Trouble at Mill

Joined
Apr 15, 2009
Messages
10,360
Country flag
Murray B said:
When I heard they were going to make Nortons again I was overjoyed but when I saw the bike and the price I nearly cried. It is not enough to stick a Norton decal on something and call it a Norton. The bike must actually have the characteristics of one.

Take the decal off and try to find anything about it that is Norton-like. Practically every Norton I have read about always had the crankshaft centre below the line of the wheel centres. They called it low "lean weight". This new bike is massive and top heavy just like all the killer "stoppie" bikes that everyone else makes. I think I'm going to go and have a good cry now.
I'm pretty confident that everyone who has ridden one says it feels like a modern Commando. Obviously the person who designed the bike was very familiar with Nortons and it's not just a sticker.
 
Joined
Aug 3, 2010
Messages
167
Country flag
Murray B said:
Take the decal off and try to find anything about it that is Norton-like. Practically every Norton I have read about always had the crankshaft centre below the line of the wheel centres. They called it low "lean weight". This new bike is massive and top heavy just like all the killer "stoppie" bikes that everyone else makes. I think I'm going to go and have a good cry now.
Apparently getting the mass of a bike low isn't the best thing for handling. Honda found that out when they built a bike with the (heavy) gas tank under the engine and the (lighter) expansion chambers over the top of the engine: it didn't turn as well. Like most other things a bike turns about it's center of gravity, not about the contact patches between tyres and ground and spreading the mass of the bike around by placing the engine low, whilst leaving the rest of it (the rider for instance) high just makes for a larger moment of inertia. So being "top heavy" is only an issue at very low speed and better handling bikes employ "mass centralization".

As for "killer stoppies" I'd rather sell a life insurance policy to a 961 rider than the rider of a 70's Commando, assuming they are being ridden with the same "spirit".
 
Joined
Nov 29, 2011
Messages
96
Matt Spencer said:
Murry's not from N.Z. ??
If you mean me then I am not a Kiwi but born and raised in western Canada.

swooshdave said:
I'm pretty confident that everyone who has ridden one says it feels like a modern Commando. Obviously the person who designed the bike was very familiar with Nortons and it's not just a sticker.
Well, that's the problem then, I hate Jap bikes and this and that new Triumph are too "modern" or Jap as I like to call it. Don’t get me wrong I would love to see Norton make a comeback but they are going to need a broader range than just this one bike. I also hope to see them bring back a real Commando with Isolastics just like every other one that was made in history.

ggryder said:
...being "top heavy" is only an issue at very low speed and better handling bikes employ "mass centralization".
HoYaSuKa regressed the entire industry nearly a century when they popularised the top-heavy street bikes. Not since the “Penny Farthing” bicycle had it been so easy to get injured or killed. Despite Honda’s self-serving comments to the contrary this debate really ended in 1885 with the advent of the “Safety Bicycle”.

ggryder said:
As for "killer stoppies" I'd rather sell a life insurance policy to a 961 rider than the rider of a 70's Commando, assuming they are being ridden with the same "spirit".
“Stoppies” or “Endos” are a characteristic of the newer bikes and virtually impossible to do with a 70’s Norton or any other old British bike for that matter. The C of G is too low on the great machines to ever stand one on the front wheel. “Endos” are not a “feature” except for clowns. This new “Commando”, however, looks like it can go heels over head without much effort just like most of the newer bikes. Since you sell insurance I would be very interested to know what the fatality rates for the different road machines are. My nephew has a HoYaSuKa 600 top-heavy “Penny Farthing” type that produces 130 h.p. without having the chassis, wheels, or tires to match. It has got to have double or triple the fatality rate of the old Commandos so what are these figures exactly?
 
Joined
Oct 19, 2005
Messages
1,595
Country flag
Murray, old chap, Why so vehemently against the Japanese? They have made some good bikes over the years and in my view set standards in manufacturing that have raised the bar across the industry. Their own post-war industrial resurgence was achieved with an American imposed political system, American management systems, American financial assistance and to-date American military protection. This same model was used in Germany after 1945. I have a good friend who spent most of the first 5 years of his life in a Japanese internment camp in Shanghai - he has a couple of Hondas and a Lexus car, although I am trying hard to convert him to the joys of Commando ownership.
 
