72' 750 vs 75' 850. Normal?

Classic Norton Commando Motorcycles.

Re: 72' 750 vs 75' 850. Normal?

Postby MrFastback » Fri Jul 17, 2009 10:14 am

Hey Cookie, seeing as how you're a local guy you may remember the hill climbs out on Redwood road back in the 60's? I remember the only bikes that could take the really steep hills were (modified) Bonnevilles. From seeing them I always had the impression the Bonnevilles were strong. Even after the 2 strokes like the Grieves and Huskys came the Triumphs seemed strongest on the long, steep climbs. I never saw a Norton out there.
I rode a 305 Superhawk back then (on the street) and always lusted for a larger Brit bike but sadly couldn't afford one. I am reliving my youth now and really enjoy the opportunity to ride and compare these old bikes.
:D
________________________________________
1974 Norton Fastback (spl. const.)
1969 BSA A65
1969 Bonnie T120
2010 T'Bird
2009 Bonnie (50th anniv.)
2007 Rocket III
2007 Suzuki M109
2003 Goldwing
2002 VTX 1800 C
1981 Honda CB 900F
1966 Honda CB77 Superhawk
User avatar

MrFastback
Posts: 50
Joined: Thu Apr 09, 2009 4:43 pm
Location: Tracy, Ca. USA

Re: 72' 750 vs 75' 850. Normal?

Postby Cookie » Fri Jul 17, 2009 11:04 am

At that time I was up in Maine. I remember seeing Triumphs as big race winners in the magazines, they always got the most press and even Marlon Brando apparently won that trophy with one. When you had Steve McQueen and Bud Ekins you had it all back then.
When you met one on the street they did not fare as well. Until the Commando got popular over here nobody ever heard of Nortons where I was. There were a few desert sleds but that was about it. After a while Commandos became accepted as a very quick bike in my area.
I see that you have a lot of bikes there. If you have a stock Commando and a stock Bonnie from about the same vintage try them both in a quarter mile. I'd be very surprised if the Commando did not win, especially if it was a Combat.
Norton had a wonderful reputation in England and with some of us who devoured English magazines when we could get them. It seemed like there were a hundred Triumphs to a Norton though.
When I look back I was very lucky to have run into a G15 CSR for about the price of your Honda. I bet your Honda required less tinkering and I'd be willing to guarantee it was easier to start wet. Probably more riding for the money in fact. The G15 did thrash everything it met though, until a Honda 750.
My Commando was pretty quick when I got it but it was a tough choice between it and the 750 Honda. I had to finance it anyway and a few more payments would have made little difference. I think the Honda was as quick but the ride and handling of the Commando sold me on the spot. Oddly enough I didn't even test ride the popular Triumphs and BSAs.
By the time I bought the Commando I was just beginning to understand that stoplight to stoplight was not everything. With the Commando I could compete with my college friends and still have fairly reliable transportation to cruise with my girlfriend.
When the Combat came out I was tempted to trade but its reputation as a grenade stopped me. I was tempted again by the Kawasaki 900 until I rode one. I suspect a bike with those handling faults would get a lawsuit today.
Years later we had a 750 Triumph around for a few years and it was just a bit weaker than my detuned Commando. I'll probably buy a 650 Bonnie someday just to see how they feel for more than a quick test ride.
Regards,
Cookie
750 Commando Featherbed hybrid
3 76 Goldwings including an LTD and one 75
CJ 750 sidecar outfit
Water cooled police CJ sidecar outfit

Cookie
Posts: 1696
Joined: Sun Oct 05, 2008 8:25 pm
Location: San Mateo, CA

Re: 72' 750 vs 75' 850. Normal?

