Commando compared to BMWr75 etc (2015)

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Back in the day my brand new 1972 model 750cc combat Interstate cost me £550.

A 750 BMW would have cost around £1200............

Both had Lousy brakes, both could be scarily unstable at speed, the BMW had proper Halogen lights and a half decent charging system with reliable electrics.

I went RTW on BMWs in the late 70s, almost standard road bikes, suffered one wheel bearing, one gearbox endplate arm and one gearbox pawl spring. The Norton did its main bearings and dropped a valve on me in Israel.

Funnily enough today my BMW 90/6 is the bike I did 6000 miles round eastern Europe last summer, off to Greece and in a months time. Still working on the Norton!
 
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[/quote]

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.[/quote]

Beemers, Danno, Beemers.
 
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Bimmers, Beemers, Bombers, whatever. Good machines but way overpriced for what you get. The S1000RR seems to be the exception to that rule.

Years ago, I adapted an R90S quarter fairing to my Fastback. I stopped at a BMW dealer to get the plastic push pins that attach the windscreen to the fairing body and they were 8 bucks apiece. Considering that this was around 1979, that's pretty steep. For the most part, they are out of my league financially speaking.
 
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chasbmw said:
Back in the day my brand new 1972 model 750cc combat Interstate cost me £550.

A 750 BMW would have cost around £1200............

Both had Lousy brakes, both could be scarily unstable at speed, the BMW had proper Halogen lights and a half decent charging system with reliable electrics.

I went RTW on BMWs in the late 70s, almost standard road bikes, suffered one wheel bearing, one gearbox endplate arm and one gearbox pawl spring. The Norton did its main bearings and dropped a valve on me in Israel.

Funnily enough today my BMW 90/6 is the bike I did 6000 miles round eastern Europe last summer, off to Greece and in a months time. Still working on the Norton!
Treading on thin ice Chas....its not the Airhead Forum :wink:
 
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Danno said:
Bimmers, Beemers, Bombers, whatever. Good machines but way overpriced for what you get. The S1000RR seems to be the exception to that rule.

Years ago, I adapted an R90S quarter fairing to my Fastback. I stopped at a BMW dealer to get the plastic push pins that attach the windscreen to the fairing body and they were 8 bucks apiece. Considering that this was around 1979, that's pretty steep. For the most part, they are out of my league financially speaking.
I find them cheaper to buy and run than Commandos, for example a new BMW starter motor is $350, the one I have ordered for my Commando is somewhat more.
Saying that I just refreshed my 1974 R90s and very little needed replacing as the original parts were pretty good, not bad of 160 000 kms.
Selling my 4 owner, 70 000 km, R90/6 in very good condition and I'll get about $7500 for it, if I advertised the Combat I'd get over 12000.
 

illf8ed

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Commando versus BMW is really more contrast than comparison which is why many Commando owners in the 80's owned both. Rohan, my comment about top speed with the BMW, wouldn't you agree it's more effortless compared to a Norton. I can't imagine a Commando running all day at 100mph. Also can't imagine a BMW carving canyon roads all day as effortlessly or at the speed of a Norton. Leaving modification out since infinite money produces infinite results.
 
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illf8ed said:
Commando versus BMW is really more contrast than comparison which is why many Commando owners in the 80's owned both. Rohan, my comment about top speed with the BMW, wouldn't you agree it's more effortless compared to a Norton. I can't imagine a Commando running all day at 100mph. Also can't imagine a BMW carving canyon roads all day as effortlessly or at the speed of a Norton. Leaving modification out since infinite money produces infinite results.
Agreed :)

Back in the late 80's I took my R75/5 that I'd restored in my Sydney terrace lounge to the UK, coming from a country ( New Zealand) with about 200 kms of motorway it was a revelation to ride miles and miles at 70+ mph.
Even more so so in Germany where you could go as fast as you liked.
I recall going to a winter rally South of Munich and doing the run back to London flat out on the Autobahn.
Its in boxes waiting for me now :oops:
 
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illf8ed said:
Rohan, my comment about top speed with the BMW, wouldn't you agree it's more effortless compared to a Norton.
I'd actually disagree with that statement.
And comment that a full fairing makes a HUGE difference to how 'easy' it is to do top speed.

Comparing naked BMs to Nortons, they both get to be hard work above a certain velocity.
Thats why ace bars and a racing crouch were popular with the ton up boys. ?

