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143MPH 850 MK1 Commando?

Discussion in 'Norton Motorcycles (Modern)' started by Bazz, Jan 11, 2012.

  1. Bazz


    Dec 5, 2005
    Just been reading Classic Bike Guide issue 247, where they have done a comparison of the MK 1 with the new 961. An interesting article , and I like the style of the 961,but what caught my attention was the claimed speed of the 850- quoted as 143 mph(Elvington-September 1973). Is/was Elvington a mine shaft?

    Bazz :D

    1970 T120R Bonneville
    1973 MK 5 750 Commando
    1979 BMW R100S
    1993 Harley Dyna Wide Glide
  2. john robert bould

    john robert bould

    Sep 26, 2009
    No, It was a deep well! infact a Commando thrown from a plane would struggle to reach 145 mph, some sky divers hit 150 screwed up into a ball,again changing gear in that position would be tricky :lol:
  3. 1up3down


    Jan 12, 2011
    A stock 850 (pre Mark3) at sea level would struggle to reach 115.

    Just my opinion from owning four of them.
  4. hobot


    Oct 19, 2005
  5. john robert bould

    john robert bould

    Sep 26, 2009
    Comparing like for like, My Jota 1000cc triple,twin cam 80 bhp will show 131 on the clock,very best..135. So with only 60 brake at best to play with the old Commando in stock road trim ain't going to be passing me!
    But this is an old post, where Commando's would do 160, my old Honda Blackbird would just do 160...thats with a full set of plastic's and 160 BHP :!:
  6. Rohan


    Aug 26, 2010
    As has been quoted here a number of times now, a FACTORY hot-rodded 850 Mk 1 Roadster ridden by factory rider Dave Rawlins did that AVERAGE 143 mph at an International Meet at Elvington. This is quoted in the 1973 Norton brochure. And some quick 1/4 mile times, with gearing changed, they mention.

    This bike was the factory idea of a Combat spec 850, although noise regs were said to prevent them selling them like that. Nortons published Tuning Sheet 1 and Tuning Sheet 2 saying how this was done - 4S cam, shaved head, hi-flow exhaust, etc etc etc. MotorCycleMechanics mag published this in fair detail in 1973.

    Andover Norton recently had a pic of this bike and rider and engineer back at the time on their website, may still be there someplace.
    Looked like a standard 850 Roadster. The ultimate street sleeper ?
    I bought a (wrecked) 850 to try this on, but by 1977 parts were hard to get, and it never happened much beyond a std bike.

    P.S. Elvington still has their record books for International Meets, and recently advised that if someone can quote the date they can look up all the recorded runs. Someone local may get to sight these ?
  7. 1up3down


    Jan 12, 2011
    Norton, The Racing Story book says Peter WIlliams was clocked at 150mph at Daytona in 1973 (full on factory effort), but even at that could not match the top speed of the three cylinder Triumphs or of course the Yamaha two strokes.

    Is this deja vu all over again?

    We had an entire long thread on Commando top speed a while back!
  8. Rohan


    Aug 26, 2010
    Yes, and all the disbelievers are still here.
    How soon some memories forget....
  9. cash


    Nov 10, 2006
    Yep, I've still got a copy of the article, and it gets a mention in Norton Commando by Mick Duckworth.
  10. Matt Spencer

    Matt Spencer

    Jul 25, 2010

    Listening to the experts of the press as to the antiquity 7 obsolescene of the machine must have been diheartening .
    Meridan could have been stood against a wall and shot for subversion and rebellion in other circumstsances . The Chaos
    theory was perhaps the most applicable .?

    Outside of an ' IRON BARREL ' ( H.D. :lol: :lol: :lol: the common perception at the time , good railway engine , BUT ? )

    Presummeably The stage three Rawlins was 4S cam , Norvil short stroke Full Hemi Head , 36 mm Amals .
    A lot of one litre twins were running 40 mm Carbs by this time .

    Dunno what a Series ONE SS 750 Duke does but ' The Bro's ' ( Simmon ) PR 72 has the legs & top end on the Ducati .
    On the ROAD , raced ringdings , NOT there investments .

