Find of the Month: 1965 Norton Atlas

Welcome back to the Find of the Month, where we share some of the cool bikes we find for sale on autoTRADER.ca. This month, we’re checking out a 1965 Norton Atlas for sale in Goderich, Ontario.


The year is 1965. The machine, a Norton Atlas, is forged in the dark recesses of a factory in Woolwich, southeast London, in the UK. The Japanese takeover of the motorcycle industry is just about to start, with the introduction of the Honda Black Bomber, but for now, Norton is still one of the top names when it comes to performance bikes. This bike was built using old-fashioned methods and old-fashioned tools, with old-fashioned technology, and somehow, it survived through the decades from ’65 to become what you see here today.

This machine is highly modified from the standard Atlas; according to the blurb in the ad, it has a high-compression 750 Atlas motor (in stock trim, these had lower compression than Norton’s Dominator model, to cut vibration). This machine has a single intake and modern Mikuni carburetor; the original ’65 model would have had a dual intake and carb setup, although earlier versions of the Atlas had a single Amal carb setup. The ad says a set of rebuilt 900-series Amal carbs also comes with the bike, so if you want to return to a dual-carburetor setup, that’s doable.

That green paint might not be to everyone’s taste. Isn’t green supposed to be unlucky, or something like that?

This bike has a featherbed frame that’s been powder-coated to a green colour. The racing-style tank isn’t stock, and neither is the bum-stop seat. The suspension is also upgraded, with NJS shocks.

All in all, it’s a tidy cafe racer, and the seller says this has won prizes at shows in London (presumably the Ontario version) and Toronto, and now it’s back on the street. According to the ad, “Since its life as a show bike, the Norton has been used as a reliable daily driver, head turner and authentic ambassador of the Cafe’ movement.” In other words, it’s not just a pretty face. This is a Brit bike you should be able to ride. The “starts on the first kick every time” claim  is particularly intriguing.

The owners says no expense was spared when building and maintaining this machine, and build and parts information will be provided to serious buyers. Considering the amount of modification this bike looks to have received, you’d definitely want to get all those details before paying up.

This machine is obviously highly modified, and if you want a reliable Brit bike, that might be a prerequisite, especially when you’re dealing with a Norton.

In stock trim, this machine would have originally put out roughly 55 hp and weighed 185 kg wet, which would be plenty of fun even by today’s standards. It still has drum brake in back (disc in front), and the suspension geometry may feel a bit dated, but all in all, this looks like a fun bike to ride, even if it is an oldster. The electrical system ought to be 12-volt, which also makes things a bit easier to deal with. Most likely, the gearbox is still a four-speed, not optimal, but that’s what you get when you play with Brit bikes.

Asking price is $14,000. That’s a lot of money, but considering the amount of work done to the bike, and the condition it appears to be in, a well-heeled buyer just might be tempted to pay up. If that’s you, then go check out the ad for contact deets.

6 thoughts on “Find of the Month: 1965 Norton Atlas”

    1. First kick starting is certainly possible with many elderly motorcycles. But…every facet of fuel quality, engine condition, electrical supply, and rider experience and technique – amongst other factors such as carb tuning, phase of moon, the starter’s horoscope and so on have to align properly for it to happen.
      DAMHIK

      1. “phase of the moon” -hahahaha

        I’ve had several kickstart motorcycles. The easiest to start was my XS650. By the time I sold it, I had it figured out. The hardest has been my DR350. I think I’ve figured out the problem, but over the four years I’ve ridden it, it’s never been easy to get going, and if I haven’t run it for a while, it’s easier to push it across the street to the schoolyard and roll it down their driveway to bump start it, than it is to actually start.

        If I had my XS again, I’d have no problem ripping the electric start off and junking it. It was superfluous. But for most other bikes, the “electric boot” certainly makes life easier.

  1. A few observations. The front wheel has a disc brake. Green, usually darker than the frame on this bike was (is?) the national racing colour of Great Britain. A lighter green was used on the Beart-tuned racing Nortons. At least the timing cover – perhaps the whole engine? – is a Commando one (If a whole engine the engine number would determine this).

    1. So many experts? If you read the story you will see it states disc brake in front. No moon phases need be aligned to have a one kick vintage Brit bike. It just needs to be well built and maintained by someone who knows what they are doing, who’s go to tools are not a hammer and crescent wrench. If you knew what you were looking at the details of the motor would tell you it is not a Commando.

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