5,000 klms, 16 day trip on a 1973 850 Commando

Not open for further replies.
Dec 24, 2003
Having just completed a 5,000 klm trip on my recently acquired "new" commando, I thought that I should share it with the forum.

I just know that you fellow norton fans will appreciate the fact that my bike ran trouble free after I completely stripped and rebuilt my norton at the start of September.

It ended up in the back of a trailer once only when the japanese chain I was using "threw" the connecting link. I will mention that it was on day 16 & I was 270 klms from being home :cry:

Greg(aka norbsa..), I know that you would have loved to be with me on the trip. The trip took in the Sydney NOC annual "Norton Day" as well as the Melbourne AFL footy Grand Final which is Big down under.

I will be writing a short story on the trip, if anyone is interested, go here

Keep on snortin :wink:
Congrat's Reg,
Now did you stay on the coast line all the way south or jump on the hyway and burn up the miles? Or better yet find a curvey road way down there?Love to hear more norbsa48503
Good job Reg! I tend to think of Nortons as too fragile and unreliable for trips like this but it sounds like they can get the job done if set up properly! Good to know it is possible.

Looking forward to reading the trip report. Did you have any mechanicals along the way?

Hi Greg & Debby,
Thanks for your comments & interest.
Hopefully one day we will make it to your country for a visit.
Anyone on that contributes to this web site is more than welcome to stay at our place if ever you visit Brisbane, Australia.

I am currently putting together a bit of a story about the trip.
As soon as I finish it, will post it.
The norton ran well & my wife & I will be both do a similar trip soon.
That trip is proof that a well put together norton will go anywhere, even though they are 30 or more years old. I met so many people because of the fact that I was riding a norton so far from home. Even had good people buyiong me beer :D

I have travelled between Brisbane & Melbourne quite a few times on a norton, but this time I took in a hell of a lot more of the country.

Broken Hill is where they filmed "Road Warrior" near the Silverton Hotel. They have a replica "Interceptor" parked outside the pub. My uncle Reg whom I am named after was the caretaker on the movie set compound, believe it or not.

I have plenty of photos of the Norton Day also, they will be posted onm my web site asap.

I do hope that we can meet up in the states one day soon.
I am also looking forward to the story.....I will most likely never visit down there...but from the pictures you posted, looks quite different than I had imagined....keep us posted!
Ok hewy, I hope you like the read also, I will do the trip story in stages.

Bike Preparation

We all love to do "EasyRider" type trips and recently I just had the opportunity to do a good one. The Sydney NOC annual Norton Day which is an event not to be missed was on the 18th Sept. Pete Combat who is currently secretary of the Sydney NOC had offered me a bed for a couple of nights, so how could I not be there. I have relatives in Canberra who have been wanting me to come down for a visit for some years now, so here was another opportunity also. The AFL Football Grand Final was on in Melbourne on the following Saturday 24th Sept. Having grown up in Melbourne, I had many places to stay if I went down for the Footy grand Final. AFL football is a religion in Melbourne. The West Coast Eagles from Perth were to play the Sydney Swans in the grand final, the Sydney Swans won it :) After a Melbourne visit, I could also catch up with friends & relatives in Broken hill, so returning via Broken Hill was a must do. To top it all off, the timing for these events fitted with my current work schedule perfectly :)

My "new" norton needed a frame repaint as well as preparation for the 5000 kilometre trip, so I stripped my bike one afternoon in record time of 6 hours down to the basic components. The frame parts were dropped off at the powdercoaters to be picked up within a week. Time now to check the mechanicals. I had stripped & rebuilt my gearbox as soon as I got the bike beacause it was jumping out of first gear(cam plate teeth broken). I had also purchased a brand new Mark3 kickstarter which solves the problem of gouging out your right hand muffler. The head was in good condition except for the right hand exhaust thread being a bit suspect, I did not have the time to send it away, so made sure it was wired up securely when the engine went back together. A lot of norton commandos have a hole drilled on the top of the head where it is seen & looks a bit ugly. If you take the exhaust pipe off(a 5 minute job), you can drill the hole underneath & in the middle of the head. Then you can wire the exhaust nut up & barely notice it has been done. Some other owners will say that it is not necessary to wire them up but I had a long trip ahead of me, so I made sure it was wired for safekeeping. I also split the cases & discovered that the conrod bigend bearings needed replacing but the main bearings were in good order.

While the engine was apart I also polished all of the alloy on my buffer. I have a sandblaster at home, so the cases, barrells & head got the treatment. Things were starting to look good now. I ordered a few new nuts & bolts that needed replacing, you know the ones that could not be replaced once the engine was back in the frame again. A week went by very quickly & I picked up the frame components from the powdercoaters. Another 3 days & I had the bike back together & running once more. This only gave me one week to sort my norton out but it turned out it was enough. I had very carefully put it all back together from a total strip down 2 weeks or so previous to the trip. I used nylocs mostly & used loctite wherever I knew there may be problems.
Under the clutch hub nut I placed a new spring washer instead of the factory "lock tab". The rotor nut got similar treatment. I used "mid-strength" loctite on all of the carby components.

