Who made my mkIII frame?

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Aug 14, 2006
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Some debate over on the Jockey Journal about Commando frame numbers. Mine is stamped with no F. Number is 850 334 159. Manufactured 7/75.Bike is a MkIII 850.

I was told my frame is made by Reynolds. Am I on glue assuming this?

I tried to search for that old thread about the Italian made Commando frames and came up with nothing.

Coco said:
Mine is stamped with no F. Number

And neither is mine, which has a frame number only a little higher than yours, and it also has a 7/75 frame plate stamp with the plate number matching the frame number.

*Supposedly* the Italian frames were made from metric tubing, and the easiest check of that is to measure the diameter of the large frame spine tube? If it is 60mm diameter, then it could be an Italian one? And if it is 2-3/4" (2 1/4") diameter then it can be assumed to be a Reynolds made frame. My Mk3 top tube measures up as 2.278" (57.88mm) including the paint so I'm assuming I have a Reynolds-made Mk3 frame, until such time that somebody disproves the metric/Imperial tubing argument?

I think by the time our Mk3 frames were built they may have only been made by Reynolds?
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After reading the Jockey Journal topic I would like to add some more information.

According to information (given by Les Emery) on the Norvil Motorcycles website: http://www.norvilmotorcycle.co.uk/ the F100000+ frame numbers started at engine number 307311. And 850 Mk2 production also started from 307311 apparently, so these 'F1' frames would have been used from around December 1973 if the number supplied by Mr. Emery is correct, and continued on well into Mk3 production (from frame = F125001 & eng. 325001) onwards until around May '75?

I was told by Les Emery some while ago, that the frames with the F markings were the Italian made ones.


Does anybody have a lower plate/engine number than 307311 with an F1 frame?

Or a 750 model (eng. 200000/220000) with the F1 number?

Or an F1 frame apparently made from Imperial tubing or vice versa, although it is known that Reynolds did correct various defects on some faulty Italian frames, so metric tubing could have been replaced with Imperial?
I think that there were metric-tubed 850 Mk 111 frames but the only surviving evidence that I have is the sawed-off headstock of my badly crashed original frame. In so far as the tube can be measured, it is 60mm. It is an April 75 assembly numbered 850 F130868 and stamped on the other side 00141.

An objective reading of the red headstock plate will show that even if UK market, it only carries information about meeting Federal (i.e. U.S.) safety standards. Strange as it may seem and although it had always been the practice prior to the Commando, it seems that it was not a compulsory requirement in the UK for frames to be stamped with a number.

A Stolen Vehicles Squad Police Officer told me that around the early 1970s, there was talk of a forthcoming UK requirement for all frames and chassis to be stamped with a unique Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) used by no other manufacturer and Nortons took action on this but it was subsequently to fall by the wayside with the introduction of the European-wide 17 digit unique VIN number incorporating manufacturer and plant codes etc.

Unfortunately, the situation was not widely publicised at the time and I have come across Commandos registered on the basis of the stamped F number, the engine / red plate number or a mis-read version of either !

I can only imagine that the situation in the US is just as confusing.

Correctly speaking, a Commando with a number stamped on the headstock should be registered in the UK with that number as the frame number but this was a UK market requirement and the US or other importer could well have chosen to disregard this, especially as the red plate Federal Safety Certification plate only ever carried the engine number.

Based on the knowledge that all Nortons made since 7th October 1939 had matching engine and frame numbers, I can well imagine that many dealers kept to this habit when submitting details to the Registration authorities.
Hi there from frogland.......my JPN was registered in 1974 as n°100892, and all the other were as per normal engine numbers , I had allways thought , it was because the JPN tag was under the seat /tank and no more on the headstock and so the lazy registers only check the engraved n° on this headstock and don't looked under the seat, which was in fact 100892.......since I have sold the JPN plastic bits , keep quite long time the special long roadster (it was so original), wrecked the engine , change it , so at the end just have now the registration and the frame( with the rivets holes under the seat, but relocated the tag on the headstock) with another 850 mill, I will caliper the main tube tomorrow. There was a interesting link sometomes in Dynodave about italian/english frames and another way to distinguish them was to look at the tank mountings , but can't remenber the exact story.Pierre
It's my understanding the Italian company was Verlicchi who is still making motorcycle frames. See their web site:


A few years ago I emailed the company asking for any info on the frames they made for Norton. I got a reply, but was told the records no longer existed. The following is from the web site--Norton is mentioned under "1964-1971".

