BMW Motorrad Spezial

David Edwards’ P11

Norton P11
What’s former editor David Edwards been up to since leaving Cycle World magazine last year? He tells us he’s been putting his free time and severance pay to good use, “Buying cool old mo’cycles!” One of them is this custom 1967 Norton P11 special, a machine designed as a desert racer. The P11 concept started life as a prototype reportedly built by Californian Norton distributor Bob Blair, who installed an Atlas 750cc twin in the lightweight frame of a Matchless G85 CS. The history of Edwards’ bike tallies with this: “It was purchased new by a Northern California roadrace/flat-track tuner, who rode the wheels off the thing,” he says. A long-term rebuild started in the ’70s then carried over into the ’80s: “This guy massaged just about every component of the bike. Grafted onto the stock P11 cases are the barrels, primary cover and timing chest from a Commando, and it breathes through big ol’ pumper Dell’Ortos.” The forks are Ceriani, wearing early Kosman rotors and Japanese calipers, and Edwards reckons the seat is from a Yamaha DT1. The oil tank looks like a Harley XR750 item. “Apparently the tuner lavished an immense amount of time on this project, but sadly he never got to ride it again before his untimely death,” says Edwards. “When I bought the bike at auction, there were no fluids aboard and the insides of the mufflers were soot-free. Currently it’s being recommissioned so it’ll make noise once more—and I’m guessing lots of it!” Despite being over 40 years old, a stock ’67 P11 (or ‘Ranger’ in 1968) is no slouch: around 50hp propels just 170kg, and Edwards’ bike has an even better power-to-weight ratio. Who needs a Triumph Scrambler when you’ve got one of these? Besides collecting oddball bikes, by the way, Edwards is also consulting for the Motoring Department of the Bonhams auction house in the USA.

Norton P11
Norton P11

  • Greybeard

    Good to see you’re still alive and well Dave!

  • Mike Cecchini

    Nice one David. Get that front fender fitted a bit tighter to the tire and it’s something I’d really like to see in person.

    Miss you @ CW.

    My best……. Mike

  • Mule

    I saw a picture of this bike right after purchase and thought. “Oh no! He’s done it again!” But this thing is awesome looking! Plus, it’s a build up over many years, using the trickest of the trick for components with builder know how on which stuff to pick and from what bike to pick it from. No catalog bike here!! Very nice.

  • David Edwards

    Thanks, guys, really nice to hear from ya. Agree on the front fender, and I think the rear rotor (same size as fronts) is way too big, but for now I’m going to resist the urge to mess with things. Be happy if I can just get the darn thing started–there’s no battery and no place to put one! Good thing I live on a hill. Richard, the P11 does look good parked next to a certain Mule street-tracker with a wooden seat…

  • Mike Cecchini

    No room for a batter ? If you’re thinking old school wet cell lead/acid battery….. I hear you. But this bike deserves better and there’s a whole new generation of tiny (2″ x 3″ x 1.4″ ) batteries out now that have 600-800 cranking amps…… more then enough to crank your P-11. I use one on a 13:1 Ducati 888 and it’s just amazing what these new 1-2-3 batteries can do and where they can be put….. in any orientation.

  • Warren Smith

    Figures. Life after Cycle World is also better than most of us mortals will ever experience! Soooo tasty, Dave.

  • Rick

    C’mon, Dave. What’s the battery for? Does it still have it’s magnetos?

  • Rick

    Also, what is the inspection plate on the tranny for? I have a P11 and a P11A. Cheers, Rick

  • Don

    One bad motorcycle. I remember having a friend with a spark plug that fouled and his comment was something is wrong when that little triumph can keep up. (Rick H) Dont go with to high of compression with this bike.