o Two liters of varsol
o Two cans of WD 40
o One pint of lacquer thinner
o 3 Scotch-Brite scrubbing wheels
o 3 feet of shrink tubing
o 19” of fuel line
o 3 liters of oil
o 4 rolls of shop towels
o 2 Scotch-Brite sheets
o 3 oz of Locktite
o ½ can of black paint
o 1 Corbin seat
o 1 chain
o 1 stainless side stand spring
o 1 stainless center stand spring
o 1 set stainless rocker spindle covers
o 1 braided steel oil feed kit
o 2 spark plugs
o 1 set of throttle cables
o 1 throttle cable junction
o 1 K&N filter
o 1 battery
o 1 pair of Progressive fork springs
o 150ml fork oil
o 2 Works Performance shocks
o 1 pair of handlebars
o 2 new grips
o 1 bar end mirror
o 1 late 50’s Triumph tail light and plate holder
o 1 Motormite/HELP #80190
o 54 hours of labor
o And a significant amount of Hylomar and Three Bond..
Now I have a Norton Commando that goes like a scalded cat, handles well and sounds like a high school bully. I hadn’t ridden one of these things since the late 70’s and had all but forgotten what a fine motorcycle the Commando is. Smooth as silk over 3,500 RPM with buckets of torque and a nice rush of speed as it comes on the cam. I used to think that the finest street bike sound was provided by Contis on a nicely tuned bevel twin. Not any more. Handling is sure and surprisingly quick for a bike with a pair of 19” rims although the front brake currently sucks.
I can’t help but compare it to my old ’73 GT; a very well developed example of the breed. They’re very different beasts from a power delivery perspective, but remarkably similar in terms of overall feel on the road. Honestly though; from a performance perspective, the Commando has it all over the GT. ….Now the Australians are definitely going to make good on their threat of a sound knee-capping (uttered when I spoke favorably regarding Neville’s RC51 a few years ago)…
I like it a lot. I’m not sure where I’m headed with it – other than continuing to improve the front suspension, brakes and carburetion – but the current thinking is to keep it mostly stock.
So, what’s up – you might ask. This ain’t no Italian ride – first a ’57 Triumph and now a Norton? I’m not sure myself. I think the answer lies partly in the Bethesda / DC environment. Traffic here is brutal compared to what I’m used to and the roads have incredibly low speed limits compared to Canada. Even more remarkably, the locals drive at these ridiculously slow limits – which it seems gives them ample time to do things unrelated to skilled vehicle operation while crawling down said roads. I simply go nuts with frustration when I ride my Ducatis around here.
And around here is where I tend to ride. Although there are exceptionally nice roads an hour from here, they’re an hour from here and I don’t have the patience. So a poky old British bike is just the ticket. I’ve got a nice route laid out that – if I pull over and let traffic get well ahead of me in a few strategic spots – gives me a nice 50mph run through some pretty fine twisties. Return trip takes 70 minutes and the whole experience is relaxing and fun.
And then I guess there’s just some inner voice that’s been pulling me back to the bikes of my youth.
But while I’m currently lovin’ the Commando experience, the post-purchase realities left a lot to be desired. I’ve bought most of my machines on eBay and for the most part, I’ve found the sellers to be honest and the bikes to be as represented. The Commando came from Ben Zimmerman in Minnesota and I still can’t figure out if the guy’s simply very early in his mechanical evolution or slapped the bike together for a quick sale. Either way, the eBay listing description and the bike’s actual condition were pretty far apart and – even more disturbing - his reaction to my letter outlining the condition of the machine and the work he had done was downright hostile.
You can check out the email thread that covers the specifics and the reaction HERE.
It’s confusing and frustrating to say the least, in that my post-purchase conversations with the guy indicated a knowledgeable and skilled Norton aficionado, but the state of the bike reflected shoddy workmanship and poor attention to detail as well as conditions that were completely at odds with the eBay listing.
Equally disturbing is how disjointed eBay’s policies are with respect to solving Buyer/Seller disputes. Buyer beware. eBay let’s you post negative feedback and then let’s the Seller post that you’re out to lunch. Even more confusing; eBay offers a Buyer Protection Plan if you pay for the machine using PayPal, but recently they changed their Seller policy to only allow payment of deposits by PayPal. Catch-22.
Fortunately I enjoy working on bikes….
As usual, hi-rez pics are available HERE.