longer ride

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Aug 6, 2005
Although I have done quite a few IBA rides on newer bikes, I have never taken my commando on a longer ride, longer in this case being defined as a ride over a day long. So with that in mind I think it'll be this fall when I go down to Barber for the vintage shindig. This gives me time to square away the little things about the norton that bother me and plenty of time to plan a nice slow non interstate route. I'd be riding from Illinois into a portion of Kentucky, then through Tennessee and finishing in Alabama. I don't know how the old girl will deal with the mountain areas since I live in the flat lands and riding is less than desirable. So just entertaining it for now and will at least have fun planning it. Any suggestions are welcome.

Should be a great comfortable ride on a Commando.
Many use them for 1000 mile legs and still can't get enough
time in saddle on arrival, then more of it on way back home.

Hope to see ya at Barbers this year, me and Westley planning
to attend and camp on the grounds.

Hobot, I stay at friends that lives right there in Leeds. He volunteers at the track during the festivities so I'm on my own most of the time. I used to have your email, but have lost it over the years. Message me your email and I'll keep you posted.

The Commando is the perfect long distance classic tourer, just remember to take essential spares in case of "unplanned maintenance" also if the trips much over 3000 miles plan a oil and filter change in there as well. Very satisfying to achieve long distances on a Commando. Off to Spain next week for the NOC International rally so better get into the garage and gather together those spares (won't be room for much else tho apart from the tent!) :lol: :lol:
That should be a great trip.

I'm planning on riding my Roadster out to the INOA Rally in BC and am very much looking forward to it. A Commando is a fine touring bike. Mine seems much less fussy when it is ridden regularly and really shines when ridden all day, day after day. It still needs to be attended to, checking the tires, oil, lubing the chain, etc., but happily hums along mile after mile. If you get the weight distributed correctly it still handles pretty good too.

I have done several 650 mile days and have a friend that has done a few 1000 mile days so YES they are VERY capable of doing long distances. BUT it need to be WELL fettled to be trouble free. Chain maintanance and long ride's is one reason I did the 520 X ring chain and the ugly seat

http://i713.photobucket.com/albums/ww13 ... 1276602698
With every long ride I've made I seem to pack less stuff. Instead of carrying a load of spares and tools I'd bring phone numbers of Norton people along your route. They'll have everything you'd need and they would probably come and get you if you get into trouble. That's not even counting the total strangers that come up and tell you about when they had a BritBike or the guy they know that's got one. It's definitely a much more social event than touring on a modern bike. It can get to be a problem if you're trying to make time, but I actually like it. It's like Travels With Charley, the bike being Charley.
It does sound like a great time. I am used to doing iron butt rides on a modern machine and beating myself up with 1500 mile days. I'd like to take a leisurely ride on an old bike once just to see if I am capable of relaxing. I generally travel light and go by the idea of having numbers of contacts along the way. I may ask in a few months when time gets closer. As for spares I figure a clutch cable, bulbs, set of plugs and a bit of oil should do it and a basic tool kit. I'd fit new tires and chain before leaving.
Wesley and I meet a good buddy a few years ago an 850
showed up in our tiny village square near dusk taking a break
pondering how much further he could go on the cords
showing through on rear tire. Rich Stone said it was brand new when
he left home in Nebraska a week prior. But trip to Blue Ridge ride and
zinging around in 2nd with the hot shots, then 1000 miles
back to our area was about all the tire had to give.
Wes put him up and took a tire off one of his bike to
send him home on good meat for the 9 hour last leg home.

Rich does this basic route each year now for like a decade.
He's an innate iron butt rider, [but not to the extent of Steve
Shoen]. Rich bought an Suzuki V-strom - taller hi geared
version of SV650 - thinking that is what he'd take trips on
in future, but he's only made one trip here on it to find
he missed the Commando's longer legs, gas stops and most delicious
to stay on for most a day at a time.

BTW a survey of women opinions of various bikes they'd ridden
pillion on, to a gal all preferred the Commando the most.


On any type of long ride I would be concerned most about possible breakdowns in the areas of the primary and electrics, carrying a clutch spring tool and spare fuses, plugs, various small wire connectors and spare old boyar ignition, along with a spare clutch cable, throttle cable, and chain lube.