BTW, both Nortons and BMs stipulate a max cruising rpms, which is quite below their top speeds.
Nortons its 5800 rpm (850), don't recall the BM but its not much different.
Ignore at your own peril.

Recall an autobahn test of a Commando somewhere though, where they commented the oiling system didn't seem designed for it.
It had oil everywhere. There just isn't anywhere for the oil to breath to ??
Recall something similar said of early LeMans too - and recall that oil everywhere.
Silly little froth tower is good for around town...
 

Scout63

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Reviving this thread since I’m bored. Now that I have a 72 Combat and a 71 R75 I can draw my own comparisons. The Norton is much quicker, better looking ( I think), shifts easier, is worth three times as much, is much better sounding and draws more admirers ( extremely important). That should really be the end of it. But the BMW swallows hundreds of dollars of groceries in its bags, is smoother, doesn’t beg to be flogged mercilessly and is stone reliable. Also she looks great with some dirt on her and the Norton has to be kept shiny. I have to conclude that although both are pushrod 750s they are so different in looks and engine characteristics that neither intrudes on the other’s niche. Best to own one of each.
 
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Well I read the entire thread. And shocked to see I had commented FIVE years ago. Oh dear. And now with four brit bikes in the garage and no R90s I feel like I should have had one brit and one beemer. Prices on airheads are good, I think, because over haul prices are deadly.
I swore no more bikes but you know a nice R100s ....well you know how it goes.
Most of the comments are spot on. Two really difference bikes for two different markets. On the R90s I once did the 500 miles from NY to Roanoke Va in under 9 hours stopping only for fuel. Today the trip advisor says 8:17 ! And I was running for long stretches at 100mph lying on the tank. Doubt even then Id pull that act with the 850.
 

myron1950

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After years of riding BSA’s I bought a new BMW R75/6 in 1976. Still own it. Every spring I drain the tank and refill with fresh premium, pop the float bowls off the Bings clean and refresh gaskets. Change oil and filter. Check points and plugs. Unplug trickle charger. Insert key in ignition, rotate choke lever. It usually starts in one or two rotations. Ready to ride anywhere reliably. Great bike.

Yes – I have replaced batteries many times. Refitted with various generations of Conti tires. Rebuilt that master cylinder located in a stupid spot. Replaced springs and dampers with stiffer items. I run thicker base gaskets since it was designed for higher octane premium and on a whim installed the 1000cc kit several years ago (didn’t really need it but – what the hell).

Yes, it bucks like a bronco when you get on the throttle due to those offset cylinders in the x-axis. In my youth I scraped the rocker covers when leaning over aggressively – still on as a badge of courage or foolishness. Great bike.

Bought a “garage find” 828cc Roadster a few years ago. Best British bike I have ever owned. Handles beautifully. Looks are perfect blend of tradition and modern sporty. Decided to restore and I now remember why the British motorcycle industry collapsed in the 1970s. Some elements of design are brilliant, others are terrible. Any mechanical device that requires a large number of shims to assemble is not designed correctly.

Of the four bikes I have: 1. When I want to travel someplace two-up comfortably I take the R75/6. 2. When I want to go faster than I am capable of I take my Buell. 3. When I have the need to relive my youth (1960’s) I take the Triumph TR6R. 4. When I want to enjoy riding for the sake of riding I take the Norton.
 

grandpaul

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Personally, I have owned (or still own) the following 750cc bikes, generally contemporaries:

1970-73 Commandos
1978-83 Bonnevilles
1974-75 Tridents
1970-73 Honda 4s
1972 BMW R75/5

The BMW doesn't compare to any of the others as a sportbike.

Only the Honda compares to the BMW as a touring/highway bike, and for reliability.

As far as what they can carry, ANY bike can have as many bags and boxes as a person wants to install.

If fully laden (I never did) I expect the BMW and Honda to still result in the best performance for touring/highway.

As far as outright sportiness, the Commando is equal to the Trident (in my opinion).

I very much liked the T160 & TSS for their e-starters.

