Self starter

Gentlemen, start your engines!
In your own time. Any day now…

PHOTOS BY Chris Dickinson

AS WE NEVER tire of telling you, the Norton Commando was awarded the UK’s ‘Machine of the Year’ accolade five times on the trot, from 1968 to 1972. Which was great news for the beleaguered British bike industry, but it posed a pretty problem. Just what do you do for an encore, when your next generation sportsbike is resolutely welded to the drawing board?

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A genuine Norton classic, and a more than simply capable high miles touring machine, the Mk3 is arguably the best of the Norton twins
A genuine Norton classic, and a more than simply capable high miles touring machine, the Mk3 is arguably the best of the Norton twins

After the ghastly debacle of the highly-tuned self-destructing Combat engine, it was obvious to the engineers at Norton Villiers that if they wanted their venerable air-cooled pushrod twin to supply more torque at rider-rewarding rev levels then there could be no substitute for cubes.

So for 1973 the Commando 750 engine was enlarged again (it started life as a 500 Dominator, remember), bored out by 4mm on each cylinder to give 828cc. While outright power was little more than was produced by the original 750 – and considerably less than the Combat engine could achieve – the 850 engine was set up to deliver the goods at grin-inducing revs. The 850 Commando hit peak torque at around 3000rpm, 2000rpm lower down the range than the 750.

Read more in November’s issue of CBG

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