On the 5000 klm trip these are the problems I had, the top left hand gearbox mount nut came off, my centre stand spring broke/fractured (from age I guess), the right hand exhaust thread on the exhaust nut "wore" away so I had to pull it into the head with wire to get home, my connecting link(japanese) came adrift 270 klms from home(I should have put a new chain on before I left), I ran out petrol twice as I took my "prettier painted" roadster tank.

I double checked to make sure I had all of the tools & spares for any problem I may have on the road.In the end the only part I meant to take & forgot was a chain connecting link. My bike ended up in a trailer for approximately 60 kilometres of the trip beacause I didn't carry a $3 connecting link.

I have just received a cd full of "Norton Day" photos, so will post them on my web site asap. They will be under the "event" section.
Congrats on a safe journey. Looking forward to your next post.
Wow Reg, you did all that work in two weeks?! I should buy you an airline ticket so you could come out to Colorado and put mine together for me! I tore it down several months ago and it's still in pieces. It's likely to stay that way for quite some time :?

71/72 basketcase
Thanks Michael.

Debby, if you are fair dinkum & are happy to supply somewhere to stay & pay the airfare, I would gladly come visit & put your norton back together for you :D
nortonfan said:
Ok hewy, I hope you like the read also, I will do the trip story in stages.

Feel free! After all....whats good for the goose...is good for the gander! I'm up to it.....just about half-way through "War and Peace",...and if that won't give you a bit of practice...nothing will :lol:

PS......got a bit of time to see Germany too? That work would have taken me a couple of months :wink:
Day 1
Departure day for the Trip had finally arrived & the weather could not be better. The day turned out to be a typical sunny queensland day around 23c. Riding the first 110 klms down to Tweed Heads on the Gold Coast, I couldn't help but start singing the old Steppenwolf song from the Easyrider movie, "Born to be Wild". The bike was singing a sweet tune out the exhaust also & life was feeling pretty good. Wouldn't it be nice to have an endless supply of cash so you could just keep riding wherever you felt like going ?

My first major destination was to the Australian National Motorcycle Museum located in Nabiac which is about 750 kilometres from Brisbane/Home.

I headed off down the M1 freeway all the way to Tweed Heads on the Gold Coast where I filled up with petrol again. I then headed down to Bob Beales' home in Ocean Shores. For those who do not know of Bealey, he is a legend here in Australia, as not only is he very much a happy character, he loved to race norton commandos in the late 60s & early 70s for the Australian works team.
I was lucky to find Bob at home & he was busily putting in a huge retaining wall where he is subdividing his block of land to build an extra house. He tried hard to con me into getting my hands dirty on his project but I hadn't brought my steel capped boots. Lucky for me he didn't have a pair to fit me.

After a coffee & chinwag with Bob, I rode on to Ballina for another fuel top up. The country side in northern NSW is some of the best you will see with big sweeping bends to glide around on your bike. The landscape consists of views over the pacific ocean & lots of macadamia nut farms. Sugar Canefields are prolific also. After leaving Ballina you need to watch out for Kangaroos as you are now "In the sticks" & it is all farm country. I just wanted to get some miles behind me now so had another quick fill up at Grafton. From Grafton, the scenery changes to inland banana plantations & then you come across "The Big Banana at Coffs Harbour. Personally I love bananas & stopped at the tourist icon "The Big banana" & tried one of their famous banana smoothies. If you are not in the mood for a beer, banana smoothies go down pretty well. Coffs Harbour has a large fishing port also, so I went & had a look at the harbour & brought some Fish n Prawns as a late lunch. I needed to keep moving & rolled my norton off the centre stand only to realise that the dam centre stand spring had "popped" off, much to the amusement of some children. "Hey, do you know something fell off your bike ?" some kid said. I did know about it as when I went to "flick" the stand up the last bit where they sometimes "hang" it was on the ground still. It took me 30 minutes to fix the spring by the time I unpacked my tools etc.

Cruising from there down Kempsey, I tried to make up for a bit of lost time. The Norton engine was running perfectly & I was feeling very pleased with myself by now as I had now done quite a few miles since leaving home in Brisbane. I turned off the highway just before dark as I wanted to have a captain cook at Port Macquarie.

After another filling up the roadster tank once more, I headed off into the darkness towards my firts nights' destination of Nabiac. As I was riding with a full face with a tinted visor, I looked for and soon found a large "Road Train" to follow. My reasoning for that is that he would clear the pathway of anything at all & all I had to do was follow his tailights. He knew how to drive & I was soon safely in Nabiac where the Motorcycle Museum is. I pulled into the Hotel Motel & asked for a room only to be told that there were no rooms available. Nothing else was available in Nabiac either that night so I had to backtrack to a Taree motel where I was very happy to park my bike & jump into a nice hot shower. I locked the norton up & put her blanket on & gave her a quick kiss for doing a good job that day. We had covered about 750 klms so far. In the morning we would get to see the National Motorcycle museum for the second time, I was looking forward to that :D
(to be continued)

PS. If any of you find my story boring, bad luck, there are no drugs, wild women or getting chased by the coppers at this stage of my lfe :)
Your sojourn has my taste buds salivating as I have travelled just about all that country, including SA and western NSW involved in you trip in either bike or four wheels.

Here is me anticipating a bike rally of some 400 km next weekend, (here in far north QLD) ~
Pales in comparison !!!
Not open for further replies.