Five Hundred Miles...

A Rogue Wanderer Traveling The River of Life.. Travel, Motorcycles, and Growing Old Against My Will

Sunday, January 07, 2007


An Atlast With Attitude...

More years ago than most of us care to admit to, Steve Zedaker was a teenager in love with motorcycles, coming of age when British motorcycle fever gripped the United States. He fell in love with British Iron, an affair that has outlasted the bikes that became part of his soul.
His first bike, a Honda Super Hawk, gave way to a BSA 441 Victor, which was sold to buy a 1972 Triumph. But he fell in love with the Norton Atlas which he never owned or rode, and it remained his dream.

The Atlas, which bridged the vibrating Dominator and the much smoother and far more popular Commando, was his idea of a motorcycle.

“The Commando looked too sleek and modern” he says, “and British bikes are not sleek and modern”

Now older and more successful, he was able to return to his motorcycling days. While his every day ride is a BMW 1200, he has reached back, restoring the Triumph, which led a peripatetic existence since it was disassembled in the eighties and transported around the country in boxes.
It is back together now, joined by a ’66 BSA Lightning and the venerable first Honda. And one ride short of his crowing glory, last year he added his long sought-after Norton Atlas.

“It wasn’t a rat bike, but it was a good restoration project,” say Oliver Giorigi of the 1965 Norton Atlas he bought in 1992. Oliver restores bikes as a form of relaxation and he spent eleven months relaxing over his Norton.

And a little less than a year after he rolled it into his garage, his modified Atlas took its first ride, completely rebuilt, with changes that make it ineligible for true vintage competitions; a showpiece that he could not show.

First, he bored out the Atlas 650 to the more ballsy Commando 750 specs, with higher compression, larger cams, finished up by porting the heads. He replace the gears with originals, but replaced the stock Amal carbs with twin Mikuni’s. He changed out to a Joe Hunt Fairbanks-Morse magneto, Buchanan stainless steel spokes, and Akront polished aluminum rims, the latter to reduce the un-sprung weight.

He replaced everything but the engine and transmission casings, including the wiring harness, which he wrapped in period-correct cotton tape.

But the most radical change was to the stock Norton mechanical clutch, which he found had too much friction for long rides. His solution was simple: He changed it.

Using a Norton wet clutch conversion kit, a Triumph master brake cylinder for a slave cylinder, a Triumph switch gear converted to Norton electrics, he converted the clutch from mechanical to hydraulic, probably one of a kind on any Norton. And it works.

“It’s got balls, lots of balls” Steve said after he bought it and rode it briefly last year. “It was really fun to ride”

He’ll have it on the road this year. The Beemer will probably spend a lot of time in the garages when local rides are on the agenda.

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