Motorcycle Forum

Motorcycle Forum (
-   MO Reader Feedback (
-   -   A Fistful of Nortons (

BMW4VWW 02-27-2004 06:44 AM

Re: A Fistful of Nortons
I too once owned a H1 tripple, a 1969 blue and white first year model. Had a friend with a Norton Commando, and had no trouble keeping up with him when his bike was running, which was rarely. Having owned a number of vintage Brit bikes my self (before they were called vintage) I can attest to the fact that like many things they are best viewed through the lens of time. VWW

maladg 02-27-2004 06:46 AM

Re: A Fistful of Nortons
Nortons have to be the coolest bikes ever that were also a monumental pain in the ass...ahhh, Norton Girls on the inside front cover of CYCLE, the "Shanda Norton"...ahhhhhhh life is good.

sarnali 02-27-2004 09:05 AM

Re: The Hi-Rider....
I had a purple Stingray with cards in the spokes

I won't comment on the Hi Rider except to say that psychadelic drugs were popular in England in the early seventies..........

nxer650 02-27-2004 09:58 AM

Re: A Fistful of Nortons
I owned a '74 Commando Interstate for 15 years. I purchased it new from Champion Motorcycles in Costa Mesa. It was the first motorcycle I owned. I loved that bike and all things Norton, and looked down on heavier, better performing motorcycles, like the Kawa Z-1. I enjoyed the endless maintenance and messing around with the bike. I tried a single Mikuni set-up for a while, and then went back to the Amals. I loved the sound of the Dunstall mufflers, and replaced the hideous air-box with a pair of K&Ns. A Lucas RITA took care of replacing points, and a pair of K-Mart coils helped in the starting ritual.

Still, as my knowledge of things motorcycle grew, I realized that the 850 Commando was not the penultimate motorcyle/engine design, but rather a collection of bodged solutions to an aging design that the company couldn't afford to change. Expanded to, and beyond, the point of reliability, that torquey twin couldn't be trusted to get me home. On a long trip though the southwest, the oil tank cracked, and I spent some oily hours in a motel parking lot, removing the tank and getting it brazed up. In one ill-considered moment, I replaced the cam chain with one with a master link; the open end of the clip WASN'T facing the wrong direction, but it still failed and I got to do a top end. The exhaust nuts loosened on a trip down the California coast, even with the factory retainers and I got to remove the head again to get those welded back in and re-tapped. Wire replaced the stock, tabbed retainers. I started to think that it'd be nice to just ride a bike, rather than ride and wrench.

With just under 30,000 miles showing, I sold the black Interstate in '89. In '01, a re-entry rider, I bought a '95 Honda CB750 Nighthawk that, superficially, reminds me of the Norton: A single disk up front, and a drum in the back. Black. I've added Givi bags, a Scottoiler, a larger oil cooler, dual Fiamm horns, aftermarket suspension bits. It is a marvel of reliability. It always starts, doesn't ooze oil, doesn't require lots of mechanical attention. It doesn't have the Norton sound, but I've grown to enjoy quiet motorcycles. I'd ride it across the US tomorrow, without a thought about something breaking. On the Norton, I would have carried 50 lbs of tools and spares, and would have been constantly worried about some serious problem. With some minor cosmetic tweaks to the 750-mostly eliminating chrome-I like the way the Nighthawk looks. It is a simple machine, a UJM, and it does what it does competently.

Still, I find myself looking at Nortons on Ebay, reading the descriptions, and trying to remember, in detail, "tickling" the carbs, smelling the gas, kicking the engine over, and hearing it throb, moving on its centerstand as I revved the engine. Then I remember adjusting the primary chain, shimming the Isolastics, adjusting the cam chain, the valves, the clutch, checking and changing the gear box oil, and on and on.

I wouldn't want a Commando in my garage right now, but my head still turns one I hear one, and I'll walk a block to stare at one parked, and remember. It's tough to get over Nortons.

maladg 02-27-2004 10:09 AM

Re: A Fistful of Nortons
Caveman52's comments on ridden vs owned reminds me of something Peter Egan said a few yrs ago - pardon me if I don't get this exactly right: "Euro bikes are the triumph of superior materials over average engineering. Jap bikes are the triumph of superior engineering over average materials".

I had one of those H-1's. I think there are two reasons why so few are around vs Britbikes and other Euro (and 'murrican, too) bikes: 1. H-1's were built of pretty darn average materials..2. Jap bikes of that time tended to have much younger riders than the Britbikes. Generally speaking, the young ride harder and take less maintenance care. Combine that with lesser quality materials and ya gots yourself one ephemeral bike. (did I spell that right? probably not!)

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 07:14 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.