Talk Me Down....

Discussion in 'Norton Commando Classic Motorcycles' started by Tornado, Dec 6, 2017.

  1. Tornado


    Dec 5, 2017
    Hi All,
    Just joined the site. New-ish rider (3 yrs) with first bike a 2013 T100 Bonneville. Put 45,000 km's on it in 3 seasons, going strong. But lately, the eye has started wandering towards real classic bikes instead of "fake" retro classics. Norton Commando's are top of the lust-list. I'm reasonably good with the wrenches (mainly on automotives including complete engine removal/replace, but also done some stuff now on my bike).

    Been doing my research...I'd be needing something in the around $10k range, rideable but not a museum piece. Seems to be a good number up here in Canada that meet that range on the market. Going to see a Combat end of week. I know this is the racehorse version and prone to failures....but what can I discover by a short look over? There is another Combat in country by several thousand km's away that seems to have had all sorts of renewal/rebuilds last year (engine bearings/single carb Mikuni/brakes/tires/headset bearing/iso's/honing/rings/fork seals/brightwork polishing) 20k miles, 500 since a very good price...but I'd need to rely more on owner honesty...

    Am I out of my melon on considering a true classic at this stage of my motorcycle story? Should I just make up with my T100 and forget the whole idea?
    speedrattle likes this.
  2. acotrel


    Jun 30, 2012
    Mk2A 850 might be better.
  3. Tornado


    Dec 5, 2017
    Yes, there are also some of them in my price range...mostly right side edge of country...I'm on the left edge. None seem to have the extensive list of renewals of the aforementioned Combat (which is in the middle of country). My T100 was also a remote, un-seen purchase and it worked out i'm not too adverse to that.
  4. DogT


    Jan 20, 2009
    The early bikes are lighter and more nimble. The later ones (850) heavier more comfortable and cruiser like. You may want to consider that. Nothing wrong with your plan. They're all actually quite reliable once any bugs are worked out with reasonable care.
  5. Danno


    Feb 7, 2010
    Keep 'em both and add more later.
    Tornado likes this.
  6. auldblue

    auldblue VIP MEMBER

    Nov 20, 2012
    Hi , when I bought my commando's , I just liked the look of them and bought them. They needed a bit of work although one was a runner it gives me great enjoyment riding them ,breaking them and then getting them going again. I bet you buy that combat and good luck with it!

    Tornado likes this.
  7. Tornado


    Dec 5, 2017
    In a perfect world that would be my goal....alas I do not have a garage (condo dweller) and really only parking for 1 bike to stay on site. Could ditch the 4-wheel vehicle to free up the space...but not sure Wife would approve. Other option is to store 1 offsite at local bike shops offering seasonal storage fore decent prices. Else, it's out with the new(-er), in with the older.
    One advantage to the older bikes...we get drastically reduced insurance if the bike meets "Collector Plate" 3x less in annual premiums (which currently run near $1600 for the T100 (sticker shock anyone?).


    Jan 10, 2012
    You should google Sunset Motors in Kenosha, WI The last time that I was in his shop he had 2 of his rebuilds on the floor. I know nothing about the bikes but if T.C. put them together they are right.
  9. speedrattle


    Dec 14, 2014
    if your condo has space inside the front door, just casually wheel it in there. i rebuilt my first T120 in the living room of the house i shared with three other college students. got to ride it out through the kitchen and down the hall when i was done.
    Tornado likes this.
  10. Mr. Rick

    Mr. Rick VIP MEMBER

    Feb 6, 2009
    The condo is definitely not the ideal setup, but life is short and if this is what you want, I say go for it.
    It occurs to me that you're putting a lot of miles on your bike (good for you!), compared to many (but certainly not all!) on this list who, like me, find themselves fixing/upgrading their old machines. Which is another way of saying that these bike were made and designed for a long-gone era when people were expected to take care of their own stuff and other people in cages actually paid more attention to their driving than their cellphones. The stock lighting and brakes are dismal by today's standards. QC was an almost exotic concept at the factory.
    I love my bike and definitely recommend getting one, hope you don't have to pay anywhere near 10K to get one, and suggest that you'll have a better understanding and appreciation for the bike if you do the upgrades yourself. But of course, you don't get to ride it while it's apart, so using that second site sounds right to me. They might even have tools you'd rather not buy, or ideally, they take an interest in the bike themselves and help you turn a rusty project into a thing of beauty, running a new layshaft bearing in the transmission.
    Good luck, whatever you decide!
    Tornado likes this.
  11. Tornado


    Dec 5, 2017
    Note I'm in Canada and the prices I'm seeing for in country rides are $7000-$13000 CDN Dollars...about 70 cents to the a $10k bike here is about a $7000 bike in USA ;-)

    My T100, being the rather sought after/rare Steve McQueen edition, should sell for around $10k CDN...unless I sell a different toy (like my high performance catamaran sailboat for $15k to fund the Commando ;^]

    The Combat I mentioned earlier is under $8000 CDN asking price...would need to be shipped half way across country, so another $700-$1000 needed. Here is the partial update/work performed list the seller sent me:


    Powder coated frame engine cradle and swing arm

    MK3 Vernier isolastic upgrade

    Front End

    Original forks (Machine polished) rebuilt new seals and covers

    Original Smiths Gauges new glass and bezels

    New headstock bearings


    Rebuilt original Lockheed brake caliper and front master cylinder

    New front pads

    New Rear Pads


    New Boyer electronic ignition

    New High output stator and rotor

    New Podtronix rectifier / voltage regulator unit

    New Battery

    New Lucas replica indicators


    Original chrome rims and spokes (Chrome good condition no rust)

    New bearings front and rear

    New tires front and rear


    New 34 mm single mikuni with new dual intake manifold

    C/W Remote Choke kit

    New K&N air filter

    Gearbox / Primary

    New clutch plates

    Original AMC Gearbox polished with long throw Norvil kick start.


