Norton Commando: A Short History

Picture of Mk3 Commando RoadsterThe origins of the Norton Commando can be traced back to the late 1940's when the Model 7 Twin was first launched. It was designed by Bert Hopwood with a capacity of 497cc and initially the new models were for export only.

The twin cylinder design evolved into the 650cc Dominator and 750cc Atlas before being launched as the 750cc Commando in 1967. The main improvement in this latest machine was that the engine and gearbox were isolated from the frame by special rubber mountings. This was to alleviate the acute vibration problems of the earlier models.

The first 850cc machines were launched in April 1973. The engines of these bikes had similar power to the 750cc models but were less stressed (some of the 750cc models had proved to be unreliable with main bearing and head gasket problems).

The 850cc MK3 Commando was launched in March 1975 and for the first time was fitted with an electric starter. However it was a good job that the kick start was retained because at best it was only an electric "assister" and would soon drain the battery. The specification remained unchanged until October 1977 when the last machines were made. During the 10 years it was in production it was popular all over the world. In the UK it won the MCN "Machine of the Year" competition for five successive years from 1968-1972.