MK3 head steady

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Just bought a MK3 head steady on evil-bay and, a little late I suppose, I am wondering if it will "really" make a big difference on my MK2, as it was advertised some time ago...
Any experiece around?

Just saw a buddy's Dave Taylor head steady and that would make a difference. They sell a model that uses the mark three spring. norbsa
Mk3 Headsteady

So what is improved, handling? That's what the isolastic headsteady is supposed to do, but it mostly increases vibration to the frame.
illf8ed, You would have to see it to understand. It's two hime joints that allow total freedom up and down and no movment side to side sometimes new stuff works. Just wish I hadn't wasted money on earlier head steadies that improve handling and do transmit more vibes.norbsa You can see one on a bike at using the tab on the left of the page, go to bike parts and than to Norton.
You can see a Dave taylor steady installed on a bike at using the tab on the left of the page, go to bike parts and than to Norton. After the head steady scoll down for a real good looking proto type swing arm. norbsa

Nice stuff at clubman racing, thanks. The swing arm could go on my Christmas list.
Hiem Joint Head Steady

What's old is new again!!!

H-D / Buell have been using the heim joint method of transverse play elimination on all of their rubber mounted drivelines for years.

I have been thinking about building one of these for a couple of years now, and then I saw one at our spring rally this past year, I think it came from RGM (exactly the same as the one Clubman sells). The owner was really impressed with it.

Well, I finally got a "round tuit" this past weekend (slow day in the shop and I didn't feel like riding in the rain). I built one out of some 1/2" 6061 aluminum plate, some 303 stainless, and a couple of 3/8" hiem joints. It's a tight squeeze under the gas tank but it all fits. And of course, the whole thing is polished to within an inch of its life.

The first test ride was tonight and what a difference compared to the Norvil steady that it replaced!! No vibration beyond 2700 RPM and the handling in the corners is even tighter!! It even seemed to reduce the 40 mph head shake that most Nortons I've ridden suffer from.

I think that I'm going to have to build about 3-4 more now for the rest of my projects!!


It is my understanding that the MKIII head steady is more robust than previous ones with no noticeable increase in performance.

The confusion might exist with the MkII and MkIII designation. According to the NOC, there were MkI, MkII, MkIII, and MkIV 750 Commandos and MkI, MkII, MkIIA, and MkIII 850 Commandos. All 750 Commandos had a flat plate head steady. The 850 Commandos all had the much stronger "box section" head steady, with the MkIII 850 ('75) utilizing a spring arrangement to reduce the pre-load on the rubbers. I removed the spring on my MkIII when I installed the Rita amplifier and noticed no difference in handling.
Reviving an old thread.

I want to buy a new head steady for my mkIII 850. I have looked at the Dave Taylor model and the one available from Old Brits. They both look nice and sturdy. Any comments on these two? Are there better ones available now? I have read mixed feelings on the Norvil units. Thanks.
I want to make one kid is learning to weld aluminum in his job training, and that sounds like a real nice Christmas present to me...or? How did you do yours up? Picture? Thanks!
Thanks....he has all sorts of machinery at that school. I will research further and maybe it will happen. Always better to have a project that has a purpose and you can see/enjoy the results...better than "Make work".... :wink:
Re: Reviving an old thread.

Coco said:
I want to buy a new head steady for my mkIII 850. I have looked at the Dave Taylor model and the one available from Old Brits. They both look nice and sturdy. Any comments on these two? Are there better ones available now? Thanks.

Anybody? :?:

There is a diy head steady on Captain Norton's list made by Mike Taglierri. About two years ago I saw Mike's design and decided to make my own from aluminum (his was steel).

I bought a block of 2x2x3" square alum. bar from the scrap yard, and a piece of 3/8x4” long alum. angle. $10.

I bought two 1/2" rod-end bearings from WW Grainger (male and female). There are Grainger stores all over and the rod bearings are usually stock. You can buy stainless too. $15

I cleaned up the square bar with an aluminum cutting bastard file, and drilled a 1.5" hole in it. This is the size of the lower top frame tube.

I took the block to a friend's shop and cut it in half on a band saw, leaving two half rounds in opposing sides. A patient person could use a hacksaw.

I drilled one half with 1/2 through holes. The other half I drilled through and tapped 1/2-13. I now had a block that could be clamped cross-ways on the frame tube with 1/2-13 bolts. One bolt needs to be longer to protrude down and attach one of the rod-ends. The clamping block does not use the original head-steady tapped holes in the frame tube, since I thought clamping the tube would be stronger and more rigid.

