'71 Fastback Long Range — new member

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Sep 3, 2007
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Hi, y'all!

My name is Al and I live in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I'm 67 years old and have been a motorcyclist since I was fourteen. I spent many years as a sales rep for motorcycle accessories, riding BMWs to call on my dealer-customers, and have taught for the MSF. I lived in Europe for almost thirteen years and worked for a company which imported American motorcycle accessories and sold them to German dealers. I'm retired.

I bought my Commando in 1974 in Germany from an American G.I. who had bought it new in London. He had "missed a shift on the autobahn" (as he put it) and overrevved the engine, destroying it. The bike was stored in his basement storeroom. I have no idea how long it had been there.

I found another Commando, also owned by a G.I., which was wrecked. The story was that he had taken the bike to a shop in Belgium which specialized in Dunstall tuning. On his way back to base, on a German "Landstrasse," he rounded a curve where a farmer had recently crossed the road with a herd of cows. The bike lost traction in the cow shit and crashed into a tree. The rider, who separated from the bike, was lubricated by the fecal matter as he slid and was uninjured. He didn't smell good, though. :) The engine was unharmed and replaced the shattered one in my Commando. The bike is a rocket!

Planning to sell it in California, I shipped the bike to America in 1977. American Airlines lost it. It finally emerged from the red tape in San Francisco and arrived in Tulsa the day before I had to return to Germany. The bike has been in storage since. The odometer reads 06495.4.

I believe the bike is extremely rare. Apparently, Noton only produced "less than fifty" of them in 1971. Mine was built in November of that year. It's registered as a 1972.

My guess is that Norton used the tooling for the old Atlas tank for the upper part of the fuel tank but designed the bottom of it to fit the Commando frame. The goal was to extend the range for the bike and to get away from the fiberglass tanks that had been giving them legal problems across Europe. Germany had outlawed such tanks when a Norton so equipped t-boned a car at an intersection, becoming an instant napalm bomb. The burning petrol flew into the open window of the car, killing both occupants. The rider flew over the top of the car and survived.

The only difference between the Commando Fastback Long Range and other Commandos of that year is the tank, seat and "fast back fiberglass." Unlike the smaller tank, the front of the seat does not wrap around the sides of the tank, forming knee pads.

The parts missing from the bike are the rubber and metal pieces which hold the battery in place. I also need the circlip which holds the side stand on. I'd be grateful for a lead on how to replace them with the original pieces.

The bike nestles comfortably in my storage building with it's buddy, a 1979 Triumph Bonneville Special (the model with Lester Wheels). I call the two of them "My motorcycle collection." :)

If anybody has any information on the history of the Fastback Long Range, I'd love to hear it!

I'm looking forward to learning a lot on this website. Thanks to the webmaster for maintaining it!

Al
 
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Hello Al, Welcome to the forum. Your bike has quite a history. Is the replacement motor a 20M3S ?

It's always dificult to say how many of any one particular Commando model Nortons made. I think it was quite in demand prior to the appearance of the Interstate tank.

The tanks are not uncommon at UK "jumbles" but they may be Interpol tanks (not all of which had radio pommels or cutouts). I believe that the tank first appeared as an Interpol. Certainly the British Police were very "anti" glass tanks even before they were made illegal.

The LR gained a mention in the 1971 brochure but no picture and is not mentioned in the 1972 brochure, although photo evidence suggests that they were made for 1972 with 200000 series motors. According to the brochures, the tank carried on for the Police bikes until the end of 1974 (only the Mk111 850 Interpol seeming to have the Interstate tank).

I have a Fastback LR setup as well and I think it's safe to say that it is basically a Slimline tank with a Commando lower but still made in the "old fashioned" way with shaped and welded sections rather than one pressing like Roadsters and Interstates. The LR tank does however have its filler on the left and most Slimlines, at least the later ones seem to have had a right-hand filler.

