Need advice - thinking of buying a Commando

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Hi -

I have been researching Commandos for the past few weeks as I am thinking of buying a 1975 Mk 3. It is in original, running condition - never restored. Complete with decent paint but 40,000+ miles and in need of a lot of clean up and TLC.

Would appreciate any advice the experienced people here can provide. I have a modern BMW for an everyday ride so this would be a fun/hobby motorbike for me. I am assuming i would have to upgrade all the electricals and maybe the carbs to make it somewhat reliable and then would be dealing with various leaks and various british motorcycle weirdness off and on. I am trying to decide if i want to invest the time and potential frustrations of ownership. I have decent mechanical ability, a garage and decent tools. I could do about anything myself short of an engine/transmission rebuild.

So - feedback on the following would be greatly appreciated:

1. What's a fair price range for a 75 Commando in this condition?
2. Do my expectations seem realistic?
3. Any other issues I would need to be prepared to deal with?

Again, any and all advice much appreciated.
 

L.A.B.

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Welcome Sox Fan.


Sox Fan said:
1. What's a fair price range for a 75 Commando in this condition?



Can you say where (in the world) you live? (or better still, add your location to your profile?)


Sox Fan said:
2. Do my expectations seem realistic?

Yes, I think so.



Sox Fan said:
3. Any other issues I would need to be prepared to deal with?



I suggest you keep reading through the pages of this forum, and use the advanced search to find more information on a specific subject? As that will probably give you a better idea than anything.
 

grandpaul

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Way too wild a potential price range, but if those are original miles and the bike has had decent regular maintenance, I'm going to narrow it down and guess that the seller is probably asking anywhere from $2,500 to $5,000 for it.

I don't know why you'd need to upgrade the electricals; a thorough cleaning and check of connections is all you'd need for regular operation. Carbs, if they've been sitting, need a disassembly and 30 minute soak in Berryman's Chem-Dip. Gas would need to be flushed out as well. Full fluids change with replenishing by the book. Probably needs new tires & possibly a battery (all this is pure guesswork).

"A picture says a thousand words"; if you can post a photo or two of the bike, we can give you a better GUESS as to the value.

Fill in your profile info and spend the holidays looking through the archives. Search "Mark III" and you'll get tons of info.

Welcome!
 
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Keep in mind you are buying a 35 year old motorcycle. Many things may need replacing. Tires, chains, sprockets, battery, clutch and brakes, to name a few. If you were to buy the bike for $5000, you might (read probably) rather quickly invest another $5000 for the upgrades many Norton owners go for.
 
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grandpaul said:
Way too wild a potential price range, but if those are original miles and the bike has had decent regular maintenance, I'm going to narrow it down and guess that the seller is probably asking anywhere from $2,500 to $5,000 for it.

I don't know why you'd need to upgrade the electricals; a thorough cleaning and check of connections is all you'd need for regular operation. Carbs, if they've been sitting, need a disassembly and 30 minute soak in Berryman's Chem-Dip. Gas would need to be flushed out as well. Full fluids change with replenishing by the book. Probably needs new tires & possibly a battery (all this is pure guesswork).

"A picture says a thousand words"; if you can post a photo or two of the bike, we can give you a better GUESS as to the value.

Fill in your profile info and spend the holidays looking through the archives. Search "Mark III" and you'll get tons of info.

Welcome!

I live in Michigan - looking to trade another bike I own for the Commando. Realistic value of the bike i am looking to trade is $3000 - $3300. So, your $2500-$5000 range sounds about right. Only pics I have are on my computer and not a public website so i can't post. Thx!
 
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Sox Fan said:
grandpaul said:
Way too wild a potential price range, but if those are original miles and the bike has had decent regular maintenance, I'm going to narrow it down and guess that the seller is probably asking anywhere from $2,500 to $5,000 for it.

I don't know why you'd need to upgrade the electricals; a thorough cleaning and check of connections is all you'd need for regular operation. Carbs, if they've been sitting, need a disassembly and 30 minute soak in Berryman's Chem-Dip. Gas would need to be flushed out as well. Full fluids change with replenishing by the book. Probably needs new tires & possibly a battery (all this is pure guesswork).

"A picture says a thousand words"; if you can post a photo or two of the bike, we can give you a better GUESS as to the value.

Fill in your profile info and spend the holidays looking through the archives. Search "Mark III" and you'll get tons of info.

Welcome!

I live in Michigan - looking to trade another bike I own for the Commando. Realistic value of the bike i am looking to trade is $3000 - $3300. So, your $2500-$5000 range sounds about right. Only pics I have are on my computer and not a public website so i can't post. Thx!

technical-information-section-how-post-photos-t2357.html

If you can trade a bike that's not another Norton for a Norton... DO IT. :mrgreen:
 

maylar

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The MKIII has become one of the more desireable Commandos because of the electric start, rear disc brake and a few other enhancements in evolution. They rarely sell for less than 4K if complete and not butchered / ugly.

Your skill set sounds appropriate. The parts availability and aftermarket support for these old bikes is excellent right now, and forums like this one will help guide you down whatever path you choose.

Folks around here are obviously biased, but a nice running Commando is a joy to ride and own.
 
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If you buy that bike, I predict:

- You will find many, many things that need to be fixed/replaced, no question about it. Tires, battery, cables, fluids, probably a bunch of seals and gaskets, layshaft bearing, etc.

