1974 Norton Commando

A 1974 NORTON COMMANDO FOR EVERY TASTE
The Commando was available in a variety of configurations, all cosmetic packages, as they were all built on identical Commando engines, frames and running gear. While the first Commando was the Fastback, by 1974, the standard Norton Commando was the Roadster, which is the most common model and the one you see most often. The Commando Interstate was the touring version, with a larger fuel tank and cushier seat. The Street Scrambler, or SS, had high pipes running along the left side, in case anyone wanted to go off road on the 400-pound Commando. The hideous HiRider continued as Norton's "Factory Chopper" with absurd 'banana seat' and high ape-hanger bars. But the real news was the gorgeous, ahead-of-its-time John Player Norton (JPN), essentially the world's first factory cafe racer.


1974 Norton Commando ROADSTER

ABOVE & BELOW: The 1974 Norton Commando 850 made the same horsepower as the 750 did, but at a lower rpm.
MARK MADNESS
For 1974, the Norton Commando the confusion about Mark's continued on with a Mk1A version of the Roadster & the Interstate, while MkI's became MkIIA's with the addition of a new airbox, bean-can silencers (mufflers) & a pleated seat. Some US models retained the earlier intake & exhaust systems, because the airbox turned out to be hurting performance. The Hi-Rider continued as a MkII with its original airboxes & silencers.

1974 Norton Commando INTERSTATE

ABOVE & BELOW: 1974 Norton Commando Interstate. The Interstate has a distinctive, hump-backed petrol tank, extending range in keeping with its mission as a long-distance touring bike.
TROUBLE IN PARADISE
Elsewhere in the Norton empire, the newly formed Norton-Villiers-Triumph (NVT) was stuggling badly. Norton's parent company, Mangenese Bronze Holdings, Ltd. had purchased the troubled BSA company (who also owned Triumph) & was attempting to breathe new life into them. They had mistakenly announced their planned closure of the Triumph plant at Meriden, with plans to move all Triumph production to Norton's plant at Wolverhampton. The Triumph employees revolted by taking over the Meriden plant & holding it for the next 18 months, shutting down all Triumph twin production. All of the problems plus the loss of income was starting to take its toll on Norton Motorcycles.

BAD PRESS
This began to show in many ways. Models would start dropping off the lineup very soon. And quality was beginning to suffer. Magazine articles, which use to gush praises of the Commando, were now having trouble finding machines that could complete their barrage of tests. Generally it was found that if they were properly built in the factory & correctly set up on the street, they were fast & reliable. But get a 'Friday bike' or one that has not been properly maintained & anything could happen.

1974 Norton Commando SS


1974 John Player Norton

ABOVE: 1974 "John Player Norton".


JOHN PLAYER NORTON
The real bright spot for 1974 was the introduction of the John Player Norton as a regular production motorcycle. Styled like a road racer of the day, and perhaps the first to do so on a production street bike (they're everywhere today), with full fairing, big tank, squared-off tail section & blacked-out exhaust, it was one tough-looking machine. It was painted white with broad red & white stripes with the Union Jack on either side of the tail section. It had 2 side-by-side headlights faired into the front. Performance-wise, it was essentially a box-stock 1974 Norton Commando. While it never sold in huge numbers, it was a real 'halo bike' for all Norton Motorcycles. It brought 'em into the showrooms. And it worked.

1974 Norton Commando SPECIFICATIONS

Model designations:





Engine type

Displacement

Bore & Stroke

Compression

Carburetors

Ignition

Engine output

Oil system

Oil capacity

Primary drive

Clutch

Gearbox

Ratios, overall:

1st, bottom

2nd

3rd

4th, top

Final drive

Frame type

Suspension, front

Suspension, rear

Brake, front

Brake, rear

Wheelbase

Seat height

Weight

Interstate

Roadster MkIA & MkII

Production Racer

Hi-Rider MkI

John Player Special

Air-cooled OHV parallel twin

828cc 

77mm X 89mm / 3.03" X 3.503"

9.0:1

2- Amal Concentric, 32mm

Battery & coil, Lucas

60 bhp @ 6200 rpm

Dry sump

6 pts

Triplex chain

Multi-plate diaphragm, wet

4-speed constant-mesh, right-foot shift


12.40:1

8.25:1

5.90:1

4.84:1

Chain

Welded double cradle, Isolastic Suspension

Telescopic fork, hydraulic damping

Swing Arm, 2 dampers, Isolastic mounts

10" disk, 2-piston hydraulic caliper

7" SLS drum, full width

57.1"

31.3"

419 lbs



MORE NORTON PAGES:
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..........1948
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..........1953
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..........1957
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..........1966
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.....Norton Commando
..........1968
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..........1970
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..........1974
..........1975
.....Interview with a Norton Expert


Check out these NORTON BOOKS





Norton Motorcycles: From 1950 to 1986 (British Motor cycles since 1950)



Norton Commando: The Complete Story (Crowood Motoclassic Series)



Norton (Classic Motorcycles)



Norton



The Norton Commando Bible: All models 1968 to 1978



The Illustrated History of Norton Motorcycles (English and Spanish Edition)



Norton (Osprey Collector's Library)



Norton Dominator Performance Portfolio 1949-1970



History of Norton Motorcycles



Norton: The Complete History (Crowood MotoClassics)


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THIS MONTH'S FEATURE PAGE:
Norton Commando Production Racer

NEW PAGES
added this month:

Norton Commando SS
1977 Triumph Sliver Jubilee
* 1979 Triumph T140D Bonneville Special
* Motorcycle Racing
* 1964 Matchless G3C
* 1955 BSA Gold Star
* AJS Motorcycles
* Helmet Features 2018
* AJS Motorcycles
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* 1959 AJS Model 16
* 1927 AJS Model H4
* 1959 AJS Model 31 CSR
* 1946 AJS Model 18
* 1964 AJS Model 16
* Norton Commando Hi-Rider
* 1953 AJS Model 18
* 1950 AJS 7R Boy Racer
Enjoy. More coming soon...