'73 850 road test, read and weep

Classic Norton Commando Motorcycles.

'73 850 road test, read and weep

Postby hobot » Thu Jul 14, 2011 6:15 pm

Throw yourself at the ground and miss!
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Re: '73 850 road test, read and weep

Postby rx7171 » Thu Jul 14, 2011 7:49 pm

Even at that they held on for two more years.

Funny how many times it was called a "Morton" in the article.
Maybe the Morton had the quality control problems and the 73 Norton was actually well made. :wink:

Bob
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Re: '73 850 road test, read and weep

Postby JimR » Thu Jul 14, 2011 8:13 pm

Good description of all the reasons I bought the bike in 74 and why we love them. Describes my 850 to a tee. Could you really ask for more. Of course, Steve, you already know that or you would be spending all your time on a Honda or God forbid a Harley.

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Re: '73 850 road test, read and weep

Postby Olephart » Thu Jul 14, 2011 8:33 pm

I thought a Morton was a Moto Guzzi in a featherbed? :lol:
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Re: '73 850 road test, read and weep

Postby openroad » Sat Jul 16, 2011 6:15 am

I'll take that will a grain of salt....
1984 Softail (my New bike)
1977 850 T3 FB Guzzi .....totalled
1974 Commando Roadster
1972 Triumph Daytona.....traded in on the Norton
Tiger Cub (year unknown)...in pieces
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Re: '73 850 road test, read and weep

Postby frankdamp » Sat Jul 16, 2011 8:48 am

The comments about build quality sum things up very well. A fairly good overall design mucked up by the gorillas in the shop? There's an even chance that some of the problems were due to very old, worn-out tooling.

There's a legend from the move from Birmingham to Plumstead after Norton became part of Assocoated Motorcylces. Many of the long-time workers declined to move and took retirement. When production started in Plumstead, they had a very difficult time getting the holes in the crankcases, which are used for the barrel tiedowns, to line up accurately. They were drilled by a drillpress with multiple spindles on the main column.

The folks at Plumstead got so fed up, they brought the old retiree down to London to see if he could help. The first thing he said when he got to the machine was "where's my piece of wood?" It turned out that the bearings on which the drill press column moved up and down were so worn, he had a length of 2x4 lumber which he used to force the column over to the same side of the bearing clearance each time. Apparently it made up to 3/16" difference down at the drill tips.

Lack of funding, particularly for capital equipment, was evident to me the first few days I was a Nortonian. I had already interviewed with Boeing before I went to N-V and I had planned to withdraw my application once we'd got settled in Wolverhampton. I'm sure glad I wised up quickly.
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Re: '73 850 road test, read and weep

Postby Olephart » Sat Jul 16, 2011 9:53 am

frankdamp wrote:The comments about build quality sum things up very well. A fairly good overall design mucked up by the gorillas in the shop? There's an even chance that some of the problems were due to very old, worn-out tooling.

There's a legend from the move from Birmingham to Plumstead after Norton became part of Assocoated Motorcylces. Many of the long-time workers declined to move and took retirement. When production started in Plumstead, they had a very difficult time getting the holes in the crankcases, which are used for the barrel tiedowns, to line up accurately. They were drilled by a drillpress with multiple spindles on the main column.

The folks at Plumstead got so fed up, they brought the old retiree down to London to see if he could help. The first thing he said when he got to the machine was "where's my piece of wood?" It turned out that the bearings on which the drill press column moved up and down were so worn, he had a length of 2x4 lumber which he used to force the column over to the same side of the bearing clearance each time. Apparently it made up to 3/16" difference down at the drill tips.

Lack of funding, particularly for capital equipment, was evident to me the first few days I was a Nortonian. I had already interviewed with Boeing before I went to N-V and I had planned to withdraw my application once we'd got settled in Wolverhampton. I'm sure glad I wised up quickly.



JimR wrote:
Good description of all the reasons I bought the bike in 74 and why we love them. Describes my 850 to a tee. Could you really ask for more. Of course, Steve, you already know that or you would be spending all your time on a Honda or God forbid a Harley.


Yup, that about sums it up.

mike
2 E-starts and some of a 3rd
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2 I've regretted selling since the day I did:
Guzzi V7 Sport
BSA Spitfire w/GP carbs
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Re: '73 850 road test, read and weep

Postby bluto » Sat Jul 16, 2011 1:53 pm

great stuff, and especially interesting since I have a '73 850 myself which thankfully has been quite reliable so far (unlike the '69 750 I owned waay back in the '70's) BTW, probably old news to most here, but there is a whole portfolio of period Commando reviews and technical articles available....just got a copy myself and am really enjoying it.
http://www.amazon.com/Norton-Commando-Portfolio-R-M-Clarke/dp/185520570X
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Re: '73 850 road test, read and weep

Postby rx7171 » Sat Jul 16, 2011 2:37 pm

If you are interesting in getting an inside view of what happened to Norton a book worth reading is >Whatever Happened to the British Motorcycle Industry< by Bert Hopwood. http://www.amazon.com/Whatever-Happened ... ewpoints=1

He was involved with Ariel, BSA, Norton and Triumph as both an engineer and company director from the fourties until the demise of the British Bike industry.

As a design engineer he advocated for developing the next generation of motorcycles but was resisted by a penny pinching Board of Directors that should have been running a company building washing machines.

Their attitude was anyone wanting a serious motorcycle would buy British so why not just keep cranking out the same old design.
Totally not willing to recognize the threat from the Japanese. Japanes bikes had starters, didn't leak oil or need regular owner tweaking.

Bob
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Re: '73 850 road test, read and weep

Postby DogT » Sat Jul 16, 2011 3:48 pm

rx7171 wrote:. Japanes bikes had starters, didn't leak oil or need regular owner tweaking.

Bob


But they didn't handle, look or have the mystique of a Norton. A man's bike.

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Re: '73 850 road test, read and weep

Postby Matt Spencer » Sat Jul 16, 2011 7:03 pm

What happened to the two Honda riders who accidently got on Ea others bike at the hamburger joint ?

They never even noticed . As thy say . :wink:
The Japanese response to ' styling ' , was to add more .
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Re: '73 850 road test, read and weep

Postby rx7171 » Sat Jul 16, 2011 11:23 pm

>>Japanese bikes had starters, didn't leak oil or need regular owner tweaking.<<

Not that that was necessary for folks who like an intimate relationship with their bikes but for your typical potential American bike customer it really mattered. :wink:

Bob
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Re: '73 850 road test, read and weep

Postby DogT » Mon Jul 18, 2011 3:05 pm

I reckon that's why I got a Norton, it wasn't the same thing on the rest of the block, and you actually had to start the bike on your own to prove you owned it. Never did like going with the crowd.

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