Norman Hossack

A link to Norman Hossack's website

I've accumulated enough photos and other information on Norman's projects that I decided to consolidate them in one spot.  Most of the material  (especially the period snapshots) was provided either by Norman or by Steve and Michael Burge in the UK, the owners of Hossack #3 who also race a TM-engined single that uses many of the chassis components of #3.  A few items are from  "an unknown source on the Internet".

first page of Hossack sales brochure

second page of Hossack sales brochure

Hossack #1 -- drawing
Here is how the bits fit together.

Hossack #1

500 Honda single engine.

NOT Hossack #1

A replica built by someone in Australia or New Zealand.

Hossack #1

Hossack #1 -- Vernon Glashier

Steve Burge photo "This picture is from the first time I saw Vernon racing it in the BMCRC 1300 open class at Brands Hatch, in March 1986 (the first race meeting I attended). He was running in the top three - losing 300m on the short straights on this little 55bhp 500cc single against Mark Linscott's F1 Harris Kawasaki 750 and Eimon Reid's 1300cc Kasparek Kawasaki.....but gaining it all and more back again on the brakes into Paddock Hill bend and through the corners. My future interest in racing was set. Singles and Hossacks it was to be."

Hossack #1 -- Norman Hossack at Brands Hatch in 1982

Hossack #3

RD350LC Yamaha engine.

Hossack #3

Hossack #3

Hossack #3 with fairing

Hossack #3 after the Isle of Man TT -- Mallory Park
Steve Burge: "This and the one which follows I took at the 'Post TT' meeting at Mallory Park. This is a classic meeting traditionally held the week after the TT. It became a bit of a festival. Bike is nr 3. By this time I'd sourced and fitted a full TT F2 world championship spec Manchester Motorcycles LC350 engine (74bhp). It was an ex Bob Heath (as in visors) engine, sourced from Neil Tuxworth."

Hossack #3 after the Isle of Man TT -- Mallory Park

Ray Knight on Hossack #3 at Brands Hatch

Ray Knight's article on Hossack #3, Motorcycle Sport June 1984

Several Hossacks

Steve thinks this was at Brands Hatch, and #1 is on the left and #3 is on the right.

Hossack on track

Steve Burge: "I think this is Nr 2. The single cylinder 250 Rotax. Same chassis as Nr 3."  Norman Hossack: "The rider on the Mike Spence bike was Ian Bennett. He was an apprentice at that company. Incidental Mike Spence raced cars but was killed at Indianapolis."

Hossack V-twin

Steve Burge: "This twin is Vernon's BOTT racer. Nr1 in background. The BOTT bike was a pair of Honda XBR500 barrels and heads on a Yamaha TR1 bottom end. Last I heard Phil Joy, of Joy Cams, had this on permanent loan from Vernon to develop as a sprint race project."  Norman Hossack: "Just to say Vernon's V twin I called a YamaHondack. Yamaha Honda Hossack. It was a good frame but the engine did not hold up. It had Honda XL cylinder heads on a Yamaha crank case."

Hossack 125 -- Simon Westwood at Snetterton

Steve Burge photo.  Norman Hossack:  "The 125cc Suzuki was ridden by Simon Westwood. Simon went on to be a mechanic in the GP world with the official Suzuki team, he looked after their top guys for many years. "

Hossack 125 Suzuki

Norman Hossack: "The 125cc Suzuki was ridden by Simon Westwood. Simon went on to be a mechanic in the GP world with the official Suzuki team, he looked after their top guys for many years."

Hossack 125 Suzuki

Norman Hossack:  "The Suzuki 125 is the build I was most proud of, I brought together several new ideas to that one. Sadly that bike is lost."

Norman and Hossack-modified Ducati

Hossack-modified BMW

Hossack-modified BMW

Hossack-modified BMW

Copy Vs Real Hossack BMW

Real Vs Copy Hossack BMW with Norman Hossack

Hossack Streetbikes at Goodwood

Hossack-modified Kawasaki

Hossack-modified Kawasaki

Hossack Military Prototype

Hossack Military Prototype

Norman at the debut of the new Bultaco with Hossack front end, Paul Blezard photo

Norman at the Isle of Man with the last-built Velocette 500 racer.

