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Norton vs Triumph vs BSA #456207
09/27/12 7:30 pm
09/27/12 7:30 pm
Joined: Sep 2012
Posts: 6
Upper Sandusky, OH
S
SquareHead Offline OP
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SquareHead  Offline OP
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S
Joined: Sep 2012
Posts: 6
Upper Sandusky, OH
Hello All,

I am a longtime BMW Airhead owner/collector/rider. I am currently looking to expand my experiences by buying and riding a British classic bike. Along with several BMW's, I currently have a 2010 Triumph Bonneville T100, but am looking for an older bike.

Right now, I am somwehat narrowed down to a 1973-74 Norton Commando 850, a Triumph TR6, or a BSA Thunderbolt.

Mainly leaning toward the Norton. However, I sure would appreciate any opinions, feedback, criticisms, etc.

The qualitites I am looking for: Upright seating, no fairing/windshield, lesser vibration, relatively lower maintanence. I enjoy tinkering and working on bikes, but am not looking for a bike that requires a lot of work to keep it running. I will only be using it for cruising the back country roads, small towns, etc. Don't need anything fast, just riding around in the country. Electric start is okay as long as it's reliable, or can be made reliable with an upgrade.

I assume this has been discussed in the past, but I haven't been able to find any threads in regards to this topic. If you know of any other threads, please post the link and I will read them.

Regards,

Chris McCarthy


1969 Triumph Bonneville T120R, 1972 Norton Commando 750, 1974 Norton Commando 850, 1975 Norton Commando 850, 2009 Kawasaki Super Sherpa, 2010 Triumph T-100 w/sidecar, 2011 Triumph America, 2011 BMW R1200RT, 2x 2013 Honda CB1100.
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Re: Norton vs Triumph vs BSA [Re: SquareHead] #456216
09/27/12 8:08 pm
09/27/12 8:08 pm
Joined: Jan 2012
Posts: 338
florida
L
LeonGustus Offline
BritBike Forum member
LeonGustus  Offline
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L
Joined: Jan 2012
Posts: 338
florida
Me first. IMHO you left out some other great choices. Triples for one (or three) Royal Star and Daytona, A10s and more. Also important is what year of these interest you. But electric start? Hmmmm. Leon


October of 69-A50R
Re: Norton vs Triumph vs BSA [Re: SquareHead] #456240
09/27/12 11:06 pm
09/27/12 11:06 pm
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 2,014
Oztralia
R
Rohan Offline
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Rohan  Offline
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R
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 2,014
Oztralia
Just buy something and ride and enjoy it.

It will soon educate you what it expects in the way of maintenance - i.e. lots of it, in little doses, when least expected !! Its British, after all.

All part of the fun.

Re: Norton vs Triumph vs BSA [Re: SquareHead] #456242
09/27/12 11:21 pm
09/27/12 11:21 pm
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 1,518
Farmington,Connecticut,USA
JBMorris Offline
BritBike Forum member
JBMorris  Offline
BritBike Forum member
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 1,518
Farmington,Connecticut,USA
Quote:
a Triumph TR6


Probably the best (?) bet.

BSA's are just NSA, (no sex appeal) unless it's a Goldstar!

Norton's are cool but weird and strange, even if the engine looks best of them all.

Quote:
lesser vibration


Loaded statement!

Easy answer, take all three bikes to a group of hot girls and see which one is best!

Triumph wins every time!


1978 Bonneville T140V PX
Re: Norton vs Triumph vs BSA [Re: SquareHead] #456247
09/28/12 12:13 am
09/28/12 12:13 am
Joined: Nov 2003
Posts: 704
Orlando fla/ shady valley Tn
B
bill50cal Online content
BritBike Forum member
bill50cal  Online Content
BritBike Forum member
B
Joined: Nov 2003
Posts: 704
Orlando fla/ shady valley Tn
IMHO the commando is the best road bike of all the British big twins. but all of them needs to be properly put together with sensible upgrades for reliability.I might be a bit impartial as I have a Norton and have a number of 650 mile days and another member on here has done several 1000 mile days.the Norton with it's rubber mounting makes it a better contender to spent time on and with the low end torque it is one you don't spent a lot of time on the shifter pedal.

