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Long distance riding #740567
07/03/18 12:39 am
07/03/18 12:39 am
Joined: Jan 2006
Posts: 1,934
Maryland
JD Offline OP

Moto-Amish
JD  Offline OP

Moto-Amish
Joined: Jan 2006
Posts: 1,934
Maryland
Hey gents, I have a '73 BMW that I use as my long distance rider. It's dependable and starts with the press of a button. It has just shy of 90k miles on it now and is in need of a little TLC. I recently purchased a '72 Commando that needs a lot of work and will be on the chopping block as soon as the BSA is back together. My last ride to West Virginia was pleasant as always, but I think it would be more fun on the back of a British bike. Which got me thinking: do any of you use your Commandos for long distance (300+ miles) riding? If I could set up my Commando to be as reliable as the BMW, I might consider thinning the herd a little. So, give me your opinions and experiences!


Josh
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Re: Long distance riding [Re: JD] #740578
07/03/18 1:45 am
07/03/18 1:45 am
Joined: Jul 2001
Posts: 12,839
Central Virginia
Lannis Online content

Life member
Lannis  Online Content

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Joined: Jul 2001
Posts: 12,839
Central Virginia
Originally Posted by JD
Hey gents, I have a '73 BMW that I use as my long distance rider. It's dependable and starts with the press of a button. It has just shy of 90k miles on it now and is in need of a little TLC. I recently purchased a '72 Commando that needs a lot of work and will be on the chopping block as soon as the BSA is back together. My last ride to West Virginia was pleasant as always, but I think it would be more fun on the back of a British bike. Which got me thinking: do any of you use your Commandos for long distance (300+ miles) riding? If I could set up my Commando to be as reliable as the BMW, I might consider thinning the herd a little. So, give me your opinions and experiences!



I do, if 800 or 1000 mile three-day weekends are "long distance". (I almost hate to use that criteria when Semper Gumby might be reading this. "Eight hundred miles? I do that before BREAKFAST! On a BSA!" No, he wouldn't say that, he's too modest, but I'd be imagining it). Rich Stone puts intergalactic mileage on his Commando, riding across country with it many a time; he can give you some really good advice. Don and Shirley Danmeier rode their Commando two-up coast-to-coast, TWICE last year traveling to the Norton National rally in Virginia from California ...

I don't guess there's anything special you have to do to the bike. The normal stuff like the transmission layshaft upgrade, AMR-Tucson wet-sump upgrade, a properly built motor, and you should be ready to do anything that your BMW would do ..... Just stay on top of maintenance - when you get up in the morning and go out to the bike in the motel parking lot, run your hands over it and make sure nothing's getting loose or has cracked, the chain's not getting loose, tires holding pressure, and you should be good to go ....

Lannis


I stopped believing for a little while this morning. Journey is really going to be upset.
Re: Long distance riding [Re: JD] #740609
07/03/18 12:22 pm
07/03/18 12:22 pm
Joined: Jan 2006
Posts: 1,934
Maryland
JD Offline OP

Moto-Amish
JD  Offline OP

Moto-Amish
Joined: Jan 2006
Posts: 1,934
Maryland
Thanks Lannis. I'd really like to be able to ride it up to the OVBSAOC meet one year, so about 350 miles, one way, for me. If I can do that on the Norton, the first round of wine coolers is on me!


Josh
Re: Long distance riding [Re: JD] #740612
07/03/18 12:36 pm
07/03/18 12:36 pm
Joined: Dec 2004
Posts: 9,375
Scotland
kommando Online content
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kommando  Online Content
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Joined: Dec 2004
Posts: 9,375
Scotland

Re: Long distance riding [Re: JD] #740629
07/03/18 2:12 pm
07/03/18 2:12 pm
Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 14
Canberra, Australia
Bikeosaurus Offline
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Bikeosaurus  Offline
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Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 14
Canberra, Australia
I'll be following this thread with interest.

In 2016 I completed the Long-ride (a Prostate Cancer research fundraiser in Australia), which was an 8000km (5000m) round trip, on my 84 BMW K100. It was the oldest bike to complete the ride that year. After a few beers (or perhaps more than a few) I very wisely declared that next time I'd ride my Commando.

