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Update vintage Norton to modern rider

Discussion in 'Motorcycle Related Discussions' started by 850commando, Jun 16, 2019.

  1. 850commando

    850commando

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2014
    It seems that modifying and personalizing our mode of transportation is a never ending money pit and obsession, never mind the time spend doing it all. so when one spends even a little time on this site, there is no end of discussion on things to improve & modify. does it ever end?

    here is my list of things that pissed me off in 1977 and are the push behind what i am "fixing" on my Norton now .
    1. front brake - 12" rotor, 4 pot caliper, & MC
    2. Prince of darkness custom wiring and Shendengen R/R
    3. handle bar controls - newer UJM items
    4. camshaft - it would be nice if they weren't made from ice-cream
    5. no more oil leaks - Comnoz PCV

    Wants
    6. fiberglass tank - replace dunstall fiberglass with welded alloy
    7. rims, alloy and wider to fit tire to proper curvature ( oh and 18" on rear)
    8. E-start - when my knee fails

    At some point we have to accept that our Nortons are the progeny of an antiquated design. how much do you change before it no longer is really a Norton. when is it time to call UNCLE?

    and SO whats you list?
     
  2. Craig

    Craig VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2005
    My list is under thread called “what to do” or some similar title .... After many years and upgrades .... I discovered that one Ducati ST3s and a MG Griso can keep me fairly happy , this is first year , that I haven’t fired the Norton yet , it’s ready waiting .....
     
  3. Fast Eddie

    Fast Eddie VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2013
    Now that’s a great question !
     
  4. Deets55

    Deets55 VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2013
    At some point we have to accept that our Nortons are the progeny of an antiquated design. how much do you change before it no longer is really a Norton
    [/QUOTE]

    Well one way to look at it is, If Norton never stopped making bikes these changes (should) have came about anyway. So basically the “old” Norton is a publicly owed company, controlled by the bike owners themselves ;)
     
    texasSlick likes this.
  5. jbruney

    jbruney

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2019
    Even with the spits & sputters, leaks & backfires, and general cantankerous moody nature I would have to say that I'm pleased with my Norton. I was fully aware of the machine's personality when the relationship began 42 years ago and all I really want is reasonably priced OEM bits to keep status quo. No matter what the old bike cannot become a new design, so enjoy for what it is or purchase a 961.
     
  6. texasSlick

    texasSlick VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2013
    Even with their leaks, "general cantankerous moody nature" (quoting jbruney), and Prince of Darkness quirks and limitations (some of which I have eliminated with "Good Ol' Made in USA" stuff, they still are simple machines, and easy to work on. Contrast that with the moderns!

    Slick
     
  7. Craig

    Craig VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2005
    Yes they are simple and nothing sounds quite like a Commando on the move ! .... that being said, while my 2 modern Italian bikes are now 12 years of age ... they not much more difficult to work on ,different , not harder .... maybe a little easier to live with .... sooner, I will fire Norton up and it will be love all over again leading to early Sunday morning rides that are best enjoyed on a real Norton Commando, king of the back road bombers .....
     
  8. jbruney

    jbruney

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2019
    Well...If you're going to rack me...there are a few US, Nip, Czech, etc., others on there just because of common sense. My meaning is if I want a Duc, Guz, and so forth, then ……………….
     
  9. ashman

    ashman

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    I have had my Norton since new but as we go through our life together and things wear out of course we are going to make changes that will make it even better, convering my Commando to the Featherbed using what I could off the Commando to the Featherbed and as it got older I up graded things for the better with new modren things when the old parts were becoming to worn out or becoming unsafe and the last 7 years lots of big changes when I had the money to do these changes, but with all the changes I have done, its still a Norton, still the same motor, same gearbox, same front end, same rear end all Norton, I just helped it along with modren things to make it handle better, to stop when needed, to start on first kick everytime, but its still a Norton and better still its my Norton, built the way I wanted it, I have had this bug since I was 17 years old when I brought my new Norton, we all change as we grow older together and to me its for the better and hopefully it will be with me till the day I die, then hopefully my youngest daugther will look after it, but hopefully that will be a long time yet.

