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Jul 7, 2007
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Hello.....as the name implies I have some asperations towards a Harley Davidson motorcycle... However, in 1973, upon returing from our war, I needed transportation to get to work and could not afford a HD, but could afford a Norton..... so I bought one.... loved the motorcycle ! It just broke alot .... Earlier this year I bought another one...... After building Harley Davidsons and Corvette race cars for 40 yrs.... This is a chalange
 
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Feb 22, 2007
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harryharley said:
Hello.....as the name implies I have some asperations towards a Harley Davidson motorcycle... However, in 1973, upon returing from our war, I needed transportation to get to work and could not afford a HD, but could afford a Norton..... so I bought one.... loved the motorcycle ! It just broke alot .... Earlier this year I bought another one...... After building Harley Davidsons and Corvette race cars for 40 yrs.... This is a chalange


Way to go harryharley, and welcome to this list(!). You've come full circle, it seems. Quite a few of you 60s-70s war survivors came home and bought Nortons. A few of my relatives - mostly uncles - were among them. The folks on this list will listen and help you in the most genuine and incisive manner. You'll appreciate the depth of knowledge and experience. Ask away....

wrench

71 Commando rebuild underway
 
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Jul 7, 2007
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Hello wrench... I do look forward to this forums wisdom....hell, I told a fella the other day that "everyone I know has 1 or 2 Harley's.... Few even know what a Norton is" . What a shame ! The frame geometry has always excited me... cornering ability at high speeds and of course, the torque to horsepower ratio. Now as far as electrics.....that's another story. I have already started studying the Boyer and Sparx systems. The bike is stripped, engine out and 3 weeks of measurements taken... I have decided to make a new swing arm and install a 150 tire with sproket brake drive system.... This should be very interesting... :lol:
 
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Oct 7, 2005
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Good luck with the rebuild, Harry. Remeber the quotes "Joseph Lucas -Prince of Darkness" and "The reason the Brits drink warm beer is that they all have Lucas refrigerators".

After 18 months at Norton (development and test engineer on the Commando and the AJS Stormer moto-cross bike), I would strongly recommend a total re-wiring and replacing as much of the original electrical system with things made by modern manufacturers.

I tried very hard to get Bosch and Wipac electrical equipment on the Commando, but was shot down on the basis that "the marketplace expects Lucas". After owning a couple of Renault cars in the US, I'm sure glad I didn't push for Ducellier or Paris-Rhone.

The only other change I think is essential in today's traffic is front disc brakes. There are quite a few after-market options, on which I wouldn't offer an opinion, but the original (Campagnolo?) twin-leading-shoe front brake was a real disaster. When you really reefed on the brake lever. the last 30 percent of the effort went into distorting the brake back-plate and didn't do anything for braking performance. I did some brittle-laquer tests to see what was going on, as the TLS brakes should have been much better that those on the Atlas, but were actually not as good.

Those original brakes didn't generate enough force into the frame to cause any problems, but I understand that better brakes will actually cause distortion of the two down-tubes. There's a frame mod to put a stiffener between the tubes to prevent the problem.

As long as you get the Isolastics set up properly, you'll be amazed at the handling and the lack of vibration. By comparison the Harleys handle as though they have a great big hinge in the middle of the frame and the vibration is significant. I've ridden several new-ish H-Ds and I'm not impressed, except for the basic "grunt" from an engine that big.

Of course the Atlas had a major problem with vibration. We reckoned a headlamp bulb wouldn't last much past 5000 miles, and it didn't matter whether it was switched on. The vibration would shake the filament off its posts inside the bulb! I rode Atlases and 650SS bikes a lot, and about 150 miles was enough for you to lose the feeling in your fingers and toes.

As far as I'm concerned, a bike that's too heavy for the rider to pick up if he falls off isn't a true motorcycle. Having to get a tow truck to pick it up for you is just not acceptable. The Commando prototypes weighed in at less than 450 pounds. the average Hog is about double that.

Good luck with the reconstruction and I hope you have many pleasant hours of Commando riding.
 
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Harry, congratulations on your acquisition and welcome to the forum. If you have a trawl through some old postings using the search facility you will find that most people who have experience with fitting a wider rear wheel and or tyre are dissapointed with the result. It seems to affect the cornering of the bike quite drastically and since the handling is one of the main benefits of owning a Norton it seems a shame to spoil it.
 
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Apr 7, 2004
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I second the skinny tire thing. I am all the way down to a 100/90-18 from a 120/90-18 on the back. Corner entry is much easer and it still grips like glue. A 90/90 -19 on the front works well with this.
There are a number of things wrong with the back wheel that can be fixed so while you have the energy and will to work consider these changes.
It is possible for the rear spool to wear over the years at the spoke holes causing them to form a knife like edge that eats spokes before you invest a lot of time look well it's not an easy repair.
High mileage bikes have been known to have the longer axle sheer at the base of the threads there is a modification that uses a Honda 350 axle that has the same diameter as the bearings within the hub you just need to drill out all the spacers , the speedo drive and the swing arm slots to run a though bolt and nut axle. Much safer.
Having a better rear brake doesn't do much for you it will just skid faster. But the rear wheel is heavy. If you try to find a lighter better one be sure it has a cush drive or you will pay later as they say.
Having an 18 inch rim in alloy instead of the 19 stock one and careful lightening of the stock hub gives the most bang for the buck.
As Frank mentions a front disk with a sleeved master cylinder is almost a requirement if you ride with modern bikes but I have found that using this much improved front brake reveals a bad set up on the stock hub, the spokes are at different angles on each side of the hub and the offset needed makes the spokes come loose under hard braking that the moderns can do all too easy. Finding a way to use a front hub that allows no offset and symmetrical spoke patterns would pay much more than even messing with the rear wheel.
Welcome to the site, Norton's are at there best when ridden hard regularly.
 
Joined
May 27, 2006
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frankdamp said:
the original (Campagnolo?) twin-leading-shoe front brake was a real disaster. When you really reefed on the brake lever. the last 30 percent of the effort went into distorting the brake back-plate

Does the stiffening kit (Norvil) make a worthwhile improvement, or are disks the only effective solution? It sometimes seems that the engine braking on my BMW :oops: is more effective than the roadster's tls set up!
chris :D
 
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I fitted a stiffening kit in about 1983 when I had my first Commando, and as far as I recall, there was little if any improvement. Basically, for me it was a big disappointment. I am assuming that the stiffening plate/kit is still the same today?

I used to rely more on the back brake, and engine braking then. On my present Commando, I have fitted an aftermarket 11" disc and have had the master cylinder sleeved down by RGM and also have fitted a Lockheed "racing" caliper. Not a fantastic brake, but it is adequate for riding on the roads today.
 
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Jul 15, 2007
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brake stiffening kit

I fitted one this past winter along with re-bushing the brake plate for a better fit on the axle and was not overly thrilled with the results. Improvement was minimal if anything. I'm still keeping the drum because I love the look.
 
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