Postby illf8ed » Fri Jul 17, 2009 11:53 am

I agree with the comment Commandos were faster when I was younger. At 20 years old I bought and rode my first - a '72 750 combat roadster. I weighed 165lbs then - now 180lbs. In 1973 at the Ontario Raceway (southern California) you could run the quarter mile and get a form showing quarter mile time and terminal speed. Wish I had not lost that form, but it did 12.1 sec at 103mph. The machine was completly as shipped from the factory with the exception the local Norton dealer replaced the auto advance with a '73 version (believe this was a recall item). In 1981 I bought my second Commando a '73 750 high compression roadster (RH6 head) and was dissapointed it didn't perform as well as the '72. Currently I'm back on a '72 combat. The performance is better than the '73, but still not as crazy as that first combat - 19T versus 21T counter sprocket likely the difference. Also when 20 years old I didn't mind or didn't know better. The engine really launches at 7,000 rpm redline, so naturally assumed this is where the engine just gets strong and continued to rev it. No, I never broke the engine...other things broke from the vibration.

Also have experience with a '68 Bonneville I restored several years ago iwith a very nice DeLong camshaft. Riding that on Norton club rides...could not keep up with the Commandos, so sold it.
David
Northern California Norton Owners
'72 750 Commando combat roadster
2007 Sportster XL1200R
User avatar

illf8ed
Posts: 1796
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2003 8:29 am
Location: Brentwood, Ca

Re: 72' 750 vs 75' 850. Normal?

Postby Cookie » Fri Jul 17, 2009 12:35 pm

I suspect your Combat was a bit quicker than my 70 or 71, I can't recall now what year that bike was. Seems like 12.5 was my best pass at Unity. I had a cam, modified exhaust, intake, and re jetted at that time, but obviously I wasn't as good as the factory boys. Still, on the street there wasn't a lot that was faster stoplight to stoplight. Does 0 to 60 in 4.2 sound right or am I senile again?
Regards,
Cookie
750 Commando Featherbed hybrid
3 76 Goldwings including an LTD and one 75
CJ 750 sidecar outfit
Water cooled police CJ sidecar outfit

Cookie
Posts: 1696
Joined: Sun Oct 05, 2008 8:25 pm
Location: San Mateo, CA

Re: 72' 750 vs 75' 850. Normal?

Postby Jeandr » Fri Jul 17, 2009 2:05 pm

From september 1969, Cycle magazine, 0-60 for a 750 Commando "S" ... 5.6 seconds, ¼ mile 13.18 seconds. The very first "superbike" shootout by Cycle in march 1970 had a "stock" Commando "S" doing the ¼ mile in 12.69 seconds. The Commando was well prepared, but stock in every respect, the only evidence of the bike being worked on were shimmed rockers (instead of springs), still, it beat all the other bikes in the ¼, even the Honda 750 which ran with a 4" slick.

Jean

The best I did on my "S" was 13.996, best of three runs, the only time I raced it, then the gearbox broke again :(
User avatar
Access Norton VIP Paying Member
Jeandr
VIP MEMBER
Posts: 2441
Joined: Tue Jan 22, 2008 9:13 am
Location: Montreal, Canada

Re: 72' 750 vs 75' 850. Normal?

Postby swensosc » Fri Jul 17, 2009 2:47 pm

what was the octane of gasoline in the early 70's? Was it higher?

swensosc
Posts: 15
Joined: Wed Nov 07, 2007 4:33 pm

Re: 72' 750 vs 75' 850. Normal?

Postby MrFastback » Fri Jul 17, 2009 3:01 pm

swensosc wrote:what was the octane of gasoline in the early 70's? Was it higher?

Yes, it was a lot higher!
I had a '55 Chevy with a 13.6:1 compression 301" small block and it ran great on the premium gas available at that time. Chevron sold 106 octane then. It was cheap too! 106 octane was about $0.36/gal. :shock:
________________________________________
1974 Norton Fastback (spl. const.)
1969 BSA A65
1969 Bonnie T120
2010 T'Bird
2009 Bonnie (50th anniv.)
2007 Rocket III
2007 Suzuki M109
2003 Goldwing
2002 VTX 1800 C
1981 Honda CB 900F
1966 Honda CB77 Superhawk
User avatar

MrFastback
Posts: 50
Joined: Thu Apr 09, 2009 4:43 pm
Location: Tracy, Ca. USA

Re: 72' 750 vs 75' 850. Normal?