    Bottom end

    New Superblend crankshaft main bearings

    New big end bearing 0.010” +

    New pistons and rings (Std Bore)

    Re honed Cylinder liners

    Top End

    New Valves and springs re cut and ground

    New valve guides


    Original fendors front and rear (Chrome good condition no rust)

    Original Downtubes with new Exhaust nuts and retainers

    Original Mufflers (Chrome good condition few minor wear and tear dents)

    New chrome headlight bezel

    New rear seat Grab rail Chrome

    Re chromed Brake Pedal assembly


    Seat original silver Norton Logo good condition

    New cables Throttle and Choke

    New rubbers all round Foot pegs, Kick start, Gear shift.

    Metal Tank and Metal Side panels re painted (Acrylic enamel) new transfers and vinyl pin striping.
  12. Mr. Rick

    Mr. Rick VIP MEMBER

    Feb 6, 2009
    Well, Tornado, that's a nice long list.. I'm not "in the market" and you didn't give the mileage, so can't really say if these make an $8K bike or not. Others wd be more qualified than I in this respect.
    Combats are cool, no doubt about it.

    I'm certainly not an expert, but had these observations as I went down the list:
    Powdercoating the cradle needs some care, I believe, in that certain areas must be left uncoated.
    Seals are not the only "wear parts" in the fork assemblies.
    Even a rebuilt front brake will have a lousy ratio of master cylinder dia to pad area. But plenty of solutions.
    Orig spokes were cad plated and are gonna look like hell eventually. And the more you "clean" them, the faster the plating goes away...
    I'd trade a polished gearbox for assurance that the layshaft bearing has been replaced. The original is outright dangerous.
    I didn't realize how much I was slipping around on the orig seat until I put on a new cover. Much better now.

    Are you gonna get a chance to ride it first? Maybe Torontonian wd consider looking at it for you?
    auldblue likes this.
  13. grandpaul

    grandpaul VIP MEMBER

    Jan 15, 2008
    That sounds like a nice Combat for the price, especially if it can be verified that a reputable machinist did the machine work, and/or a reputable shop did the actual overhaul. Perhaps the rebuild still has a nominal warranty? If it's done 500 miles already, that means it's been run in, and should be good to go.

    Price actually sounds better than typical, although shipping is a bit of an equalizer.

    Hopefully you get your bike sold in a timely manner and the deal is still there...
  14. Tornado


    Dec 5, 2017
    Thanks all for the comments, both encouraging and not....thread is titled Talk Me Down ain't it?

    I plan to see a Combat locally tomorrow. It's supposedly in good nick...much higher priced than the other one. But at least I can get a better feel for the model...hope to be allowed to sit on it for trying fitment. It is laid up for storage being off season and generally owners do not let potential buyers take test rides in my experience.
  15. click

    click VIP MEMBER

    Dec 27, 2008
    I did exactly what you are doing, I had one of the first T100 Bonnies in Ireland back in 2001, I previously had the Kawasaki W650. Both bikes were fine but missing 'something'

    I sold the Bonnie & it took me 2 years to find a MK3 with verified history of work done. I have a love/hate relationship with the Commando, when it's running I love it :)

    It's not a bad bike, it's actually very reliable but I want to 'improve' certain aspects of it's running which means it's on the bench for a good amount of the year!

    I must add, I also have other bikes, some more modern, some older + a car so I'm not using the Norton as my main mode of transport.

    I know others on this forum use their Commando as it was intended, a daily rider all year round, so they can be very reliable & robust, maybe the owners are the problem with the ones off the road!!!
    Tornado likes this.
  16. Stillreel


    Sep 30, 2011
    I've got a really nice 1968 Triumph Saint for sale (650cc) here in Toronto. Un-restored and mechanically solid. No leaks, starts 1st kick. PM if interested.
  17. MichaelB


    Jan 14, 2004
    A well set up Combat is nice ride. This one sounds nice.
    I'd hit it.......
  18. Stillreel


    Sep 30, 2011
  19. JimC


    Oct 12, 2007
    " Even a rebuilt front brake will have a lousy ratio of master cylinder dia to pad area"

    It's the ratio of the area of piston of the caliper to the area of the piston of the master cylinder that is most important. A ratio of 27:1 for a single caliper brake is ideal, according to Vintage Brake and my own experience.
  20. Mr. Rick

    Mr. Rick VIP MEMBER

    Feb 6, 2009
    Piston area, not pad area, yes. Thanks, Jim, for setting me straight.
    Tornado: As you can see from the chart at Vintage Brake, the 44mm piston and the 5/8 bore stock MC leave us a long way from the target of 27:1

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