Next year's ride will be to Darwin & back (5000 km/3000m return from Canberra).

Reliability is one issue, long distances between fuel stops, rough roads and being a long way from towns of any significant size and out of mobile phone range for much of the ride are others.

My Commando (a 72 non-combat engine Roadster) has never left me stranded in the 20 years I've had it, but I've never taken it on a ride this distance before. It's also a grey import from the USA and I've never had the engine apart - I really can't be sure what's inside the crankcases, the assumption is that as compression is good and it's running well after all this time, it must have been done right.

Just in case a previous owner reads this thread, the engine number is 208192, the colour is Black with Gold lettering.

In preparation so far:

1. Interstate tank/seat/side covers have been sourced to make sure I can make it to the next town before the tank is empty.

2. I've fitted an oil cooler with thermostat - oil pressure when the temperature hit 40C/100F was not high on previous rides, this has really made a difference.

3. I'm replacing the oil pump with a Norvil high output item.

4. I'm currently dialling in a single AMAL 32mm - if there's a significant improvement in fuel economy, this set-up will stay for the ride.

5. Ignition is Tri-spark, I will carry a spare stator just in case.

6. the numerous minor oil leaks are being progressively rectified.

7. installed progressive fork springs to reduce the ride harshness over rough roads

8. the electrics will be getting a thorough going over



Once the weather improves I'll be racking up miles to make sure the niggles are sorted

Any suggestions from Norton old hands will be much appreciated...….and if anyone reading this is interested, it'd be great to have more than one classic British bike along on the ride. They'll really stand out from the pack of modern BMWs, KTMs and Triumph Tigers.


72 Tiger 650
72 Commando 750
74 Trident
84 BMW K100RS
Re: Long distance riding [Re: JD] #740630
07/03/18 2:13 pm
07/03/18 2:13 pm
Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 1,400
melbourne florida
B
bodine031 Online content
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B
Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 1,400
melbourne florida
Back when AHRMA raced at Daytona in March there was always a group of Nortons that rode all over. Single Mukuni round slide, Electronic ignition, and solid state reg/rectifier and modern tyres

Re: Long distance riding [Re: JD] #740648
07/03/18 5:33 pm
07/03/18 5:33 pm
Joined: Dec 2004
Posts: 9,375
Scotland
kommando Online content
BritBike Forum member
kommando  Online Content
BritBike Forum member
Joined: Dec 2004
Posts: 9,375
Scotland
Quote
3. I'm replacing the oil pump with a Norvil high output item
.

If not bought then save your money, its only hi output compared to much older Nortons, the higher output is std in a Commando and its typical of Les to oversell in his descriptions, your old pump just needs a freshen up with some plate glass and emery paper, all covered in the workshop manual.

Re: Long distance riding [Re: JD] #740653
07/03/18 7:13 pm
07/03/18 7:13 pm
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 7,455
scotland
triton thrasher Online content
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triton thrasher  Online Content
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Posts: 7,455
scotland
My tip for long distance riding is do long distances before you set off, so any faults come to attention and you fix them.

As an example, my daily commute is 30 miles each way. That’s 300 miles a week. If I manage to go to my work on the bike for two months without trouble, that’s a couple of thousand miles, so why would I worry about a 300 mile tour?


Amateur Loctite enthusiast.
Re: Long distance riding [Re: JD] #740665
07/03/18 8:54 pm
07/03/18 8:54 pm
Joined: Jul 2001
Posts: 12,839
Central Virginia
Lannis Online content

Life member
Lannis  Online Content

Life member
Joined: Jul 2001
Posts: 12,839
Central Virginia
Originally Posted by JD
Thanks Lannis. I'd really like to be able to ride it up to the OVBSAOC meet one year, so about 350 miles, one way, for me. If I can do that on the Norton, the first round of wine coolers is on me!


I do the OVBSAOC on the BSA A10 most years, about 400 miles one way. If that old A10 will do it, I'm sure the Norton will .... !

