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'74 - '75 Commando...

Thinking these may be the best of the '70s Brits, and would complete my desired (one modern - 996, two classic - Bevel twin + ???) sport bike stable.

Any experience here with these bikes? Be great to get some input.

TIA
 

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'74 - '75 Commando...

Thinking these may be the best of the '70s Brits, and would complete my desired (one modern - 996, two classic - Bevel twin + ???) sport bike stable.

Any experience here with these bikes? Be great to get some input.

TIA
This is the longest I have been without a running Norton (7 years) since 1973 so I have some experience. 74 is one of the best years. Useful upgrades are later model isolasticis and a Norvil head stay. There is a good deal of support out there to keep them running. I do have a project in the back of the garage waiting for time.
 

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I had a 75 Comando, left over 74 so it was still a kick start..nice bike ran good, it had 4200 miles, near perfect shape last year when I sold it...

I liked it but it wasn't a Ducati!
 

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I am fond of Nortons. I bought a 72 Commando new way back when. I also raced a Production Roadracer back in the 70's. I also restored a 73 Commando (Combat Motor) in the ninties. I concur with Captaingumby that the later Commando's were the better ones to have. The early ones had problems with main bearings and the Combat motors seized easier due to higher compression. I think the 850's were a little detuned but much more reliable.

Mike
 

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Discussion Starter #5
This is the longest I have been without a running Norton (7 years) since 1973 so I have some experience. 74 is one of the best years. Useful upgrades are later model isolasticis and a Norvil head stay. There is a good deal of support out there to keep them running. I do have a project in the back of the garage waiting for time.
How do Nortons fare compared to your '73 Triumph - handling / performance-wise?
 

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Aren't stables for horses?

I spent a lot of time around Nortons during the mid-to late 1970s although I never owned one. My last experience with one was a fast ride a friend and I took, he on his Commando and me on my 860GT. He ended up in the ditch and subsequently bought my Ducati.

I suppose the aftermarket has come up with fixes for most of the problems but the things that plagued us back then were weak gearboxes and stripped exhaust port threads.

Despite raves from the motorbike press about their handling, I always found them top heavy and unresponsive. Triumphs, and I speak from experience here having owned several including my current one, a 1970 Bonnie, are much lighter handling and are superior in day-to-day use in my opinion. The motors, though, lack the sheer torque of a Commando motor.

Bruce
 

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Mitch, Nortons are terrific bikes. They are easy to work on, parts/upgrades are readily available and they handle well if set up correctly. (but not like a modern Ducati of course). Examples from '73-'75 are the best but I personally do not like the Mk3 with the left side shift/electric start. If you intend riding it, I would recommend looking for (or upgrading to) electronic ignition, upgraded alternator/rectifier, and if you're used to Ducati brakes, upgrade the front brake too. I never had issues with the gearbox but do make sure the bottom end of the engine has been upgraded to Superblend main bearings.
Have fun. :D
 

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The 73 Trident has about the same power with about 50 pounds more weight. Handling on the Norton is very close to the Ducati 750 GT of the same time period. The 1973 year had both 750 and 850 models. In 1973 they changed the oiling system, and they wet sump more then earlier or later models. 1974 they went back to the earlier oiling system. 1975 had easier to adjust isolastics but more weight due to moving the shifter, electric start etc. The only gear box problems I am aware of are connected to the left side shift linkage. Braking can be improved by sleeving the master cylinder, (it is to large). Ikon shocks, Norvil headstay, Norman Hyde Fork brace, Electronic ignition, and mikuni or mark II amals carbs you have a bike that can be ridden any day anywhere. Now I have to start on the project bike.
 

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"Reinforced Gearbox Shell - The Norton/AMC gearbox shell was designed for 500cc 30HP engines, not 70HP 850"s. While adequate for normal riding it is easy to break in competition or serious street riding. We now offer a heavy-duty replacement shell for the pre MK3 models. - #N299"

Taken from www.clubmanracing.com

Bruce
 

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Love my 75 commando 850. Wish it was a 74 with the shifter and whatnot on the "proper" side lol. It is kick and electric...which is actually nice since sometimes i'm lazy and the electric start is great for that.

I've owned quite a few Triumphs and 2 other Nortons...I would trade 3 triumph bonnies for a Norton Commando of any year in a heartbeat for handling and power delivery purposes, not to mention looks...but then again that's just my opinion which is VERY biased of course hehe.