Originally Posted By: SquareHead
Hello All,

I am a longtime BMW Airhead owner/collector/rider. I am currently looking to expand my experiences by buying and riding a British classic bike. Along with several BMW's, I currently have a 2010 Triumph Bonneville T100, but am looking for an older bike.

Right now, I am somwehat narrowed down to a 1973-74 Norton Commando 850, a Triumph TR6, or a BSA Thunderbolt.

Mainly leaning toward the Norton. However, I sure would appreciate any opinions, feedback, criticisms, etc.

The qualitites I am looking for: Upright seating, no fairing/windshield, lesser vibration, relatively lower maintanence. I enjoy tinkering and working on bikes, but am not looking for a bike that requires a lot of work to keep it running. I will only be using it for cruising the back country roads, small towns, etc. Don't need anything fast, just riding around in the country. Electric start is okay as long as it's reliable, or can be made reliable with an upgrade.

I assume this has been discussed in the past, but I haven't been able to find any threads in regards to this topic. If you know of any other threads, please post the link and I will read them.

Regards,

Chris McCarthy


windy
72 combat
switchbackcreek.com
Re: Norton vs Triumph vs BSA [Re: JBMorris] #456261
09/28/12 2:36 am
09/28/12 2:36 am
Joined: Jan 2006
Posts: 3,322
Medford, Oregon
Gary E Offline
BritBike Forum member
Gary E  Offline
BritBike Forum member
Joined: Jan 2006
Posts: 3,322
Medford, Oregon
Originally Posted By: JBMorris
...BSA's are just NSA, (no sex appeal) unless it's a Goldstar!

I'd say the same thing about Triumph's.

Originally Posted By: JBMorris
...Easy answer, take all three bikes to a group of hot girls and see which one is best!

Triumph wins every time!

At the Ace Cafe Summer Shakedown show at the LeMay car museum in Tacoma last month, the grass was worn down more around the BSA's and Norton's than the Triumphs. There was a contingent of scantly clad calender girls walking around having their pictures taken next to and on different machines. They were at the BSA's and Norton's the most.

All three brands have there + and -. Pick one that has the appeal you like.


1967 BSA Wasp
1967 BSA Hornet (West Coast Model)
1967 BSA Hornet (East Coast Model)
1968 BSA Firebird Scrambler
1968 BSA Spitfire Mark IV
Re: Norton vs Triumph vs BSA [Re: SquareHead] #456274
09/28/12 4:17 am
09/28/12 4:17 am
Joined: Nov 2011
Posts: 257
terra Australis
P
Pre Unit Offline
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Pre Unit  Offline
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P
Joined: Nov 2011
Posts: 257
terra Australis
Along with several BMW's, I currently have a 2010 Triumph Bonneville T100, but am looking for an older bike.

Dunno if youd adjust to the speed , after those barges .
( S Stir ).

If these back roads are dirt / gravel , The Tri , then BSA then Norton .

If youre 6'4"the Norton , BSA , Tri .

If youre touring quitely , the BSA , and the other one with mufflers.

Think youd better take a few for a spin .
Also slack types dont get things right and give them a bad name , maintanance / reliability wise .
A 50 year old vehical even with 10.000 miles on it ,
is best stripped / checked / reassembled for 'As New 'dependability . Best done to Aircraft Standards .

Unless you enjoy walking .

Re: Norton vs Triumph vs BSA [Re: SquareHead] #456280
09/28/12 7:45 am
09/28/12 7:45 am
Joined: Jan 2004
Posts: 3,600
ca, us
D
DMadigan Offline
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DMadigan  Offline
BritBike Forum member
D
Joined: Jan 2004
Posts: 3,600
ca, us
You will get all sorts of answers depending upon allegiance. For minimum vibration and electric start you options are currently R3 BSA, T150 Triumph or 850 Norton Commando. The triple's starter (aftermarket) is more reliable. Triples are no more maintenance than a twin, just one more cylinder. The Commando with its isolastic engine mounting is the smoothest as long as you do not ride at 1800 RPM. The TR6 and Thunderbolt are single carb so less work to keep in tune. They all need electronic ignition and should have modern valve components installed. Drum brake in front is not the best but can be swapped out for later disc parts. Finding one that has not been hacked or mis-maintained by a back yard mechanic is always a problem.

