73 Norton 850 Commando

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Hello all,
I am new to the British scene! Please forgive me for any stupid questions I might ask! I am going to look at a barn fresh 73 Norton 850 Commando, what should I look for? What are the positives, and what are the negatives? I have restored a couple a Kawasaki’s, but never a Brit bike. What is it worth? From what I hear the motor is free, and the bike is complete, but the chrome is in poor shape. He also said the right engine cover was cracked after dropping it, and was rewelded. Just looking for some advice? He said he would let it go cheap! But what is considered cheap for this year and model???
Thanks Everyone
I would be looking for it to be as complete as possible. Things growing in places they shouldn't be. It's hard to give a value to something one cannot see.
Cheap to me is 500 - 600 bucks. I haven't found anything like that in years. Complete restorable bikes with papers are going some where around 2000 U.S give or take.
Good luck, hope this helps.
Hello Micheal,
The bike looks to be mostly complete. missing small parts like the battery holddown, airbox clamps, fork lock, mirrors, and the middle part of the exhaust. I have the header pipes, and the original muuflers, but they both have a 3/8" rust holes in the bottom. The wiring is there but partially disconnected, coils, headlight tail light are there, but handle bar swithces are missing parts, as is the rear brake light switch. He said it ran fine when it put instorage 20 years ago. All the cables are in place and work. All the chrome is poor except for the front fender, and chainguard.
Here is the web host picture. Let me know what you think!

Thank`s John
I forgot to mention! there is no damage to the engine cases as far as I could see. The seat is complete with two 1" tears in the rear. There are no turn signals on the thing. The tank and side covers are fiberglass. The tank was repaired at some point on the bottom. Petcocks are in place, and carbs are complete. Throttle and choke are not stuck. Gauges are in real nice shape, and complete...I think! The title says it is a 1970 Norton 750, but the metal tag that is riveted to the headstock, all the paint has kinda worn off, so I`m sure of the year. I hope this helps.
It looks like a 1970 750. It's not a 73 or an 850. I'd pass on this one if I were you. Will cost a LOT of time and money to bring it back to life. You'd be much better off buying one in better condition. Fixing this thing up will actually cost more than buying a good one.

my 2 cents,
The guy told me I could have it for $300.00 with a box of extra parts. I have restored several early 70`s Kawasaki`s, so I am not worried about the time factor, or the difficulties involved with a restoration. I`m more worried about parts availabilty, and what the real value is? Is $300.00 too much?
Thank`s John
Well, for $300 you could buy it and part it out on ebay! You'd make a few bucks and learn all about working on Nortons. Then you could buy a good one to restore.

I'd guess a full resto on this bike will end up costing you $6000 or more, if you do all the work yourself. Go online and start pricing parts. $$$$

good luck,
Re: rest value

dynodave said:
I have seen way to many shined up "pretty bikes" that are still mechanical messes. They have still needed lots of work to make them reliable. A really nice bike still be well over $6000 if it is cosmetic and mechanically perfect(with a guarantee that will stand up in court). IMHO, the $4000 bikes are where you can really get screwed....

$45 61 BSA A-10 invested $900parts+time
$100 75 E-start invested $1000parts+time
$225 72 combat invested $3000parts+time
$1500 63 atlas invested $800+time

I can relate to that comment! My ebay special cost me $3600 plus shipping. It was shined up really nice but indeed proved to have many mechanical issues. Nothing major but the little stuff has added up to a lot of time and money. It will be a $6000 bike by the time it's fully sorted.

OTOH when it's done it will be a solid bike and I'll know it inside out. And I guess there is a lot of satisfaction knowing that you built your bike yourself. This bike really feels like it's *mine* now.

DD - how long ago did you buy and restore those $100 bikes??? What would that be in 2004 dollars?

Hello everyone,
Thank`s for all the input! I`m not buying it to do a full reso, nor am I buying it to fix up and sell (at a profit). I would like to turn it into a semi reliable sunday ride. I would like it to be presentable, and I would have no intentions of turning it into perfect 100 point bike. I do not want to own a bike that is too nice too ride. I always wanted an old Norton or Triumph to tinker with and scoot around town once in a while! So with that in mind is it worth $300.00, and maybe putting another $1000.00 into it to make it a nice everyday rider? All of my restorations, I have done 100% of my own work except for chrome plating, and machine work.
Once again your input is Greatly appreciated!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Your barn-fresh Norton is an absolute bargain for $300. And by the way, the halo ring around the headlight suggests that this is no garden variety Commando but a semi rare 'S' model. So, what are you waiting for, snap it up!


You've probably heard enough but I would be all over this one. It's an easy 500-800 where am at.
It's either a 69 or a 70 , probably a 70. A S or a Roadster, doesn't really matter. The fenders are stainless. The aluminum cleans up. The barrels are rusted but they are cast iron, paint em. If you are mechanically inclined, you can probably have it going for a 1,000. Spend 2000 on it and it will be respectable, or you can keep going. These bikes are pretty simple and very rewarding to own and ride.
You'll have lots of support here. Good Luck!!
Hello all,
Thank`s everyone!!!! Here are a couple more pictures! I took your advice! I just bought it! The guy will delivery it to me Free :D on 12/18/04, At that time I will host some detailed pictures, and the VIN Number. Also yes there is a title with the bike. If anyone lives in the Chicago area look me up! It will be a long winter, and I am always playing with one of my seven bikes :?
I even have a heated workshop, so you won`t get cold...Free Beer!
Best Regards, John
Hello Micheal,
Yes! I am into triples...But not British....Japanese! I have four Kawasaki triples two 350`s one 500, and one 750.
John, Congradulations on your 'Barn' find. You may or may not be looking for advice but I'll dispense some anyway.
Don't be in hurry to tear it all down.
Get a parts manuel and service manuel or the C.D.

Do a major service, checking everything, wheels bearings, spokes, valve clearances, etc etc
Drain and refresh all fluids.
Check the petcocks, boil the carbs, be sure to clear the idle jet.
Service the primary, dismantle and clean the clutch, (get the proper tool)
Service the electrics battery etc.
It be may operable at this point and then you can decide what to do.

Are you aware of wet sumping?

The glass tank and side panels are a blessing and a curse. The blessing is they can be color sanded, buffed and made to look like new. The curse is modern day fuels. Be wary of keeping gas in the tank. You may want to seal it or have it done.
Since the yellow is in the gel coat, you have an original color. Many people are trying to duplicate that color on metal tanks.

The 70 came in either Roadster, low pipe, or S model, high pipe. The yellow S was used as the cover bike on the 70 brochure.
The factory did not identify model with the VIN #, so you can restore to either one and be correct. The S was only made in 69 and 70, where the Roadster was introduced in 70 and ran to completion.

I would restore as an 'S'. One of the coolest Norton's ever. IMO.

Good Luck and keep us posted.

I would agree with Micheal B almost 100%.
1. major service.

2. Boil carbs? I use methylene chloride type carb cleaner/paint stripper. killer clean except for zinc oxide.

3. My 70 was a roadster, I like the roadster, they are obviously better. LOL

your budget of $1000...well my friend just bought a new "S" exhaust, brackets, guards ect. .....$800
Oh well, there's ebay....

4 learn BEFORE you spend

5.Welcome to "NORTON HEAVY TWIN"

Back to the kitchen for molsonXXX and.....baking Turkey day cookies 350º@14 min
There's more things to do to a Commando than almost any other bike. When there set up right you will ride them more then any of your other bikes. It's al about roling up to 100mph in third gear and knowing ya could have taken that curve a little faster. norbsa
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