18 Jan 2011

My seventh bike was a Norton Commando 750 Fastback

a 1967 (or was it a 1968?) Norton Commando Fastback 750cc

After the Harley period, it was back to British bikes. Maybe it was the fact that the Harley (indirectly) had me kicked out of art school. More probably it was the craving for speed and a bike that would take me around corners without the whole edifice shaking like a jelly-fish. Well, jelly-fish is an appropriate term to describe the way the 750 Atlas engine shook in the highly innovative Isolastic sustem that attached the engine and gearbox to the frame of the Commando. The idea was to stop the vibrations of this motor from shaking your teeth out, and it worked. This was a bike I really enjoyed riding, and I took it all over the British Isles, and sometimes two-up like to see the TT in the Isle of Man around 1971 with my then lady friend who was to become my wife.

The bike I owned looked exactly like the one in the photograph, colours and all. For the time (1969), it went like hell, accelerating beautifully and quite smoothly thanks to its torque. The cornering was good but the pipes and the centre stand tended to ground on corners taken fast and under compression. The brakes were the worst part. I did some stuff to the double-cam front drum, like changing the brake liners and being careful with the adjustements, but it would just run out of stopping power when you laid into them. Later models got a disc-brake. The sound was good too. In fact the Commando so stuck in my memory that I got myself another one some 25 years later. More of that in due course.

For the moment I am trying to get back from the Lebanon in order to tell you more about stuff I have seen and tasted there. Its hard to blog when you're on the run.


  1. I was a Police motor cyclist in the middle 70s. We had Triumph Tiger 650 and 750 and later 850 Commandos. The Triumphs were by far the better bkies. The Nortons were pigs to start and they'd vibrate so badly the petrol would leak out of the tickle holes in the carb float chambers. They were very poor bikes indeed.
    Things got much better when we got Beemers.

  2. It is strange that your Commando vibrated. Well they do, of course, but you shouldn't feel it much thanks to the Isolastic system if that is properly set up. On the carb side, I find it best not to use the float ticklers at all.. Mine starts on first or second kick most times, even cold (a touch of choke then),provided that you use no throttle at all. Just a long stroke on the kick, having got the pistons up to near top.