Re: Norton vs Triumph vs BSA [Re: DMadigan] #456297
09/28/12 12:12 pm
09/28/12 12:12 pm
Joined: Nov 2003
Posts: 704
Orlando fla/ shady valley Tn
B
bill50cal Online content
BritBike Forum member
bill50cal  Online Content
BritBike Forum member
B
Joined: Nov 2003
Posts: 704
Orlando fla/ shady valley Tn
the OP was asking about either a Notrun, aTR6 or a T Bolt. the triple was not in the asking. Don't take this wrong as I also like the triple's but they are a LOT more complex and expensive to work on than the twins.on the keep in tune the issue the 2 most common changes on the Norton is a single mik carb and electronic ign so it becomes a moot point. as to the parts situation the Norton and Turnip both have better support than the BSA

Originally Posted By: DMadigan
You will get all sorts of answers depending upon allegiance. For minimum vibration and electric start you options are currently R3 BSA, T150 Triumph or 850 Norton Commando. The triple's starter (aftermarket) is more reliable. Triples are no more maintenance than a twin, just one more cylinder. The Commando with its isolastic engine mounting is the smoothest as long as you do not ride at 1800 RPM. The TR6 and Thunderbolt are single carb so less work to keep in tune. They all need electronic ignition and should have modern valve components installed. Drum brake in front is not the best but can be swapped out for later disc parts. Finding one that has not been hacked or mis-maintained by a back yard mechanic is always a problem.


windy
72 combat
switchbackcreek.com
Re: Norton vs Triumph vs BSA [Re: SquareHead] #456491
09/29/12 5:17 pm
09/29/12 5:17 pm
Joined: Apr 2012
Posts: 110
Eureka Ca.
R
revnosebone Offline
BritBike Forum member
revnosebone  Offline
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R
Joined: Apr 2012
Posts: 110
Eureka Ca.
BSA Big Sexy Attitude?

Lightning baby.


70 Thunderbolt
71 Lightning
very very frightening me,
Galileo Galileo
Re: Norton vs Triumph vs BSA [Re: SquareHead] #456731
10/01/12 2:20 am
10/01/12 2:20 am
Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 4,885
Gnashville
DavidP Offline

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DavidP  Offline

BritBike Forum member
Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 4,885
Gnashville
I've never owned a Norton, always lusted after one, though.
Folks have mentioned triples, and my first Brit bike was a '74 T150v. They can be very nice, reliable bikes. BUT, it takes a lot of setting up to make them nice, reliable bikes. It is very nice to have that extra 20mph up top when some joker on a rice rocket passes you at 80. laugh
From the options given, I would go with the TR6. Good parts supply, an oiling system which actually works, broad power band, and excellent ridability (whatever that means.) But, if you have a good 850 Norton available at a good price, GO FOR IT! I would.
The sexy factor depends on who you talk to, they all look good.


Stepping on others doesn't make you stand tall.

71 A65L "Zelda"
92 BMW K100rs "Gustav"
Re: Norton vs Triumph vs BSA [Re: SquareHead] #456828
10/01/12 10:24 pm
10/01/12 10:24 pm
Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 1,253
melbourne florida
B
bodine031 Online content
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bodine031  Online Content
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Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 1,253
melbourne florida
trident T-160 electric start, disc brakes, modern electonic ign & reg-rect available and sealed AGM batteries

