For some reason I seem to be on a Norton kick at this time. I want one. That big long stroke motor, watching the front wheel shake at stop lights…wait a minute, we’re heading into a way different topic of discussion here…uh, back to motorcycles.
I think the main reason I’m on this Norton kick is because my friends at ‘Left Coast Racing’ and I are getting ready for another Bonneville LSR run in couple of months with a pair of Norton’s. We currently hold a Land Speed Record with a rather built up 1959 Norton.
The very first Norton I ever took for a ride was a ‘rode hard and put away wet’ 750 Commando back in the early 70′s that my step dad rescued from some guys back yard. It was a lot different from the BSA’s and Triumph’s I had been riding, and honestly…at that time, I liked my Lightning 650 a lot better. But, being the good motorcycle souls that we were, we went about resurrecting it…a project that took over a year and a lot more money than my mom knows about.
During that same time, we were also upgrading a Triumph Bonneville from a standard 650cc to a Weslake 750 model (again, another story for anther time…and a really good one??). The Commando rebuild was a lot easier thanks to people like Brian Slark, Domiracer and Berliner. At the end of the year both motorcycles were finished, broken in appropriately and then taken out for a proper thrashing…Sunday morning on Angeles Crest Highway.
I fell in love with the Norton. Up to that time my motorcycling life had been with high revving two strokes, and somewhat high revving (by then current standards) English and Japanese twins, the Norton was a different feeling altogether. Where my BSA would feel light at the bars, the Norton was dead steady, the BSA needed some revs to get off a corner quickly, the Norton just needed a nudge on the throttle…the BSA needed you to pay attention, the Norton just went along with however you were riding that day (even with a minor (major) hangover).
The Norton was sold to a friend of a friend of a friend or their third cousin by marriage twice removed (no Alabama jokes here…) and was never seen again. I had grown to love that motorcycle and was sad to see it leave the garage…the guy didn’t even ride it home, he put it in a pick up truck!??? After all the work we did?… and he didn’t even live 20 miles away!! This was way before the days of ebay and buying a motorcycle on the other side of the world was easy.
So today, while working on our other websites, http://www.ilovecaferacers.com and http://www.themotoworld.com and cruising ebay looking for yet another project bike for a friend, I came upon a very nice Norton that is ready to ride and has some very nice bits and pieces.
This is a 1974 850 Commando that is a runner but…it has been sitting for years according to the owner so if you buy this bike you really need to go through the carbs, change the fluids, probably the tyres…all the standard stuff but I think this bike will be well worth the effort.
The bike has been outfitted with the Dunstall bits that really make it great, starting with the Dunstall 2 into 1 into 2 exhaust system. This exhaust is worth the price of admission alone, it is a work of art in every respect…performance and looks. The beautiful tank and that very slim front fender (I put one of those on the front of my H2, it was pretty worthless as far as fenders go, but I loved how it looked), the 850 also has what looks to me like Lester mag wheels. This Norton only has only 8800 miles on the clock and like I said before, with just some standard service, should be a wonderful ride.
Click on the pics below for more pictures and a little more info. This is a great bike for the money.
Wow! It’s been ages since I posted anything. I’ve decided to restart the blog. Ebay was unhappy with some of my posts and so they kicked my account. I’m tryingg to decide on a new format (web/Wordpress/etc). Any thoughts? Post a comment and let me know.
I’m contacting the seller about this bike to try to get more details and more photos. If this is, in fact, a 2004 Sportster, then it is the first full conversion (including tank but minus some cool 18″ wheels) that I’ve seen. A tank like that is exactly what I want to do to my bike. I’ll post updates as I get them.
BTW, the reason I’m not sure about the year is the oil tank. I can’t tell from the photos, but it is either a 2003 tank (non-flush oil filler cap) or it is a 2004 tank with the side cover removed. If anyone has an opinion, please let me know…
No matter how many times I rant and rave about bikes missing some key cafe racer feature, I always manage to find these bikes again and again. Here we have a 1971 BMW R60 that’s been cafe’d out… almost. Everything is there except the bars. I know, I know, the bars are more comfortable than clip-ons or clubmans. But they just don’t work with the rear-sets. And having your feet behind you doesn’t work so well if your hands are up high.
