The Commando Roadster
Early Roadster, or artists
I have included the above
picture on this page, as it is peculiar- though it was an official Norton
press picture, close inspection shows it was either a prototype, hastily
built, or a heavily retouched photograph. The side cover says
"Commando 750S", and seat and headlamp ring are "S"
components. The exhaust system is Roadster, however. I have since been
asured early Roadsters were built like this.
The Roadster was developed from the Commando "R", an early
variant of the "Fastback" with the "Roadster" petrol
tank, seat, and rear mudguard/light arrangement, but otherwise sharing the
components with the Fastbacks.
The "R" put traditional motorcycle styling on
the Commando range, and this was far more acceptable to the customers of
the time than the radical "Fastback" styling.
Commando 750 Roadster 1971
Most popular is the early Roadster with beautiful but not very efficient
drum brake; in 1972 it was fitted with the atrocious "Combat"
engine, and the slightly better front disc brake. In markets without speed
limits, like Germany, Combats blew up without exception- the German
importer Gerd Koerner had to rebuild 400 engines in one year (!) and was
fired by Nortons for his pains. Norton blamed Koerner for the engine
failures because they pretended not to understand what the problem was.
It had nothing to do with Koerner or the Germans, but with the 1972 type
crankcase- easy to recognize, as it has the big filter screw missing at
the bottom, and the aluminium "breather tower" at the rear of
the crankcase. It did not drain the oil out of the case, and, consequently,
threw it out of the breather at more than about 4.500rpm. In England,
nobody went that fast for any stretch of time; on German autobahns it was
easily done, with dire consequences by the time the oil had disappered
into the atmosphere behind the bike......
1972 Roadster Combat "Handgrenade" model (pin pulled at the
Commando in Yellow with white
stripes and black transfers? I do not know if this was ever produced-
again from the Negus files.
But this one definitely was!
1974 Roadster 850Mk2A
The Roadster carried on into
the 850 series, offered in its final form amongst other colour schemes as
the Mk3 "White with Navy Stripe Blue" variant below, which I have seen
offered for sale wrongly described as "John Player Norton", or
even "John Player Replica".
1975-77 Roadster Mk3