Verlicchi History
1934 - 1963
In 1934 Nino Verlicchi (1914 – 1996) and his brother Giuseppe opened a small workshop in via S. Carlo, in the centre of Bologna, for the production of tubular steel structures, in particular handlebars and exhaust pipes. They worked for Bologna’s engineering motorcycle industry, at the time led by companies such as CM, GD and MM.
In 1946, after the 2nd world war, Nino Verlicchi reopened the shop in via S. Carlo. Thanks to the know-how gained during the war (working in military workshops), he began to design and produce his first complete motorcycle and bicycle frames. It was during this period that he patented and produced the first innovative integral use of frame-supported suspension frame for the Ducati “Cucciolo” engine.
Increased use of frame supported small engines led to significant growth, and in 1950 the Company moved to a 300 sq. m. industrial shed in via Andrea Costa (Bologna), expanding to 20 employees.
During these years, the Company started a close relationship with the Italian motorcycle industry, and Verlicchi soon became the main supplier to Ducati, Morini, Mondial, Cimati, Malanca and BM-Bonvicini.
1964 - 1971
In 1964 the Company acquired a new 3000 sq. M. factory in Croce di Casalecchio (BO) and expanded its staff to 100.
These new premises were immediately organised for maximum efficiency, with specialised departments for each step of the frame production process.
This allowed Verlicchi to expand its business horizons, and to deliver the first supplies to important new European manufacturers such as Norton, Zündapp, Triumph, Laverda, Guzzi, Fantic and Minarelli.
Those were the years of the greatest popularity of a new frame designed by Nino Verlicchi. This frame, known for adaptability and reliability, would equip a large number of models, such as Benelli, Fantic, Moto Morini and Villa, for more then a decade.
1972 - 1989
In 1972 the Company inaugurated its 16.000 sq. m. factory in Zola Predosa, close to Bologna. This is still the Company’s operating centre.
In addition to the expanding of various production departments, the Company created an independent Technical Department to co-operate with Customers in product design, development and industrialisation.
Thanks to this strategy, Verlicchi has intensified its collaboration and supply relationship with international partners such as Honda Motor.
In the early 1980s the advent of aluminium machining was a turning point in the Company’s evolution. By applying exclusive research and know-how, the Company offered its customers innovative frame solutions.
In 1984 was introduced a frame for Bimota entirely manufactured in light alloy, the first in Europe for mass-produced motorcycles. Similar products were introduced in the following years for Ducati, Aprilia, Yamaha, Cagiva, Beta and Montesa.
1990 - 2000
In 1990 Verlicchi became a supplier for BMW motorcycles, and in 1993 for BMW cars. Very close technical collaboration with this important group provided greater knowledge in the use of light alloys. The result was a frame obtained by assembling and machining of cast aluminium parts.
At the same time, the first weight-bearing frame structure in light alloy were developed for the car industry. These are now extensively used in mass production.
In the early 1990s the Company entered another sector: the design and production of special light alloy-frames for high-end mountain bikes and road bikes. In 1997 the Verlicchi Team won the downhill world cup.
In 1997 Verlicchi inaugurated Verlicchi Casoli S.r.l. on a 21.000 sq. m. space close to Chieti. This unit mass-produces steel frames and components. At first, the unit aimed at satisfying the growing needs of the nearby Honda Italia plant, but production lines for other customers were soon installed.
In 1998 Verlicchi defined the products that play an essential role in its market. Of special importance are the light-alloy frames for the BMW safety cell vehicle (C1) and similar frame solutions for the city-car.
These new structures are built in a new 6000 sq. m. factory close to Bologna, inaugurated in 1998.
L.A B. I have an 850 frame. Frame no. 850 F128773. Plate no. 329803, Date 3/75. Main tube is 60mm small tube is 25mm. 750 69 fastback main tube 57.88 small tube 1 inch. Hope this helps with the data for frame manufacturer and years manufactured.

L.A.B. said:
Coco said:
Mine is stamped with no F. Number
* And if it is 2-3/4" diameter then it can be assumed to be a Reynolds made frame. My Mk3 top tube measures up as 2.278" (57.88mm) including the paint so I'm assuming I have a Reynolds-made Mk3 frame,?


Should that read "And if it is 2-1/4 diameter....." ?

2-1/4" =2.25 plus paint might be 2.278"
worntorn said:
Should that read "And if it is 2-1/4 diameter....." ?

2-1/4" =2.25 plus paint might be 2.278"

Yes, you are quite right, - my mistake.
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