It’s hard to improve on the Norton Commando. But Bill Becker, creator of the lovely Aermacchi Sprint we featured a little while ago, has taken the iconic British motorcycle to a new level.
Bill bought the Commando on eBay as a project bike with a rebuilt motor and powder coated frame. Everything else was in a state of disassembly and arrived in three boxes. “That was OK with me,” says Bill. “My intent was to build a cafe racer based on a 1970s superbike platform, but with contemporary improvements—with a ‘naked’ look fashioned after period-racers.” The details were to be practical and serviceable, with paint kept to a minimum.
Bill laced Excel alloy rims to the Commando’s original polished hubs, adding stainless steel spokes and Avon Super Venom tires. The front brake system is by Norvil, with a reconstructed master cylinder and smaller diameter piston. The rear brake is an original Norton, with the rotor vented and lightened. Rearsets are old 60s items rebuilt to accommodate custom brake and shifting arrangements.
A belt replaces the triple chain as a primary drive, and the original primary cover has been heavily ventilated to keep the drive cool. “I also modified the gearbox cradle to provide for belt tensioning,” says Bill. “While the gearbox was out, I rebuilt it. The secondary drive is a 520, O-ring chain, to allow for a larger rear tire.” The Commando’s fuel delivery is now through new Amal 932 concentrics.
“I hit on the right look for the gas tank on the third try … I modified a Norton seat pan and cover, and had a red leather panel stitched into it.” Bill then installed an alloy oil tank under the Commando’s seat, vented to relieve crankcase pressure. Small Supertrapp mufflers give an exhaust note that Bill describes as “distinctive and mellow”.
Except for the alternator, the Commando’s electric system was scrapped and replaced with new components—a Boyer solid state ignition, a Dyna coil, a Tympanium rectifier, a new wiring harness and halogen headlamp, a British-style tail light and small carbon fiber turn signals. Bill designed and constructed a custom dashboard to hold the rebuilt Smith gauges, and completed the ensemble with LED indicator lamps. Clamp-on low bars complete the race-bike feel, and Bill designed custom graphics based on the contemporary Norton fonts.
The project was three years in the making and Bill’s still adding the final finishing touches. I’d say it’s close to perfection already—wouldn’t you?
All images © Roman Torres/Pixelcraft, used with permission. Once again, thanks to Marc Grossman for the tip.