Upgrade or keep the old bike??

Not open for further replies.
Apr 15, 2004
Country flag
Advice/opinions requested! I've run across an 850 Mk 3 for sale locally. Haven't seen it or spoken with the seller but it looks *really* nice in the photo.

When I bought my 750 I was unaware of all the design improvements they made to the 850s, and as it's turned out, my 750 has a lot more problems than I thought originally. It really hasn't been one of my better purchases I'm sorry to say. It's occurred to me I could probably upgrade to the 850 (assuming it checks out ok) for no more than it would cost to fix all the problems with my 750. Plus I get the better motor, welded rotor, vernier isos, steel tank, a SIDESTAND, etc etc. I hate to give up on my bike but this seems like a sensible thing to do. What do you guys think?

But a Norton that shifts on the left?? That seems a little strange to me. Would take some getting used to :) Do they shift ok with that crossover linkage? Is the Mk 3 basically a good bike or would I be better off finding an earlier 850? Or should I just stick with the 750, continue to pour time and money into it, and keep the faith that someday I'll eventually sort through all the problems and have a (somewhat) reliable bike? There's a lot of things wrong with it; keeping it just doesn't seem very smart to me but I've been reluctant to give up and sell it.

thanks in advance,
E-Start upgrade?

I own 2....But I put them together from basket cases, so I know them quite well. I love them
There is nothing easier about a E-Start.
The cams are butter soft and always HAVE BEEN replaced or NEED to be replaced.
IIRC The 75s do not have welded rotors.
The tranny layshaft bearings are junk.
The outer primary covers are exceptionally easy to crack if the bike is tipped on it's side and most of them are cracked, though most owners don't know that.
The shifter mechanism is a high maintenance item or they shift like cr*p.
Very prone to sprag damage if boyers are used (but not 100% universal).
Adjustable ISO's frequently rust up solid DAMHIK
A LOT of stuff in the drive train is not interchangeable with any other commandoes.

Sorry to say but, you will get a lot of technical advice given by NON E-Start owners that is incorrect....

You should buy it also so you can have twice as much fun LOL :roll:
Boyers, Mikunis and Mark IIIs, all subjects that can stir controversy. I'm throughing my $.02 in early.
My original Commando was a 73 850. I sold it in 78. After 18 years I bought my next Commando, a Mark III. From the start, it felt different.
It didn't shift as smooth, the brake pedal crowds the peg, it just felt different. I thought maybe it was me looking back through rosey glasses at my previous bike.
I have since acquired 3 other Commandos, all 750's. They all shift better and have a better 'balanced' feel than the Mark III.
I am currently waiting for delivery of a very nice 73 Interstate. I feel like I have finally come home.
IIRC you used to ride a 73 850. If your looking for that same ride, it won't be. Doesn't make the Mark III bad, just different. The Mark III can be and is a nice ride, but you might consider a 73 / 74.

My $.02.

I agree with Dynodave on all accounts except for the shifter and the vernier adjusters for the isolastics.

I too own a '75 Commando and love it! The shifter has never failed to perform, despite the cross-shaft. Also, I feel the vernnier adjusters for the isos will not rust if you keep them dry; mine are rust free after 2-1/2 years of service.

A '75 Norton shifts on the same side as your late model Ducati, so this should not be a problem for you. The electric start is essentially junk and should be removed along with the sprag clutch and other related clap trap.

And as Dynodave mentioned, beware of the cam shaft. If you begin to see a bunch of metal fuzz on the magnetic crankcase drain plug, your cam is shot.

I would buy this '75 Commando if I were you; you simply can't have too many Nortons!.

Unless you make squillions of $, you should get the Norton you own running nice ! It looks good & there is not a lot of difference in performance to an 850.

I'm guessing that you like the idea of electric start because of your mishap(sore shin). You need to learn to kick "down" instead of "across on an angle".

Go back & read your post titled "My Norton is snorton" for inspiration.

Bite the bullet & drop it off at a norton shop & get it sorted. Once the "Carbys,Electrics/Ignition" are right, it will bring you all the joy you are looking for in owning a Norton.

The bike you own just needs sorting out & you will love riding it.
Why buy more trouble than you have atm ?

One Snorton Norton is worth 2 in the bush.
You could ask 5 different Norton owners this question & all may give their preferred model as the one to own, it depends on what they had a good run with........maintain/fix the one you have. In the long run it will be less expensive & gratifying to yourself.

Your battery seems fine doesn't it ?

Another thought :idea:

That Drum Brake wheel is worth nearly twice as much as a disc to people restoring & only works half as good.

If you sold it/swapped it(with another poster)& got some cash from them, you could use the change to pay a shop to get your bike running sweet :D

Just trying to help :!:
Well, so much for that idea. Thanks for the advice everyone!

I'd actually prefer the non-estart 850 like the one I used to have. But I suppose another one would have plenty of problems too. Would just be trading one set of problems for another new set.

I asked the shop what they'd want to get it running. The dude said he'd start by doing a full tune, for $200-$400. How you tune a bike that doesn't run is a mystery to me, but that's what he wanted to do. Plus new amal carbs for $400. Plus whatever it takes to actually *fix* the thing. Ouch. I decided he was too expensive. Don't know of anyone else in the area that works on them. So I think I have to just figure it out myself. But it turns out there is a Norton club in this area, "Norton Colorado". They might be able to help.

Reg, I PM'd you about the battery. Looks like it's ok to me.

So some people are willing to pay big bucks for that drum brake? It does look really cool. Great for a show bike.

Debby, you've put a lot of b,s&t into your 750. It would be a bummer to give up the good fight now. I wholeheartedly agree with nortonfan. Find a good shop and let them have a go at it. All the work you've done will help them sort it. Then after you've got it straight you can ride it and decide if it's a keeper. I would think the $$ you put into it now would be recovered if you decide to sell but I'm thinking you'll have too much fun riding the backroads of CO.

BTW, I bought my MKIII in 86. I can't compare it to others since it's the only one I've owned but it's got about 24000 miles and it's only left me stranded once. That cheap layshaft bearing gave out. I had the starter rebuilt and as long as the battery has a good charge it actually works by itself. A Boyer and Mikuni carb are the only other mods. Like you I have Ducs so the Norton has to share time. I manage to get 1-2000 miles a year of very pleasurable back road riding. I'm sure you will too.
keep the 750

Hi Debby,

Stay with the 750.
I've had both 750 and 850 Commandos. The 750s have better performance and since they were made more years in greater numbers have better parts availability.

There's really nothing that can't be fixed on Commandos. If you have to use a shop, get many recommendations that you trust first. There are people out there that can make things worse and get paid well for this. I'm sure those of us on this site will help as best we can.
Not open for further replies.