The Classic Motorcycle
“Norton Commando Restoration Manual”
Author: Norman White Dedicated to John McLaren 1935-2017
Publisher: The Crowood Press Ltd,
Ramsbury, Marlborough Wiltshire SN82H
Email: email@example.com www. crowood.com
016725232 Hardback, 210 x 296mm (portrait); 224 pages, with 700 colour photographs and illustrations. ISBN 978-1-78500-759-0
£40 (UK), $55 (US), $70 (Canada), $70 (Australia)
The 750cc Norton Commando was a hurriedly thought-up, designed and built stopgap machine, produced to spearhead the newly formed Norton Villiers (NV) company. It turned out to be the only machine to be produced by NV in the company’s nine years, other than a few P11 hybrids and the rare and underrated 650cc Mercury, with production of these ‘leftovers’ ceasing in 1969. The big twin became arguably the most iconic British motorcycle ever produced. The bike was voted Motor Cycle News ‘Machine of the Year’ a record five times. Nevertheless, it was certainly not perfect and there were many pitfalls along the way. It was produced in around 10 derivatives, all based on the same original concept – all of which are described in this book.
With over 700 colour photographs, the Norton Commando Restoration Manual provides step-bystep guides to restoring every component of this classic motorcycle, including how to find a worthy restoration project, setting up a workshop with key tools and equipment, dismantling the motorcycle to restore the frame, engine cradle and swinging arm, restoring the Isolastic suspension, forks and steering, tackling the engine, transmission, carburettors, electrics, ignition and instruments, overhauling wheels and brakes, and replacing tyres, and a chapter on the assembly. There’s also essential maintenance and useful upgrades detailed – it is interesting to read that the eagerly awaited, but mediocre, front disc brake could now be turned into a decent stopper by fitting an improved aftermarket master cylinder. A list of spares and maintenance sources is also included.
While there are many glossy marque ‘manuals’ published, some of which give the impression of being quick ‘cut-and-paste’ compilations by authors who have never even ridden the bike, this excellent and well-written book is in a different league.
As well as the concise technical information and advice given, the tome gives a fascinating insight into Norton Villiers and the history of the Commando’s progress by the author, who was involved in all aspects of the machine’s development.
Norman White joined Norton Villiers Development Department in 1969 and worked on projects such as noise and emissions, component mileage proving, tyre development and performance testing. Later, he prepared the engine components and undertook track testing for the ‘Yellow Peril’ production racers and partnered Rex Butcher to win the prestigious Thruxton 500 mile race in 1973. White now runs his own business specialising in maintaining, restoring and improving all aspects of Norton Commando motorcycles. He puts all his knowledge to good use in this highly recommended (by a former Fastback owner) work.