Clive Dopson – Flying the NORTON flag!

Clive Dopson - 2015
Clive Dopson on his ‘500T NOTRON’ at Upper Mamore section in the 2015 Pre’65 Scottish trial. Photo copyright Jean Caillou.

Trials Guru caught up with Clive Dopson, talented engineer and trials rider who is well-known in the sport as the man who rides the Norton 500T in Pre’65 events. Many may not know that for the last couple of years, Clive has been building from scratch a replica of his now famous 500T Norton or as he calls it “the 500T NOTRON!” just to distinguish the two bikes. Clive has kept very much within the spirit of a true replica, attempting to improve but not depart from the original build of a 500T Norton. TG asked Clive to write a short account of his 2015 Pre’65 Scottish ride for readers enjoyment.

Words and photos provided by Clive Dopson:

“Hi John, Scotland was good fun again for me. I lost more marks than I had hoped for, but the new bike (known as ‘Notron’ not Norton) performed well. I was worried about it not being the ‘real one’ before the trial, but I don’t think many noticed the difference, those who did notice, did not care.

On the Friday on Meall Na Cruaidhe I landed on a rock and had a strange but very unlucky failure. As I had had oil scavenging issues I had put a hole in the bash plate to get to the drain plug, the rock went in the hole and smashed the plug onto the crankcase.

The oil was dripping out and all present thought I should turn back and retire! I thought if it seizes it needs a rebuild whatever, so I bit the bulleyt and much to the horror and surprise of on-lookers, I carried on carefully.

I assumed that even down hill keeping the engine running kept the scavenge pump working. Going very steady and not looking at any sections I got to the Sma’dam where I met Chris Greenwood, who owed me a big favour from when I gave him a placement at Lotus – it was payback time!

He was despatched to ride back to the van and get some oil to deliver to Pipeline. I got to Pipeline where, due to lack of time and energy, I decided to only do the first sub. The queue agreed that when at the front I should put some oil in and then start. In the confusion I pulled away in second, it took me a while to realise so I decided to stay in the gear.

It went really well up to the big step, I think the crowd thought I was going to be a real hero due to the speed of approach before I turned right. Back at the van I carefully cleaned the crankcase and applied some two pack filler which went off over night.

Saturday I filled up with oil and it ran well all day. I have done a few checks but cannot find anything to make it worth stripping the engine, so I will ride in a local trial on 1st August 2015 to prove if any more repair is needed, I have the engine of the ‘real’ Norton in pieces as I was not happy with the rebuild I did before this years Talmag.”

Norton Twins - Clive Dopson
Spot the original! Clive has done a fantastic job of building his Norton replica NOTRON 500T! – The original is actually on the left! (Photo: Clive Dopson)

Being a qualified engineer, Clive analyses everything he does in great detail, here are some facts for you all:

1) My original Norton did 42 days in Scotland from 1986 to 2014, with no retirements, several major rebuilds and many punctures.

2) Highest position 28th, 1991, on 25 marks lost in one day

3) Least marks per day, 12.5 in 2000, when finishing 51st 4) Most marks per day, 80 in 2014, when finishing 134th. also lowest position.

Best wishes to all my friends out there in trials world, I hope to see you all soon – Clive Dopson.

Norton Twins 2 - Clive Dopson
The timing side, or what many call the best side of a British four-stroke trials machine! The original has the low-level pipe on the left. (Photo: Clive Dopson) These are Clive’s fantastic Norton twins!

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