    With an increase in the standards of engineering and production , Durability of the machine wasnt appalling .THOUGH
    theres four updates Id consider mandatory if retooling / updateing , for voume production .for ' a modern consumer
    society ' , THOUGH , at the time , regarded as a ' Super Sports ' in the Combat or P.R. guise ,
    and ' Muscle Bike / Super Bike at its intro , its hardly a machine fo NOVICES . Something that caused some concern then .

    1970 ' British ' volume vehicals were being introduced that Had stood ' Durability ' testing .Some turkeys still wrecked them .

    ' Hillman Hunter ' comes to mind . Winner of a London to Sydney ' marathon rally , but derided still by many .Whos problem ?
  11. prmurat


    Jun 6, 2003
    That speed is normal for our own Hobot, only in 2nd gear, when chased by all the wannabes on their plastic rocket...
  12. Matt Spencer

    Matt Spencer

    Jul 25, 2010
    May well've got that @ 10.000 in second . Though gearing was for Quater , mayve been in top . :? :D
  13. htown16


    Apr 29, 2009
    Not bad for a girls bike.
  14. Carbonfibre


    Nov 16, 2010
    143mph from a Commando?.................. To go that fast the bike would have needed at least 80bhp at the rear wheel, and or a very effective lay down streamliner type chassis.

    Seems strange that myths like that get taken as fact over the years, even though its simply not possible for a bike to go that fast without far more power than it was likely to have had at the time of "testing"...................
  15. Matt Spencer

    Matt Spencer

    Jul 25, 2010

    Sorry , wouldve been somewhere round that . 8) :!:
  16. Rohan


    Aug 26, 2010
    Speed was officially clocked at an International Speed Meet at Elvington.
    Talk to them about the accuracy of their equipment ?
    Eyewitness reports say that it was FAST.
    A 24 t gearbox sprocket a shade over 7000 rpm would do about that, so it is feasible.
    1/4 mile times weren't one offs, bike was often dragged.
    Posted a pic here recently of 1974, already ahead of a Onda...

    Did you see the photos.
    Dave Rawlins is built like a jockey, and gets down to it.
    Like all the best MotoGP jockeys these days, 5 ft nothing and 7 stone... (well almost)
    Peter Williams was a foot too tall for a really faster racer ?
    No disrespect, obviously was good at it, and knew what it was about.

    P.S. Speed and event was quoted in the 1973 Norton Brochure, so there has been almost 40 years to disprove this claim....
  17. john robert bould

    john robert bould

    Sep 26, 2009
    Burt Munro's Indian clocked 198 not bad for a bike that did 55!
    If a stock commando rolled out of the show room was capable of 143 then history would be differant, Honda's flag ship would have never got off the ground.
    Imagin : back in the seventies " now which bike shall i buy, a Poxy 125mph honda 750, or a 143mph Norton?" Norton would have been still producing well into the eighties. some improvement to the brakes would have been required :!: plus a few other area's.
  18. Rohan


    Aug 26, 2010
    Think that might be the quote of the Millenium.... !

    Wonder how far the fuel in a roadster fuel tank would last at that speed.... ?
  19. Matt Spencer

    Matt Spencer

    Jul 25, 2010
    INDEED . :wink:


    Looks Standard Cataloge to me . Hows ' 160 ' Timed .
    Back when it was new , then sold to this bloke , 600
    bucks . :lol: :lol: Imported for NZ Production Raceing .
    He needed to bring in TWENTY , but only brought THREE.
    Bother . Timed in South Island ( wont mention methanol )
    Sure the extra jets are listed on ' Options ' . :lol:

    SORRY CHAPS . Pay Up . :p :shock:
  20. Matt Spencer

    Matt Spencer

    Jul 25, 2010
    Not only noise regs , but politics . Govt. Fleet Orders ( remember the Interplod ) You build THOSE , NO Govt. Contracts .
    Full Stop . They say if thered been anything happen that day , this wouldve been on page two , no public scandle ? ? ? 1980
    in Aus. SLR 5000 torana outside several wreckers , Bright Green or Bright Orange . Banana Chassis . Car Vs Lampost .
    Sideways . THEY were the ' Detuned ' ones . from later . Deposit of 20 % was around a weeks pay for a motorcycle .


    Paranoia . Hysteria .

    Combat , std ' launch ' 12.7 ish . Sure .

    Combat, 3500 Launch 12.2 ish . Sure Thing . Funny how that bloke at the lights got upset ?? yes , well , anyway . :lol: :?

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