31 Dec 2010

New Year's bike resolution

My resolution for 2011 is to finish, thanks to Frank Chatokhine, my Norton Commando improvement project.This is what the bike looks like now, classic and pretty much original, apart from the large Interstate tank.

Atelier Chatokhine, near Chartres in France, are excellent specialists in the repairing and modification of classic British bikes:


And this is something like what it might look like when finished. I am not a purist about keeping bikes "original". The main aspect will not change much but I do expect to ride the thing as much as I already have done when I owned it in the past, and have it brake properly, be a bit more comfortable, start more easily, and so on...

Some details will be different, for sure, as things tend to evolve during the course of a project. Some changes will be internal as well. Wish us well!


  1. What a « cahier des charges », David !
    (i) Brake properly : double disc up front but what for the rear wheel?
    (ii) More comfy: no comment, we all age. Marzocchi’s the name?
    (iii) Hold the road better: always thought it was a commando’s strong feature! But, then again, things have changed over 25 years.
    (iv) Start more easily: electronic ignition must be feasible, no?

  2. So good to have at least one attentive reader!
    (i)It will have a mlore recent disc up front, with better brake lines and master cylinder. I hardly ever use the back brake anyway. We'll see how that does.
    (ii)A seat that I bought from the USA that looks like the one on the bottom picture, plus some Hagon shocks.
    (iii) Adding a Norvil racing head steady and tightening up the isolastic mounts with stronger shimmies, plus the Hagon shocks at the back and some work on the front fork to stop it bottoming out.
    (iv) you are right about the electronic ignition.
    Plus we might try rear-sets and a flatter handle bar (I'm too old for clip-ons!). And I hate that bulky rear light. Some minor improvements to the oiling system also.

  3. This looks like a Mk 1A 850 Commando with which I had a love hate relationship, but mainly love. Unreliable (started to fall apart at 2 months old in Sicily, finally gave up the ghost in Frankfurt, got repaired under warranty after a fight with Norton)and the front disc brake was completely useless in the wet. Swapped for a Ford Escort at behest of my (now) wife who used to fall asleep on the pillion, I'd have it back in an instant.

  4. Actually a Mk11A, and indeed the 850. Real capacity is, I believe, 828 cc. I had this one totally rebuilt by a man named Jean Souper in Mongeron, near Paris, about 20 years ago. I owned and rode it quite a lot for 7 years, icluding through Spain. Had no problems. I sold it to a friend when out of pocket eight years ago and have recently bought it back from the same friend who hardly used it. Now it is with another Norton doctor for some modifications like sorting out that front brake with a disc that will evacuate water (your point is right) and a master cyndinder that will make it work in all weather, plus electronic ignition, a comfotable seat, and a few other goodies that will make it easier to live with. I loved it then, it vbroke my heart to seel it, and I expect I will love it again. Come on spring time!