Commando compared to BMWr75 etc (2015)

Joined
Dec 22, 2006
Messages
5,083
Country flag
In reference to the 1150gs, I should have said "a bike built THREE decades later" not two.
Being a Norton fan, the comments I enjoyed most were from riders who owned both a Commando and some sort of BMW, often something a lot newer and on paper at least, more powerful than the Commando.
The majority seem to feel that the Commando was a pretty formidable machine to take on with most BMWs.

Re twisties and a modern BMW vs the old Commando, I tried this last week. A friend and I did a couple of hundred miles on winding back roads. His bike is an 2011 1200rt, 110 HP, but it is a tall bike and a lot heavier than the Commando. He couldn't stay with the Commando in the curves nor could I when we switched bikes. And the Commando is a whole lot smoother than the 1200RT, which is quite a shaker. I know, I'm starting to sound like Hobot. :shock:

He is currently in the market for a good 850 Norton Commando :D

Glen
 
Joined
Dec 23, 2010
Messages
666
Country flag
One thing nobody has mentioned as yet is BMWs, in Britain at least, were always far more expensive than Nortons. In 1977 a R100RS cost £2895 whilst the mighty Z900 was £1500. Looking at them this way, BMs should be much better than they are.
 
Joined
Jan 22, 2008
Messages
944
Country flag
worntorn said:
Re twisties and a modern BMW vs the old Commando, I tried this last week. A friend and I did a couple of hundred miles on winding back roads. His bike is an 2011 1200rt, 110 HP, but it is a tall bike and a lot heavier than the Commando. He couldn't stay with the Commando in the curves nor could I when we switched bikes. And the Commando is a whole lot smoother than the 1200RT, which is quite a shaker. I know, I'm starting to sound like Hobot. :shock:

He is currently in the market for a good 850 Norton Commando :D

Glen
Ha, ha, good for you! There are quite a few smug modern BMW owners over here. Whenever something with a classic plate keeps up with or passes them, they don't know what to say…apart from, "what was THAT?" :)
 

freefly103

VIP MEMBER
Joined
Apr 17, 2013
Messages
246
Country flag
My two current rides happen to be a 1970 750 Commando and a 1977 BMW R100s:





Done a lot of work to both, mechanical and electrical, BMW is easier to work on i.e. more accessible, Norton is more basic/simple from an engineering point of view but is more challenging e.g. removing and replacing the cylinder heads on the Beemer is much more straight forward than the Norton.

If I want to cruise all day, or go to the shop for a couple of steaks, I choose the Beemer. If I want a Sunday cruise with the lads and get a few comments, I take the Norton.

When I open the garage door, I smile at both, but choose to ride the Norton most days.

My wife says the Norton looks like a sculpture/piece of jewellery. The Beemer is all about function.
 

illf8ed

VIP MEMBER
Joined
Dec 30, 2003
Messages
2,826
Country flag
Rohan said:
We probably covered this before, but what have you done to the suspension to allow that.

My 850 commando would blow my 1000cc 100/7 into the weeds, when you pushed them.
The BM had a thin sheet steel top yoke, and there was an aftermarket thicker steel item,
that improved things considerably I had heard. Stops them wandering all over the road. (?).
But that suspension was long travel, and very plush...
In '85 I had a new '83 R100RS and a '73 750 Interstate. The Commando could not come close to the high speed cruising capability of the R100RS. Handling, the BMW could not come close to the Commando. Depends on where you want to ride. Cross country, by friend and I both on R100s took a 9 day run to the Grand Canyon. A Commando could do it, but not as effortless or maintenance free or at the sustained speeds in the middle of Arizona. Sierra mountain passes, the Commando would be my weapon of choice over the BMW.
Above said, I still own a Commando and no BMW. Current XL1200R Sportster is another thing....American bike on my bucket list. Tons of torque, heavy and poor handling....and it's fun.
 

BritTwit

VIP MEMBER
Joined
Aug 25, 2009
Messages
2,369
Country flag
freefly103 said:
My wife says the Norton looks like a sculpture/piece of jewellery....
So true!
A well put out Commando is a piece of eye candy.
 
Joined
Jan 4, 2011
Messages
565
Country flag
Danno said:
72Combat said:
They seem to wallow past Commandos, Bonnies, and Tridents quite well :lol:
On factory stock suspension? I doubt it.

When the BMW factory team showed up for an early Superbike race with one automobile shock on the rear instead of the factory pair, Phil Schiiling, tuner of Cook Neilsen's Ducati was heard to say, "I see we've fallen well behind in our cheating."
Probably a bit annoyed to loose to an " old mans touring bike" :mrgreen:
Udo Gietl sure was a talented engineer, eeking that power out of a pushrod twin.

Did I mention that I have spent nearly a grand on my motor in total :wink:
 
Joined
Oct 19, 2005
Messages
18,978
Country flag
Might also consider in that era BMW built with utilitarian taxi like use in mind while Norton Commando was built as a flashy stop gap desparate experiment to stay afloat long enough to come up with something more modern practical. So in that era each fits a different niche market expectations so both win hands down that way. On the other hand I think there are significantly more actually ridden Commanods from that era with the even higher numbers of vintage BMW mainly appearing at rallys mostly trailered with a few of em. May just be my limited sampling and wishful thinking memory which also makes me think strangers seeing a Commando and BMW will mention to others seeing/hearing a Norton while might even forget to mention just as nice BMW. In my case I always want to feel like Steve McQueen so ask yourselves What would He Be Seen On? Clint Eastwood ...








