Norton Commando Upgrades

Posted: April 16, 2008 in motorcycles

List of things most Commando owners should think about when trying to make their bike more reliable.

1. Change the oil more than once every 5 years. I mean how expensive is a few quarts of oil?? I’m always curious when I take apart an old bike and the oil is like a tar pit.

2. Install a Boyer Bransden ignition kit. Regardless of what the Luddites out there would have you believe, they work. Yes the battery has to be in good nick but you always maintain your bike fastidiously so that’s not an issue now is it?

3. I know it’s not a fun job, but check the Isolastic engine mounts and adjust/repair as necessary. This is a major part of the Commando gestalt so make it right. There’s plenty of info out there on the web so look it up. Or email me and I’ll forward some sites. Best bet is to update them to the MarkIII vernier adjusters. By the time you’re done farting around with the shim set up you’ll know what I mean.

4. Buy a new battery.

4A. Get a new wiring harness and fix all those bad ground connections. The ground side is just as important as the plus side. No one pays much attention to making sure the ground lugs are clean and make a good mechanical connection.

5. Install Barnett clutch plates. They’re pretty cheap and they work wet or dry.

I’m currently putting on  my asbestos shorts because I know I’ll get a post from someone who’s brother -in- law’s cousins friend installed a Boyer kit and it never worked right. See solution #4 above.

  1. Robert Smith says:

    Hi, just trawling through web looking at iso adjusting info and I noticed your site. You mention, (3 above ), that you can forward some site addresses for iso adjusting , I would be grateful if you could do this, it would give me ideas as to what others are doing. I have a Mk3 Commando.
    Thank you
    Kind regards

    • I have forwarded two attachments to you that should be of help. If you don’t have the Norton shop manual you should get a copy as they are very helpful. The main thing to look for is slack in the front mount. The rubber inserts get pounded out and tightening the end play really doesn’t do the job properly.

  2. Paul Simonoff says:

    Just installed the new main wiring harness I bought from you guys. Cleaned up all the grounds too. What a difference. Most of what I though was mixture and/or timing issues now seems to been a poor circuit for the Boyer Bransden. I’ve got vernier adjusters but I was not able to get the old isolastics out from the rear mount. Ideas? Also what’s your opinion on a belt drive primary? Thanks. -Paul

    • Yes, the ground side is just as important as the supply and the Boyers can be a little fussy. You are correct, most carburetion problems are electrical in nature. Getting the old isos out of the mount tube is just a matter of cutting, hacking, or generally bullying out the rubber and guts. If you mean getting out the long through bolt, that’s another matter. The bolt can get rusted into the mountings and since they are in rubber, it’s difficult if not impoossible to pound the bolt through. What’s left is rigging up a way of drawing the bolt through using a series of washers, spacers and whatever hardware is lying around the shop. Once it’ starts to move it’s not too bad but they can be a job to get out. You will need a new bolt when you are all done.
      We sell RGM belt drives which I have installed. They go on pretty easily and seem to work OK, they do make a racket like a Ducati dry clutch. You get rid of a bunch of rotating weight and no more primary oil leaks.
      Enjoy the long weekend!


  3. Edward says:

    shopping for a good older bike,
    but arnt sure really what to get?
    I like the Commando Nortons, liked the triumphs too,
    never had a brit bike though,
    I liked the Norton on the Jerry something site,
    the one with cafe seat and akront rim’s,
    Nortons are pretty simple and easy to work on, ,
    Good Ol valve N Head, rather than twin cams that might wear, and then multipule valves,
    Ive seen inline fours and when they get miles on them ?
    they are a can of worm’s,
    BSA, Norton, and Triumph are the classics and nothing will ever be like them,
    Looks, sound, design, comfort, engineering,
    they have it all!
    even an XS 650 Yamaha wouldnt be bad?
    but It still Isnt a brit with the good frames, and good handling!

    • As I always say, a disc brake Commando will do it all and not empty your wallet if you get a good one. Triumph T120’s are good too, but really don’t have the legs a Commando does. I suppose that’s why you need more than one old nail in the garage! Relatively speaking they’re pretty cheap too.
      I like the XS650 which is a good alternative but it’s still not a Brit bike if that’s what you really want. These days you’ll spend as much restoring a Yamaha as a Limey bike so get what you want. Then when you walk by it in the garage you don’t say: woulda coulda shoulda…..

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