Colorado Norton Works makes classic Nortons look and run better than ever, like Larry Suglia's 1975 Norton Commando 850 MkIII
Matt Rambow was born in Gothenburg, Sweden, and stripped down his first bike, a 1952 Husqvarna, when he was 13 years old. It never ran again, but it gave him an idea of what motorcycles were all about. “The biggest lesson I learned was not to take apart anything that had oil in it in my mother’s basement. She never found out what happened, but the drains never flowed like they used to ...
“I rebuilt my fair share of cars and the last one I sold bought me a ticket to the U.S. That was in 1984 and I wanted to go skiing in the Rockies, but I realized that this was where I wanted to live. I went home, sold everything I owned, bought another ticket and moved to Colorado,” Matt recalls.
Then he had his first ride on a Norton Commando. He quit working on cars and started working on motorcycles, finishing his first Norton Commando project in 1994. “I had spared no expense, and the feedback I got from that rebuild made me realize there were people out there who really want these machines looking and running better than ever,” Matt says. Teaming up with an old friend, Colorado Norton Works was formed in the fall of 1997 in Dolores, Colo. In January 2002, Matt became sole owner of the business, and in addition to building finished bikes he’s also been adding a growing new parts section to help “do it yourselfers” improve their bikes. To date, he’s delivered 82 CNW Nortons, including one heading to China and three in the works destined for Australia and Switzerland. For more information, visit www.coloradonortonworks.com
Larry Suglia of West Chester, Penn., is a British bike enthusiast with a garage stacked with vertical twins, including a 2005 Triumph T100 Bonnie hitched to a Ural sidecar and a beautifully restored 1970 Bonneville. But he’s really a Norton man. “I’ve got a 1975 Norton Commando 850 MkIII and a 1972 Combat Commando that was stock when I bought it. I upgraded the Combat with a Mikuni carburetor, Sparkx electronic ignition, and a high-output alternator and coil from Matt Rambow of Colorado Norton Works. Now it’s a one-kick starter and brutally fast, at least for me!” Larry says.
Larry was so impressed with the CNW setup that when he wanted to restore the MkIII he decided to hand the whole project over to Matt, and shipped his bike 2,000 miles to the CNW workshop in southwest Colorado, where it would become the 55th Colorado Norton Works Commando. “Every bike I have built has its own personality; even though they are based on the same chassis they are all unique,” Matt says. “The customer is involved with the build from the beginning. Bodywork, colors, seat, handlebars, footpegs, instrumentation, wheels and more are carefully considered, and once we agree on the layout I go to work.” Some of his customers don’t give much input. Others, like Larry, “know exactly what they are after,” Matt says.
To read more about the Colorado Norton Works restoration of Larry's Commando, including full-color photos, order the July/August 2011 issue of Motorcycle Classics. Contact Customer Service at (800) 880-7567 or contact us by email.