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Road & Track: A streetable Seeley G50 from NYC Norton

New from NYC Norton: A Seeley Matchless G50 racing motorcycle
I’m sure most folks have a ‘lottery list’ of bikes they’d put in their garage if they won big. And on my own mental list I have a restomod Commando from NYC Norton.

That might have to change though, because this Seeley G50 is even better. Kenny Cummings built it for the Custom Revolution exhibition at LA’s incredible Petersen Museum, and although it’s powered by a short-stroke replica Matchless Grand Prix motor, it’ll be made street-legal when the exhibition has run its course.

New from NYC Norton: A Seeley Matchless G50 racing motorcycle
“With all the publicity around the Petersen show, I really wanted to submit a street bike,” says Kenny. “NYC Norton is well known in racing circles but the race market is relatively tiny.”

The story behind this G50 starts five years ago, when Kenny raced a 500cc Seeley Matchless G50 at Cadwell Park in the UK. He was impressed by the bike, despite being already familiar with the Titchmarsh Seeley MK2 chassis. (Kenny has won four American National 750cc Championships on his own Seeley 750 Commando.)

New from NYC Norton: A Seeley Matchless G50 racing motorcycle
“The G50 was tight and very precise,” Kenny recalls. “But what completely blew me away was how much lighter and more nimble the little 500 was, compared to the 750—particularly in the tight stuff.”

“The torque and power curve was wonderful! It felt like a trout swimming upstream, effortless against the current.”

New from NYC Norton: A Seeley Matchless G50 racing motorcycle
Back in New York City, Kenny [below, left] knew he had to get a G50 to campaign in the USA. And so he did. After a season of racing, folks started taking interest, and NYC Norton has now built a salvo of Seeley G50s for clients in the US and beyond.

“G50s are a still a small corner of NYC Norton, but not insignificant,” he reveals. “Their main appeal is to racers, of course, but we have a road-trim version in the wings.”

New from NYC Norton: A Seeley Matchless G50 racing motorcycle
One of Kenny’s clients, Helmut Niederer, commissioned two Seeley G50s. And he also secured a spare ‘92 bore’ motor from Minnovation Racing, as insurance before a trip to Australia’s Phillip Island track—which is notoriously hard on engines.

“We made it back from Australia with zero technical issues, so the spare motor sat in its crate, untouched,” says Kenny. “We suddenly found ourselves with the world’s most exotic paperweight.”

New from NYC Norton: A Seeley Matchless G50 racing motorcycle
Then Kenny received an email from The Vintagent himself, Paul d’Orléans, asking if he’d be interested in building a bike for the upcoming Custom Revolution show.

A call was put in to Helmut and a plan was hatched. “We’d shoehorn his G50 motor into a Seeley MK2 chassis in racing trim, and convert it into street trim once the show completes its run.”

New from NYC Norton: A Seeley Matchless G50 racing motorcycle
Kenny acquired a frame from Roger Titchmarsh, the only frame builder recognized by Colin Seeley for continued chassis fabrication. Engine plates were made up, a TT Industries 6-speed close ratio gearbox was bolted on to the motor, and replica Ceriani forks were slotted into the triple trees.

“Our Seeley recipe is familiar, but each bike is hand made,” says Kenny. “No two are ever exactly the same. We put extensive time into engine/gearbox alignment, driveline alignment, offsets, fabrication, tuning, and so on.”

New from NYC Norton: A Seeley Matchless G50 racing motorcycle
The Seeley took shape in short order—but the bodywork needed some consideration. “We love our shiny polished alloy tanks and black fiberglass racing livery,” says Kenny, “but this bike needed something more.”

“Helmut was always intrigued by our NYC Norton logo. Why did we choose a decidedly 1980s teal blue, as opposed to a more traditional motif?” says Kenny. “I could never answer this question. So a plan was hatched to color this bike in a pale blue inspired by our logo. ‘Blue Monday’ it became.”

New from NYC Norton: A Seeley Matchless G50 racing motorcycle
Brent Budgor from The Vintage Vendor in Vermont shot the paint. “I have a tendency to micro-manage, but painting is not my skill,” Kenny admits. “I told Brent that time was short, so he dropped what he was doing and made it happen.”

“I never told Paul d’Orléans what color I was doing, though—he wanted pink! When I sent him photos, he was ecstatic.”

New from NYC Norton: A Seeley Matchless G50 racing motorcycle
NYC Norton has always built bikes that prioritize function over form, whether they’re road-going Commandos or highly-specc’d racebikes. But there’s beauty in the details here, from the replica Fontana hubs to the custom-fabricated rear sets, and the high performance shocks built by Cogent Dynamics of North Carolina.

“We spend time to make our builds pretty,” says Kenny, “but they must first handle, then stop, and then go. This G50 is no exception. It’s ready to race, and it’s even safety-wired—just add bean oil and go!” And go it will: dry weight is a mere 245 pounds (112 kilos).

New from NYC Norton: A Seeley Matchless G50 racing motorcycle
Paul d’Orléans knows all too well about customs and their nuanced forms, and this Seeley G50 will dovetail nicely with Alp Sungurtekin’s Triumph land speed racer—and Revival Cycles’ J63 bridging the race-to-street gap.

And when the lights are dimmed on the Petersen exhibition in 2019, the G50 will get a charging system, a headlight, and a brake light. And into the sunset it will go.

New from NYC Norton: A Seeley Matchless G50 racing motorcycle
If your appetite is whetted, drop Kenny a line. After all, there aren’t many customs with a major museum pedigree—let alone ones that will also happily run on the streets.

NYC Norton | Facebook | Instagram | Images by Ryan Handt | Except carburetor image (shot #4) by Imogen Cummings, 10 | Custom Revolution Exhibition, Petersen Automotive Museum, opening Friday, April 13, 2018

New from NYC Norton: A Seeley Matchless G50 racing motorcycle

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