Mix and Match: Norton Commando "Interback" Custom

Norton fan Jim Bush decided to make a Commando custom using only Norton factory components. The Interback is the result.

| March/April 2016

  • 1971 Norton Commando 750 "Interback"
    Photo by Robert Smith
  • 1971 Norton Commando 750 "Interback"
    Photo by Robert Smith
  • 1971 Norton Commando 750 "Interback"
    Photo by Robert Smith
  • The engine is a standard Commando 750 unit, but wearing a modified and gas-flowed cylinder head for better performance over stock.
    Photo by Robert Smith
  • 1971 Norton Commando 750 "Interback"
    Photo by Robert Smith
  • Owner Jim Bush aboard his custom “modernized” Norton, the Interback.
    Photo by Robert Smith
  • The “Interback” began here, with a fully restored 1971 Norton Commando 750.
    Photo by Robert Smith
  • High-mounted exhaust uses SS headers married to Interstate mufflers.
    Photo by Robert Smith
  • Gas tank comes from an Interstate.
    Photo by Robert Smith
  • 1971 Norton Commando 750 "Interback"
    Photo by Robert Smith
  • The original 1968 Fastback
    Motorcycle Classics archive
  • High-pipe S introduced 1969
    Motorcycle Classics archive
  • One-year-only 1969 R
    Motorcycle Classics archive
  • Roadster introduced in 1971
    Motorcycle Classics archive
  • One-year-only 1971 SS
    Photo courtesy Brad Powell
  • Hi-Rider introduced in 1971
    Motorcycle Classics archive
  • 1971 Production Racer
    Motorcycle Classics archive
  • Interstate introduced 1972
    Motorcycle Classics archive
  • 1974 John Player Special
    Photo by Nick Cedar

1971 Norton Commando 750 “Interback”
Engine:
745cc air-cooled OHV parallel twin, 73mm x 89mm bore and stroke, 9:1 compression ratio, 58hp @ 6,800rpm
Top speed:
115mph (est.)
Transmission:
4-speed, chain final drive
Weight (dry):
400lb (182kg), approx.
Fuel capacity/MPG:
6gal (22.7ltr)
Price then/now (stock):
$1,595/$3,000-$13,000

When Jim Bush decided to take a stock Commando and turn it into a custom using only Norton factory components, he actually had quite a few to choose from: The Interback was the result.

Over its eight-year, almost 100,000-unit production run, the Norton Commando came in many different guises. All of them rolled on what was essentially the same chassis, drivetrain, suspension and wheels, with the later addition of disc brakes and electric start.

As our model-by-model call-out at the end of this article underscores, the differences were primarily in the bodywork, the handlebars, the exhaust system and the seats, all of which are easily removable and replaceable. That means Commandos are perfect for customizing, so could you create a unique, cohesive, custom Commando using only factory original parts? That’s what Jim Bush of Langley, British Columbia, wanted to find out.



The Commando “Interback” project

The Interback project started with a 1971 Commando Roadster. Bush first found the bike as a rolling basket case in 1994 and bought it with the intention of restoring it. It was advertised as “original, needs work,” but when Bush went to see it, he quickly realized it had been on the way to becoming a chopper before its owner lost interest. It had a beer keg gas tank, a tombstone taillight and the chain guard had been cut to allow a wider 16-inch rear wheel. It had been “stored” for 12 years, and the jugs had been “punched,” he was told. On the plus side, the frame, engine and gearbox were all matching numbers.

Bush got as far as getting the engine running, then consigned the bike to the back of his shop for later consideration. It languished there for a number of years as other projects took priority before he sold it to Tony Duffett in 2005. (Duffett’s Commando R was featured in the January/February 2008 issue of Motorcycle Classics).



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