Commando Road Tests .

Classic Norton Commando Motorcycles.

Commando Road Tests .

Postby Matt Spencer » Thu May 16, 2013 1:06 am

Did they entusiasm for the machines in the 70s road tests relate to the quality of the lunch the jouralist was provided by the marque . :wink:
The Japanese response to ' styling ' , was to add more .
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Re: Commando Road Tests .

Postby hobot » Thu May 16, 2013 7:09 am

I don't know about back then but Ms Peel has an appetite for some digital interfaced over powered balloon tire bike snacks in various flashy colors and flavors. I'll bring some moonshine to settle their moods afterwards & maybe to calm me too.
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Re: Commando Road Tests .

Postby 79x100 » Thu May 16, 2013 9:40 am

Which road tests do you mean, Matt ? Most in the British press were fairly critical of build quality and machine preparation...but they still liked the things which is pretty much like the private owners. The only aspect that puzzles me is that they were always complimentary about the handling but then of course the Japanese were systematically lowering the bar at the time.
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Re: Commando Road Tests .

Postby chasbmw » Thu May 16, 2013 10:42 am

Ther weren't many comments about the propensity of Commandos to weave........

By all accounts the commando that had some very quick standing QTR times as reviewed by Cycle was a bit of a special.

And none of them went into print about tank slappers.....Bike Magasine in the UK was one of the few magazines that reported about the handling problems of the new water cooled GS that journalists suffered during the South African Launch.
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Re: Commando Road Tests .

Postby acotrel » Thu May 16, 2013 2:44 pm

When the commandos arrived in Australia, you could buy three cylinder Kawasaki two strokes, and Z900s. These got the racing publicity. I always had the opinion that the kids that bought commandos probably did so because the fathers had told them that Nortons are good bikes. I can only ever remember one commando which had much racing success, and it was always ridden by a top A grader. However, that said, a friend of mine was working for a dealer, doing the pre-delivery on H1 Kawasakis, and Commandos. He has said that they were comparable in performance, especially when the guys used to sneak off to the local boulevard which ran alongside the river, and really fang the bikes around heaps of bends. The commando was not a bad ride .
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Re: Commando Road Tests .

Postby Rohan » Thu May 16, 2013 2:56 pm

acotrel wrote:When the commandos arrived in Australia, you could buy three cylinder Kawasaki two strokes, and Z900s.


When the Z900 came out, Commandos had already been on sale for 5 years !
Lets not exaggerate here.

And early Kawasakis in particular had a reputation for not entirely staying in their lane under power or braking, which did not exactly boost sales ...

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Re: Commando Road Tests .

Postby acotrel » Sat May 18, 2013 2:04 pm

Rohan, H1 Kawasakis were fast and didn't handle too badly unless you got silly with one. The H2 was easier to tie up in knots, and could more easily chuck you up the road. This might interest you:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRqk2UL17DY
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Re: Commando Road Tests .

Postby acotrel » Sat May 18, 2013 2:30 pm

When the Z900 came out the MK3 Commando was the current model. Which one would you buy ? I found the Z900 to feel like a 350cc British bike to ride. After riding Triumphs for years , they were bliss. I love commandos, but I don't kid myself. If I really wanted to beat a good guy who was riding my Seeley 850, I could do it easily with an H1, and a Z900 would make it look stupid on a big circuit. The reason I love my Seeley 850 is purely about the technology. I don't like racing two strokes, and four cylinder bikes have no soul. As a thunderbike the commando is pretty much without equal. I believe a good one would beat most aircooled Ducatis and Guzzis, and it would certainly crap on any Harley of similar capacity, however a Buell could be good. I'm firmly of the opinion that in 1963 we should have banned two strokes from race classes which catered for manx Nortons. If that had happened the world would be a much better place today. That F750 class which was run in the UK in the 70s would have been superb if the two strokes had never been invented, it eventually disappeared up its own fundamental orifice.
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Re: Commando Road Tests .

Postby 1up3down » Sat May 18, 2013 2:48 pm

And none of them went into print about tank slappers.


and for good reason!

they were testing new Commandos

which still had within spec iso clearances

and those road tests did not include intentionally backing off the throttle on high speed sweepers, when the weight shifted forward unloading the rear end, which maximized the capacity of the swing arm to move side to side especially with worn iso clearances, sending the rider into another anus tightening commando weave

I almost died when I first experienced the weave at age 21 when the rear end started twitching and the handlebars swinging while backing off the throttle at 80mph in a bend, had no idea what was happening then

wonder how many riders were actually killed or severely injured due to the Weave.....we will never know

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Re: Commando Road Tests .

Postby Rohan » Sat May 18, 2013 3:04 pm

acotrel wrote:Rohan, H1 Kawasakis were fast and didn't handle too badly unless you got silly with one.


You must have your rose-tinted glasses back on ?
I can still recall the first time I saw a H1, ever.
Owner gave it the berries, and it responded by heading towards the trees
- we thought he was gone ! But recovered, somehow.
But maybe he was just being silly ??
Didn't the press dub it the 'widowmaker' ?