I cut the angle to fit the head and drilled for the three 5/16-26 heady steady holes on the head. I drilled the vertical part of the angle ½” through and bolted the angle to the head, the clamp to the frame, and the rod-end to each part (clamp and angle.) It fit pretty easily under my steel roadster tank. A person could use 3/8 rod-ends and a smaller clamp for the fiberglass tanks.

This head steady eliminates lateral torsion inherent in the Isolastic design. The head steady allows up/down and forward/back motion, but no side motion at all, by rigidly triangulating the isolastic system.

Over 20 years I was never really happy with the handling of my Commando and over the years I fitted vernier isolastics, welded setscrews and jam nuts to the swing arm/frame tube and replaced rear shocks. None of it made that much difference, because the engine and drive train could still move laterally while under the torsional stress of cornering. The head steady transformed the handling of the machine and made it the best handling old motorcycle I have ever ridden. It doesn’t vibrate more, than before, but somehow it vibrates better! The bike now feels tight and confident and steady at any speed and in any corner. The Taylor design is similar, but whether made or bought, this is the best modification I ever made to my Commando.

I hope this helps!
(I've tried to include photos in the post... if they do not appear they (and others) can be viewed on snapfish. The album is "mono plane commando")

I’ve added a 3-4 link suspension as part of a frame-up cafe conversion of my MkIII Commando. It includes a headsteady plus links at the front & rear iso's. A fourth position was also included at the bottom center of the engine subframe, but it is not connected at this time. I reviewed the 4-link system used by Buell for inspiration. Eric uses 3/8" rod ends with links of about 4" in length so that's what I've used. The rod ends and SS radius arms were purchased from

The setup was being applied to a bare steel frame so I had considerable latitude and I've attempted to design it as if it were an OEM installation with an effort to also make it visually unobtrusive. Getting to a final design required several re-makes, scrapped fabrications and the frame suffered the repeated indignity of having parts welded on, ground off and replaced.

The head steady design attempts to retain a “factory stock” look and retain the MkIII spring setup. It was decided to install a second head steady mounting boss to the frame rather than fabricate a tube clamping fixture.

Construction began with the 2”x 2” x 3/16” aluminum angle that forms the part that mounts to the head. The three holes in the stock head steady where it mounts to the head were traced then located and drilled in the aluminum angle. Measuring the opening in the bottom of my tank, I decided that it could accommodate a link with a 3 ¾” pin-to-pin dimension. The angle was cut, both pin locations were drilled in the angle and the link mounted to establish a horizontal "rest" position for the link and the position for the upper mount attachment. A second mounting boss for the head steady was fabricated from bar stock and welded into the lower frame tube. The upper mount (made from 1/8" steel flat stock) was built off the stationary pin location and after completion of the upper mount; the "extra" pin location was removed from the aluminum angle.

Here's a shot of the headsteady under construction.

And finished


For the front iso mount I fab'd a "cartridge" that nestles within the front iso tube and it is bolted in place using two existing holes (on the MkIII) and two additional mounting holes. The frame mount is welded to the longitudinal and cross tubes.

The rear iso mount required welding a bracket to the subframe at the rear of the iso. I elected to also install a stiffening plate between the iso and swing arm pivot. Note that welding on the pivot tube caused distortion that required having it reamed to size afterward. Might be better to weld only to the side plates. The linkage mounts to the frame at the gusset point below the oil tank. To minimize transmitting vibration to the bottom tank mount (an infamous fracture point) a new bracket was made with grommet fittings at the tank and the frame attachment (top tank mounts use exhaust rubbers).

Considerable time was spent trying to keep the links perpendicular to the plane of motion when at rest so the side-to-side movement would be minimal in use (and all to the right side). From Frankdamp's comments I've assumed a max up/down/fore/aft movement of 1/3" +/- and a more normal movement of 3/16" +/-. That creates a max side-to-side movement of 0.020" and a more typical movement of 0.005". I've set the isos at a total 0.020" gap (about 0.008" more than spec, but probably not much different than most bikes out there) and adjusted the iso gaps on the left side of the bike to 0.003" so there should be no fibre washer contact normally, but should the link fail, the iso washers will work to keep things in line (hopefully).

Finally, I really liked the Buell system except for the name, "uniplanar engine mounting system". How geeky is that? I thought that this was more appropriate


Bike’s still not on the road, so I cannot comment on how well all of this works.

Dave Winship
Austin, TX
I obviously don't have this photo thing figured out. I'd appreciate advice from anyone more knowledgeable.

Dave Winship
MK3 head steady

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MK3 head steady
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