Having owned the same Norton Commando for about 30 years and having owned many others over the years and having modified many of them. I feel that I have something to offer all Commando owners in the way of advice on modifications. I have gained a lot of experience over the years and even spent several years building, repairing and restoring motorcycles of all kinds. I still don’t consider myself an expert though as I believe there is always more to learn and others may have different experiences to myself with the same thing.
So a list of the most useful mods but not in any particular order and this is only my opinion, I am sure some will disagree.
1. Front brake, I use a grimeca caliper on a floating disc but many other options are available and anything is better than the standard. I do like the look of the original though and prefer it to most of the mods I have seen. I did manage to improve the original front brake by fitting stainless pistons, braided hose, a different lever and finally a different master cylinder. You do now have the option (at least in the UK) of having the original master cyl. sleeved and a smaller piston fitted which I understand helps. It seems that Norton got the ratio of master cyl. piston to caliper piston wrong from the start.
2. 18″ WM3 rear wheel rim, mainly for the choice of tyres which is very limited with the original 19″. It does tend to follow the lines in the road a bit more than standard especially when the tyre is getting towards the end of it’s life. I still manage to keep up with most modern machines on the twisty bits, but perhaps that’s just the way I ride (usually fast).
3. Swinging arm, the later 850’s have cotter pins fitted to stop the pin moving sideways and wearing out itself and the bushes. I fitted my own years ago by welding nuts on the back with pinch bots and the bushes and pin lasted for many years. PUT OIL IN IT do not use grease this will ruin the oil lite bushes in no time, I used to use an ep140 extra heavy gear oil which helped keep it in. Last time I had it apart I decided to make my own mod. and have now fitted needle roller bearings that run in grease.
4. Front Forks, to keep the front end tight and improve the damping I have fitted a damping kit and strengthened the front mudguard stay to improve stability. there are damping kits and fork braces available still from suppliers. I also fitted a steering damper a few years back but have now removed it and found little difference. I have high wide bars (export bonnie type) and find there is plenty of leverage to keep things pointing where you want to go.
5. Isolastics, a simple one this just fit the later MKIII adjustable type and no more shimming required.
6. Head steady, I have the original fitted at the moment but I am going to make myself one with bearings in it very soon. These type are available from your local friendly Norton dealer!! well some of them anyway. Or you may go for the Norvil type head steady of fit the MKIII type with the springs. This should help with high speed stability.
7. Shocks, I have used Koni adjustable shocks for many years and in fact the same pair have been on my 750cc for 25 years + with no signs of leaking and set on the lowest damping setting the are still firm. (Girlings suck)
So there you are, a few modifications that I personally have found enhance my riding experience, I would be very interested to hear your own views on anything Norton. You can find me through my blog site.