    Ashley
     
    Jerry Doe likes this.
  10. Jerry Doe

    Jerry Doe Admin

    Joined:
    May 21, 2003
    Both my commandos are modernized from a safety and reliability standpoint. They are very reliable, quite fast and sound great. Not maintenance free, but much safer at high speeds. I am glad I made the effort.
     
    ashman and Craig like this.
  11. lcrken

    lcrken VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2009
    Courses for horses, and all that. But nothing says you can't have more than one style of Commando. In the shop right now I have one lightly modified MK3 that belongs to my grandson, but which I also get to ride, one radically modified project MK3 that will hopefully be finished while I can still ride, and one 961. All I'm missing now is something closer to original, maybe a lighter 750 version. I really like both the MK3 and the 961, but as I get older, they seem to get heavier. I'll keep looking for bargains:).

    Ken
     
  12. jbruney

    jbruney

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2019
    I must admit that I've always had this thing for shorty mufflers. I really like them when I blow about half of the steel baffle out because that's when they get saucy. Current ones are jacking with my mixture after being completely gutted, so it blubbers off and on.
    Upgrades fall under common sense. If NV had survived and continued most of them would have come about eventually to remain competitive.

    I would guess to answer OP in when to cry uncle that would be somewhere down the road.....say 30-50 years after you receive recognition for keeping history alive. Of course you probably won't be around for it, but perhaps some family member shall say " He did what?".
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2019
  13. texasSlick

    texasSlick VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2013
    Nortons have a soul. When you lose that, it is no longer a Norton.

    Slick
     
    850commando likes this.
  14. 850commando

    850commando

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2014
    yeah, its that siren song of the dunstall pipes on a high rev deceleration. nothing comes close, well almost nothing, maybe a Duc up near 10,000rpm

    ride on
     
  15. o0norton0o

    o0norton0o VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2015
    I have a very long list of modifications, because it's in my nature to modify every mechanical thing I own. In my case, think it's a control freak issue. I see a problem. It bothers me. I research the problem. I go around for weeks telling friends and strangers alike that I don't understand why something would be produced with this obvious flaw. I start thinking crazy thoughts about changing things. I spend 100's of hours doing the project that I have to either finish successfully, OR completely "EFF" the thing up beyond repair, so I can surrender and "let it go".

    When I went to the Elma rally, a lady came over to look at my commando. I asked her, "Do you like it or no?" She said, "NO, the fairing looks Bulbous. I asked her if it looked more proportionate with me on the bike, to which she answered, "NO". I then politely thanked the rather ugly woman for her opinion, and she walked away. :D

    My latest project is to fit interstate side covers to a '70 commando with the central oil tank. My welder buddy has added sheet metal to them where needed, and I've scribed them to fit. I added a hand made bracket to the right side cover, and scribed a hole for the key switch in the forward cheek of the left sidecover. It's a pain in the ass, but I hated the way the early side covers butted up against the interstate tank, so change it I must...

    As long as Jim Comstock has more modifications than I do, then my bike is still a norton...
     
  16. robs ss

    robs ss VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2016
    Talking about "soul" - one of the things I love about Norton twins (don't look 961 riders) is the sound and feel of the 360 crank - never mind about its shortcomings!

    A friend has a Triumph Scrambler (2005 I think) which has a 270 crank. I have often poked fun at his "Triumcati" which he promptly rejects as bullshit.
    Well - he recently went south to a blues & roots festival and had just pulled in and turned the Triumph's engine off when a bloke ran into the carpark, looked around then asked him where the 900ss was that he was sure he'd heard.
    So he reckons now that he's going to fit a pair of Contis to complete the sound!
     
  17. 850commando

    850commando

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2014
    maybe thats the standard by which we should judge a"Norton"
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2019
  18. jbruney

    jbruney

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2019
    We can't speak poorly of Duc's please. I've always dreamed of one, but since no longer working tis to remain a dream like a bazillion other bikes. It's just that I prefer the ones from thirty or so years ago. The same with Guzzi's too. I'm locked in a motorcycle time warp. <1980<
     
  19. robs ss

    robs ss VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2016
    Wasn't intending to speak poorly of them - I like them too (a round case is, sadly, out of my budget) it's just that a Triumph, or Norton, shouldn't sound like one.
    Just my viewpoint though!
     
  20. jbruney

    jbruney

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2019
    I didn't mean for that to come across as being directed at you...I could always drive over to an old buddy and drool on his cherry '78 Darmah. Bought new, couple of short drives, & stored with the rest of his hoard inside his house.
     

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