Over the years I've tried bulbs, string, steel rod, conduits and more to align the front and rear to no avail.
I finally settled on this. I welcome feedback. With the Norton 'offsets', there might be something wrong with this thinking. But here goes.
I believe the tires should be in the middle of the frame, front and rear.
I remove the tank, seat, front and rear fenders. Pull a string from the triple tree stem along the backbone along the top of the rear tire. You will then be able to see the alignment of the wheel. Once you align the axle straight, you will be surprised were the wheel is sitting in the frame.
The wheel/tire on my Mark III was off 5/16" to the left!!!
Then I dropped a string with a plumb bob through the center triple tree stem to see were the front was in relation to center. It was off 3/16" to the right, the opposite side of the rear off set. That's 1/2" of total misalignment. No wonder the thing wobbled around and shook it's head.
My Mark III was bone stock right down to the air cleaner and mufflers when I got it. There is no reason to believe the wheels had been messed with. I believe it came that way from the factory.
Note, this is a Mark III with the rotor on the left so the offset was to the right. If I were to switch the wheel around with the rotor on the right, the offsets are both to left making the wheels more in alignment, but off center of the frame 1/4" + or -.
If you look at the rear wheel / fender alignment on most Commando's you will notice the wheel off set to the left. Why is this?? I have a hard time believing that 'NORTON', "The World's Greatest Roadholder", winner of numorous Isle of Man, world renown for there handling would purposely build a motorcycle with wheels off set of center.
I don't know what the factory off set specs are, but I chose to have the wheels corrected to the frame. I took them to Wheel Works, a very respected wheel builder here in SoCal. Gary, the owner, was able to correct the front the 3/16", but could only get 3/16" correction on the rear. Remember it was out 5/16". The hub is now so far off center, he said he would have to redrill the wheel to get the proper angle for the spokes. I chose not to. I had him mount up a fresh set of Avon Venoms and balance them.
I have to say the whole wheel and tire thing was the best thing I ever did to that motorcycle.
Gary has been in business over 25 years and commented that the Norton wheel has been one of the more troublesome ones.
I since acquired two more Commandos, both have the rear wheel out of alignment. Again I ask, WHY IS THIS?????