However, if you want a BMW cafe racer, this is a perfect bike for you to finish up by selecting your perfect set of bars or clip-ons that fit you perfectly. The price is relatively low at $1,800 with 2 days left and a fair number of bidders. I expect it will close higher, but not sure how much. It’s a clean bike with most of the cafe mods done already…
Not a lot of info on this bike in the listing. There is what appears to be a low serial number, and the bike doesn’t seem to be too far from stock if at all (unrestored and very clean looking). Low miles, but no good pictures of the VIN. Current bidding has the bike at $8,700 with 11 bids and 14 hours left. However, reserve isn’t met, which means there’s a good chance the bike won’t sell. I’ll repost if it comes back up for sale and maybe we will see what a nice XLCR can sell for in this economy…
Here’s a drool-factor bike I found on the advrider.com forum (I ride a KTM Adventure 640, too). The person who posted the pic originally thinks it might be an SL70, but it is so stripped down at this point, I have no idea what the original bike might have been. Doesn’t matter though, it’s a beautiful motorcycle…
A while back I posted a listing for a Hogbitz Sportster cafe racer that was the most expensive bike to ever hit the blog ($25K asking price). It was relisted at least once, if not multiple times. This Norton comes in a close second with a Buy-It-Now price of $22,500. As is this the second Norton in a row I’ve posted, it is interesting to compare the bikes, and what differentiates an unrestored Norton Commando from a fully restored and cafe-racerized (including lots of motorwork) Norton Featherbed/Manx. I guess the difference comes down to this 1962 Norton being what is essentially a show bike with a hopped-up motor you could ride, versus the 1971 Norton Commando posted before being an unrestored daily rider that has a frame in good shape with “no visible cracks”.
You decide. $22.5K for a beautiful bike that has been gone through with a fine-tooth comb, or $7.5K for a bike that you might put a little elbow grease into over time (and maybe a motor rebuild while you’re at it). It would be interesting to see what this bike sells for, but it is a Buy-It-Now with Make Offer (2 offers so far), so we won’t be able to watch any climbing auction prices.
Here’s a nice looking example of a first-gen Commando that has been converted to cafe-racer duty. Overall, the modifications are spot-on, but I do have one minor quibble: the rear ride height. Shocks one inch longer would really balance the bike front-to-rear, and lifting the back end up would also probably quicken the handling just a smidge.
Other than that, this is an unrestored runner that is currently not seeing much action in the auction. There is a a day and a half left in the auction, and the current price is $4,550. Reserve has not been met, but there is a Buy-It-Now price of $7,500, so we can probably assume the reserve is set somewhere around $7K. With only two bidders so far, it seems there isn’t a huge chance the bike will end up selling.
I believe I’ve posted two bikes from this shop before (an XS650 and a Sportster) that tended to polarize visitors to the site. I really like this bike. Purists will leave comments complaining about the color of the frame, the blue fuel tubing, or something like that, but I don’t care. It is nicely built, and as much as any of us can complain about how particular bikes look, at least these guys are building cafe racers. And honestly, I think their bikes are improving over time.
If you click through and read the listing, it appears that the motor has been thoroughly gone through with some pretty cool hi-performance parts. The suspension seems reasonably well done, although with custom-wound front springs, there’s a reasonable chance the front end may be too stiff. Have to ride it to tell.
As for the aesthetics, the green frame is definitely a love it or hate it thing. I tend to like bikes with contrasting frame and body colors, and while I probably wouldn’t choose these colors for my own bike, I think it is an interesting choice that works well.
The bike is currently at $5,100 (reserve not met) with 15 hours left. I have no idea what reserve would be set at for this bike, but my guess is that bidding will max out between $6-7K. Good luck if you are bidding.