Hossack Ogier Laverda - left side
Maurice Ogier built a 500 Laverda that had some success in the stock frame before approaching Norman to build a new chassis.  The bike was ridden by Alan Cathcart with some success.  While the chassis looks similar to that of the Suzuki 125 above, careful study of the two bikes will reveal a fair number of differences.

Hossack Ogier Laverda

Hossack Ogier Laverda

Hossack Ogier Laverda with Alan Cathcart

Hossack Ogier Laverda

Hossack Ogier Laverda

Hossack Ogier Laverda

Hossack Ogier Laverda

Hossack Ogier Laverda

Mark Williams Classic Bike Guide article on Norman Hossack, February 2017

Norman Hossack patent GB2121364A

Norman Hossack patent GB2207645A

Steve Burge Hossack TM

Steve Burge: "This is Mick Burge with his replica of Nr3 fitted with a TM600 Supermono engine, for the start of the UK Supermono Championship at Snetterton. Compare with 'professionalism' from previous season (next picture). I went all out to make it (and Mick) look smart after criticism from certain quarters after Mick and the bike he built and raced on the very thinnest of shoestrings (at a time when the class was struggling for entries) was featured in Performance Bikes magazine. 20 minutes later Mick crashed at high speed at Coram and everything looked very second hand again."

Hossack TM -- on track

Steve Burge: "Mick racing the TM600 nr3 replica at Hockenheim in the European Supermono Championship."

Hossack TM -- in the garage

Steve Burge: "This was trying to get the TM600 Hossack replica finished before the start of its first season. Mick was exhausted, after several 'all nighters'. Note B17 Flying Fortress piston on shelf in front of if we could just..."

Hossack TM -- in the pits

Steve Burge has had several websites about Norman's bikes, especially #3 which he and his brother Michael own.  I was able to find copies of two of them which I had saved and that appear below.  Unfortunately, I could not find all of the photos to go with them.

Hossack LC350 (#3)

Below are some details of my (Steves) pride and joy, Norman Hossacks third race bike.

Guilt and hindsight

I really wanted a Hossack back in the late 1980s when I raced singles. Norman gave me a great deal on a chassis for a single but I just couldn't afford it at the time (It was 1,200 and I earn't 3,600 a year!). I'd also only seen Vernon Glashiers bike (Hossack #1) and hadn't realised that things had progressed such a long way from that original design. It's a big regret for me that I didn't take that opportunity to support Norman (when he really needed it) with a design which I really felt was, and probably still is, the way forward.

If there had been another single cylinder Hossack to follow on from Vernons success (3 times National champion), with the easier to understand plate steel fork (many people incorrectly believe the tubular steel one on Vernons bike to be a development of the girder fork - which it isn't) , then maybe things would have been different. Sorry Norman. The fact that I was going to use the then new and under-developed (race wise) Rotax engine just makes me kick myself even harder......(Bloody hindsight!). Maybe now, with this bike, I can make amends.

#3 History

Norman designed this bike to house the abundant and popular TZ & LC 250/350 engine in 1983 to form a suitable platform for privateer riders to race in GP250, GP350, F2 and F3 classes at domestic and world level. This was his prototype/demonstrator and was fitted with a very mildly tuned road going LC350 engine so potential customers & the 'gentlemen of the press' could try it on practice days or at race meetings without the risk of engine problems detracting from the chassis experience.

Mat Oxley gave it it's first shake-down races at Brands Hatch where he scored two 3rd places and two 6ths, with a fastest lap of 54.8 seconds. Ray Knight later tested it for Motorcycle Sport (June 1984) and scored a 4th (behind 3 RG500s!) and 6th on the Brands GP circuit in an open 500cc race - having never raced a 2 stroke before. Alan Cathcart also tested it at Mallory Park and it appeared on BBC TV's 'Tomorrows World'.

It was due to recieve a higher spec' Roger Keen engine for the 1984 season which unfortunately never materialised. By 1985 the demand for replacement chassis for GP type machines had wained and this bike was sold to fund future projects. (As far as I know Norman was never building chassis full-time but fitting his projects in around his paying employment).

It was raced, and hill climbed, a couple of times over the next couple of years by Malolm Gallichan and then the engine was 'borrowed' for a hill climb sidecar outfit. The chassis spent the next 15 years taking pride of place in Malcolms living room in Jersey.