Lannis


I stopped believing for a little while this morning. Journey is really going to be upset.
Re: Long distance riding [Re: JD] #740750
07/04/18 6:03 pm
07/04/18 6:03 pm
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 1,880
Elko, Nevada USA
dave - NV Offline
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dave - NV  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 1,880
Elko, Nevada USA
Speaking of a Norton on the road, a story for you …. Last month two of my long time friends and riding partners rode across the US on Norton Comandos from NoCA. Both are also long time Goldie riders. Peter Huber from GER, where he manages the ski resort in Garmish and also makes those nice Goldie pieces, keeps his old Norton in CA to ride when he visits the US. Gus V. lives there. Peter's son and another friend were along on new BMWs. Gus rode 'only' 4000+ miles stopping off in the Midwest to visit relatives and returning home. Peter and the guys on BMWs continued on down to NC for a visit and returned to NoCA for 5000+ miles. Besides tire changes and a few 'minor' issues their bikes did well. I'm impressed.


dave - NV
Re: Long distance riding [Re: kommando] #740803
07/05/18 8:13 am
07/05/18 8:13 am
Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 14
Canberra, Australia
Bikeosaurus Offline
BritBike Forum member
Bikeosaurus  Offline
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Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 14
Canberra, Australia
Originally Posted by kommando
Quote
3. I'm replacing the oil pump with a Norvil high output item
.

If not bought then save your money, its only hi output compared to much older Nortons, the higher output is std in a Commando and its typical of Les to oversell in his descriptions, your old pump just needs a freshen up with some plate glass and emery paper, all covered in the workshop manual.



Yep. I've already got it - sells for the same price as the standard item so I'm not too sure what the difference is. Gears and teeth look the same dimensions so your assessment is likely to be correct. If the gauge tells me pressure is a lot increased then it may be just that the old one is worn. I'll pull the old ine apart and check the tolerances. Thanks.


72 Tiger 650
72 Commando 750
74 Trident
84 BMW K100RS
Re: Long distance riding [Re: triton thrasher] #740806
07/05/18 8:26 am
07/05/18 8:26 am
Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 14
Canberra, Australia
Bikeosaurus Offline
BritBike Forum member
Bikeosaurus  Offline
BritBike Forum member
Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 14
Canberra, Australia
Originally Posted by triton thrasher
My tip for long distance riding is do long distances before you set off, so any faults come to attention and you fix them.

As an example, my daily commute is 30 miles each way. That’s 300 miles a week. If I manage to go to my work on the bike for two months without trouble, that’s a couple of thousand miles, so why would I worry about a 300 mile tour?


Yep, There's nothing like regular use and mileage to sort a bike out. …..and if you do 300 miles a week in Scotland I've got no excuses with the weather here. The worries on the tour are

A. Breaking down a long way from the next town and having to leave the bike beside the road (who knows if it'd still be there when you got back) and

B. The inevitable points scoring from the 'I told you so' modern bike fraternity (I'd never hear the end of it).

BTW in 2016 I did end up >100km+ from the next town fixing the BMW by the side of the road. It was a lonely feeling.

Cheers.


72 Tiger 650
72 Commando 750
74 Trident
84 BMW K100RS
Re: Long distance riding [Re: JD] #740887
07/05/18 10:26 pm
07/05/18 10:26 pm
Joined: Jan 2006
Posts: 1,934
Maryland
JD Offline OP

Moto-Amish
JD  Offline OP

Moto-Amish
Joined: Jan 2006
Posts: 1,934
Maryland
I was riding my R75/5 back from OVBSAOC in August a few years ago when the oil pressure sender potting material gave up the ghost about half way through Pennsylvania on a Sunday evening. Coasted into a Dollar General parking lot that was being re-sealed, spilling oil all over their freshly finished work, not sure what I would do. A guy on a Harley passed, I thought evil thoughts, and then saw him turn around to come help me out. Taught me not to make instant judgement! He took me to his house, welded up the cavity on the plug, gave me a blanking plug that fit on the bike, and refused to take my money. You meet the nicest people when you break down!