Postby Coop » Fri Jul 17, 2009 4:13 pm

Hey Mr Fastback...Did you say Redwood Road? As in between Castro Valley and Skyline Blvd in Oakland? I used to ride that route frequently...10 or more miles of twisties.

Coop
Posts: 22
Joined: Fri Jul 03, 2009 5:50 pm
Location: Orem, Utah

Re: 72' 750 vs 75' 850. Normal?

Postby illf8ed » Fri Jul 17, 2009 7:52 pm

Fastback,

A 305 Superhawk is what I had before buying the '72 Commando. It explains why I wasn't concerned about hitting 8000rpms on the Norton - that wasn't really pushing the Superhawk. Never looked back to Japanese road machines after that first Norton. Only rode Nortons, BMWs, Ducati, Triumph, BSA, Rickman since 1973.

Yes, the gas was higher octane and leaded in '73 and the engines could rev free. Have run race gas from time to time in the combat...works very nice. Lately, just retarding the heck on the Lucas RITA to get rid of the pinging.
David
Northern California Norton Owners
'72 750 Commando combat roadster
2007 Sportster XL1200R
User avatar

illf8ed
Posts: 1796
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2003 8:29 am
Location: Brentwood, Ca

Re: 72' 750 vs 75' 850. Normal?

Postby SteveMinning » Sat Jul 18, 2009 4:39 am

MrFastback wrote:Do any of you also ride old Bonnevilles or BSA's?


I can only compare the combat engined Commando 750 with my current Triumph 650 Trophy, a BSA Rocket Gold Star that I owned until just a couple of years ago, and a Manx racer which I still own. The Commando definitely feels fast. I know the Trophy is a single carb bike, but the Commando just eclipses it. It's worth noting that I've ridden the Trophy with others on Bonnevilles and it actually hangs in there with them until you get to the higher rev range.

The Commando feels much faster than the RGS and I actually think it will hold it's own with the Manx. The Manx has more low-end torque, but the Commando has the edge in top end. What the Manx has over the Commando is the frame of course. The Manx just has rock solid handling on the track.

Bottom line is that I think the combat engined Commando is the fastest stock, classic, street legal Brit bike that I've ever ridden. It sounds and feels (in terms of acceleration) like a factory racing machine of the era. The handling is a different story.
User avatar

SteveMinning
Posts: 226
Joined: Sun Mar 30, 2008 1:04 pm
Location: Austin, KY

Re: 72' 750 vs 75' 850. Normal?

Postby mcmarvelous » Sat Jul 18, 2009 5:51 am

Interesting debate, and the extra fuel tanks some of us now carry for our love machine may be a cause! The best route would be to compare the 850 to another 850, and you would have your answer(perhaps) before you do anything radical like shave your extremities and eat less pies!
I watched a video of a Commando going round Donington (clip was on the forum here-donington) and was impressed by the way the guys motor was spinning up the rev range compared to mine. But mine has a slipping clutch and the speedo has gone awol so i never know what is going on. Come the winter it will be sorted I hope.
I don't believe I have ever had the best out of the beast yet, and if I compare it to my laverda montjuic 500 from 20 years ago when i was 14 stone on my 850(now 18st- all muscle....) the Monty was much more exciting. it could be i am more mechanically sympathetic now!
If I wasn't so tall there would be an Aprillia RS250 in the shed as well.

mcmarvelous
Posts: 89
Joined: Sat May 03, 2008 2:49 am
Location: BRAINTREE, UK

Re: 72' 750 vs 75' 850. Normal?