Joined
Aug 26, 2010
Messages
8,216
Torontonian said:
Industrial theft.
Are you referring to all the early Nortons using French engine designs ?
Someone called Rem Fowler won an obscure race called the TT with the tried and proven Peugeot v-twin....

Its also worth pointing out that a small concern called Harley Davidson staved off financial oblivion in the 1930s by selling the design blueprints jigs stock and goodwill of a number of older v-twin designs to some japanese buyers, over some years - and were grateful for the cash injections...

And Indian got started with an engine that looks remarkably similar to an earlier European design.

What goes around comes around ??
Common the world over.
 
Joined
Jul 25, 2010
Messages
4,962
Country flag
DESIGN is like Aeroplanes or Horses .

The use you put them to establishes a few Criteria , and it goes on from there .

Its intresting to note that while the mighty Whizz Bangs took over on the relitively smooth race tracks , The Isle of Man was
where ' other ' machines still held there own , Notably Nortons win in the 750 , after the Japanese had got away with misinterpreting the rules .

The Trident was BANNED to stop the Japnese embarassment in the Production Class . Later Hailwoods ' Obsolete ' bevel drive Ducati licked the
mighty honda , & possibly gave Ducati the cornerstone of Their reamergance .All became comercial after that ?

While an overly light machine may dominate current production circuit raceing , something more substantial is required for road use . Suzki were
perhaps the least narcisist of the Japanese designs . Wakeing up to the fact that significant structural members were required for adequate ridgidity .

Id still describe a 1100 Katana as a pig to ride , & impossible on gravle . And a GS 750 as laughable in comparison to the Combat Commando .

The British frame builders made a killing in replacement chassis for all and sundry , so the designs of that era could hardly be described as ' top of the line ' .
 
Joined
Aug 3, 2010
Messages
167
Country flag
Murray B said:
“Stoppies” or “Endos” are a characteristic of the newer bikes and virtually impossible to do with a 70’s Norton or any other old British bike for that matter. The C of G is too low on the great machines to ever stand one on the front wheel. “Endos” are not a “feature” except for clowns. This new “Commando”, however, looks like it can go heels over head without much effort just like most of the newer bikes.
I seem to remember that the "Hurt Report" found that in serious motorcycle accidents, in many cases, the motorcyclist failed to take any significant action to avoid a collision with a car, or if they did take any action it was often over application of the rear brake. That was in the 80's and I believe later research showed not much had changed. So I don't think over use of the front brake, on dry roads, features as a significant cause of accidents: except when a video camera is running and it ends up on UTube.

Murray B said:
Since you sell insurance I would be very interested to know what the fatality rates for the different road machines are. My nephew has a HoYaSuKa 600 top-heavy “Penny Farthing” type that produces 130 h.p. without having the chassis, wheels, or tires to match. It has got to have double or triple the fatality rate of the old Commandos so what are these figures exactly?
I think that any comparison of casualty rates between the users of 40+ year old vehicles and current vehicles would be heavily influenced by factors other than the vehicles themselves. I for one seemed to crash bikes 2 or 3 times a year (my favorite crashing companion being a '73 Bonneville) when I was much younger. Now despite being no less stupid and clocking up many more miles commuting on some very busy roads on "more modern" Japaneses bikes, I rarely crash. I'd guess improvements in tyres has been the biggest safety gain over the last 40 years.

And I don't really sell insurance.
 
Joined
Aug 3, 2010
Messages
167
Country flag
Matt Spencer said:
Id still describe a 1100 Katana as a pig to ride , & impossible on gravle . And a GS 750 as laughable in comparison to the Combat Commando.
In recent years I've raced both a Commando and a Suzuki GT750. The latter, despite popular opinion, handles just fine, as well as the Commando. In fact the Commando (built by Herb Becker) uses the front forks from a GT750.
 
