Stored Since ’75: 1969 Norton Atlas

Despite the world of vintage motorcycles being quite vast, it’s not hard to dissect which ones were the truly special bikes. Be it an engine or a frame or the out-of-the-box performance, desirable bikes all maintained some kind of edge. In the case of specimens like this 1969 Norton Atlas 750 here on craigslist, it was the iconic Featherbed frame, which was considered one of the best handling frames of its time.

Thanks to Barn Finds reader Nevadahalfrack for the find. The frame itself lead to all manners of hybrid bikes being formed, substituting the Norton powerplant with a racier engine to draw additional performance of the already-capable frame. This example retains its stock engine, but the seller has not ridden it since 1975 when he parked it after using it regularly for four years.

The Atlas was a strong performer, and like many sport bikes of the era, was built to contend with American consumers’ demand for higher performance. The engine pushed out a respectable 55 b.h.p., and was effectively a bored-out rehash of the same engine used in the previous generation platform known as the Norton Dominator. Based on the photos, you can tell some level of disassembly has occurred.

The asking price seems reasonable at $850, and the seller is willing to deliver it within a short distance. Interest is growing in vintage British bikes, and this Triumph Tiger TR6 is available as part of the recent Barn Finds Exclusive post featuring classic motorcycles from the large Georgia collection that we just featured our fourth installment of. It’s near impossible to look bad one of these vintage sport bikes, so give me a yell today if one of them suits your fancy.

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    Now just a second, dog gone it, nobody is going to butcher a Norton into some stinkin’ hybrid, wasamatteryou? Norton got respect no matter where it went. A Triumph on steroids, kinda. To do anything but restore this to original would be blasphemy. Ok, it may ( may? more like will) leak a little oil, vibrate your hands numb, and can’t see out the mirrors, but to throw this around on a twisty 2 lane,,there’s simply none better. This one, pretty rough for only being ridden for 6 years. I don’t believe that for a minute. Timeless machine, right here. Don’t butcher it, please.

    12
    • ACZ

      Howard, you just described the BSA Lightning I once had. Should never have sold that one.

      • ken tilly

        I sold my BSA Lightning a few years back as it didn’t compare in any way with my 1956 Triumph Tiger 110. Absolutely gutless in comparison and didn’t handle very well either.

      • fast Fred Member

        I can’t get the picture of me on my 67 Beazer BSA I even got the title yet but the bikes long gone

  2. Tom Bell

    Well worth the price if all or most there. I’m a BSA collector but if this were a bit closer to NY I’d be hooking up the trailer as we speak.

  3. MG4013

    I received an error when trying to respond to seller via CL. Anyone able to respond to seller?

  4. ken tilly

    I sold my BSA Lightning a few years back as it didn’t compare in any way with my 1956 Triumph Tiger 110. Absolutely gutless in comparison and didn’t handle very well either.

  5. geomechs Member

    A ’69 Atlas? I thought the Atlas was finished in ’68 and the Commando took over in ’69. Yes, that’s nit-picky but I’m a Norton fan. I had a ’68 Ranger which was essentially a Matchless with Norton badging. And yes, Howard, any modifications to this one would have the likes of Bert Hopwood crashing through your door in the middle of the night seeking major vengeance. These were good bikes. Yes, they tended to vibrate a bit around 70-75 mph but they weren’t unbearable. I put 39K miles on my Ranger and it never complained–until the crimp failed on my oil return line and it seized a con rod. But I fixed it and kept on going until a neighbor’s kid talked me into trading my Norton for his ’67 MGB (complete with failed motor), which had a set of new radial tires. The kid (and his dad) gave me the car and $600.00 for the bike. Two hours later he dumped the bike and it was no longer roadworthy. The kid parked it on the street where it was stolen one night. I fixed the engine in the MGB (about $400.00) and drove it for a summer before a guy approached me in Kalispell, offering me $2500.00 for the car. My old Norton? I have it on good authority that it was sold to a collector about 400 miles away. It was fixed and put on display. I understand that he still has it–46 years later…

    • ken tilly

      If you thought the Norton vibrated a bit, you should try a ’50s Triumph 650. After a 300 mile, very fast ride, I had pins and needles in my hands for 2 days and I could hardly feel my feet.

      • geomechs Member

        I remember one guy who rode a Triumph Thunderbird and another who had a BSA Golden Flash. Both talked about vibration. My brother had a ’62 Triumph Bonneville and it shook about the same as my Norton. But I DO remember riding it down the gravel road and hearing this loud crash. I looked down and saw a couple of wires hanging down, and realized that the generator had fallen off. Yes, they all shook. I remember feeling tingly but nothing that lasted more than an hour or so…

      • Derek

        If you thought that Triumph 650s vibrated, you should try a 750.

        Horrible. Speedo/rev needles dancing around as well as the clock housings – and my eyeballs. And then you take the second handful of throttle…

        A bit like an iron Sportster, but slightly better-handling.

      • geomechs Member

        A friend of mine had a ‘79 750. I thought it was great. I actually checked it to make sure it was a Triumph twin.

    • Clint

      Definitely not a ‘69. That engine number would indicate a ‘67

  6. JBP Member

    Hi Jeff. What does that blue Triumph cost?
    A old freind had a 1969 Norton Comando 750 ccm. Funny with tha brake pedal to the left.
    A police officer almost called it in for inspection becourse the brake feel strange. Until he found out is was gear pedal. He left fast 🙂

  7. Tort Member

    Gone and no surprise. Had a 65 BSA Lightning in the mid sixties. Great bike also had a 67 Firebird that I restored and sold a few years back. Talk about vibration, I now ride, occasionally, a 66 BSA 441 Victor. Oil leaks and all I still like British bikes.

  8. ACZ

    One of the best parts about my BSA was if anyone would ever have stolen it, all I would have had to do is follow the oil trail to find it. Wish I still had it.

    • Blaine Hertzog

      Sure miss my 750 Commando.

  9. sourpwr Member

    I’d rather have a ’52 Vincent Black Lightning

  10. Ken Tilly

    So would every other biker.

  11. ACZ

    The only one that can afford a Vincent is Jay Leno.

  12. the one

    Bikes are great! it’s gravity that sucks.

  13. TimM

    Nice couple of bikes!!! Would love restoring these!!

  14. Norton rider

    I had a 1970 750 S Type. The one with the loud pipes. Isolastic suspension was great for the time. Gobbled up clutch cables. Put over 80k miles on that thing. Still have some Whitworth wrenches. Too old and poor health to ride anymore. Major bummer. LOVED riding. Into my 73 El Camino now. Can you spell money pit? It’s fun though. Haha. Take my Norton photo out to just look at it now and then. C’est la vie.

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