Norton Commando 750 Roadster print

Norton Commando 750 Roadster print

Superbike for a summer

In a brief moment of non-simultaneity, the slim and excitingly styled Norton Commando was able to triumph: in the summer of 1968, when the modernizers at Honda couldn’t offer anything over 450 cm3, it made it to the superbike with its 56 hp parallel twin. Despite the camshaft below, a separate gearbox, cast iron cylinders and kick starter. Just a machine, with pitfalls, quirks and – soul.

It must have been around the time Jimi Hendrix died. He should have omitted that, because these years were not necessarily rich in role models for sustainable rebellion, but all the more rich in waving index fingers. After all, in 1970 you were still allowed to smoke on the Bremerhaven tram, on the open platform of the last wagon. It was from there that he was spotted for the first time, the tall US soldier with his commando. In broad daylight turned from an alley in the red-light district onto Hafenstrasse, slammed past the accelerating tram, elegantly crossed the rails and turned into Lange Strasse, between whose crouched houses the threatening sound of his twin gradually faded away. The GI was black, his Norton yellow – at the mouth of the Weser there was another picture for Rebellion, even a savings account suddenly seemed worthwhile.

And since then, at least at the mouth of the Weser, the motorcycle boys have been immune to one of the greatest errors in motorcycle history. Namely the one who links escape and wild Luzie with Harley-Davidson and which goes back to a film called Easy Rider, in which two guys seek their highly personal freedom and play incredibly wonderfully with the lifestyle of a whole youth. It just so happens that the guys drive Harleys, but at that time – except for a handful of Hell’s Angels – at most the California police did.

Actually, they should have moved BSA, Triumph or Norton, because the really trendy irons were called Spitfire, Bonneville or Atlas and were already called to blow the whole world with a short burst of gas. Machines that, thanks to their sensitive reduction, did not need any explanation, with motors that mankind has known for decades. At the same time, links to the early industrial era, when a skilled machinist was more important than the boss. Those who really cared about themselves drove 650s, but the brothers Joe and Michael Berliner, US importers for Norton, said it was even more important: the 750 Atlas that they had developed produced around 50 hp in the 60s rich value. However, the Atlas was a rough shaker and grayed out stylistically.

The Commando is – in all its variants – different. Independent. Designed. Dynamic. It weighs 180 kilos dry. Your slightly forwardly inclined, roughly ribbed two-cylinder seems to be about to jump. And sounds! Determining, honest, original. Year ignition every 360 degrees, always nicely in time. There is no better parallel twin sound. It sounds best at low speeds when the engine builds up its irresistible pressure from 2000 turns. It continues to grow rumbling until the twin develops a thump at 3000 rpm. Then he trumpets, finally shredding the air.

But it can be doubted that all readers of the British Motor Cycle News, which they voted motorcycle of the year in 1968, had ever heard a Commando: Although the most powerful series Norton to date made its debut at the 1967 autumn show in London’s Earls Court, Production started in April 1968, but almost all machines initially went to North America. In England there were mostly brochures, and they showed a stretched-looking motorcycle with a long tail – the Fastback, later called the Fastback. Smooth-surfaced, with polished side covers on the engine, which was basically taken over from the Atlas and based on a half-liter construction from 1948, with lacquer paints on the tank and rump, as they were similar to the bodies of electric guitars . Brit pop.

A year later came the variant for the Wild West. Without a rump, but with a higher handlebar and two bends on the left-hand side and raised silencers. But a Norton, even the Americans thought, shouldn’t be a scrambler – the Commando S disappeared. Instead, the anglophile Roadster made its debut in 1970 to the delight of veteran Norton fans. Hit! A little more fashionable than a Triumph Bonneville, but still within the limits of convention. She is slim, too, but rounded, almost addicted to harmony, definitely inviting and with a moderately British seating position. Gentleman, start your engine.

Each of the two Amal carburettors flooded, the pistons with the massive, shorts kickstarter pushed a little over top dead center and on top. She always comes, no later than the third step, is nicer than many a Nippon single. First gear in, so right foot up. Klock. the disc spring of the four-plate clutch requires a lot of manual force, but comes gently. And then comes the Commando. Shifts from the lowest speeds. Second gear, right foot down. Third – somehow the casual kickdown goes well with cool acceleration. Fourth gear, now it’s over.

But in the fourth the kingdom of heaven has already begun. This draft! This background noise! Anyone who has carefully followed the increase in strength has long known that third and fourth are enough to make rapid progress even by today’s standards. With a 73 bore, a full 89 millimeters of stroke: way enough to slurp plenty of mixture. There is also plenty of crankshaft flywheel, which is why this oldie with a big bang effect dashes out of tight corners, only to get the needles of Smith watches surprisingly fast – on the straight. Debauchery close to 7000 tours are unhealthy, the designers said. But without it is boring, her engine roars. Preferably in the third, from curve to curve, and when braking (a rather dark chapter), he helps out as much as he can and theatrically groans his way down the speed ladder.

Incidentally, the scholars at the time believed that a twin had its ideal size of 650 cubic centimeters. Just as they later wanted to freeze the single at half a liter. Balancer shafts have long taught the world a better one, but that is precisely what the Commando could only dream of with its particularly delicate synchronous rotor. So their builders bridled the horse from the other side: They decided to end the legendary Norton feather bed frame, connected the motor, gearbox and swing arm with a subframe and attached the whole thing to the main frame at three points using so-called Isolastic elements. With the most meticulous distancing, this construction allowed a lot of horizontal, but only marginal vertical vibrations. But if you messed around, your twin wriggled in the cane and messed up every curve.

D.he well-known jury of the brake manufacturer Ferrodo firmly believed in the ideal condition, named the Isolastic one of “the most important contributions in motorcycle history” and awarded its inventors 1,000 pounds in prize money. The judges did not think about the engine, because decoupled from its expressions of life, many pilots gave a lot of rubber even on expressways. Stupid. For the main camp and some other little things. Doubly stupid, because from 1969 the Norton had found its ultimate destination as a star on the curve. Straight ahead, the Honda’s CB 750 had taken command.

Technical data – Norton Commando 750 Roadster

Engine: Air-cooled two-cylinder four-stroke in-line engine, 745 cm³, bore x stroke 73 x 89 mm, 41 kW (56 PS) at 6600 rpm, 66 Nm (6.7 kpm) torque at 5300 rpm, one camshaft below, two Valves per cylinder. Chassis: tubular steel frame with double beams and an elastically suspended combination of subframe, motor, gearbox and swing arm, telescopic fork, two spring struts at the rear, single-disc brake at the front, drum brake at the rear. Tires 3.00-19 at the front and 3.50-19 at the rear, weight with a full tank of 203 kg. Driving performance: Acceleration from 0 to 100 km / h in 5.4 seconds, top speed around 180 km / h. Price 1972: 6150 marks, construction time 1970 ?? 1977.

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