Norman Hyde joined Triumph motorcycles as an apprentice in 1964 and has been making these British bikes go faster ever since. Following the closure of the factory at Meriden in 1973, Norman moved to the Kitts Green site run by Norton Triumph International. When that shut down in 1975 he used his redundancy payment to establish his own business, designing and selling performance parts for Triumph twins and triples. His passion for Triumph motorcycles is undiminished – he still runs the company he that bears his name and still enjoys riding motorcycles.
Having passed his mechanical engineering diploma with flying colours in 1968 Norman secured a position in Triumph’s racing development department, working under Doug Hele, the legendary Chief Development Engineer. As a result Norman was directly involved in the development of the T120, T140, T150, T160 and T180 twins and triples, as well as projects that never made it into production, like the four-cylinder Quadrent, OHC Triple and 350cc Bandit twin. He and his colleagues also supported the factory’s racers, including Percy Tait. Hyde is particularly proud of the Triumph Trident triple, launched in 1969, which, along with the Honda 750/4, redefined the sportsbike sector of that era.
When not at work, Norman was racing motorcycles for fun. Following a frustrating foray into trials, he discovered an aptitude for drag racing and sprinting. In 1968 he took the World Record for a standing start ¼ mile in his Triumph 350cc sidecar outfit and in 1969 he beat the World Record for a standing start kilometre on a Triumph 500cc twin (set by the works Gilera two years previously). However, it was three years later, in 1972, that he really made his mark, when he captured the World Sidecar Land Speed Record at and average speed of 161.8mph, a record that remained unbeaten for over 35 years.
Having started his own performance parts business early in 1976 it was only a matter of of time before a man with Norman Hyde’s experience started designing his own bikes and in 1987 he introduced the Hyde Harrier, a café racer kit for Bonneville and Trident engines using a frame developed with Harris Performance. This was followed up in 1995 by the Hornet, a 126mph single cylinder motorcycle, also Harris-framed, powered by a 600cc Rotax engines tuned to produced 70 bhp.
The re-birth of Triumph at their new Hinckley factory and the introduction of the retro-styled Bonneville suddenly created a completely new customer base for Norman Hyde, who set about designing performance and styling parts for the new British twins. Today his best-selling product line is the sport silencer for Hinckley Bonnevilles – made in UK using traditional designs, to recreate the classic ‘sound of the Sixties’.