With obvious 20/20 hindsight, the Mk3 was no match for a Z1.
Buyers have always gone for the biggest latest and greatest - and the Z1 was no exception.
If the Mk3 had been 950cc, it probably could have picked up a few more sales ???!!!
The Z1 was unproven at that stage though, so some buyers stuck with what they knew.

As it was, a friend bought a Mk2 Commando in 1976, new, sitting in a showroom for 2 years.
Older model, sales gloss has gone off, becomes hard to shift, even with price discount.
Look at all the older year model bikes still sitting in showrooms in the USA.
On ebay, you can pick up new older bikes that are 2, 3 and even 4 years old, brand new..
Hefty discount, of course - killing the used bike values too.
A sign of tough times, for some anyway. ?

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Re: Commando Road Tests .

Postby Rohan » Sat May 18, 2013 3:09 pm

1up3down wrote:
wonder how many riders were actually killed or severely injured due to the Weave.....we will never know


Most bikes will weave if you back off, hard, in a fast corner. ?
It sits down on the suspension, altering the dynamics.

Can recall coming around a fast sweeping corner, and finding a very slow car ahead.
Backed off and braked hard, mit BMW - and it changed lanes on me !!
Good job there was nothing coming the other way.
And it doesn't even have isolastics to blame....

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Re: Commando Road Tests .

Postby B+Bogus » Sun May 19, 2013 7:05 am

This may be of some interest.... from Classic Bike Guide August '95

I've got another one somewhere which describes the JPN Racers in detail which I'll dig out, but I thought this may shed some light on the 'controversial' standing quarter dialogue - judge for yourselves

If you look on the Andover website there's a photo of Norman with Mich Hemmings and a few other Trade luminaries - Norman has some Dani Pedrosa-like advantages over some folks.

Image

Image

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Re: Commando Road Tests .

Postby acotrel » Sun May 19, 2013 8:41 am

The commando was the next development after the featherbed framed twins. A bigger one would have been a real bastard . Norton would never have been able to sell a commando with a rigidly mounted motor and greater than 70% balance factor, and that is what is needed to make the machine handle and go really well. Worried about the weave - where is your sense of humour? 'Some things are so bad that they are good' - commandos are like that, you need to be adventurous to ride one fast. I suggest people should just be happy living with what the older commandos are . As a compromise bike, they are not too bad. If you are worried about getting chucked up the road, learn to ride before you get on one. You will never become a good rider by riding a bad bike. All that happens is that you learn to stay upright - I am like that myself. These days it is difficult for a shit heap to throw me on the ground and jump on me. In riding fast, the bike must do something for you without waiting to grab you by the throat. However if your bike is like that you must learn to cope with it, or modify it to make it sane. I can still remember the pain.
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Re: Commando Road Tests .

Postby acotrel » Sun May 19, 2013 9:18 am

Rohan,
'I can still recall the first time I saw a H1, ever.
Owner gave it the berries, and it responded by heading towards the trees
- we thought he was gone ! But recovered, somehow.
But maybe he was just being silly ??
Didn't the press dub it the 'widowmaker' ?'

When those bikes arived we were still racing 650 tritons. Peggy Hyde had an H1, and made all of us look stupid. In those days we knew little about two strokes and how to get them going.
I won a race on a Suzuki Cobra by almost sitting on the back of the petrol tank. The H1 was not that bad. The fellas used to get caught out by the power band, and the way the frame would twist under power. If you were racing one you would learn to ride around its problems. If you look back at what was available, even a TR2 was a nasty piece of shit, the first TZ700 was horrifyingly dangerous, the first TR500s had the motor too high. Every one of them would kill an 850 Commando. Some people used to believe back then that Triumph 650s, and Ariel Square fours were fast and dangerous. The H1 was a relatively sane motorcycle, unless you got stupid. Anyone can get on the gas too hard and too soon out of a corner and highside any two stroke. Once you have got your head straight , it does not happen.
About that 'widowmaker' comment - what would the press know about anything motorcycle related? - they were always too busy playing with themselves and promoting ball games. Two strokes are much easier to ride fast than a big British four stroke twin, however if you don't recognise their differences , you can get a bit of a surprise . For example, if you don't feed the throttle on slowly the motor can stall then come on really strong . With a four stroke, it doesn't matter how hard you grab it, it will respond. With a two stroke, you can often not even start it with the throttle even partly open, a four stroke will usually start even on full throttle. Back then we thought all bikes were the same, and some guys still do. One of the things I love about my Seeley 850, is that you can get so heavy handed with it, and it won't try to kill you. However if it was all about winning, I'd be riding a two stroke. It is just that I don't like the required mindset you need with two strokes.
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Re: Commando Road Tests .

Postby hobot » Sun May 19, 2013 9:34 am

H1 Performance The Kawasaki H1 MACH III 500 was produced from 1969 to 1976. The 1976 model was called KH500. There were a whole line of Kawasaki Triple bikes. The S1 250, S2 350, S3 400, H1 500 and H2 750. The S models were later replaced by KH models, but there was no KH model of the H2.
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