The Norton's are easy to work on, easy to get parts for now, and you'll always get the question from random people "who makes Norton?!" If you can't tell, i'm a huge fan! I've taken mine on short sunday drives, and day trips as well with no problems. At idle it'll shake ya right off the seat, but once you get above 2k rpms it's as smooth as silk...and the sound...mmm
 

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"Reinforced Gearbox Shell - The Norton/AMC gearbox shell was designed for 500cc 30HP engines, not 70HP 850"s. While adequate for normal riding it is easy to break in competition or serious street riding. We now offer a heavy-duty replacement shell for the pre MK3 models. - #N299"

Taken from www.clubmanracing.com

Bruce
70HP 850 Norton ...... now THAT is hillarious!
:D
 

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Yeah..........I think they're a little over the top with the 70 hp claim although the factories routinely over-estimated power outputs back then. I suppose that since 52 hp was claimed for a 650 bonnie, 70 wouldn't have been too much of a stretch for an 850 Norton.

Bruce
 

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For several years I had a 750 Short Stroke in a 69 Commando Frame that put out 85 HP at the rear wheel on the dyno. Yes you can make a Norton fast! I had no problem with the gear case. But all of those gear cases are 20 years older now. Metal fatigue happens.
 

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Norton is apparently back in business (yet again) and you can buy a seriously updated Commando 961 that they claim puts out [email protected] It looks like a nice piece of work too. No price given but that bike is certainly light years from a mid-1970's stock Commando. My old girls are good runners but probably putting out little more than half that. :D
http://www.nortonmotorcycles.com/bikes/norton-commando-961-spec.php
 

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Mitch-
Maybe I can add my .02 worth. I've got a 75 MK3 Norton that I rescued a few years back. It was rough, looked like it caught fire at one time and that's why it was parked. Positive earth-challenged P.O. Im sure. This was my 2nd Norton, the other being a MK3 as well. Long story short, I wound up doing a frame off restoration. The bike just couldnt and wouldnt be perfect without it. This bike is a complete joy to ride. The power is right there right now. It is geared such that you can seemingly roll on the throttle at any speed in any gear with no snatch or chatter. Not sure what was meant by shaking your dental work loose in one of the other posts, but this bike is smooth at idle and like butter on a hot biscuit off idle. It flicks effortlessly through the twisties and sticks to the ground no matter how much throttle is in your hand. I love the lazy rpms. Top gear goes as far as you can take it. Doesnt feel like it wants to fly apart like my Bonneville. That bike will rattle the marbles out of your skull even with the engine off. I kept the stock points set up in my current Norton. I hated the Boyer unit I had in my last Norton. The bike just refused to idle when coming to a stop sign. The bike was set up very well and everything worked as it should, just couldnt hold an idle to save its life. Thank goodness for the e-start. Most hardly noticed it falling on its nose at each light. Id just hit the green button like nothing ever happened. I agree with most on the brakes. They are a bit wooden and could use an update. I'll get to that some day. Well, I feel I owe you something...after snatching that Ducati up. (which just seems to run better and better every time I'm on it!) If you are ever in the Bakersfield area, feel free to take a spin on my Norton. That is the only way you will know if it is right for you. We can all tap our little keyboards with our biased opinions on this and that until carpal tunnel sets in...take one for a ride. Mine's one hell of an example. I left a teaser shot in there for you. Cheers all.
P.S. A little update on the 75 Ducati- I found a chap in Australia with all the correct lighting, brackets and mounting, etc. My kids will have to put off college for a while, but it was worth it.
 

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Gorgeous bike Aysauto...You put into words what I was thinking much better lol. since we are showing off our bikes here's my baby parked outside of work a month or so ago. Took it with my cell phone...

 

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Even with a cell phone picture, that bike can be appreciated. Cheers to another beautiful MK3 Norton. Last of a dying breed. Of all my Limey bikes, that one is special. I think the only bike(s) I would trade that Norton in for would be a 750 round case and it had better be damn nice, or a V7 Sport. There's something about these Italian bikes that has my attention. I was thinking about picking up an early Ducati, Motobi or MV and riding in the Moto Giro here in California. Looks like a blast. If only I can talk some buddies into the same....
JD
 

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If Nortons are as good as you say then why did the company go out of business?

Bruce
 
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