Joined
Dec 30, 2008
Messages
962
Country flag
I'd guess improvements in tyres has been the biggest safety gain over the last 40 years.quote.... I'd agree with this BUT only in dry and clean surface conditions. Add a bit of water or leaves or a sprinkling of gravel and modern fat tyres are not as good as skinnier tyres fitted to older bikes. Many times I've seen modern bikes loose the front or skip out at the rear over some rubbish on a corner where the older skinnier tyred bike I was on never faltered. graeme
 
Joined
Jul 25, 2010
Messages
4,962
Country flag
" In recent years I've raced both a Commando and a Suzuki GT750. The latter, despite popular opinion, handles just fine, as well as the Commando. "

Not the water bottle 2 stroke ? ? Where did it come ? ?
 
Joined
Aug 26, 2010
Messages
8,216
One of the english magazines had porting and expansion chamber details for the GT750.
This actually came quite close to the factory TR750 (was it?) racers specs, made it a flyer.
Under all the pork, were supposedly strongly built.
Whether the road going frame was up to it is another question ?
 
Joined
Jul 25, 2010
Messages
4,962
Country flag
Weather the RACE frame is too , is another ' mutter ' . At Perry's , 81 I was worried about the 1 in frame tubes on the Ex Commando tube triton . TR750 in't the ' shed ' 1 in tubes , runs 50 % longer ,
was offered a 750 with 73 TR750 barrel ported to 74 specs and 73 race trans , for $ 300 . Looked like a big lump . Shrugged of both ' concerns ' .
He was having a fit and saying ' we'd take ' the 74 TR 750 down Pukekohe and see how I liked the kink on the back straight at 160 mph .
I declined , as the Dunlop race tyres had been on since it last raced at Daytona , and didnt want to ' scratch the paint ' , as it was heading for Southwards museum . GROSS Cowardice , in hindsight .
But he wouldve been pi**ed off if it hadnt been ridden throttle on the stop .

Len Reconed Jeff went into the right hander off Pukekohe grandstand straight at 130 ( not the shortchange metric things ) Drifted it down to 90 , for the flick left , then down to 60 for the left , before the
right , right , & onto the back straight , 160 at the kink ( He'd ridden it ) Took some force and determination to push it through the bend . 180 at the brake marker , fight it through the rest untill opening it up
over the hill & down past the pits / grandstand . Force and hold it on line , steer it with the throttle , brakes pretty much for changeing attitude , grab & ease .

ANYWAY

Dec - Jan ' Motorcycle Trader ' ( Aus . ) has Cathcards evaluation of the Euro 3 , 961 . Only whines about the side stand .
Half the artical is about a 850 , whines about slopy instruments and choppy rear end , and brakes .( on the 850 )

Considers the 961 steers and holds the road well ( sounds lik4e a T160 as regards the comments " Why , There I was , 100 k into a down hill right , and there was a bump , and I was unwavered ")
Sorted the silly shift lever with a silly remote , and has a authoritive electric starter , for those that dont mind the excess weight . And its Shiney .

However the 850 in the picture looks like Sculpture , I think he says the 961 looks aggressive .

Other drivle about Nortons ( a little ) in the book . Some turkey asking $ 20 + grande for communist left foot Bonneviles .and a bit of Hinkley stuff with the R III at 5 in their top ten in their ' bikes of the yaer '
 
Joined
Feb 22, 2011
Messages
569
Country flag
If I were going to spend $18,000 on a new motorcyle my first choice (at least until Norton "really" gets is fecal matter aggregated) is the new 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale.

JD
 
Joined
Nov 29, 2011
Messages
96
Rohan said:
Are you referring to all the early Nortons using French engine designs ?...What goes around comes around ??...
Norton did not steal the design they used Clement engines. This is not the same as industrial theft.

dave M said:
Murray, old chap, Why so vehemently against the Japanese?
Years of experience I guess. Most Brits assume their industry collapsed on its own but they do not realize that the Japanese multinationals really knew where to apply the grease to the wheels of government. Take for example the U.S.A. which was the biggest market for the British bikes. All of a sudden this ostensibly free country legislated that all motorcycles had to have the shifter on the Japanese side. This did not help NVT who had to make costly changes while they were still using people to build bikes which had to already cost much more than the robotic-built Japanese bikes. I expect the emissions legislation that doubled the fuel consumption and halved the power of the average American car while requiring few changes to the Japanese cars was also related to grease. The more you know them the less you like them. Of course if the new British manufacturers get big enough I expect the same sorts of things will start happening again.

