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Commando 5 & 6 speed boxes #773438 05/12/19 8:32 am
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Bikeosaurus Offline OP
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I'm about to embark on a rebuild of my noisy Commando gearbox which may indeed have a Portuguese layshaft bearing inside.

Quaife and TT Industries both make 5 and 6 speed boxes - are they worth considering for road use?

I'm guessing they're not cheap.


72 Tiger 650
72 Commando 750
74 Trident
84 BMW K100RS
A fleet of old cars
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Re: Commando 5 & 6 speed boxes [Re: Bikeosaurus] #773442 05/12/19 8:57 am
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Rohan Offline
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Something else to watch is that not all of them come with kickstarters, which needs some consideration...

Re: Commando 5 & 6 speed boxes [Re: Bikeosaurus] #773559 05/13/19 12:35 pm
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Dave Comeau Online Content
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I see you don't own a later bike like a ducati.
Borrow one for a few day then use it as an around town bike. If you are an alert learner you will note you are CONSTANTLY shifting to keep the revs at some useable range. My Ducati S4 Monster or "high speed touring bike" 907IE are better on the super slab (70-100+) but crappy for 0-45mph around town..
That effect is what you will turn your norton into.

My commando with stock 4 semi wide ratio and the broad engine torque curve makes it very pleasurable to use around town, back roads or highway.
Even a close ratio RGM 4 speed will reduce the real world usability.
If you're going to build a "blow up" killer race bike engine than the CR box will seem natural.
All the hot rod stuff you do will never make the bike more valuable or useable.

My stock commando is by far more pleasurable to ride for most of my riding.
Just my 2 cents and a life time of motoring and racing experience.


dynodave
BSA 3 1961-1963
Ducati 3 1992-2002
Norton many 1951-1975
87 Serv-Equip 100HP MC brake dynamometer,
Re: Commando 5 & 6 speed boxes [Re: Dave Comeau] #773579 05/13/19 3:35 pm
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Originally Posted by Dave Comeau
I see you don't own a later bike like a ducati.
Borrow one for a few day then use it as an around town bike. If you are an alert learner you will note you are CONSTANTLY shifting to keep the revs at some useable range. My Ducati S4 Monster or "high speed touring bike" 907IE are better on the super slab (70-100+) but crappy for 0-45mph around town..
That effect is what you will turn your norton into.

My commando with stock 4 semi wide ratio and the broad engine torque curve makes it very pleasurable to use around town, back roads or highway.
Even a close ratio RGM 4 speed will reduce the real world usability.
If you're going to build a "blow up" killer race bike engine than the CR box will seem natural.
All the hot rod stuff you do will never make the bike more valuable or useable.

My stock commando is by far more pleasurable to ride for most of my riding.
Just my 2 cents and a life time of motoring and racing experience.


I own Ducatis and I don't believe you can make a fair comparison between a modern 2 cylinder sport bike with three times the power of a 70's bike like a Norton.You and I both know a big bore Ducati will easily surpass any classic Brit bike in all areas of performance except for fuel mileage .And Ducatis have always been known for being lumpy at lower speeds... And Commandos do shake a bit at lower rpms...
I believe a fair comparison would be a "new" Triumph twin with 5 or 6 speed transmission


79 T140D, 96 900M Ducati ,2001 Sportster....On a bike you can out run the demons..
Re: Commando 5 & 6 speed boxes [Re: Bikeosaurus] #773598 05/13/19 9:06 pm
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Rohan Offline
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Is 5th (or 6th) in any of these boxes an overdrive ?

Thats where you could gain.
If you are merely getting 5 or 6 speeds in the same range where previously it had 4,
then that is a backwards step, the Commando has a lovely spread of torque,
and can easily hold a gear where other makes have to go back a gear, or 2.
Just twist the wrist and go.... !


Re: Commando 5 & 6 speed boxes [Re: Hillbilly bike] #773614 05/13/19 10:14 pm
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Dave Comeau Online Content
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Not talking about raw power and speed potential....you may have missed my point. It is about tractability. With this flat torque torque a CR box is unnecessary and in regular use it becomes bothersome.
A commando, in 4th gear at about 20 MPH, if you ease the throttle on it is reasonably smooth from there up to 100+ with no fuss. I can drive effortless for miles and differing speeds with just the throttle. Not the same with the DUC.

Both my duc's with their light flywheels from 20 MPH, in 6th or even 4th will snatch and buck the drive train mercilessly until 3000 rpm +/- depending on the model (weight of the flywheel). So you are forced to (row the boat) down shift to smooth it out and accelerate. It is MUCH less tractable due to the peakier and highr RPM torque curve.

In reality If I knew then what I know now, I would never have spent $8800 for the new 92 907IE and foolishly bought the $14.500 2002 S4 monster.
Today neither DUC would sell for the price of a nicer basket case commando...and both are very difficult or impossible to get parts for.


dynodave
BSA 3 1961-1963
Ducati 3 1992-2002
Norton many 1951-1975
87 Serv-Equip 100HP MC brake dynamometer,
Re: Commando 5 & 6 speed boxes [Re: Dave Comeau] #773622 05/13/19 11:03 pm
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Your point is an opinion, just like mine... there are more than a few flat torque peak bikes with 5 and 6 speed boxes...Rider preference, Yes?


