Norman clocks up 50 years on bikes

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Norman Hyde broke 13 world speed records as a drag racer in the 1960s and 70s and now the Warwick-based businessman is celebrating 50 years in the motorcycle industry,

Norman is still riding bikes that he modifies and has just returned from a weekend riding his motorcycle around Northumberland and the Scottish borders.

Norman, from Leamington, joined Triumph motorcycles at Meriden in 1964, when starting a sandwich course in production engineering at Lanchester College (now Coventry University).

Having graduated, he moved into the development department under the legendary engineer Doug Hele, with whom he worked on the Triumph Trident race machines that dominated racing in Europe and the USA during 1970-71.

When not at work, Norman was building his own racing motorcycles, competing successfully in sprints (drag racing) and setting a total of 13 of world speed records.

In 1968 he took the world record for a standing start 1/4 mile in his Triumph 350cc sidecar outfit and in 1969 he beat the record for a standing start kilometre on a Triumph 500cc twin.

In 1972 Norman captured the sidecar land speed record on his Roadrunner III 850cc Triumph Trident powered outfit, at an average speed of 161.8mph, a record that remained unbeaten for more than 35 years.

After the closure of Norton Villiers Triumph in 1974, Norman spent a brief time with AP Lockheed braking, before establishing his own performance parts business in 1976.

He went on to create the Hyde Harrier, a café racer kit for Bonneville and Trident engines, followed in 1995 by the Hornet, a 126 mph single-cylinder motorcycle.

Following the rebirth of Triumph at their new Hinckley factory and the introduction of the retro-styled Bonneville, Norman introduced a wide range of performance and styling parts for the new British twins.

He sold this part of the business to Arthur Macdonald last year, but continues to supply parts for classic Triumphs and recently took on UK distribution for IKON shock absorbers from Australia.

Norman said:“I was fortunate to work for eight years at Triumph, directly under Doug Hele, chief development engineer, whose immediate boss was Bert Hopwood.

“The chief design engineer was Brian Jones and these men largely shaped the British industry, with designs for Norton and BSA as well as Triumph, so it gave me experience that is second to none.

“It’s thrilling to think that I was involved in some projects that could have been ground-breaking, had the senior management had the foresight to back them.

“Motorcycles like the OHC Trident, the Quadrant, 350cc Bandit, 900cc Thunderbird 3 (T180) and Norton Commando 8 Valve.

“I have always enjoyed riding machines such as these and I still get a great thrill from being on the road.”