Fair Spares (now Norvil) supplied a very good replica seat for mine. They would be worth asking about parts as they have made new replica LRs (I don't know about in the '71 frame though).

Does yours have the single sided coil bracket with the condensers on the clamp ?
 
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I have an Interpol tank ready to fit, it is the LR tank with a tray on top for the radio, I plan to use the tray for a small custom made tank bag plus occaisional Video work. Saw a proper LR as I waiting to catch the ferry off the IOM last week, exactly the same tank but without the tray, 4 UK galls was the capaicity and it was setup as a proddie racer with fairing, twin discs up front, seat was fastback without ears which all ties in with what you have found.
 
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79X100 wrote:

Is the replacement motor a 20M3S ?

I have no idea, 79X100. How might I figure that out?

...and added:

...still made in the "old fashioned" way with shaped and welded sections...

Mine is made this way.

The LR tank does however have its filler on the left...

...as does mine.

Does yours have the single sided coil bracket with the condensers on the clamp ?

It's hard to see in the dark storeroom with all sorts of stuff surrounding the bike, but I can say that the coils are mounted under the front of the tank, just behind a reflector, one on either side of the frame. I remember taking them off maybe twenty years ago to polish them up for a bike show, but I'm not sure what to look for to answer your question.

Al
 
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Tulsaalva said:
79X100 wrote:

Is the replacement motor a 20M3S ?

I have no idea, 79X100. How might I figure that out?


Al

Sorry for slipping into Commando "jargon" !

Early Commandos had a 20M3 prefix to the engine number. This changed to 20M3S when the points moved to the camshaft and remained until the redisigned (1972 ish) 200000 series engines. The most obvious recognition point is that the timed camshaft breather was deleted so no breather pipe running back along the drive side casing.

By the way, I see that at least one LR tank made its way to Greece. I rather hope that yours doesn't look like this one (nice as the forks and wheels are !)

Have a look at eBay - 130150128612 !
 
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79X100 suggested:

Have a look at eBay - 130150128612 !

The fellow seems to be proud of his bike, no? $10,000???

My tank is red, and it is shaped like that one. Nothing else on the bike looks like mine, though.

Except for the engine change, mine looks like it did when it came from the factory. One notable difference is that mine has drum brakes. I remember reading an article years ago that lauded these brakes but said they were replaced with discs soon after, more for cosmetics than stopping power. I'd appreciate further information on this subject.

Al
 
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79X100 wrote:

Is the replacement motor a 20M3S ?

The number stamped on the engine is 20M3S 148314. Does that tell us anything?

Al
 

L.A.B.

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Tulsaalva said:
The number stamped on the engine is 20M3S 148314. Does that tell us anything?


Tells us that the engine was made around the Aug./Sept. 1971 period.
 
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Thanks, L.A.B.!

Since the engine had to be changed, it's good, I think, that I happened to get one of the same year. Thanks for your help!

Al
 

Ron L

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Al,

The battery crossbar and rubber straps are available from most Norton parts dealers such as Old Britts. Fred and Ella also have the circlip you need to for your '71 style side stand (P/N 019512).

Since you don't ride the bike much, I can understand keeping the original stand. However, these stands are notorious for A) breaking the pin and B) losing the circlip, often while riding, which can lead to disastrous results as the stand whips about on the spring. Most '71 frames I have seen have a broken pin. Old Britts and Andover sell a kit to weld on to the frame to convert it to the later '72-'75 style stand that I recommend to anyone who rides a '71 and wants to keep a side stand.
 
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Thanks for the tip on the side stand, Ron. I'll likely keep the bike as original as possible and am highly unlikely to ride it. The main reason is that I'm 5'3" tall with a 27" inseam. I can't even touch tippy-toed when sitting on the bike. When stopping at a stop sign, I have to keep my right foot on the peg and slide way over to the left to get a foot down. It's not much fun.

I like riding the Bonneville better although the Norton is a much nicer handling bike with a lot more power. My feet touch the pavement easily on the Triumph.

Al
 
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