ggryder said:
... That was in the 80's and I believe later research showed not much had changed...
In the 60’s HoYaSuKa brought out a little 500 Triple two-stroke that put out power like a Combat Commando but handled like the little bike that it was. The engine could take the thing to 120 mph without trouble but the rest of the bike was dangerous at 80. Fatalities spiked so bad there was serious talk about banning motorcycles entirely. Since that time fatalities have been rising almost continuously and I understand some recent street bikes can hit 200 mph but cannot be stopped hard without doing an “endo” [actually more like an endoverendoverendo]. Today these multinational corporations are now more powerful than most governments so there is no chance of banning these new “Penny Farthings”. Still, that is no excuse for every company in the world to now make such machines even if they do sell well.

ggryder said:
And I don't really sell insurance.
These figures are hard to come by and it does not help that giant multinational corporations do not want us to know. Many years ago an Italian doctor told me that the HoYaSuKa DOHC 900 had double the fatality rate of the Ducati 860. Since then I kept looking for that sort of information but it was just not available. It must be secret.

It would be nice if the new Norton was closer to the “Safety Bicycle” than the “Penny Farthing” as all the other Nortons were.
 
Joined
Jul 25, 2010
Messages
4,962
Country flag
The ' safty legeslation ' introduced to the U.S. WAS industrial espionage .

The Japanese had designed their vehicals to drive square into square concrete blocks at 30 m.p.h.
An everyday occurance in Toko ?
It wasnt untill B.M.W. started driveing cars into other things , that any significant crash protection was envisaged ( crumple zones , etc )

Knowing ( full Well ) that the American Automotive Industry had at the time , a " 7 year lead time " ( design to production / marketing )
it was calculated to stall the Automotive manufacturers , so as the Japanese would be enabled to establish a foothold .
Not to say they arnt industrious little snots .
Then theres W W II , designed to breakk the British Empire , whilst the Americans supply all the military equipment , in exchange for the Gold Reserves .

Russia later told them to get knotted , as far as payments were concerned . Then the Plot Thickens , Stalin planed to Liberate Europe , after the Jumped up Nazis had overextended themselves. Young Adolf , haveing got wind of this , was forced to take the first step . General Winter put paid to that lot .
Did I leave anything out ? Heaps Actually . :shock:

Such is life .

A Kwakersiki H2 750 owning aquaintance says it starts weaveing , one lane at 80 mph , by 115 its useing the entire road , on backroads , restricting further increase in velocity . The old 1951 Rover 75 would out corner most early 70s jap bikes , whilst maintainig responce to the controls . Acceleration was another mater :oops: Downhill
gradiants minimised that disadvantage .

Not to say there arnt a few weeknesses in the Commando's armour , but overall the responce and feedback , inherant in its ancestory , are of a similar unhurried nature .
And its capabilities in excess of the average operator , in the manner that inadvertant operation beyond His capebilities is unlikely to result in his undooing .

A bike that Rides , Not drives . In the manner of a spirited , slightly nervous , but well natured horse . If some mongrel hasnt messed it up .
 
Joined
Dec 3, 2011
Messages
35
Country flag
Murray B's conspiracy theory that the Jap motorcycle manufacturers are trying to wipe out their markets by causing riders to die in 'endo' accidents is utterly laughable. Surely modern bikes generally have their engines higher in the frame for ground clearance reasons, not to deliberately induce stoppies. And another reason modern Jap bikes can do stoppies is because they have vastly more rubber on the front than the skinny Commando tyre, and hugely superior brakes. I suppose fairly short wheelbases also contribute to this supposed stoppy problem, but surely that is to make the bike more agile.

To believe a sixties Commando is more capable than modern sports bikes is the stuff of a deluded mind. When I'm out on a ride on my Fastback, all my mate on his R1 has to do is twitch his right hand and I'm left for dead. When we come to a bend he lays his bike over and disappears into the distance while I'm ploughing a furrow with my solid foot-peg. Also, his maintenance is minimal but reliability is incredible, while I'm trying to come to terms with some of the worst design and quality control I've ever seen on a mechanical object.

That said, I'd choose a Commando over any other bike any time - I absolutely love it.
 
Top