Re: Norton vs Triumph vs BSA [Re: SquareHead] #456834
10/01/12 10:51 pm
10/01/12 10:51 pm
Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 205
Ontario , Canada
P
peter berry Offline
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peter berry  Offline
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P
Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 205
Ontario , Canada
I have owned 7 BMWs from an 1955 single to a 1979 R100S , 2 Commandos , 3 BSA twins A10 , A65 Thunderbolt and an A65 Lightning and a number of 60s Triumph twins including Bonnevilles and TR6s . I currently own a 76 T140 , 63 , 65 , 66 TR6 and a 66 Triumph Thunderbird . I wouldnt ever rule out a later Oil in Frame Triumph twin smooth , very ridable but maintaining that vintage appeal , Commandos are smooth riding nice running but can be a bit difficult to set up . My favourite bike is the low compression , single carb Triumph Thunderbird and next the TR6 both mechanically easy to look after , easy to tune and keep tuned and very nice riders , a touch of vibration great handling and real head turners . The early ones are works of art in my opinion before they started getting cluttered up with dodads like reflectors, signals etc. Peter

Re: Norton vs Triumph vs BSA [Re: bodine031] #456844
10/02/12 12:17 am
10/02/12 12:17 am
Joined: Nov 2003
Posts: 704
Orlando fla/ shady valley Tn
B
bill50cal Online content
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bill50cal  Online Content
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Joined: Nov 2003
Posts: 704
Orlando fla/ shady valley Tn
better have REAL DEEP pockets and a VERY knowledgeable person on triples if it is not already well set up.

Originally Posted By: bodine031
trident T-160 electric start, disc brakes, modern electonic ign & reg-rect available and sealed AGM batteries


windy
72 combat
switchbackcreek.com
Re: Norton vs Triumph vs BSA [Re: SquareHead] #456972
10/02/12 9:40 pm
10/02/12 9:40 pm
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 5,601
Maui Hawaii
HawaiianTiger Online content

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HawaiianTiger  Online Content

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Posts: 5,601
Maui Hawaii
The problem with Nortons is that the BSA and Triumph guys don't like you and make you park in the back so no one can see your bike.

I was born just a little late for all this brand loyalty thing so I don't really care. I've had them all and like all of them. My Norton, I have to say, has been the most reliable vehicle of any kind I've ever owned, but I admit I do my maintenance religiously.

Bill


Bikes
1974 Commando
1985 Honda Nighthawk 650
1957 Thunderbird/T110 "Flying Tiger"
Antique Fans: Loads of Emersons (Two six wingers) plus gyros and orbiters.
Re: Norton vs Triumph vs BSA [Re: HawaiianTiger] #456991
10/02/12 11:52 pm
10/02/12 11:52 pm
Joined: Nov 2003
Posts: 704
Orlando fla/ shady valley Tn
B
bill50cal Online content
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Posts: 704
Orlando fla/ shady valley Tn
It is amazing how jealous they are laughing

Originally Posted By: HawaiianTiger
The problem with Nortons is that the BSA and Triumph guys don't like you and make you park in the back so no one can see your bike.
Bill


windy
72 combat
switchbackcreek.com
Re: Norton vs Triumph vs BSA [Re: SquareHead] #457002
10/03/12 1:43 am
10/03/12 1:43 am
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 1,113
Noblesville, IN
Jack Adams Offline
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Jack Adams  Offline
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Posts: 1,113
Noblesville, IN
I see it a little different,it's not jealousy,it's just that if you are running out front,you park out front. Jack

Re: Norton vs Triumph vs BSA [Re: SquareHead] #457030
10/03/12 5:40 am
10/03/12 5:40 am
Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 4,885
Gnashville
DavidP Offline

BritBike Forum member
DavidP  Offline

BritBike Forum member
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Posts: 4,885
Gnashville
Heck, I LOVE the Norton guys! They party a lot harder than the others. laughing
Maybe it is jealousy, as I said, never owned one, always lusted after one.


Stepping on others doesn't make you stand tall.

71 A65L "Zelda"
92 BMW K100rs "Gustav"
Re: Norton vs Triumph vs BSA [Re: SquareHead] #457040
10/03/12 10:01 am
10/03/12 10:01 am
Joined: Dec 2004
Posts: 9,149
Scotland
kommando Online content
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kommando  Online Content
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Posts: 9,149
Scotland
I own 3 BSA singles, 2 Norton Commandos and a Triumph T120.

If I was told to get rid of 5 and only be left with one then the 850 Commando would be the choice to stay.

