\\ NORTON DOMI-CAFE NAKED
Reality TV shows about custom bike building have a really bad rep. But when we heard that Anthony Partridge would soon be gracing screens, our interest was piqued in a big way. The ebullient Mr. Partridge knows a thing or two about swinging spanners. He co-founded Matt Black Custom Designs—a Spanish-based custom shop known for producing head turners—and has now branched out on his own, as Partridge Design. He’s also one third of the team at Goblin Works Garage—the titular shop of a new Discovery series airing next month. (It’ll be in the UK at first, then spreading to other countries). His partners are mechanical engineering whizz Jimmy de Ville, and the designer and custom car builder Helen Stanley.
Filming the first season meant building six cars and four bikes in just six months. The trio worked on the cars together, with Anthony handling the bikes solo. This alluring Norton Dominator Naked cafe racer is one of them. The commission for the build couldn’t have come from a higher source. When Anthony popped into Norton’s HQ to pick up a Dominator as his daily rider, CEO Stuart Garner pulled him aside and pitched the idea. “The build was a café racer concept bike for Stuart and Norton,” Anthony explains. “My task was simple: ‘build me the best Brit cafe, bar none, based on the 2017 Dominator Naked edition platform’.”
The Dominator is the sort of bike most people wouldn’t dare touch. It’s gorgeous out the box, loaded with heritage, and kitted with nice bits like carbon fiber trim, Brembo brakes and Öhlins suspenders. The Naked edition’s even sexier, with a raw effect on the frame and matt finishes all over. What’s more, this is the only custom Dominator Naked on the planet—and the first concept bike commissioned outside of Norton’s own design team. “Not a daunting task whatsoever,” says Anthony. “How does one take, in my opinion, one of the prettiest production bikes ever made, and make it better? Or better yet, not f*** it up?!” The answer is restraint. With a mandate not to cut the frame, so that the bike could serve as inspiration for further development, Anthony decided to nip and tuck rather than start from scratch. “I just went back to what a cafe racer is,” he explains, “and what they would do back in the days of the ton up lads—strip off as much weight as possible, and throw way anything not needed to ride! The idea was to keep it as simple as possible.” “This was just a styling exercise, so I focused on the aesthetics and lines of the bike. I made some very subtle changes, but at the same time some very dramatic ones too.” Most of the dramatic changes happened up top—starting with the Norton’s fuel tank. Anthony took the stock tank and chopped the sides and back off. He then welded in hand-shaped panels to accentuate the lines he was going for. He’s ditched the original seat too, replacing it with a generously padded unit tapering off to a neat, hand-shaped tip. The drilled seat supports on either side are the original units, but drastically trimmed down. “Most would not even notice it—until I point it out,” says Anthony.
The filming schedule was tight, so Lauren at Storik Metalcraft was roped in to help out on the aluminum shaping work—including the tailpiece and the new headlight fairing. “I owe that guy a lot,” says Anthony. “He saved my ass!” Every tiny part is beautifully considered, and even borderline artful—like the hand-made brackets that attach the fairing to the triple clamp. Anthony fitted Rizoma turn signals and grips too, but had the grips (and the seat) upholstered by Eastcoast Customs for extra effect. There’s also a hand-made stainless steel twin exhaust system—complete with internal baffles—routed high up for a radically different silhouette. And if you look closely, you’ll notice that the stock wheels have been ditched for a set of über-desirable carbon numbers from BST. “The padded seat and carbon wheels make the Dominator even more ‘flickable,’ and an ass-friendly ride,” says Anthony.
“This Domi is one of those iconic bikes from the old ones to the new!” Tasteful and well judged, this Norton is a far cry from the themed monstrosities we’ve seen on TV in the past. Put Goblin Works Garage on your watch list.
- Words by WESLEY REYNEKE at Bike Exif
Catch the Goblin Works Garage series on Discovery Channel, kicking off 11th January 2018, 9PM GMT in the UK and March 13th 10PM-9C on Velocity in the USA .