Another newbie

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Jul 18, 2005
I've pretty much made up my mind to purchase a 1971 Commando from a local Triumph dealer but being new to Nortons, but not to bikes, I had a couple of questions I was hoping one of you could answer.

I've been told this bike is totally original and has been recently rebuilt by the dealer to the tune of $15,000 CAN for the previuos owner that now has decided to sell it with 160 miles on the odo.

Anyway, I noticed the bike only has braces running from the front wheel hub to the rear of the fender, none to the front, in all the pictures I see of Commandos from that era they also have front braces. Can I assume the front braces are missing?

Also, it has no chrome trim running around the bottom of the seat which all other Commandos I see have. It also has no gaiters. Can I assume the chrome trim and gaiters are missing or didn't all bikes come equipped with these items?

I'm asking because they are asking top dollar for this bike and I'm not looking forward to spending additional funds to bring it up to original standards, or is this an unreasonable expectation? Otherwise the bike looks like it rolled off the assembly line.

Sorry for the long post. I'm looking forward to any responses. Thanks.
feliz said:
I've been told this bike is totally original and has been recently rebuilt...

I am always amused when I see these claims. Then they go on and tell of the upgrades, ie Mikuni, Boyer, whatever. The short story is they are only original when they leave the factory.

Your observations are keen. It should have twin fender stays and the chrome beading on the seat. These are small but it does make one start to wonder when the claim is 'Original'.

Key items to look for. Matching frame, engine and transmission numbers. Is it really a 71? 71's are unigue with the side stand pivot being inboard of the frame rail. These are prone to breaking, is it still there or has it been upgraded? Alos, 71's had all SILVER motors, they did not have black barrells.

Originals didn't have stainless allen head fasteners. I could go on and on but ultimately you are the one that has to place the value on how original you want it. Many recreations are better than the original factory bikes.
This is a tough one because it is a premium price.

Good luck and let us know.
$ 15,000 sounds like an incredible amount . For that price everything should be brand new. Being a Triumph dealer does not necessarily make him a good Norton mechanic. After 30 odd years the gators certainly could have rotted off . While some like the added protection they add to the forks they also trap water and cause corrosion. As far as i know the chrome strip around the bottom of the seat is just vinyl pinstriping . If it is like my 1975 you can buy it at Canadian Tire for about $5 for 50 feet. I would certainly make sure all the numbers match. If you want to send me a personal mail i may be able to put you in touch with someone out your way . Let me know where you are at. Remember !!!!!! they are a great bike but they do need attention no matter how well it is put together. The one gaurantee that came with the bike.

Thanks for your replys Ron and Mike, I appreciate your input.

Well it turns out I found it on eBay and it's not really a Commando but an "S" made to look like a Commando. I don't know how to post links but it's listed as a 1971 Norton 750 "S" on eBay.

I've been looking for a Commando for some time now and thought maybe this was the bike but for the money they're asking I'm not sure it's for me with what you've told me and and I've seen on eBay.

I have no doubt that $15,000 was spent on the rebuild as I can see a lot of new parts on the bike and all black parts were powder coated, boyer ignition etc.

I'll continue riding my "wanna-be" new Triumph Bonneville for now. By the way the bike can be had for $11,000 CAN from the dealer.
That bike is probably a 1970 model left over and sold in 1971. There were no 1971 "S" models. From the pictures, it is either an "S" or a 1970 Roadster which was identical except for low pipes.

As far as it being "correct", you already pointed out the reproduction seat cover with the incorrect trim. The front fender should be chrome but this one has been replaced with a stainless fender from a 1975 model (hence the single fender strut.) The center stand is from a late model 850 which is curious as they bolt to the engine subframe where the 1970 models bolt to the frame. It's likely the frame is a late model also. The paint job is in the style of the later 850's, not a 750 or "S"

All in all the bike appears clean and may be a good reliable rider, but if you are looking for an original, restored bike, this isn't it. For what it is, it's my opinion that the price is quite high.
Thanks Ron. I bit the bullet and bought it but at a much reduced price. Nobody was bidding on eBay so they were backing off from their original asking price.

The more I learn I realize the bike is a real hybrid with most the parts coming from later models. After speaking with the mechanic that did the entire rebuild for over an hour I decided to go ahead. Virually every part has been replaced and/or upgraded. The bike was rebuilt by the dealer for the previous owner and it was rebuild to his liking not necessarily to original standards. For example he wanted the later model front fender with only the rear stays and so on.

Anyway I'm one of you now. Thanks again for your help, I'm sure I'll have lots more questions.
Congratulations on your purchase! If you like the bike and are satisfied with the price then it's a good buy.

I think you're way ahead of the game getting one that's already been rebuilt. My bike is a 71 with a 72 motor. It was a true ebay special - looked great but was in pretty poor mechanical condition. I've spent way more time working on it than riding it and will be doing a complete engine rebuild this winter.

BTW my bike also has that later model front fender with just the rear stays. I think it looks pretty sharp 8)

Hi Debby. My bike sounds something like yours, it has different transmission, motor, and frame numbers. I don't have the bike yet so I can't check the years on each part but I'm expecting a real mixture.

I'll be getting a vintage helmet, aviator goggles, and a white scarf and be on the road soon.

I've never used a kickstart so any tips anyone can give me would be a big help. I know bout tickling the Amals but after that I'm at a loss. I guess put it in nuetral, a bit of throttle, and then kick but do I straddle the bike or stand aside it? Help!!
For your first attempts put it on the centre stand before kicking it, this reduces the compression of the suspension and so more of you efforts go into kicking the bike instead of the suspension. I actually use little or no throttle, there is a knack to opening the throttle as it catches to keep it going. If you have the chokes fitted they work in a funny way, they will only work on small throttle openings if fully shut, the choke can be fully opened as soon as the engine bogs down which is normally within a few 100 yds.
I do cold starts on the centerstand. I can spin the motor over a little better and don't have as much chance of slipping off and hurting my leg (been there done that). I straddle the bike (stand on the pegs actually) rather than stand alongside. Some of the guys in our club like to stand alongside the bike to kick it. I'm not sure why, looks awkward.

Of course warm starts are a lot easier so I don't bother with the stand.

Positioning the pistons to about TDC before kicking helps too. Lets the engine build up some momentum before the firing cycle, or so I'm told. Works for me, regardless of the reason!

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