Help me I.D. my Commando

Not open for further replies.
Sep 28, 2007
I recently acquired an old Norton from my Uncle. This bike has been sitting stored away for aprox 20 years.
Im still waiting for more paperwork & parts from him, but Id like to start ordering parts etc.
This bike has drum brakes, a fiberglass aprox 2 1/2 gallon fuel tank...that apeared to be originally painted yellow.
Here are the engine numbers 20M3S 147766.
Help me I.D. my Commando

Any info or help would be great. Thanks.
It could *possibly* be one of the rare 'SS' models? Yellow fuel tank, and small headlamp could make it SS type, and the numbers fit into the production sequence that the SS models were made (145234-150723) or the tank and headlamp could also make it a 'Hi-Rider' model. ... etail.html


As it is so easy to swap parts between Commando models there is no guarantee that it is indeed a genuine SS model.

You could contact the UK Norton Owners Club machine dating officer as they may be able to say which model it was originally, as the UK NOC holds the factory production records. There is a fee (£25) for this service however, to non-NOC members: ... etail.html
Peteuk001 said:
it appears to be a 1971 model probably a fastback

Certainly a 1971 model, but the model list information published on the Norvil website would appear to be rather basic and far from complete (Mr. Emery really should know better!) during that particular production period not only were Fastback and Roadster models produced, but also Fastback LR, SS, and Hi-Riders were also manufactured according to engine number information published elsewhere.
So maybe a Fastback, but could just as easily be one of the others, and as this particular bike appears to be located in the US there may be more chance of it being a Roadster model?
As LAB said in his first post, the bike now is not necessarily as it left the factory. It certainly has a later (or updated ) chainguard with the holes for the extension.

The tank and the small headlamp suggest SS or Hi-Rider but the handlebars are from neither.

The positioning of the pillion rest, directly on the Z-plate suggests that at least in its last incarnation, it had high level exhausts as per the SS but I can't see any sign of mounting hardware for them.

A look under the lower fork yoke / tree might give some clue to whether a sprung front mudguard has ever been fitted or there might be signs of a Hi-Rider sissy bar clamping on the rear loop. None of which proves anything but might give some clues.
Hello & Thanks for all your relplies!
My uncle had mentioned that the handle bars, seat & exhaust were not standard. The prev owner before him had removed what he called "high pipes" & installed low straight, drag type pipes on it.
He also says it was "loud as hell" when he got it, & never got the stock exhaust for it.

Any of you folks have any ideas what the stock exhaust, handle bars & seat might have looked like? And where I might find a decent replacement?

I love this old bike, Im hooked on Nortons already.

I joined the tonight also. Wha hoo!!!

Thanks again.
Phaedrus said:
The prev owner before him had removed what he called "high pipes" & installed low straight, drag type pipes on it.
He also says it was "loud as hell" when he got it, & never got the stock exhaust for it.

There were only two versions of Commando with "high pipes" - the 'S' with both pipes on the left side, and the 'SS' with a single pipe each side see the above link in my first reply (but that orange "S type" shown, looks like an SS to me, like the one shown below it!) there were no S models made during that production period, only SS models as far as I know?

Phaedrus said:
Any of you folks have any ideas what the stock exhaust, handle bars & seat might have looked like?

That's just it!
Without knowing what the exact model is, it's not possible to say, only that there are various options = Fastback, Fastback LR, Roadster, SS and Hi-Rider (see that link again).
This was most likely a Hi-Rider. The SS had the high mounted, sprung front fender. Of course, the front end could have been changed for a standard fender at any time.
The S was not built in 1971. The SS used standard Roadster style mufflers with special mounting brackets from the top of the rear shock to the rear Z-plate. The passenger peg mounted to the Z-plate was most likely done when the drag pipes were mounted.

In any event, model variations of Commando's were not distinguished by the serial number. You could find out what this was originally from the NOC, who have the factory records.

I would decide what I wanted it to be, Roadster, Hi Rider, SS, or Fastback, and build it that way. The SS parts will be the most difficult to find. PM me if you decide to go this route, as I have a source for some excellent quality reproduction parts for these. Unfortunately, I don't have a source for the front fender and mounts.....yet.

Congratulations on your acquisition, it looks mostly complete and most of us would be delighted to find a bike in this condition.

As already stated, your Norton Commando would have been available in a number of guises during this production year, why not have a look at the numerous photos of bikes in the photo section of this site and see which one appeals to you the most. There is not a huge discrepancy in prices within the range, although an original SS might conceivably be a bit rarer than most. I consider that yours is most likely a High Rider because of the smaller tank and the head light (on both SS models and High Riders) and the lower front mudguard (a feature of the High rider and not the SS) also the wiring from the handlebar controls seems fairly long indicating higher handlebars at some stage, likewise the front brake cable. If you opt to build the bike as a Roadster, Fastback, or Fastback LR you will have to purchase a new fuel tank and some other parts which might add considerably to the cost of the restoration.

As an aside if your name indicates that you are one of the few motorcyclists who have actually read Robert M Pirsig then you have chosen the ideal machine for pursuing philosophical perigrinations.
Hi Phaedrus-
Odds are, being a U.S. bike, that it is a converted Hi-Rider. A ton of 'em were converted to low bars and standard (or Corbin gentry) seat after the chopper fad wore off. Most people never bothered to change out the headlight though and that's a dead giveaway. SS is not out of the question, but far fewer of them around. Do it the way you want it and enjoy it, as mentioned above look at photos of the various models and pick whatever turns you on. Whatever you do just stick to the principles of..........Quality.

Welcome to the Nortophile community--Enjoy!!

Kansas, America
Thanks for all of your comments. Im a "Zen" fan for sure!
I agree that my Nort. was problably a high rider. It does have the small headlight, tank & C.G. seat.

I would like to keep as much of the original design as possible. While the clean flowing lines of the Hi-rider are tempting, I am going to shoot for something along the lines of an "R-Type".

Any good tips on where to locate parts would be greatly appreciated. I live in South East Michigan & would love to chat with any local Norton folks.

Maybe some of you guys might help me ID another bike while we're at it.
Here is a pic of a Suzuki Seely TR500 that I recently aquired at the same time as the Norton.
I read that Colin Seely was from England & also had ties to Nortons racing team, but dont know much else.
Help me I.D. my Commando

Help me I.D. my Commando
If you private mail me through the board I can help. I am up in Flint we have a strong group up here.
Not open for further replies.