 
Joined
Jan 4, 2011
Messages
565
Country flag
No doubting which bike Steve and Clint would want to be seen on :D
Here in NZ the Commando I was told in 1972 was about $2000, the sales receipt for my 74 R90s was $5000.
For that money could have put 1/2 deposit on a house in the then uncool inner city worth today a million ( at least).

I had a guy asking me about BMW's and Commandos at the track and he was very keen on a MK3 with leccy start and LH shift....but they are like 15K plus now.
He'd found an R90s in a shed for sale for 5K and was mulling over it......I would have mulled for about 10 seconds.
BMW's don't sell for the prices of a Commando here as they were probably too expensive at the time so most went with Japanese, Triumphs or Commandos. Cashed up BB's are buying the bikes of their yoof.....me included while I can still get my creaky hips to put up with it.
Old bikes are fun :mrgreen:
 
Joined
Aug 26, 2010
Messages
8,216
illf8ed said:
In '85 I had a new '83 R100RS and a '73 750 Interstate. The Commando could not come close to the high speed cruising capability of the R100RS. Handling, the BMW could not come close to the Commando.
You don't think the high speed touring abilities of an RS might be related to the full fairing ?!
Probably should be comparing with an Interpol...
In 1990, I rode an RT into Wales UK in a hurricane, with little more than gettng damp (but warm) ankles...

72Combat said:
Did I mention that I have spent nearly a grand on my motor in total
I was recently quoted $1400 for a rebuild of a notchy BM gearbox, which is otherwise functioning OK.
Without a shed full of special tools, can't even get them apart...
 
Joined
Jan 4, 2011
Messages
565
Country flag
Rohan said:
I was recently quoted $1400 for a rebuild of a notchy BM gearbox, which is otherwise functioning OK.
Without a shed full of special tools, can't even get them apart...
$1400 seems a bit steep, Motorbins supply the bearings as there are 1 or BMW specific ones, couple of seals and a end cover gasket.
Removing the output flange required a tool you can make and a long bar.
Then you need a 'shimming' plate to set up the end float.
Probably not worth tooling up for a one off.
The drive shaft is the worst one, even the driveshaft shop struggled to get my R90s one apart....thats 160 000 kms of being apart for ya :lol:
 
Joined
Feb 7, 2010
Messages
3,906
Country flag
72Combat said:
Danno said:
72Combat said:
They seem to wallow past Commandos, Bonnies, and Tridents quite well :lol:
On factory stock suspension? I doubt it.

When the BMW factory team showed up for an early Superbike race with one automobile shock on the rear instead of the factory pair, Phil Schiiling, tuner of Cook Neilsen's Ducati was heard to say, "I see we've fallen well behind in our cheating."
Probably a bit annoyed to loose to an " old mans touring bike" :mrgreen:
Udo Gietl sure was a talented engineer, eeking that power out of a pushrod twin.

Did I mention that I have spent nearly a grand on my motor in total :wink:
Well racers hate getting beat. But they REALLY hate getting beat by someone bending the rulebook.

If you compare the original Commando to a Bimmer of similar vintage both with no mods, the Norton was a fast, sporty weapon and the BM was a stodgy old touring bike with an Earles fork painted any color you wanted as long as it was black. Commandos got marginally better prior to the end and Bimmers are a lot better than they were back then. I think if you compare a stock '75 R75 to a stock MK III, you'll probably get similar performance. If you spent the extra money the R75 cost on the Mk III, it wouldn't even be close.
 
Joined
Oct 19, 2005
Messages
18,978
Country flag
Alls I know it the universal black patent leather finished vintage BMWs are rather more represented that Commandos at general vintage affairs and more often than not with nice side cars and wicker pick nick baskets.
Most similar cycle with most dissimilar culture, especially as concerns female participation are the good ole Hogs.
 
Joined
May 4, 2013
Messages
200
For an ugly duckling, you have to admit that the R75/5 has most of the engine mechanics well worked out.

A short solid crankshaft.
The steel conrods with generous rod bolts, and their weight didn't add to vibration.
Opposing pistons, so reciprocating inertia forces cancel each other instead of adding up to cause crank flex.
82 mm bore x 70.6 mm stroke allows large valves, 42 mm intake and 38mm exhaust.
I thought the port sizes were too generous, but most others were guilty of that in those days.

On the downside, the camshaft was as far from the head as possible but the short stroke kept pushrod length down.

I think that engine had a lot of potential. BMW obviously could have got a lot more out of it. A change of camshaft and carbs would about do it.
 
Joined
Feb 7, 2010
Messages
3,906
Country flag
They used to supercharge them (that's where the ergly center case came from) so they have always been stout, and there's something to be said for sticking the cylinders of an air-cooled motor out in the breeze. Of course, at today's performance levels (and noise regs) air-cooling is becoming a nostalgia thing.
 
Joined
Oct 19, 2005
Messages
18,978
Country flag
I like to tease BMW riders about their great British boxer engines which has good potential in Corvairs, Porsches and various aircraft plus for side car racers.
 
Joined
Jan 22, 2008
Messages
944
Country flag
X-file said:
I think that engine had a lot of potential. BMW obviously could have got a lot more out of it. A change of camshaft and carbs would about do it.
…and a clutch and gearbox.

…which, to be fair, they did eventually improve in their later flat twins. I thought Honda's solution to the awful car type clutches and gearboxes that plagued in line twins was very clever at the time, and they water cooled the motor, all back in the late 70s.
 
Joined
Oct 19, 2005
Messages
18,978
Country flag
Pretty neat VW install there ole Yellar and would be great side car with trailer camper tourer. Englishmen invented and named these boxer enignes though the Germans did so much with them they can get away with claiming as their own.

 

Top