THE BRAT BRITISH
Norton Commando 850 brat styleby Federal Moto • Edmonton • Canada
Federal Moto is Shaun Brandt, Randy Venhuis, and Justin Benson, who founded a new garage in Edmonton (Alberta, Canada) building one-off custom bikes and functional wares that are inspired and ridden in the Pacific Northwest. The purpose of Federal is simple: create one-of-a-kind custom motorcycles, and functional motorcycle gear. They do all (or almost...) in their garage.
70's Japanese bikes are a dime a dozen in farmers fields in the countryside outside of Edmonton, and everyone wants one. British bikes on the other hand are much tougher to come by, and as a result are more expensive and less likely to be tinkered with. The ones you do see restored, are restored to their original state. There's a certain fear and responsibility that comes with re-imagining the rare, and they definitely felt both. But following the status quo doesn't inspire progression. This is precisely why the guys of Federal Moto wanted to start with an English lady. Nay... with the Lady!
They found this 1974 Norton Commando 850 on a farm in Rimbey, Alberta. It ran, barely, and had a ton of attitude. The boys wanted to create a brat style that you could ride around the city, or cruise through the rockies all the way to the coast. They only had one condition: maintain the soul of the classic design and feel that Norton had built 40 years ago. Hoping that the employees at Norton would be fighting each other to take it for a spin if it rolled onto the factory floor.
The biggest job was to change the Norton Commando frame, which has a very thick center tube that slants downward towards the tail of the bike, making it very difficult to create the perfect line they wanted from headlight to tail light. This step was a real work of engineering!
The change also allowed the back wheels to move further. They settled on 2x19inch Coker Diamond Tread tires that truly captured the era of the bike.
Once they had the shape and height of the bike down, they began chopping off every piece of excess from the frame and the original parts. This included all tabs, oil tank mounts, original fender mounts, centre stand, rear foot peg mounts, chain guard, battery box; anything that didn't make the bike run. They cut nearly 14 kilos of weight.
The engine itself is all original, aside from an electronic ignition, and has been completely reconditioned and finalized. Now it's got more compression than an industrial trash compactor!
Any original parts that were salvageable were sanded and polished in-house, restoring them to their original state. Any Norton parts that the boys needed to replace were obtained through local British bike guru John Oland. This build would not have been possible without Johns unmatched willingness to share his knowledge of vintage motorcycles. That guy is a legend.
The boys kept the original brum rear brake and replaced the front with a Tokico 2 Piston front brake and Katana 750 Rotor, to ensure safe braking. They also machined a new bracket off of the forks to mount the new brake assembly.
The electrical parts include: new wiring harness they created and hooked up to a new Antigravity 4 cell battery tucked under the seat; black headlight, substantially lowered to keep the line, where it has been installed an on/off switch so that the 4 cell battery had enough power to kick-start the bike; bullet rear light and signals; and a mini version of the Smiths speedometer that can be seen on many vintage british bikes.
The handlebar stems from a BSA which has two buttons 12 mm, almost invisible, a truly fine solution! Like us the 70's Tommaselli natural gum rubber grips, ordered direct from the factory in Italy.
Italian, like the 2 tone leather seat, has been designed by the boys and sewn to perfection by a local upholsterer.
They got some mid 50's Triumph Fenders from a junk pile, chopped them up, shaped them, and re-finished the paint matte black. The pipes are from 1971 Norton Commando SS modified, made brat style thanks to two 17" Reverse Megaphone cone exhaust.
The next up one-of-a-kind machines of Federal Moto are a 1974 Honda CB360 surf brat café racer and a 1971 BMW R75 café racer. Stay tuned to discover the new beauties!
Tidy. Refined. Beautiful. Brat style!