1974 Norton Commando 850

Motorcycle enthusiast Dan Bockmier decided it was time to build a custom Commando that looks as good as it rides, stops and handles.

| January/February 2021

motorcycle

Photo by Nick Cedar

Dan Bockmier had a clear vision when he started working on this Norton.

“The concept for the bike occurred to me while pondering how conservative Norton was in terms of paint and style. They’re so unlike Triumph, for instance, who had different super sexy two-tone paint schemes every year. Norton was always about engineering and very little sizzle.”



A Norton Commando, one of the most powerful and best handling British motorcycles of the late Sixties and Seventies, may not seem very conservative at first glance. Not only does the bike easily keep up with modern traffic, but in the minds of many people, Norton is forever associated with the Commando advertising campaign, which featured sexy women dressed in the latest in mod fashion. However, look at a Norton, and you can see Dan’s point: The chrome and flash that marked contemporary Harleys and BSA’s just isn’t there. Dan decided he wanted a flashy Norton and set out to bring his dream into reality.

Dreams come true

Almost every special build motorcycle starts with a dream. A mental picture appears to the builder, which conjures up enough enthusiasm that he or she is inspired to create it in steel, paint and rubber. The trip from mental picture to finished product is seldom easy and often very expensive. The  dream has to carry the builder through setbacks and mistakes, up steep off-camber learning curves and down an often worrisome cash drain. That the project ever gets finished is sometimes a minor miracle.

TripleDave
12/25/2020 10:56:48 PM

Beautiful bike. I always liked the style of the Fastback. I've owned many British bikes, but I've only had the pleasure of riding a Commando twice. As for the tires, I can see the economy of buying one size for each wheel. I'm sure that it cost the company a lot less to order thousands of 4.10/19 tires from Dunlop. Also remember that after '73 the Triumph Trident used the same sizes. However, I can see your argument. I prefer the 90/90/19 on the front of my Bonnie. It's lighter, about the same weight as the Norton. The heavier Trident benefits from the wider tire up front.


Nortonaround
12/25/2020 11:54:26 AM

I have a mostly complete '74 Commando...after reading this...I just may restore it! Still love my "75 MK111 though! (bought new in Phoenix AZ) BeautifulFastback restoration...and the e-start is definitely the way to go!


swooshdave
12/24/2020 3:58:45 PM

“All versions of the Commando are powered by a vertical twin engine, canted forwards in a frame with a heavy, stiff backbone...” I would not classify the backbone as heavy, the entire frame minus the cradle is somewhere around 24lbs.




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