As far as outright looks, I was early ingrained to most appreciate the Bonneville. I've owned more than 40 of them over the years and still have three of them, plus a Bonnie-engined Triton which I did not include in the above comparo, as it doesn't compare contemporarily or in performance (big bore kit with lots of M.A.P. performance stuff).
 

illf8ed

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I'd suggest that was a wild claim ?
BMs have long travel touring suspension, and unless they are tightened up and extra heavy damping, they wallow when you push them hard.
I had a 100/7 (1000cc) for a few years...
Commando felt positively racy by comparison. (Roadster).

BM seats back then were way better than anything else - you could ride all day and still WALK away.
BM brakes were nothing to write home about either. Until the dual brembo disks up front versions anyway.
I agree with this. In 1985 I bought a new left over Pacific Blue BMW R100RS to compliment my ‘73 750 Commando, also had a ‘78 860GTS Ducati at that time. The beemer wallows in the corners, but can cruise all day at 100mph out in Nevada going to the Grand Canyon. Nick on his ‘73 850 did a standing start against me on the 860 Duc. Pretty much even up to 70mph.
D1BF0489-6C9E-497C-96BD-246EA51D13C3.jpeg
 
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I have ridden factory Combats with hotted up vintage BMW that knew how to ride it and then almost as quick as a wrung out Combat up to 90s then neck and neck after and BMW may handle better but for long mileage give me a smoothy IS tank Combat to be the first vintage cycle to arrive with pilot not wanting the ride to end. The show room 1200 BMWs will spank even rigid race Commandos in every way but cool looking. Vintage 750 Ducatis would be hard for Combat to keep up with.
Wow Great to see Steve back! I just fired up my Drouin Norton today and what a rush! went for a short ride through my neighborhood.
I have forgot how nice it is to ride. Out on the high way tomorrow!
Bruce
 
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Wow Great to see Steve back! I just fired up my Drouin Norton today and what a rush! went for a short ride through my neighborhood.
I have forgot how nice it is to ride. Out on the high way tomorrow!
Bruce
Sadly he ain't back. Most of this thread is from 2015.
 
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Interesting old thread, I've owned a few old airheads and a few more newer BMW twins, but never been what you'd call a BM guy. I rebuilt a 1976 R75/5 last year that I picked up dirt cheap. Only needed a £300 gearbox rebuild (definitely their weakpoint from an engineering stance, along with that fork top toke), but hardly anything else, and that one had been round the clock! As it was the first time I'd actually had to strip one right down (frame powder coat) I was amazed at the simplicity (in a good way) and the quality of materials - that was a lot of what you got for the huge wodge of money imho. The tank still had the red lead paint inside with zero corrosion, better than a ten year old Ducati I had recently. The loom was perfect, and cleverly thought out so it half the number of connectors as a theoretically similar Guzzi T3, etc etc.
Yes it wallowed a bit unless you were smooth, it weighed more than a similar powered commando so less urge everywhere (and the shaft drive robs more on the way to the back wheel), but you felt like it would go round the world (again). I commuted on a R100RS 100 miles a day, and even without waterproofs only my knees ever got wet, but it wasn't just a glassfibre barn-door, it was aerodynamic. My later R100R with Showa suspension reminded me of a britbike handling-wise.
Yes all these things should be the case when purchase price considered, but still admirable and not easy to achieve.
The UK police reckoned maintenance costs doubled when they moved from Triumphs to Nortons (except possibly for the valves in the radios?), and halved (compared to Triumphs) when they moved to Beemers. They never liked the handling as much though. Which is a long-winded way of explaining why there's a Tonti framed Guzzi in my garage alongside the british stuff, the perfect blend of both worlds with some qualities all of it's own!
 

elefantrider

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I have a R100GS and sometimes visit an independent BMW shop for parts. The owner is always servicing old BMW airheads and has quite the reputation as an old time BMW mechanic/fanatic.
One day, I saw hung up in his office some photos of racing BMWs , and there was an old framed poster of an Commando girl advert.
When I asked if he likes Commandos, he said "that's the best motorcycle ever made", and he has one at home. He said he wished he could have afforded to buy all the parts needed to race one and keep it together. He raced BMWs instead because he said it holds together well with mostly inexpensive stock parts.

I consider these bikes to be direct opposites in almost every way, which is probably why I also like to own both!
 
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I'm no racer but for my type of riding , if I had to keep just one it would be the R90s. Least favorite was the Sportster.

I have to edit this post. This picture was from 2014, I have since sold the Sportster and the R90s. Deep down I guess the Commando was and still is my favorite.

Art
 
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