This really brings back memories of a Norton 750 Commando I had possession for a few weeks back in 1976. I guy I knew went to fish in Alaska and let me keep the bike for him. He said I could ride it if I could get it running.
That is the best way to describe the Norton. When running it was still a very fast bike for the time it was built. It handled like a much smaller bike.. and world's better than the Japanese offerings of the time. That was when it was running.
It had constant problems and after a few rides I got tired of the high rate of having to get a ride home and come get it with my Datsun pickup so I parked it.
But when it was running it was great. If Norton had put some quality control in, like replacing the atrocious positive ground Lucas electrics and sucko Amal carbs and fixed the problems with dropping valves and frying clutches, the bike might have survived.
Ironically there is an American company that has been restoring old Nortons and making them good reliable bikes like the Brits should have in the first place. They build their own 950 replica. I'd love to own one.
My 72 Combat Commando brings back fond memories. I always thought the Norton was the best of the British in the late 60s thru the 70's. Had to root for Alex Jorgensen on his Ron Wood Norton at the dirt tracks. The only real complaint I had about the bike is the kickstart gearing was off. Even with the mightiest kick, it seemed the motor barely turned over. Cool bikes and nice article.
The idea of a modern Norton, kept very much like the early 70's Commando, with modern carbs (no FI please), good brakes and electronic ignition is very appealing to me. More so than even the new retro-Ducatis. That's my idea of a cruiser bike. I could even become a poser. Keep that low-slung, loud, sluggish-handling, heavy V twin eye candy. I'll take a loud, light, good handling piece of Brit eye candy any day. Meet you at the cafe for a quick a ton up cruise.
After owning an old Brit bike (Trumpet not Norton sorry) I can honestly tell you that I too fall victum to the lure of these lovely's. Oh life would improve, sky's would be bluer and my love life would improve if I could have one of these beauties.
First they look great second they push you down the road in a manner that is hard to explain. Noise, vibration and low end torque make the inline 4's and most modern bikes feel like electric motors.
The closest modern day bike that brings the feeling of riding one of these bikes is a Buell. Small, light with a lump of a motor that don't like to spin fast along with parts falling off at an unpredictable rate, not to mention head gaskets blowing... No wonder I keep taking my local dealers XB9R demo for a ride.
You're a "Norton Nut", but don't own a Norton? They aren't that expensive, easy to work on, great parts supply and can be ridden in moder traffic. I'm not sure your committment is genuine and I know Norton Nuts! If you really do want one don't wait too much longer prices are starting to climb again.
I had a 1972 Combat Commando- my first "real" bike after a short appreticeship on a 200 Yamaha. Yes, they were tough to start, seeped oil, and the ignition parts seemed to be made of lead. At the time, the (horribly overstressed) motor was nearly a match for the Japanese, and this was before the Japanese manufacturers seemed to have a handle on handling.
All the UJMs I've owned since have been far better mechanisms, but I was never as attached to them as I was to the Norton. Although I never cursed at them as much either...
How true how true. The Norton was a blast when it ran. And I had a fair amount of fun on a '54 BSA 500 single. But I put muchos more miles on my little ol' Yammer R5. I knew it would get me there and back. Nippondenso electrics. Couldn't beat 'em.
Just call riding the Brit bikes of the 60's/70's "adventuresome." That's a nice euphemism for hours of hitchhiking and cursing.