Norton ES2

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Norton ES2 500cc (1961) (21067396499).jpg
Norton ES2
[[Norton Motorcycle Company|Norton Motors Ltd, Aston, Birmingham]]
Production 1928-1964[1]
Predecessor Model 18 1922-27[1]
Successor Norton ES2 Mk2 (Norton badged Matchless) 1965-1966[2]
490cc OHV air cooled single
Top Speed 82 mph[1]
Horsepower 25 bhp @ 5500 rpm, 1960 spec[3]
Transmission 4 speed gearbox to chain final drive
Brakes 8.00 x 1.25 inches front, 7.00 x 1.25 rear from 1959
Wheelbase 56 inches
Seat Height 31.5 inches
Weight 380lb (dry), 392 lb (wet)
Oil Capacity 4 pints
Fuel Capacity 3.5 gals
Fuel Consumption 50 to 60mpg
Manuals Service Manual

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.


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 down-tube swinging-arm frame.



1949 ES2

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

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. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 The Motor Cycle, Road Test, 4 June 1959
  2. Norton ES2 and Matchless G3 (6 June 2012). Archived from the original on 23 June 2012. Retrieved on 29 March 2013.
  3. Motor Cycle Data Book, George Newnes Ltd, London 1960
  4. Norton ES2. Retrieved on 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]