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 Norton - 16 H Army
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Norton D2-492-12-05
Photo ou archives : F-M. Dumas

Capacity : 500
Model : 16 H Army
Production : 1920 - 1955
Category : (ON-Off) Military


500 cc -16H ·1940

Lots of bikes for the war

During World War II, Norton produced over 100,000 military motorcycles- 16H and Big

Four models - destined chiefly for the British and Canadian Armies. The model shown, the 16H, was a simple and robust 500cc sidevalve single. It was used both as a solo mount and with a sidecar.

A Brilliant Career

Norton developed a special 633cc version of this design which was used in conjunction with a sidecar. It took the name of, and had the same displacement as the first Norton with an own-make engine, the 1907 Big Four, so-called because it was a 4 hp model. The 3hp 500 appeared soon after, followed during the 1910s by the Model-16 in versions which included Colonial and BrooklandsSpecial models. Then, in 1920, came the first 16H ("H" was said to stand for "Home," because the 16H was destined for the

domestic market). It was a designation which didn't disappear from the catalog until 1955.

Constant Dimensions

While it underwent many changes, the 16H kept the same engine dimensions (73mm bore, l00mm stroke) throughout its long life. Reconditioned army-surplus 16H Nortons were available long after the end of hostilities: Garreau, the French importer, was still selling them in 1975! The 16H was most commonly used as a dispatch rider's bike, and was sometimes used to transport carrier pigeons. England shared with Russia the rare

distinction of having a battalion of female motorcyclists .


Engine: 490cc air-cooled single-cylinder four stroke; magneto ignition; dry-sump lubrication

Power Rating: 14 hp @ 4800 rpm

Valves: side

Fuel System: carburetor

Transmission: 4-speed

Suspension: girder fork (front); rigid (rear)

Brakes: offset drum (franc & rear)

Wheels: 19 inch

Maximum Speed: 73 mph


The military version was very similar to the civilian 16H of 1937. It lacked the chrome plate and pretty paint job, but bad gained a strong baggage carrier and headlamp blackout mask.

Motorcycle encyclopedia Moto Passion, realised by François-Marie Dumas, include almost 2000 photos presented with an exhaustive history of the motorcycles exhibited.

This unique collection has been realised with the participation of many specialists. With many thanks in particular to Yves Campion, Michael Dregni, Didier Ganneau, Jean Goyard, Helmut Krackowizer, Michel Montange, Christian Rey, Bernard Salvat, Mick Woollett, etc

One can order here

  • Original cards on paper (in french)
  • High resolution scans or original documents presented and signed with my name.

Please contact me at for conditions and copyright.

© Tous droits réservés
François-Marie Dumas

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