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Norton as "daily" rider?

Discussion in 'Norton Commando Motorcycles (Classic)' started by MexicoMike, Sep 13, 2018.

  1. MexicoMike


    Jan 31, 2010
    Just wondering,

    Do folks here use their Nortons for regular riding or are they an occasional-use/special occasion bike?

    For 8 years in Mexico my Commando was my only motorcycle. A couple of years ago I bought an BMW R9T there because I thought it looked cool and I rode that most of the time. Oddly enough, the Norton actually handles the mixed road environment much better than the 9T - mostly, I suspect, due to narrower wheels/tires, especially tires, but the old Norton suspension (with faith fork mod) handles the potholes/speedbumps better than the 9T did originally OR currently with 3k USD (ouch) worth of Ohlins front/rear suspension mods. The Ohlins greatly improved the 9T handling on good surfaces but didn't do much at all for cobblestones/dirt/gravel.

    I'm selling the 9T when we get back to Mexico (if I can - I suspect there will be virtually NO interest in it there) and reverting to the Commando as my only moto in Mexico which would make it, once again, a "daily rider."

    So, again, just wondering if most of the Nortons here see routine service or if other bikes are normally ridden and the Norton just for specific "occasions."

    On a side note, have to admit I'm considering my first Japanese bike in many, MANY years - a Kawasaki Z900RS. When a friend said, "Oh, you are interested in retro bikes, " I said, "No, I'm interested in bikes that look like motorcycles, not like insects!"
  2. kommando


    May 7, 2005
    You need to look at the shim stacks on the Ohlins, you ride on the low speed circuit most of the time and that's set by the adjuster screws. When you hit a pothole the damping switches to the high speed circuit which is set by the shim stack, less shims will give you a lower damping effect on the bumps and give you a better ride on uneven roads.
    Pete Komarek likes this.
  3. Petersen


    May 2, 2014
    I use my Commando as a daily rider. (Ridin' season between april-november) I bought a Hinckley Bonneville some years ago for some reason I can't remember but it's the Commando that's get ridden most of the time. I think the Commando is a very versatile bike and a lot more fun to ride than the modern retro-Bonneville. It's been upgraded with Koni shocks and Brembo 4-pot front brake.

    I've also got a Manx styled 650ss but that bike seems to be more of a special occasion ride.
  4. ashman


    Jul 11, 2010
    When I brought my Norton new when I was 17 years old it was my only transport and every day rider till 1981 when I started to convert it to the Featherbed frame which took a few years to do, but I also brought a new Triumph while it was getting built, by this time I had a car but most of my traveling was on the bikes.
    After the Norton was built it became my every day ride again riding to work 5 days a week and Sunday rides, it was used most of the time and only off the road for more mods and major maintenance work.
    Its only the last 5 years that its been semi retired when I broght my new Triumph Thruxton and now only ride it when I feel like it, but its still a goer, I now have a new 1200 Thruxton which has taken over as my major rider, but being retired now I am not riding every day like I use to when working.

  5. Fullauto

    Fullauto VIP MEMBER

    Apr 13, 2009
    Why wouldn't you? Eminently crashable, virtually 100% spares backup, keeps up with the cut and thrust of modern traffic, owner serviceable and an absolute joy to ride. A no brainer.
  6. MexicoMike


    Jan 31, 2010
    Funny - mentioning spares...back in the day, when they were MAKING Norton Commandoes and there were Norton dealers around, it was much more difficult getting replacement parts for my Commando than it is NOW, 40+ years after they QUIT making Commandos!

    Of course, same is true of many old cars/bikes nowadays.
    Nater_Potater and Dommie Nator like this.
  7. Anglophile


    Mar 6, 2010
    I commute on mine a few days a month. Less so than I did a couple years back when I was riding it more than driving my car. My Commando is my only bike at the moment and has been for eight years. Thinking of getting a Speed Triple in a couple of years when the Commando is really tired.
    Kvinnhering likes this.
  8. dynodave


    May 28, 2003
    MKIII E-start, now 17K miles, is my daily rider for running errands/post office runs/ going to club meetings. Only currently runnning bike, restored in 1995 for a cam replacement@ about 9500 miles. Pretty back then, still get compliments, though I don't know why. Bought as basket case for $100. Have $1100 into it after rebuild.
    Trying to get my combat and 88SS back on line to share the mileage, they are both registered and insured.
  9. Onder


    May 11, 2010
    I only drive a bike now for amusement but I must say the Norton is pretty reliable and gets on with all roads if not perfectly. It is a usable
    everyday bike. Parts no problem, mpg decent, comfort decent.
    If I had no automobile, Id likely go for an airhead BMW.
  10. xbacksideslider

    xbacksideslider VIP MEMBER

    Aug 19, 2010
    It's the agility. Until I got the 525EXC, the Norton was first pick, over the liter bikes. Also depends on where I'm going today, what kind of roads. If the SR500 was running, it would be a regular too. Singles . . . .
    Nater_Potater likes this.
  11. maylar


    May 13, 2007
    My 850 is the only bike I've had for the last 43 years. So, if I'm riding at all it's on a Norton. I want an electric start for it now that I'm an old phart.
    MexicoMike likes this.
  12. Kim Z.

