What Is The Best Commando Manual?

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Sep 12, 2008
This is a real new owner question. The previous owner graciously gave me a Haynes manual when I bought my '74 a few months ago. It may just be me, but it hasn't been of much use. It's hard to find information. The index references page (or section) numbers that don't seem to correspond to the subject listed, the pictures are very dark and there isn't a lot basic info I'm looking for.

I found a manual on the internet, but there's no page advance feature so it's very slow trying to find something.

Can anyone suggest a better one? Thanks in advance for any help!
I recommend the combined BSA Norton and Triumph Clymer collection Series service, repair and maintenance manual no M330. It is much better than the Haynes and has some useful tips specific to each bike, there is also the added bonus for British bike fans that all three of the most popular marques and models are combined in this one book. I bought my copy from "Rabers Parts Mart. the last time I was in the US.
Good luck with the manuals. You may very well end up with a couple before you are done. The pictures are usually dark and unclear. The parts drawings are a good reference for reassembly. Check out the Old Britts site for great references on specific repair efforts.
You can never have enough and without a doubt you will have a need for more than one . You can pick up a CD that takes in the factory service manual and parts manual from 1970 onward for $10.00 on E-Bay right now.
I have an original Commando Workshop Manual 1970 models and Onwards that was a 1972 edition and it doesn't cover the 850's so be careful if you purchase one somewhere to get the 1970-1973 version. It is the 3 ring binder type with plasticized covers and was the official Norton Villiers manual. I found it to be concise, orderly and easy to understand, in short priceless.

I purchased a new 750 combat in 1972 and soon realized I'd be spending more than the $1899.99 CND purchase price for parts and service the way the dealer was treating me. I kept asking them to sell me a manual but they were unavailable," besides it would void my warranty if I did my own wrenching on it" I was told. The dealer had his shop split in two. On one side of the show room was a line of Nortons and on the other side was a line of Suzukis. The owner of the shop raced Suzukis and I'll have to say was heavily biases toward them. I began to question why he was a Norton dealer by the way he spoke of them (after I purchased). Finally after getting exasperated asking for a manual I wrote Norton Villiers asking if it were possible to get a manual though them. I received a letter back telling me my dealer would sell me one. The dealer kept telling me you couldn't get them and they didn't even have one. I wrote another letter and I think I got a phone call from Norton Villiers but finally they sent me a letter directing me to go to my dealer because a manual with my name on was being sent to them. The letter also directed me to hand the letter over to the dealer if they told me they didn't have a manual for me. That portion of the letter directed the dealer to phone Norton Villiers immediately while I was there. And yes, it came to that, I handed the letter to my dealer and he took it red faced into his office and made the phone call. He came out and handed me a manual. I wanted to share this story here because I think it was this type of attitude and dealer support that contributed to the demise of Norton Motorcycles.
You need a factory service manual and parts book. These are available in PDF form from a number of places, or you can buy them as hardcopy from outfits like http://www.oldbritts.com. Look on ebay as well.

For third party manuals, stay away from the Haynes: They are of dubious accuracy and, as pointed out above, the pictures are awful. The best is the Clymer Norton manual -- great pictures -- which was out of print for ages, but has now be reissued in one volume with their BSA and Triumph manuals.
I've got every manual & parts book I could lay my hands on and I use them all. You never know when you need that one picture taken at just the right angle or that one bit of info the other ones don't mention.
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