1960s Norton Atlas 750 | The Bike That Changed My Life

Rider: Tim Prentice
Then: 8-year-old over-sleeper
Now: President of Motonium Design and designer of the Mission R

“One morning in 1972, I missed the bus to my Los Altos Hills, California, elementary school. On the way back down our long driveway, while I tried to think of what to tell my mom, I noticed my oldest brother in the garage getting ready to leave on his Norton Atlas 750. I told him what happened and he said, ‘Don’t tell mom, I’ll give you a ride.’

“When my brother bought the Atlas it had been set up for flat-track racing, but he modified it into a café racer for street riding. He removed the big tank badges, painted it glossy red, put on a racing exhaust and added an aftermarket solo seat and cowl. I remember that morning thinking how sleek and fast it looked. I knew my mom wouldn’t have allowed it, so I had two choices: Get in trouble for missing the bus or risk getting in bigger trouble for riding to school on my brother’s bike. It was an easy choice.

“That was the most fun—and terrifying—morning of my life. The seat was made for one, so I sat on the rear ‘fastback’ hump. There were no passenger pegs. It was all I could do just to hang on. Helmets weren’t required back then, and I lost my baseball cap halfway there. I wasn’t about to let go of my brother to catch it. Best of all, mom never found out!”