norton. Only four
Monocoques were built in 1973 (including one prototype chassis), making the
John Player Norton Monocoque one of the rarest racing motorcycles of all
time. 
 

Williams, who was trained in mechanical engineering, was
Norton’s top rider in the early 1970s. He designed the monocoque John Player
Norton during 1972-1973 after securing support from Norton boss Dennis Poore to
build a race bike that could return Norton to racing supremacy. Williams won
the 1973 Isle of Man TT aboard the Monocoque (literally “single shell” — the
body is a structural skin) at a record speed of 105.47mph and set a new lap
record of 107.27mph, making him the second fastest rider ever to lap the
course.

The original machines were built by hand and each one took
the equivalent of 12 man-weeks to construct. Williams says the replicas will go
together much quicker thanks to CAD-CAM manufacturing. The replica monocoque
frame will be made of stainless steel, per the original, and power will come
from brand new 750cc Commando engines built by Norton engine specialist Mick Hemmings, who raced Nortons extensively in the 1970s.

The engines will feature Williams’ PW3 camshaft and will use
a Quaife 5-speed transmission. Cast magnesium wheels made from the original
tooling will support the replicas, along with magnesium fork sliders recreated
from the original drawings. Williams is credited with bringing cast wheel
technology to motorcycles, designing his first mag wheel in 1967.

Where necessary, Williams has reverse-engineered original
parts in CAD, using the two John Player Norton Monocoques housed by Britain’s National Motorcycle
Museum as patterns.

Although the machines will be fully functioning, Peter
Williams Motorcycles says the bikes won’t be road legal. They won’t come cheap,
either, at approximately £65,000, a whisker from $100,000 U.S. Given that
a “real” JPN Monocoque is valued at roughly $250,000 that could be viewed as a
bargain, especially considering the very unique fact that these bikes are being
designed and manufactured by the same man who built the originals. They are, in
some respects, a continuation of the original. That’s a provenance that’s hard
to beat — if you can afford it.

We’re hoping our man in England, moto journalist Alan
Cathcart, will get a chance to swing a leg over a finished bike. If he does,
you can bet we’ll share the experience here. MC 

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