‘Shiny, throb­bing, mo­bile bol­lard’

Classic Bike (UK) - - WORKSHOP -

It’s 10 years since I ac­quired the Com­mando. Af­ter dis­in­te­grat­ing into its com­po­nent ox­ides, it was re­built at Nor­man White’s and has gen­tly tid­dled around for a cou­ple of years since. Af­ter a first-kick post-win­ter start-up, it was clearly time for some­thing more interesting.

Show­ing 3000 miles since the re­build, it’s had ser­vices by Nor­man, who passed the twin as fit for us­ing more vig­or­ously. Ex-col­leagues at Bike mag­a­zine had a track test at Rock­ing­ham, so I went along. I dropped tyre pres­sures by 5psi, as point­less fid­dling is what track­day peo­ple seem to do, smeared my­self in Swar­fega and talc and wrig­gled into musty leathers.

I haven’t done this for years, but Nor­man passed on plenty of tips while mak­ing my Nor­ton into a ride­able bike. Res­onat­ing

loudly is his im­per­a­tive to: “Ride through the cor­ner and get on the throt­tle early”. It’s so true. Smooth is my friend, and if ever I de­vi­ate with vig­or­ous in­puts, half-ar­sed at­tempts to change line or deep brak­ing, the bike waves warn­ingly at me.

Be­fore I know it, I’m out in the fast group (well, ev­ery­one else is fast and there’s only one group). With the Bike team on 1000cc su­per­bikes I’m in my own world as a sort of shiny, throb­bing, mo­bile bol­lard. But the bike per­forms won­der­fully. As we set­tle into things, I re­alise how sweet the en­gine is. There’s nice drive out of turns from 3000rpm, and it gets all cammy at 5000rpm with a lovely surge. The ’box com­plains clunk­ing into first at the hair­pin, so I ride the track in sec­ond and third with the odd stab at fourth. Breaks are spent check­ing bolts and watch­ing for leaks – only a tiny mist and a cou­ple of spots un­der the bike.

Cor­ners are set up early, and I’m aware the ’pegs are solid and will lever up the bike. Brak­ing is strangely com­pe­tent be­cause the rear is so effective, the bike is rel­a­tively light, and there’s a fair bit of en­gine brak­ing. Nar­row tyres mean it doesn’t need to lean over far to carry cor­ner speed.

I had to ride around some of the is­sues – and ev­ery­one else had to ride around me – but the day was a blast. I have warmed to the Com­mando even more now I’ve used it prop­erly.


Skinny tyres mean less lean needed to main­tain cor­ner speed

DICKIE FINCHER Jour­nal­ist and some­time CB con­trib­u­tor, Dickie cov­ered his Com­mando re­build on these pages in 2014. Now he’s keen for the big Brit to see some proper use...

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