Back to the Future?

I persauded Malcolm to part with it this year (2000) with the intention of restoring it for use in Forgotten Era/Post Classic type racing. As the bike is in such good condition this should be a fairly quick job (famous last words.....). It will be great to race it against not only the TZ350s but also some of the other innovative designs of the 1980's such as the Saxon Armstrong 350, Bimota 350 GP bike, Tony Foale framed Yamahas, similar Waddons and the Exactweld.

This prototype used a mild steel box tube space frame and fabricated steel front and rear forks. It weighs just 104 kg (230 lbs) as opposed to the standard TZ350s weight of 125kg (276 lb). Vernon Glashiers Hossack Honda single, which also used mild steel tubing (which, incidently, was never intended to be a complete bike but still won 3 National championships 10 years after it was built!), weighed 99kg (218 lb) with heavy, by todays standards, Astralite wheels.  (We calculated that our contemporary Hossack/Rotax supermono racer, with a T45 tubular space frame, could have weighed 90kg without any exotic materials).

Is the design valid and does it have potential for the future? I think so. John Britten obviously proved the system works at the highest level and put the system in the worldwide global eye. BMW has softened up resistance to change with the Telelever/Saxon arrangement . Manufacturers must also be looking to get as much production cost back 'in-house' with the current demand for cheaper bikes. The cost of a pair of Ohlins forks, for example, must make up a fairly hefty percentage of a bikes production cost and if you can produce a cheaper alternative yourself that's got to be attractive. Predictions? I'd bet that we'll see this arrangement on a bike from a European manufacturer (the Japanese own the suspension companies after all.....) before too long. Aprilia bought up options on Claude Fiors double wishbone patents in the early 1990's and I understand that Pierre Terblanche (chief designer at Ducati) is a fan of Norman Hossacks work.

At the foot of this page there is a table which gives some details of interest to chassis enthusiasts, such as the weight of various components, weight distribution and CG height, but doesn't go as far as giving dimensions/angles for the wishbones etc as this wouldn't be very fair to Norman. I've put up some photos of the whole bike and its components in the hope that his ideas on chassis design as a whole (rather than just the front end) will be appreciated by as wide as possible an audience. That very stiff and light stub axle (with the chain adjusters on the swing arm pivot rather than the rear axle to reduce unsprung mass), for example, allows the engine to be run lower than with a conventional arrangement. The low overall CG height then has positive implications on the front ends dive/anti-dive characteristics and allows a short wheelbase without the bike trying to flip under braking and acceleration. Advanced thinking even for now, let alone 1983.

'#3' in the mid 1980's

The chassis in its current condition:

Right side view of rolling chassis      Right side view of rear suspension and stub swingarm

Left front quarter view of rear suspension                                       Left side view of stub swingarm

Top view of front suspension        Right front view of front suspension

Top wishbone/frame mounts - right side        Top wishbone/fork pivot - right side view

Lower wishbone/frame mounts, right side. + engine hangers                     Lower wishbone connection to front fork and lower suspension mount

Weight (with oil and water)

Chassis Weight Chassis complete less engine and wheels: 30kg
Front Suspension Weight Fork, both wishbones, bearings and steering linkages: 2.8kg (Comparable forks weigh 14kg)
Rear Suspension Weight Swingarm, bearings, brake caliper & torque arm: 2.35kg (Most aluminium ones weigh 4 to 5kg)
Front Tyre 3.5/18 on Astralite wheel (11kg including disk)
Rear Tyre 5.00/18 on Astralite wheel (13kg including disk and sprocket)
Front Damper Koni, twin tube type, progressive spring, 3 preload settings, 4 damping settings. Weight 1.55kg.
Rear Damper Spax, twin tube type, linear spring, screw type preload, 12 damping settings. Weight 2kg.
Front brake Single Brembo twin piston caliper (0.7kg) and 320mm floating disk
Rear Brake Single Brembo twin piston caliper (0.7kg)
Weight Distribution

Don't know yet

CG Height

Don't know yet

Rake 24 to 27 degrees (adjustable)

Don't know yet, (adjustable)

Wheelbase 1300mm - Constant throughout suspension travel. (which is halfway between a modern 125 and 250 gp bike)
Ratio of Sprung to Unsprung mass

69% to 31%

Ratio of Sprung to Unsprung mass, with 80kg rider

82.4% to 17.6%


This is the next Burge website, I couldn't identify which photos might go with it:

This website catalogues the recent history of my brother Michael’s and my efforts to raise the profile of the talent of Norman Hossack, by restoring and campaigning his third, and personal favourite, machine: ‘#3’.