Re: Norton vs Triumph vs BSA [Re: SquareHead] #457056
10/03/12 12:40 pm
10/03/12 12:40 pm
Joined: Apr 2008
Posts: 319
Terry MS, USA
R
Randy Pigford Online content
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Randy Pigford  Online Content
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Posts: 319
Terry MS, USA
Forget all the bs about reliability, handling, smoothness, etc. Which one did you lust after when you were a kid? Whose advertisements with the girls turned you on the most? If you didn't do this with any of them ...don't buy one...you won't put up with the hassle! Keep riding your brit replica! Me...BSA Lightnings would stop me in my tracks...bought a 67 when I was 18 in 1971 and bought a 1968 2 years ago. In between, Jap and motocross!

Re: Norton vs Triumph vs BSA [Re: SquareHead] #457063
10/03/12 2:10 pm
10/03/12 2:10 pm
Joined: Jan 2012
Posts: 338
florida
L
LeonGustus Offline
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LeonGustus  Offline
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L
Joined: Jan 2012
Posts: 338
florida
If the passion isn't there when you buy it, it sure won't be there when it's time to fix it. They all need fixing and you could get lucky and find something in good shape, but IMHO the passion part can't be fixed. So what if you always wanted a Super Squirrel or a Dragonfly. Like Randy, I thought those Lightning ads were absolute sex-on-wheels and I knew I had to have a BSA. Almost 30 years later I actually got one and it transports me to 1969 every time I get on it. Pretty cheap time machine. Is a BSA better than a Triumph or a Douglas? Sorry, that's not a question I'd ask. My honda 350 never broke but selling it didn't break my heart. Selling my BSA would.


October of 69-A50R
Re: Norton vs Triumph vs BSA [Re: SquareHead] #457081
10/03/12 4:27 pm
10/03/12 4:27 pm
Joined: Feb 2006
Posts: 1,095
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Matthew in TO Offline
BritBike Forum member
Matthew in TO  Offline
BritBike Forum member
Joined: Feb 2006
Posts: 1,095
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
The unit power-egg BSA twins do nothing for me, as they seem obese and boring. I don't know why BSA dropped the chrome and sleek look for the painted and bulbous look.

However two of my very favourite Brit bikes are BSA pre-unit twins...

BSA Rocket Gold Star


BSA Road Rocket


Last edited by Matthew in TO; 10/03/12 4:28 pm.

1970 Triumph T100S (1969 T100S motor)
Re: Norton vs Triumph vs BSA [Re: SquareHead] #457108
10/03/12 8:16 pm
10/03/12 8:16 pm
Joined: Jul 2012
Posts: 129
Bastrop, Texas, USA
B
BSAGuy Offline
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BSAGuy  Offline
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Joined: Jul 2012
Posts: 129
Bastrop, Texas, USA
1967 BSA Lightning. Man, I fell in love with that bike. I have owned since many marques of bike, (Norton Commando 750, Triumph T120, etc.) but always have come back to the Beezers. The differences and peculiarities of these old bikes are what makes life interesting. Everyone has their own preference. Mechanical/Engineering beauty and VERY sexy lines
: (A65L)! I enjoy these old bikes any way I can. Being different doesn't always mean being better...just different. Cheers!

Tim


Always try to keep the chrome side up! Cheers!
Re: Norton vs Triumph vs BSA [Re: BSAGuy] #457117
10/03/12 9:14 pm
10/03/12 9:14 pm
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 1,518
Farmington,Connecticut,USA
JBMorris Offline
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JBMorris  Offline
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Posts: 1,518
Farmington,Connecticut,USA
Sexual innuendo get's em' every time!

Great looking bike with the strangest rear fender brace ever!



1978 Bonneville T140V PX
Re: Norton vs Triumph vs BSA [Re: SquareHead] #457134
10/03/12 10:47 pm
10/03/12 10:47 pm
Joined: Jan 2012
Posts: 338
florida
L
LeonGustus Offline
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LeonGustus  Offline
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L
Joined: Jan 2012
Posts: 338
florida
Never been to Nuendo - but I've been to Cognito. Next time you're in Communicado we'll have a beer and toast England the Strange. Cheers!


October of 69-A50R
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