Norton Commando Fastback

Norton Commando
Australian vintage guitar specialist Neil Rote has an enviable stable of motorcycles. We featured his lovely BMW R100/7 nearly a year ago, so it’s now time to show the Norton Commando Fastback. The Commando was the swansong of the British parallel twins, but by all accounts it was a good motorcycle: it won Motorcycle News magazine’s ‘Machine of the Year’ trophy five years in a row, from 1968 to 1972. The Commando was known for its ‘Isolastic’ frame, the successor to the featherbed frame and an attempt to quell the inherent vibration problems of big parallel twins. Neil’s Commando is a 750cc model from 1970, boasting 58bhp and a relatively light weight of just 190kg (420 lbs)—so performance will be brisk. This particular motorcycle has also been fitted with upgrades from the legendary Norton tuner Paul Dunstall, including a ‘GT’ fairing, front fender, velocity tubes and exhaust.

Norton Commando
Norton Commando
Norton Commando

  • toecutter

    would.

    • iRivas

      So would I.

  • jayel

    oh yeah a real motorcycle!

  • Big Bear

    I was wondering where the taillight on the Triumph bobber came from. Now I know. Beautiful bike.

    • SquireNeil

      Lucas L697

  • RD

    Nice work but more of a restoration than a custom. Clip-ons, Dunstall fairing, and prod racer front fender save it from being entirely stock.

    • SquireNeil

      And who said it was a custom?

    • Guest

      It’s a dunstall guard, not a prody.

    • Neil

      thought I better look at the site and maybe respond! Restoration? OK, I bought a new screen to replace the cracked tinted one, and I polished a few bits and tuned it up. Changed oils. Ordered the custom plates. If that’s a restoration, I restored it! All those changes were done back in about 1972 by the original owner. I still have the Dunstall catalogues and Melbourne agent’s price lists with the bike…

  • KIK

    looks fun , sunday rider for sure.

    • Neil

      any day of the week qualifies!

  • Eric H.

    Beautiful bike! I like the bhp to weight ratio. Bet this bike is fast and a blast to ride!!

    • Neil

      unbelievable fun.

  • BRG

    Those Dunstall megaphones sound awesome – I know this from the old days when they were fairly common.

    • Neil

      I have to agree. It’s one of the joys of riding this bike!

  • iRivas

    Damn fine bike.

  • TS057

    Were the rear shocks red from the factory?

    • Locomotiveclothing

      i’d like to know, too! I dug around a bit, but haven’t found anything. does anyone know?!

    • K1W1

      I used to work in a bike shop that sold Nortons in the early 1970’s and I can’t remember ever seeing red shocks. I suspect that they are aftermarket.

    • Neil

      I can not claim 100% certainty, but I am about 98% certain that the standard shocks (can’t remember the brand now) were re-valved for a firmer damping and painted red by the Dunstall agents. When I purchased the bike, the owner showed me photographs of it since year dot, and it always had the red shocks. The brand is definitely original equipment. Unfortunately I can’t check either the bike or my Norton books at present, as we’re in the middle of unprecedented floods here in Pyramid Hill, and the bikes are some distance away on high ground, and my books are all stacked up high somewhere in the house!

      • http://www.bikeexif.com Chris Hunter

        Thanks for clearing that up, Neil — and sorry to hear about the floods. Hope you and yours are ok.

  • Pitec

    Looks like Ian Falloon’s front fence.

    • Neil

      It’s not. It was my front fence back in 2008!

  • Db

    never liked the tail section on these, looks completely wrong in my opinion

  • http://www.robertlevinson.com/Project_C/ RobL

    Beautiful classics.

    Does Neil actually have three of these? First pic bike is gray and shows an inspection tag on the windscreen. Second pic is white, no inspection tag and “NRTON” license plate. Third and fourth pics are yet another white one with a tinted windscreen and “MA-168″ license plate.