    Kim Z.

    Apr 16, 2015
    I ride my 1974 Commando about once a month. I don't trust it for rides longer than 50 mile round trips, however when I first got it three years ago, I rode from Laguna Niguel to Julian, CA, 200 miles roundtrip. Had a great time (rode with a buddy), the bike ran superbly, no hiccups. There was a spray of oil coming from the left side of the engine fins which ended up coating the left sidecover. For longer rides, I use my 2006 Suzuki SV650S so that I can enjoy my trip trouble free. No Amal carbs to worry about internals shaking loose. But nothing feels or sounds like a Norton. It's an irrational, expensive relationship; codependent, always making excuses, can't count on her to be reliable. But she's gorgeous.
    Jerry Doe likes this.
  13. Fullauto

    Fullauto VIP MEMBER

    Apr 13, 2009
    The question I asked myself was, in the da ywe rode them daily, did big trips on them, so, why not now?
  14. Jagbruno


    Jan 6, 2014
    My 850 Mk2a PW3 in a Slimline is my daily ride. 'Continuous' maintenance is ahem, advisable, but what joy! And yes, lotsa engine torque as well as very good road handling (Manx fork dampers and Fournales oleo-pneumatic shocks) make it a great choice on Belgian-Potholistan 'roads'.
  15. dynodave


    May 28, 2003
    Kim Z "can't count on her to be reliable. But she's gorgeous."

    dd chrome don't get you home

    FA "The question I asked myself was, in the da ywe rode them daily, did big trips on them, so, why not now?"

    dd probably the bike riders get all their mechanicing info from forums. Vendors too focused on bling and pseudo racing.
    I understand self sufficiency here in the USA, Here in New England there is not one good norton shop, that I would recommend...shiney paint yes...good machinery not really...
    With only a trip prep servicing, I would leave Boston and fully expect my bike to get to west coast. Though my body might not like the trip. $1100 and still runs like a swiss watch,

  16. Onder


    May 11, 2010
    Remember that not everyone has machine tools or a machine shop to turn to or is an experienced mechanic. Back then most of us
    were inexperienced financially pinched who rode faster and harder than they should have. Not everyone knows how to overhaul a
    bike properly and be up to date on all the mods that a particular model should have even today.
    Depends too have far you ride each day too.
  17. bill


    Jun 1, 2003
    i regularly do 100 = 200 mile weekend rides on my norton and have done 650 mile one day rides. it has been as reliable as any bike i have owned and does not need nearly as much maintenance as some on here think.
  18. CanukNortonNut


    Aug 8, 2005
    I do the same type of riding on weekends mainly, and leave my morning commute to work with my TDI Jetta. I will pick fair weather days to work but stop and go traffic is a major frustration where I live. 4 lane highways I will do from necessity but prefer the secondary roads to negotiate roadblocks and full stop or slowdowns.
    I will always ride to any National Rally, East of the Mississippi. Like others have stated parts are available that you will not see in any other brand as our Norton’s.
    Sorting the Engine and gearbox to latest upgrades give you confidence to ride distances.
    Electrical wiring should be fairly new. I have pulled some 40 year old birds nest wiring melted wires you name it.
    A good tool kit that stays with the bike keeps the little stuff from stopping you completely.


    Nater_Potater likes this.
  19. eskasteve

    eskasteve VIP MEMBER

    Sep 24, 2012
    From 1971-1980 I didn't own a car. Norton's were my only driver not just a daily means of transportation. Commuting in the Seattle area got down right ugly about 1980. Waaaay too much traffic on too few roads. Seattle is now recognized as having some of the worst traffic in the entire country. Given that if I was still a commuter the Norton would not be my choice. Even with all of the improvements they still don't have the best of brakes, lighting, or suspension. The skinny tires also don't cruise over road imperfections too well. That, plus I always worry about somebody stealing it since without hauling around some sort of securing device it would be a piece of cake to rip it off. After I retired I moved to Whidbey Island and the Norton was right at home. It became my bike of choice. If I was looking for a daily driver I'd buy a used Japanese bike, something that depreciates in value, rather than ride my appreciating Norton. Probably a Suzuki SV 650. Just my thoughts.
  20. Nater_Potater

    Nater_Potater VIP MEMBER

    Apr 7, 2013
    'Just finished wearing out another back tire! I put about 25 miles a day, five days a week, commuting to work. It's almost exclusively freeway work, and it can get a bit dicey come the evening rush hour. Nevertheless, it's still a joy to ride, even if it's idling along in second gear, surrounded by shiny metal boxes... I've done a couple of 500 mile-a-day road trips. I'm pleased to report that they were eventless.
    Upgrades include 13mm master cylinder, Ferodo brake pads, Avon tires, single Mikuni, LED headlight, and Jim Comstock's exhaust thread inserts.


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