- You will find many, many things that you could probably live with, but want to improve and bring up to a better standard of performance. Brakes, wiring harness, H4 headlight on relay, electronic ignition, clutch pushrod seal, chain and sprockets, carbs, etc.

- You will find that the dollars you put into the bike AFTER you buy it at least equal its initial purchase price. Soon. And then they exceed it.

- You will need to purchase a slew of special tools to work on your bike - whitworth sockets and wrenches, clutch removal tool, primary chain sprocket puller, points seal tool, exhaust nut tool, etc. (If you DON'T work on your own bike, you will find you bought the wrong bike.)

- You will spend a lot of time on this board and other Norton resources (of which, thankfully, there are plenty) seeking answers to a lot of questions about how to fix your bike.

- You will find yourself very frustrated by the bike and its quirks, on a regular basis.

- You will find that at some level you really enjoy all of the above. You will not admit this to anyone else.

- You will find that you love your Commando far more than you would ever have believed, and you wouldn't be without it for the world.

- You will thank your lucky stars you decided to buy your Commando. Then, another problem will arise... but you will deal with it and it won't change your mind about the bike.
 
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BrianK said:
If you buy that bike, I predict:

- You will need to purchase a slew of special tools to work on your bike - whitworth sockets and wrenches, clutch removal tool, primary chain sprocket puller, points seal tool, exhaust nut tool, etc. (If you DON'T work on your own bike, you will find you bought the wrong bike.)

If you are handy, you can make some of the tools

In this thread there is a picture of my front sprocket removal tool which I made for peanuts commando-resto-t3691.html?hilit= puller
In this other thread, there is a picture of the clutch spring compressor I also made for pennies need-new-clutch-plates-t3555.html?hilit= clutch others have been even cheaper than me and used an octagonal electrical box to do the same.
The exhaust nut wrench can be found on e-bay for less than $20 http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Norton-C ... ccessories
The withworth tools can be found on e-bay sometimes or all the time from Commando Specialties (great place) http://www.commandospecialties.com/Prod ... ?MSecID=77

Jean

And welcome to this addictive forum
 
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BrianK said:
If you buy that bike, I predict:

- You will find many, many things that need to be fixed/replaced, no question about it. Tires, battery, cables, fluids, probably a bunch of seals and gaskets, layshaft bearing, etc.

- You will find many, many things that you could probably live with, but want to improve and bring up to a better standard of performance. Brakes, wiring harness, H4 headlight on relay, electronic ignition, clutch pushrod seal, chain and sprockets, carbs, etc.

- You will find that the dollars you put into the bike AFTER you buy it at least equal its initial purchase price. Soon. And then they exceed it.

- You will need to purchase a slew of special tools to work on your bike - whitworth sockets and wrenches, clutch removal tool, primary chain sprocket puller, points seal tool, exhaust nut tool, etc. (If you DON'T work on your own bike, you will find you bought the wrong bike.)

- You will spend a lot of time on this board and other Norton resources (of which, thankfully, there are plenty) seeking answers to a lot of questions about how to fix your bike.

- You will find yourself very frustrated by the bike and its quirks, on a regular basis.

- You will find that at some level you really enjoy all of the above. You will not admit this to anyone else.

- You will find that you love your Commando far more than you would ever have believed, and you wouldn't be without it for the world.

- You will thank your lucky stars you decided to buy your Commando. Then, another problem will arise... but you will deal with it and it won't change your mind about the bike.


I think your predictions are spot on - I am expecting lots of wrenching, lots of learning and spending and additional 1-2 times the purchase price in upgrades and maintenance. I am a bit OCD and won't be able to look at rusty/worn parts and components that don't work quite right for very long. I am ok with sinking another $5k or so in it but i am hoping i can do that over maybe a 2-3 year period (at the least the major stuff, i know it will never stop needing time and $) while i ride it on weekends and learn the bike inside and out. I am guessing with 40,000 miles, I would definitely be in for an engine rebuild within a year or two?
 

maylar

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A well maintained Norton can go well beyond 40K miles without major engine work. Typical wear at that mileage on cylinders and valve guides gives some oil burning either under acceleration or at idle, but if you can tolerate that you can ride it. Bottom ends are pretty robust if the bike hasn't been abused.

I think a Commando is in your future.

Post pics!
 
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I have owned lots of Commandos and my present ride is a 75 MK111. Like any motorbike, the better you can buy is actually much more cost effective than a fixer upper. The value is very dependent on overall condition and with 40,000 miles on the clock I would think the engine has been reconditioned more than once. Original parts are readily available accept for decent side covers and petrol tank. The don't make them anymore so they are certainly an appreciating marque.
 
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I'm beginning to believe that some of you guys are "fixaholics". When at N-V, my company "ride to work" was an early 650SS, it ran like a Swiss watch, only ever gave me problems twice (one was a blown head gasket) and it had over 100,000 miles on it. According to the guys at the Plumstead works, it had never been overhauled.

Unfortunately, the second problem - inflicted by me - turned out to be a fatal one. The oil feed fitting on the bottom of the crankcase developed a massive leak and the engine seized on the motorway. I got it picked up by one of our mechanics. It was determined not to be worth rebuilding and I think it was scrapped after the Marston Road factory closed down
 
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