Postby Cookie » Sat Jul 18, 2009 9:45 am

No one I knew ever had a Triumph or BSA triple. I think they may have cost just enough to price it away from kids. How do they compare to a Combat Commando for power? I have read that they were very quick.
As to your Manx what a lovely machine they are. All I can compare the handling to might be my current featherbed, and I imagine the Manx is better still.
Regards,
Cookie
750 Commando Featherbed hybrid
3 76 Goldwings including an LTD and one 75
CJ 750 sidecar outfit
Water cooled police CJ sidecar outfit

Cookie
Posts: 1696
Joined: Sun Oct 05, 2008 8:25 pm
Location: San Mateo, CA

Re: 72' 750 vs 75' 850. Normal?

Postby MrFastback » Sat Jul 18, 2009 10:57 am

Coop wrote:Hey Mr Fastback...Did you say Redwood Road? As in between Castro Valley and Skyline Blvd in Oakland? I used to ride that route frequently...10 or more miles of twisties.

Yes sir, that's the one!
I still ride that stretch frequently and also the other direction out to LaFayette and Orinda.
One of the very few roads that haven't been straightened out by developers since the 60's.
________________________________________
1974 Norton Fastback (spl. const.)
1969 BSA A65
1969 Bonnie T120
2010 T'Bird
2009 Bonnie (50th anniv.)
2007 Rocket III
2007 Suzuki M109
2003 Goldwing
2002 VTX 1800 C
1981 Honda CB 900F
1966 Honda CB77 Superhawk
User avatar

MrFastback
Posts: 50
Joined: Thu Apr 09, 2009 4:43 pm
Location: Tracy, Ca. USA

Re: 72' 750 vs 75' 850. Normal?

Postby MrFastback » Sat Jul 18, 2009 11:00 am

illf8ed wrote:Fastback,

A 305 Superhawk is what I had before buying the '72 Commando. It explains why I wasn't concerned about hitting 8000rpms on the Norton - that wasn't really pushing the Superhawk. Never looked back to Japanese road machines after that first Norton. Only rode Nortons, BMWs, Ducati, Triumph, BSA, Rickman since 1973.

They're all fun to ride.
If not in my women (been married for 41 years to the same one) at least I find variety in my motorcycles. :wink:
________________________________________
1974 Norton Fastback (spl. const.)
1969 BSA A65
1969 Bonnie T120
2010 T'Bird
2009 Bonnie (50th anniv.)
2007 Rocket III
2007 Suzuki M109
2003 Goldwing
2002 VTX 1800 C
1981 Honda CB 900F
1966 Honda CB77 Superhawk
User avatar

MrFastback
Posts: 50
Joined: Thu Apr 09, 2009 4:43 pm
Location: Tracy, Ca. USA

Re: 72' 750 vs 75' 850. Normal?

Postby MarshalNorton » Sat Jul 18, 2009 4:50 pm

I have a 72 combat. It will indeed smoke an 850.
Here's my 2 cents.
You have a 70 Boss mustang, I have a 73 mustang.
You will run circles around me.
By 1974 the motor vehicle industry was neutered by most governments.
I'm really supprised at the resurgence since the 1990's w/ muscle cars
and sport bikes.
There was no reason to put those silencers on the MkIII?
Why,? to please the great socialist state of Kalifornia. 1st in nation to require useless smog devices.
All C'dos came into the US for sales in Calif. and @ Berlinners in New Jersey.
That is where my bike was delivered than sold by a lawn mower shop.
Go Figure.
It runs 4100 RPMS at 70 mph all day.
I'm fatter,balder,and slower reflexes but it still is scary fast.
Your intuition is spot on!
Marshal
Stings Like A Bee!
User avatar

MarshalNorton
Posts: 580
Joined: Fri Jan 30, 2009 12:14 pm
Location: Horsham, PA USA

PreviousNext

Return to Norton Commando Classic Motorcycles

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: 84ok, ajayMike, flashbackk, freefly103, htown16, mattthomas4444, mikegray660, MikeM, PeterJoe, printertim, spelky and 8 guests