Being new to Nortons, what upgrades are mandatory and which are nice to have?


Josh
Re: Long distance riding [Re: JD] #740902
07/05/18 11:38 pm
07/05/18 11:38 pm
Joined: Aug 2012
Posts: 704
West Virginia, United States
Beach Offline

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Beach  Offline

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Joined: Aug 2012
Posts: 704
West Virginia, United States
Layshaft roller bearing, comstock sump breather, clean old harness or install new one with dielectric grease, agm battery, led headlight, 3 phase charging with podtronics regulator, pazon electronic ignition. Did all these on my 1974 and has been a dependable daily rider for years. Have done other upgrades too.


Bill
1974 Norton Commando
1966 Lightning
1965 Lightning Rocket
1966 Norton Atlas
1967 Norton Atlas
1948 Panhead
Re: Long distance riding [Re: JD] #740919
07/06/18 2:13 am
07/06/18 2:13 am
Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 1,304
Magnolia, TX
htown Offline
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htown  Offline
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Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 1,304
Magnolia, TX
Beach has it about pegged. There are cheaper alternatives to the comstock breather. Also, the new AMAL Premier carbs will sort out a lot of problems. Think twice about spending a lot of $ for new parts on worn out carb bodies.


1978 Bonneville T140E
1974 Trident
1970 BSA Thunderbolt
1971 Norton Commando
1972 Norton Commando
1973 Norton Commando
1974 Norton Commando
2004 XL 1200R Sportster

Everything will be alright in the end. If its not alright, its not the end.
Re: Long distance riding [Re: JD] #740961
07/06/18 2:50 pm
07/06/18 2:50 pm
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 3,916
argyll. scotland, uk
gavin eisler Online content
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gavin eisler  Online Content
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Posts: 3,916
argyll. scotland, uk
Helped out a touring belgian guy on a commando last year, his fuel tap had failed, threads sheared, it wasnt the original tap.


71 Devimead A65 750
56 Norbsa 68 Longstroke A65
Cagiva Raptor 650
MZ TS 250
The poster formerly known as Pod
Re: Long distance riding [Re: gavin eisler] #740966
07/06/18 4:15 pm
07/06/18 4:15 pm
Joined: Jan 2006
Posts: 1,934
Maryland
JD Offline OP

Moto-Amish
JD  Offline OP

Moto-Amish
Joined: Jan 2006
Posts: 1,934
Maryland
Originally Posted by gavin eisler
Helped out a touring belgian guy on a commando last year, his fuel tap had failed, threads sheared, it wasnt the original tap.


How'd that happen? Did you just find the guy on the side of the road?


Josh
Re: Long distance riding [Re: JD] #741272
07/09/18 11:15 am
07/09/18 11:15 am
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 3,916
argyll. scotland, uk
gavin eisler Online content
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gavin eisler  Online Content
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Posts: 3,916
argyll. scotland, uk
I hang out at the LBS occasionally, 3 guys show up two on Ewan and Charlie BeMs, one on a nice old Commando, ace bars and rearsets, i ended up nipping home , steaming up a fresh plunger cork and donating an old BSA tap to the cause, nice blokes, it was good enough , fixed well enuff for him to continue, , headed North after that and never saw them again.


71 Devimead A65 750
56 Norbsa 68 Longstroke A65
Cagiva Raptor 650
MZ TS 250
The poster formerly known as Pod
Re: Long distance riding [Re: JD] #741398
07/10/18 2:15 pm
07/10/18 2:15 pm
Joined: Aug 2012
Posts: 704
West Virginia, United States
Beach Offline

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Beach  Offline

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Joined: Aug 2012
Posts: 704
West Virginia, United States
Forgot one other must have mod. Dynodave clutch seal mod.


