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6
Norton

As becomes clear from this list, competition amongst British motorcycle makers was particularly fierce in the 1950s, '60s and into the '70s. What allowed the Norton brand to make a name for itself was its ability to produce a handful of models that had an enviable combination: They were very, very fast, durable and just looked good. High on the list for combining all three attributes was the Norton Commando, a vintage bike many experts point to as desirable. "In my opinion it was one of the sexiest bikes built," says author and journalist Stein. "It is an absolutely gorgeous bike."

Although less well known amongst the general public, the 1953 Norton Manx is also high on the list of many vintage motorcycle collectors because it was a bike that was technically advanced for its time -- with double overhead cams driven by a tower shaft -- and built to go fast. It's interesting however, how fast is a very relative term amongst different eras of vintage motorcycles. Wagnon recalls a time when he owned a Norton Commando and raced someone on a more modern Kawasaki bike. "I thought I was backing up," he says, remembering that it felt like he was going backward while his competition raced ahead and left him in the dust.

Click forward to read about the thinking man's brand.

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