The Hossack story, as with so many in motorcycle racing, is one of ‘what ifs’. However, it seems the rest of the world is finally (after 25 years) about to be able to benefit from Normans vision as the first major manufacturer, in the shape of BMW, is proposing to launch a production superbike using an adaptation of his front end design in the very near future. It’s just a shame they waited until his patents had lapsed and didn’t involve him in its development (read Norman’s open letter to BMW on his website at: What if eh?

Norman is also considering offering copies of the complete set of his original drawings used to build our bike.



Norman designed this bike to house the popular TZ & LC 250/350 engine in 1983. It was intended to form a suitable platform for privateer riders to race in GP250, GP350, TTF2 and F3 classes at domestic (UK) and world level. This was his prototype/demonstrator and was fitted with a very mildly tuned road going LC350 engine  (1mm off the exhaust ports and the reed stops bent back is the only tuning) so potential customers & the press could evaluate it without the risk of engine problems.


Mat Oxley gave it it's first shake-down races at Brands Hatch where he scored two 3rd places and two 6ths, with a fastest lap of 54.8 seconds. Ray Knight later tested it for Motorcycle Sport (June 1984) and scored a 4th (behind 3 RG500 racers) and 6th on the Brands GP circuit in an open 500cc race.  Ray had never raced a 2 stroke before. Alan Cathcart also tested it at Mallory Park and it appeared on BBC TV's 'Tomorrows World' & as part of an article in Autosport.


It was due to receive a higher spec' engine for the 1984 season which unfortunately never materialised. By 1985 the demand for replacement chassis for GP type machines had dropped and this bike was sold to fund future projects. It was raced, and hill climbed, a few times over the next few years by its new owner, Malcolm Gallichan.


Back to the Future?

I managed to persuade Malcolm to part with it in March 2000 and collected it from Jersey in September. The bike was stripped & rebuilt over the winter for use in Post Classic 'Superbike' events.


Now fitted with a Manchester Motorcycles' TTF2 LC engine, developing 74bhp, the bike 's power is comparable with a good TZ350, pulling a stunning 160mph at Snetterton!


This prototype has a mild steel box tube space frame and fabricated steel front and rear forks. It weighs just 104 kg (230 lbs).

Does it work? I should say so!


The bike has a really predictable, solid feel with lots of feedback. After racing it for the first time most people are surprised to find that they weren't even thinking about the chassis, rather concentrating on getting the most out of the engine and their racing. Nick Allison, on his debut ride on the bike, set the fastest lap whilst pulling through from 10th to lead a field of TZ750/350 & 250s, 4 stroke F1 machines at a slippery Cadwell Park.


Other racers competing with Michael at CRMC meetings in 2003 have been stunned at how fast he can get into a corner on a tight line and still turn and make the corner.


We ran the same set of tyres for 2 seasons and they were barely scrubbed in. We replaced them for 2003 because they have gone hard before being worn out and these have now done a full, hard, championship season with plenty of life left - the chassis seems very kind on tyres.


The wheelbase, weight distribution and geometry of this bike are contemporary with those of 250GP bikes through the 1990's, but were not for 1983.


Normans 3 main considerations were:


         Structural Stiffness

         Constant Wheelbase

         Low Centre of Gravity


Think of these considerations and 'F1 car' design (Norman worked for McLaren in the 1970's building Indy Cars) and the design makes plenty of sense.

Vernon Glashiers Honda powered racer was the very first prototype Norman built and although it was never designed to even take an engine it still won the last of Vernons three National Single Cylinder Championships when it was 13 years old. Staggering.

Our bike was only his third, so when compared with the 50 years of evolution that telescopic forks have had then Norman’s machines were at a pretty advanced level first time out.

Now and Beyond

We've had a good 'debut' season with the UK's Classic Racing Motorcycle Club, which opened up it's Post Classic classes to cater for TTF2, Sound of Singles and Battle of the Twins racers built before December 1986.