79 T140D, 96 900M Ducati ,2001 Sportster....On a bike you can out run the demons..
Re: Commando 5 & 6 speed boxes [Re: Bikeosaurus] #773623 05/13/19 11:06 pm
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I don't believe either of the mentioned boxes are overdrives.

If you are use to shifting a lot you probably won't mind the extra gears. I found the extra gears were above my head when racing a single. I prefered the 4 speed.

I have ordered many TTI boxes 4 speeds and 6 speeds. If you want a KS, order the AMC box with a KS in the 5 or 6 speed configuration. You will also have to specify "one up" or "one down" shift pattern. Make sure you are clear about it because mistakes can be made.

You may also have a choice of ratios with TTI or Quaife.

TTI charges $4600 NZ for a 4 speed AMC magnesium box, $4900 for the 5 speed magnesium box and a KS is an extra $250 NZ. The 6 speed is often higher in price, $800 or so over the 5 speed. It is a different box internally and much more complicated.

The exchange rate is very good. The $4600 NZ is about $3000 USD right now. There is a 6-8 week lead time.

I like TTI. The boxes have been exceptional, but I do not have any connection to the company except for using their boxes.

David

Re: Commando 5 & 6 speed boxes [Re: Bikeosaurus] #773671 05/14/19 11:08 am
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Bikeosaurus Offline OP
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Thanks for the responses Dyno Dave, Rohan, Hillbilly, David Dunfrey.

I'm after rideability, not raceability, and I need a kickstart.

I've been in contact with both TTI and Angela/Mick Hemmings who deal with the Quaife boxes - both have been very helpful. Prices for complete boxes with alloy cases are roughly equivalent but Quaife also sell 5 speed clusters to fit the original cases for £1850, a cheaper option.

Feedback from old hands here in Canberra is also that the Quaife boxes shift very nicely, but 5 speeds are overkill for an engine as flexible as the Commando's, unless you are racing. The ratios available for Quaife and TTI boxes do not offer as wide a spread as the stock Commando gearset which means you can't really change sprockets to drop revs in top without making 1st gear a bit tall. I will probably go with rebuilding the stock box for this reason.

I will however look at converting to a 1 down, 3 up shift 'cos swapping between my Norton and other bikes gets me selecting the wrong gear every time.


Dyno Dave: Yes my garage is very deficient in modern machinery, K100 is the nearest thing I've got to modern, even it lacks the flexibility and low down stomp of the 70's Brit stuff.

Rohan: They all have 1.00 ratio top gear, so are not overdrives.

Cheers


72 Tiger 650
72 Commando 750
74 Trident
84 BMW K100RS
A fleet of old cars
Re: Commando 5 & 6 speed boxes [Re: Bikeosaurus] #773672 05/14/19 11:28 am
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kommando Online Content
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The easiest way to change to 1 down is to reverse the gear lever and set the footrests further back, as standard they are too far forward anyway.

Re: Commando 5 & 6 speed boxes [Re: Bikeosaurus] #773689 05/14/19 2:18 pm
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htown Offline
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I've got 5 old Brit bikes I ride regularly. Two, my 78 Bonneville and my 74 Trident are five speeds and the other three, 72 and 74 Commandos and 70 BSA are four speeds. I can honestly say I don't miss the other gear on the Commando. They make plenty of torque in the rpm range where I do most of my riding and pull well in high gear from lower speeds without down shifting. The Bonneville would be fine with a four speed also as it's torque curve is similar to the Nortons. The Trident is a different kettle of fish and I really like the 5 speed on it as it does not really come into it's power band til it's above 4000 rpm and the five speed makes it easier to keep it on the boil. IMHO I would not spend thousands of dollars to add a 5 or 6 speed to a Commando that already has a rebuildable gear box. The only other exception might be if you ride a lot of really tight twisty roads where you are constantly in second and third gear. One more gear in that situation might be useful.


1978 Bonneville T140E
1974 Trident
1970 BSA Thunderbolt
1971 Norton Commando
1972 Norton Commando
1973 Norton Commando
1974 Norton Commando
2018 Kawasaki Z900RS


Everything will be alright in the end. If its not alright, its not the end.
Re: Commando 5 & 6 speed boxes [Re: Bikeosaurus] #773694 05/14/19 3:20 pm
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If most Commandos are like the one I owned and a few other I rode, then can get to shaking a bit at less than 2500 rpm or...This may or may not be annoying to the rider...And extra gear give more flexibility with RPM at lower speeds...But if the cost for another gear is several thousands of dollars...that's not a reasonable cost solution..


79 T140D, 96 900M Ducati ,2001 Sportster....On a bike you can out run the demons..
Re: Commando 5 & 6 speed boxes [Re: kommando] #773900 05/16/19 9:35 am
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Bikeosaurus Offline OP
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Originally Posted by kommando
The easiest way to change to 1 down is to reverse the gear lever and set the footrests further back, as standard they are too far forward anyway.

Great Idea and sooooo simple


72 Tiger 650
72 Commando 750
74 Trident
84 BMW K100RS
A fleet of old cars

Moderated by  Dave Comeau 

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