Norton 18 – 500cc – 1946


The Norton 18, a 500cc motorcycle from 1946, is a classic model that represents Norton’s renowned engineering and design from the post-World War II era. Here’s a detailed overview of its specifications, manufacturer design, legacy, and interesting facts:


  • Engine: 490cc air-cooled single-cylinder, four-stroke engine.
  • Power: Approximately 25 horsepower.
  • Transmission: 4-speed gearbox.
  • Frame: Featherbed frame (later versions evolved into the Featherbed frame, but early 1946 models may have had different frames).
  • Suspension: Telescopic front forks, rigid rear or plunger suspension.
  • Brakes: Drum brakes front and rear.

Manufacturer Design:

Norton designed the Model 18 to be a versatile motorcycle suitable for both road and light off-road use. It featured robust construction, a powerful engine for its time, and Norton’s signature attention to handling and performance. The frame evolved over the years, with the Featherbed frame becoming iconic for Norton’s later models.


  1. Performance: The Norton 18 was known for its smooth engine performance and excellent handling characteristics, making it popular among riders who valued both speed and comfort.
  2. Racing Success: The Norton 18 platform, particularly with the Featherbed frame, was highly successful in motorcycle racing, contributing to Norton’s reputation in competitive racing circuits.
  3. Popularity: As one of Norton’s mainstream models post-World War II, the Model 18 contributed significantly to Norton’s sales and brand image during the mid-20th century.

Most Interesting Facts:

  1. Featherbed Frame: Introduced in the late 1940s, the Featherbed frame was revolutionary for its time, offering superior handling and stability compared to traditional frames. It became synonymous with Norton’s racing success and was adopted in various Norton models, including the famous Manx racing bikes.
  2. Influence on Motorcycle Culture: The Norton 18, with its reliable performance and sleek design, influenced motorcycle culture of the era, appealing to enthusiasts and riders looking for a blend of performance and style.
  3. Production Continuity: The Model 18 remained in production with various updates and improvements throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, showcasing Norton’s commitment to refining their designs based on rider feedback and technological advancements.

Conclusion:  The Norton 18 – 500cc is important in motorcycle history for its role in solidifying Norton’s reputation as a manufacturer of high-performance motorcycles with excellent handling characteristics. Its legacy includes influencing subsequent Norton models and contributing to the brand’s success in both commercial markets and competitive racing.

In summary, the Norton 18 – 500cc stands as a classic example of British motorcycle engineering, cherished for its design, performance, and impact on motorcycle culture during the mid-20th century.


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