We put a full championship season together, with our main focus being to raise the profile of this bike whilst promoting Normans ideas to as wide an audience as possible. The knowledgeable interest shown in the bike at CRMC and the Mallory Park Post TT meetings makes this all worthwhile.

My brother Michael races the bike in the Post Classic Group 2 class. Group 2 is the home of big hitting TTF1/F2 type machinery such as P&M Z1000's, Harris Magnums and other rare exotica such as Stephen Wall's ex-works XR69 Suzuki F1 bike. If there were a motto for this class it would be "Horsepower Rules". Bike must have been built before Dec 1986.

Our class is run together in the same race as the Post Classic Group 1 machines. These are pure, thoroughbred GP machines: TZ250/350/500/700/750s, RG500s and their kin. A motto for this class might be "Handling is King". The bikes must have been built before Dec 1981.

Why aren't we with the GP bikes? Hossack #3 was built as a prototype/demonstrator over the winter of 1982/3. It was designed to house a range of engines, including the TZ250/350, tandem twin Rotax and the LC250/350 then so popular in TT F2 & F3 classes. However, as a demonstrator it needed to be reliable and allow the tester (or potential customer) to explore the handling of the chassis without worrying about the engine. In addition, Norman simply did not have the funds to buy or run a TZ350 motor. He certainly couldn't stretch to a Manchester engine, which at the time cost a cool 2,500.

So, we run an LC motor because it's what the bike was built with and because if we did fit a TZ engine we still couldn't run with the Group 1 machines as the bike is too new for that class.

Having chosen this route it seemed logical to try and obtain a good, fast LC motor and explore the potential of the whole package and perhaps get an idea of what might have been. I heard a rumour in 2001 that Neil Tuxworth had the essential parts of an ex Bob Heath Manchester LC engine for sale. This really would be the perfect match. Arnie Fletcher, who developed the Manchester LC engines, is a similar sort of engineer to Norman. His motors are not tuned, as such, they are painstakingly re-engineered from the ground up to liberate the potential in the original design. They are all about elegant efficiency and most of the components look like they should really be on display. They all develop 74bhp @ 10,750rpm.

Michael has really been getting the hang of the bike through the season and has been getting faster and more consistent as it has progressed. The big thing we still have to focus on is the first lap. The big four-strokes get off the line much better and generally lead into the first corner pretty much everywhere. From then on the smaller 2 strokes are playing catch-up and have to deal with most of the ‘diesels’ before getting on terms with the leaders....which is usually James Clark.

Equal 4th in the championship isn't bad for our first year with the club. It could have been better for a couple of mechanical DNF's (broken clutch plates at Pembrey and a snapped chain at Snetterton) and a couple of crashes (Highside at Mallory and brake failure at Lydden hairpin....very scary). So we'll work on our consistency for next season too.

One thing we can't do anything about is that the big 4 strokes run wheel rims wide enough to allow 17" radial, supersport 600 race tyres. We can only run Avon 18" crossplies. The class front runners reckon they go 1.5 to 2s per lap quicker with the newer tyres fitted. As Michael is usually only a second off the race fastest lap.....................?

If Michael had been in the GP based Group 1 class the top results would have been:

1.        Michael Burge (Hossack Yamaha 350) 242pts

2.       Paul Allender (Scitsu 500 ) 227pts

3.       Mark Carkeek (TZ350) 221pts

4.       Lea Gourlay (TZ/Rhingini 350) 200pts

5.       Jason Burch (TZ350) 179 pts

6.       Clive David (TZ/Manchester 350) 127

7.       Richard Parker (TZ350 )111pts

8.       Andy Mahon (TZ350) 96pts

As both Hossacks 1 and 2 were championship winners that's one heck of an effective design Norman!


As always we'd like to say thanks to Tekmotive for their help with tyres (we still haven't worn them out!) but also especially to Vernon and Helen Glashier for their encouragement, help and support all season (sorry we didn't get that win. Next year perhaps) and to all the other riders, friends, marshals, spectators and club officials we've met through the year who make motorcycle racing such a special sport (and happen). Hope to see you all safely next year.

2017 Michael Moore, last update for this page 25 February 2017