With Christmas almost upon us and having just got back home from a trip round my local villages delivering Christmas cards on my trusty Navigator I felt it was time after two years and 3000 miles ownership to say what a remarkably charming, reliable and very usable classic motorbike the standard Navigator is for its time. Mine is a late 64 Standard model that hasn't been restored although it has been very well maintained both in the past and I hope since I have owned it. I have completely rebuilt the front forks and both brakes, re-rimmed the front wheel, new tyres, new wiring loom, 12v conversion including new Lucas alternator and voltage regulator / rectifier, Pazon electronic ignition (single most important modification), rebuilt clutch, new chains and sprockets, new fuel tap, weld repair to the rear petrol tank bracket, rebuilt carb, and replaced the original bars and levers with Norton straights and good quality ball ended levers (I don't dare add up how much that has all cost!!!). I have owned many classic British bikes over the years and a 70's BMW and Moto Guzzi Le Mans so feel I am reasonably objective and experienced about classic bikes. In my humble opinion the 'standard' Navigator is up there with some real thoroughbreds of the 350 to 500 range! Even with my 15 1/2 stone frame it manages to prove surprisingly nippy and torquey for such an over square 60's engine and still hits the period road test maximum speed on the notoriously vague and inaccurate speedo (but only briefly on a private road in deference to its age and legislation!), it handles and stops brilliantly and is remarkably pleasant bike to own and ride on A & B roads as well as Somerset country lanes. In sum, for me it is one to keep for ever more - it is just a shame the Norton Lightweights were never developed to their true potential! Despite that the Navigator is a cracking, grin inducing, remarkably usable, practical classic and first out of the garage when the weather is right!
Good that you’regetting out and about on your bike, My Nav is still mostly in boxes, I’m dry building it at the moment, but the Jub is running and surprisingly oil leak free at the moment! We should meet up for that coffee!
I have to agree with you that the Navigator can be a joy to own if you accept that it is never going to keep up with bigger Nortons, except on the twisty lanes where it excels. The mods that you have done to include Pazon and modern reg/rectifier, plus take care that the clutch is in good order and tight on the mainshaft, knock out lots of aggravation.
Have a happy Christmas and please continue singing the praises.
Refreshing to read your post.
Dan, well done with the Jub', it can be done but it takes a fair bit of TLC. Mine has stayed pretty oil tight apart from the exhaust rocker boxes weeping but I know they need refacing, new gaskets and good quality silicone sealant - postponed for the annual Jan / Feb major service! Good luck with the Nav' dry build - is it a Standard or De Luxe? As for a meet up and a coffee, gets my vote - perhaps March onwards? Merry Christmas! Nick
Thanks Peter and concur, particularly about it excelling on the twisty lanes! Wise words about taking care over the clutch, particularly with the scarcity of late gearbox and clutch parts - I will be carefully checking tightness and condition during my next major service after Christmas. Congratulations on your excellent 'Larking on a Lightweight' article in the latest Roadholder, a great read which has inspired me to venture further afield next year. Very envious of your Electra, particularly with the chrome mudguards which I always think transform the looks of any Lightweight. However, the later flamboyant burgundy of the Jub' and polychromatic blue of my Navi are my favourite colours. Do you find a noticeable difference in performance with the extra few cubes of the Electra or does the extra weight cancel it out? I keep hankering after one but would be loath to let go of the Navi. Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy, peaceful New Year of reliable Norton Lightweight riding!
Hi All - Happy New Year.
The Navigator is especially good on normal A roads, B roads & round town. Its not so good on motorways, simply as they are long and straight and boring. In fact, the same rules apply on my Commando & modern Triumph.
The extra few CCs in an Electra motor make a difference to the motors tractability. You can hang on to top further up a hill, for example.
The best compromise I found was to drop an Electra motor (less starter & bulky chaincase) straight into a 1964 Navi. I then put a gearbox sprocket with 1 extra tooth on it. The difference was really noticeable. Best of all - no-one can tell the difference!
The motor I used was actually a '64 Jubilee crankcase, bored out to accept the larger barrels. So, to the unitiated, it looked like a 250cc Jubilee (by engine number).
That motor is currently 'resting', and my Navi is back on its original engine (106840 - the 3rd one after the change). Thats coming to Portugal with me this year, hopefully.
Here a picture of it in Cheddar a few years back. It now has a black, untorn seat.