My Idea of a New Bike
While at the Laverda show last year I dropped a few drools on a new Norton Commando. Good looking bike but sticker shock cooled the drools. I got thinking about depreciation and new bikes vs classic ‘70s Brit stuff. Could I make an oldie be as good as a new one or at least in the ball park, not really I guess but it would be fun to try. To me an 850 Norton fitted with fork and brake upgrades or a modern upside down fork from a Ducati or similar is a great thing. I did this to a customers bike years ago. The modern sport bike and a classic twin are similar weights. I recently fitted a GSXR inverted front end on a big bad 900cc BSA ( a non matching Oil frame special .) That‘s 4 specials I have built for myself with inverted forks now. Then shocks that actually absorb, like Ikon or Bitubo @ $6-700 or similar. Saves your spine from getting shorter. I always fit slightly longer than stock shocks on my Commandos as it helps with steering and stops them looking like choppers with a bit of a load on board. Pinch the swingarm pin at the cradle pivot to stop flexing if not an EStart model. Fit MK3 isolastics if not a MK3 for easier maintenance . I would fit an extra isolastic mount under the gearbox as I normally do to my own Nortons, saves maintenance, just use the early isolastic parts and 3 mounts keep it tracking true. To get it started , these are not the easiest classics to boot into life , a starter kit from the USA @ $2500US. Likely it would be using a belt primary drive, so low to no maintenance. I have a few bikes with many a mile on a belt primary without any fuss. While the primary is out, maybe fit a 6 speed TT Industries box ,”only” ($6K), top stuff though, or maybe not. I have 4 Commandos with Triumph pre-unit gearboxes I fitted and filled with 5 speed gears, not that easy but can be done. My poor mans 5 speed. Thing is though, with the torque these things have a 4 speed is fine. With the engine , a new set of long 6.3” steel rods and suitable forged pistons, this obviously requires rebalancing. Then with some nice S/Steel valves coupled with Ni-Br-Al guides will increase top end life . This rod combo increases dwell, therefore torque. More of the stuff, add a nice single 34mm carb to help with economy and maybe even a bit more mid range torque, why not. These 850’s have bags of torque to start with so these few mods make it way easier to pull tall cruisey gearing. Of course, high output charging and electronic ignition for some electrical reliability, with maybe a decent modern multi handlebar switch. Bolt the exhaust on with a few more mounting points , high pipe , low pipes or 2-1 under the frame ? and then the livery. More body work than Arnie for Commandos to choose from. Small tank, big tank, fastback tank and any aluminium style in between. How much would it cost, dunno but depreciation on a new bike would take care of a good chunk of the build. My idea of a new bike, with 125kph+ cruising capability and one of the best handling bikes out of England. That’s the thing with 60’s and 70’s Triumph and Norton , the aftermarket has a dazzling array of products. Even though I have built a few bikes with a few of the ideas that are floated here I haven’t as yet done a full monty.