Bill
1974 Norton Commando
1966 Lightning
1965 Lightning Rocket
1966 Norton Atlas
1967 Norton Atlas
1948 Panhead
Re: Long distance riding [Re: JD] #741483
07/11/18 10:01 am
07/11/18 10:01 am
Joined: Jun 2005
Posts: 26
Birmingham UK
iansoady Offline
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iansoady  Offline
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Joined: Jun 2005
Posts: 26
Birmingham UK
In the 1990s and early 2000s I rode my 850 Commando all over France and one trip as far as Greece (3,500 mile round trip) without any of the mods you chaps consider essential. All it had was Boyer ignition and a single 32mm carb (which IMO is a useful mod). 300 mile days were no problem.

It only failed to proceed once and that was due to the alternator blowing up an (after market) rectifier.


Ian.

1952 Norton ES2
1982 Moto Guzzi V50
Re: Long distance riding [Re: JD] #741523
07/11/18 5:08 pm
07/11/18 5:08 pm
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 1,650
Mississauga, Ontario.
A
Adam M. Online content
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Adam M.  Online Content
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A
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 1,650
Mississauga, Ontario.
Took a good beating during a first trip on my Trident after spending last month on modified BMW R80 in Europe.
Suspension is ****, brakes not existing, position strange and uncomfortable.
Engine gets terrible hot in constant traffic jams, making ride a real hell - specially during a hot day.
And yesterday was 35C in the afternoon.
However bike survived it and my body adapted after 120 km ride.
But BMW is definitely in my future after crossing 70 y/o.
No comparison.

PS. Sound and acceleration are still addictive smile.

PS 2.
All this comparing to 87 R80 with modified seat, higher handlebar and double 4 pot's caliper on the front.


Last edited by Adam M.; 07/11/18 5:18 pm.
Re: Long distance riding [Re: JD] #741525
07/11/18 5:14 pm
07/11/18 5:14 pm
Joined: Feb 2008
Posts: 4,359
New Jersey USA
Tridentman Online content

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Tridentman  Online Content

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New Jersey USA
Adam--when you get to 70 you are allowed to reverse the numbers of your age.
So I am now 27 and on occasions am still a hooligan on one of my Tridents.
IMHO nothing compares with a triple coming on song at 4500 rpm.
Just my two centsworth of course.

Re: Long distance riding [Re: JD] #741528
07/11/18 5:49 pm
07/11/18 5:49 pm
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 1,650
Mississauga, Ontario.
A
Adam M. Online content
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Adam M.  Online Content
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Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 1,650
Mississauga, Ontario.
Fully agree with your statement, but where do you live, Tridentman ?
Location is not so important, but do you live in a big town ?
To get to the area where I can have some pleasure from riding my bike I have 20 km of town traffic to beat.
In the best situation.
Yesterday wasn't the best day and even the best part of day to ride, today is much better, but today I have to work.

Re: Long distance riding [Re: JD] #741577
07/12/18 1:29 am
07/12/18 1:29 am
Joined: Feb 2008
Posts: 4,359
New Jersey USA
Tridentman Online content

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Posts: 4,359
New Jersey USA
Adam--I live in northern NJ--just over the Hudson from NYC.
So heavily urbanized and a lot of traffic.
I have to get about 20 miles from home to enjoy real motorcycling roads.
This I do---and/or go for rides at strange times---early Sunday morning in the summer is a favorite.
Get back home at 7 am feeling sharp and wide awake while everyone else is still bleary eyed!

Re: Long distance riding [Re: Tridentman] #741640
07/12/18 5:12 pm
07/12/18 5:12 pm
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 468
just a guy from Jersey [Hopewe...
N
nert Offline
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nert  Offline
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N
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 468
just a guy from Jersey [Hopewe...
I do not take my 73 Commando on long trips, don't have that kind of time. But I commute with it 60 miles a day, for weeks at a time. Mostly wooded county roads and about 14 miles on the Interstate at 70mph. I have NO modifications to the bike. Points and condenser ignition, standard charging system, duel Amals, OEM front brake master, standard candle bright head light, etc. It gets me back and forth with great enjoyment. Left me stranded once, I had to push it 3 miles back to the workplace. The "blue thing on a spring" broke apart. I replaced it with a good used one.

If I "update" all that stuff, then what's the point to having this old Norton?


keep your "oddies" lubricated, and carry a dime
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