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The Norton Commando

Ask a motorcycle rider to name a classic British motorcycle brand and the answer you'll likely get is: "Triumph".    But to those who's motorcycle blood runs a little hotter, the same question may result in answer of:  "Norton".   All at once now: "Oh yes, I've heard of Norton!"  Fear not, we're here to fill you in on Norton's most popular two-wheeled creation, the Commando.

850 Commando

So lets start with a little bit of history:  Norton was founded in Birmingham England in 1898 as a parts manufacturer by a gentleman named James Lansdowne Norton.  Not surprisingly, Mr. Norton is recognized as one of the pioneers and innovators of the British motorcycle business. As with the other motorcycle makers we've profiled this month, Norton launched their love of the "cycle" with bicycles. It wasn't until 1902 that Norton actually started to motorize their bicycles, then not until 1908 that they fitted their machines with Norton engines.

The Commando hit the motorcycle scene in 1967 as a 750cc in-line or "parallel" twin cylinder featuring an overhead-valve cylinder head. Norton produced the Commando for ten years and in 1973, engine displacement jumped up to 850cc, 50.5 cu. in.  The Commando, now a true collector's item, was wildly popular the world over. Its revolutionary frame design reduced vibration by offering rubber mounting points for the engine case, swingarm and gearbox.   Of course, it wasn't long until the Commando found its way onto race tracks. The bike earned wins at the Isle of Man TT and the Hutchinson 100 during the late 1960's.

Commandos are still highly sought after and experts agree that the value of these machines will continue to rise. The Commando has re-entered pop culture again and several companies have reproduced and/or remanufactured the bike both in the UK and the USA. The revival of the "cafe-racer" has contributed to the Commando's newly found popularity and in particular, younger motorcycle-riding hipsters are trying to replicate the look and feel of these classic machines. As with anything, popularity with hipsters is a good thing for the brand and the owners of the originals.  Want to buy a Commando? Dust off your Union Jack patch and shine up your helmet - we'll try and locate a Commando for sale later this week. 

Jeff Walker

About Jeff Walker

Jeff Walker is a Classic Car Insurance Specialist and financial services professional; As the son of a Drag-Racer and auto restorer, he was born with a wrench in his hand and learned the trade at an early age. His specialty is 60’s and 70’s American Muscle but his mechanical ability has afforded him the opportunity to work on all types of cars from Alfa-Romeos to Gullwings and everything in-between. Jeff is also a motorcycle fanatic and maintains his own stable of classic & collectible bikes. He is happiest when a car or motorcycle project is underway in his garage.

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