    • Big Mike

      I think you’re on to something here. Looks like different bikes altogether. Good eye. Nice looking bikes though.

      • Neil

        wrong…

    • Neil

      All the same bike. Originally came with a cracked tinted screen. I preferred the clear, and ordered from the original British suppliers. Ditto the plates. I ordered and fitted the NRTON plates. Who wouldn’t! And bike is in the large metal flake silver paint job it was given back in about 1972 when the Dunstall mods were done. Just a point-and-shoot camera at that stage when I took those pics!

  • Harry Farquhar

    All that machine needs is one of those Norton girls slung over it.

    • Neil

      just one?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=767783791 Chris Gillham

    i wanna hear it! and by the looks of the photos i live pretty close so i just might one day

    • http://www.bikeexif.com Chris Hunter

      If you drop Neil a line via the Grouse Guitars website, your dream may come true.

  • bo_nos

    I agree with Db, I never liked the fastback, but it fits kinda nice with the Dunstall fairing! Nice improvement on a classic…

  • http://firstgenerationmotors.blogspot.com/ Emmet

    The fastback tail just doesn’t do it for me… Otherwise it’s an excellent machine!

  • Cobb

    Its a nice bike but the red shocks are like putting a clown nose on a beautiful girl. The gotta goooo!

  • http://www.christrotmaphotography.com CHris

    @RobL – its the same bike, the difference in colour is down to how a camera ‘sees’ grey and white, its all a bit geeky but its the exposure that make the grey bike look white in certain conditions. If you ever taken a picture of snow scence you’ll probably see that your camera reproduces the snow as being grey. thats why most piont & shoot cameras have a snow scene setting to conbat this.

    nice bike, never been a fan of fastbacks but with the fairing it looks cool. Wish it was mine!

    • http://www.robertlevinson.com/Project_C/ RobL

      I considered the exposure difference already (and am amused whenever there’s a snowstorm and everyone posts gray pictures on Facebook – I’m the guy that says “even a smartphone camera has +1 exposure compensation, use it!”).

      But it just looked too silvery to convince me that it was exposure… plus that inspection tag *and* another sticker on the other side *and* different tires.

      Could be one bike, pics taken at different times with minor changes… but then again, Nortons are like Ferraris, horses, and bottles of scotch – if you have one, you’re likely to have more than one.

  • BobG

    Iconic.

  • ScuRoo

    Over-rated, sycophantically over-hyped and completely BUTT-ugly.

    • JT

      What do you accomplish by negatively commenting on a machine that someone probably has a lot of pride in. I could maybe understand it if the post was from a custom builder. This is someone’s personal machine. You don’t even take the time to put together an argument on why you think the bike is over-rated. Have you looked up the definition of sycophant, lately?

      • ScuRoo

        JT – not commenting on the man. Just the groupie mentality around Norton’s.
        Neil’s an aussie so it’s a given he’s not too thin-skinned to handle a butt-ugly descriptive of his baby. Or should I capitulate & just join the suck-hole crowd as well?

        • JT

          I never said you were commenting on the owner. I just wanted to know what you hoped to accomplish with a negative comment backed up with no substantive reason why you dislike the Norton or think it’s over-rated. Eg. I dislike the Norton because………………… Unless your comment was tongue-in-cheek, what you accomplished was just baseless and full of hatred. I call my friend’s bikes pieces of Sh*t all the time but it’s usually done with a slap on the back and a wink. As far as the groupie mentality- Get over it. Every bike on the planet has some group that loves it. So,why would anyone care what you or I think without some reason explaining our thoughts. I respect the fact that you have hatred for the bike. I just had to call you out because without any fact backing up your opinion, who cares.

    • neil

      have you ridden a healthy one? Leave your sycophants at home and take one for a spin!

  • Superbonnie2009

    I was always partial to the interstate rear (I think thats right), ….anyway what do you think has been used on the first 8 inches of the pipes?