Ancient Chinese Proverb; a journey of a thousand miles starts with a credit card and cell phone!
For '04 Ohio rally 1000 miles away, my first ever over night trip on a bike,
I carried complete Norton tool shop plus most of two riders camp site
gear, tent - awning - bedding and 4 place chair table.
http://rides.webshots.com/photo/1172329 ... 1179XjdVKJ
longer ride

The diaphragm compressor was the hard one to store, but
found perfect place - bolted to front of the skid plate.
it was the most borrowed tool at the rally, next to battery charger.
Alas it may have almost killed me as in haste to get out of
camp, forgot to tighten it on. It came off with me standing
on rear set pegs full up right at 90 mph over cement seam
highway, just finger tips on throttle, felt like a pop hole
is all and following friend said it when hi in air after rear
end bounced. Couldn't find it so carried on same way
till rear axle broke the rest of the way a few miles further.

New one is a brass bowl like a breast on Peel's front.

Hobot, judging from the incredible load of gear you strapped on the back, no wonder your rear axle broke!
Yeah but Peel's been more heavily loaded than that with couple
50# grain sacks on seat over the saddle bags and two cases
of beer on luggage rack. It would take a page to detail
All the single events and combo's that finally got axle out of state.

But don't kid your self- that it was my hard excesses on axle,
they are lonh known and regularly reported events in Commandos
being solo ridden with normal traffic.

Of all the items to magnaflux and cyrogentic temper this
is it or renew ever few decades and Do Not Neglect to
check state of rear bearings once a year or so.

rich is one of the longer distance riders that i know very well. I am one of the hot shot riders that everyone chases on our three state ride out of blowing rock. also met Wesley this year as he stayed at my campground and did the ride this year. SUPER nice guy and was a pleasure to be around. some of you guy's need to do this ride next year as it is a wonderful time and people to bee around.
I rode the Saddle sore 1000, or the Bun Burner 1500 every year between 82 and 92, and I rode my MKIII on two of those events, never an issue, only times I removed my tool kit was to repair some body elce's bike. The machine was well preped, I ran it 65 to 80 mph, averaged about 52 mpg. and would use about 1 pt of oil. The last time I rode the Norton on that event a friend rode his Vincent also with no issues.

Ken G.
I think we Nortonisti need something akin to the BMW MOA "anonymous book" - a book of contact info for folks around the world who are willing to help other fellow bikers in need.

Or else, buy a Beemer and sign up... (I did, and damned if I'd hesitate to call a local BMW guy if I were broken down on the Norton.... or to discriminate and I got the call and the guy in need was on some other make....)
BrianK said:
I think we Nortonisti need something akin to the BMW MOA "anonymous book" - a book of contact info for folks around the world who are willing to help other fellow bikers in need.

Or else, buy a Beemer and sign up... (I did, and damned if I'd hesitate to call a local BMW guy if I were broken down on the Norton.... or to discriminate and I got the call and the guy in need was on some other make....)

Since most Norton owners have BMWs you'd probably be safe calling them. :mrgreen:

If you're on a ride and get stuck just log into the forum and see who's close.
SWeet to read Bill and Ken, that our ole obsolete Commandos can do so well
in any task, loaded road sofa to zippy hot dogging.
I ain't been at it long enough to have much long distance tales or trials.

But I know that I got so comfortable on a tank bag, long legs that I did not stop
through a few of Wesley's fuel ups, so road stone and merged
as one with Peel I'd idle around the gas stations, usually in figure
8's till we hit the hywy again.

Another feature that really helped my long legs was a bar
across the RGM fork brace for foot forward lounge chair ease.
A spoof Wes and I did coming upon HD clusters, I'd be
showing them my boot bottoms till right up on em,
then Wes would start a respect full but purposeful
weave through them leaving that Norton Snort in their
ear, then I put feet down and catch up on up even
Snorter, savoring the double takes.

OH yeah, a trade mark of Wes traveling on real motorcycles
is a large umbrella sticking up out back, very handy as any old Brit knows.
One gas stop some trouble to get to off hwy - a stranger
saw the trademark Brit device, and parked to wait our
return, he did a double take as two Ozark hay seeds appeared.
Here's Wes at leisure 1000 miles away Ohio '04.
http://rides.webshots.com/photo/1175691 ... 1179LvTSPl
longer ride

Ugh, we both had nothing but breaks downs that trip, ugh.
Ken great to hear. you are probably one of the riders on the IBA site listed with a norton then? I would like to do an ss1000 on the commando and may, but the last few years I have tried to get away from those body beating rides and am trying to slow down and enjoy the scenery a bit. I got a pair of saddle bags in the mail yesterday and I think they will work out great with minimal mods for a longer ride.
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