1972 Norton 750 Commando Interstate Combat
Back in February 1973 my dream of owning a Norton Commando had been achieved with a purchase from Washburn Cycle in Kingston, Ontario. It was a 1972 Norton 750 Commando Interstate Model with the Combat Motor. It was the first year of this model as they were trying to get the Touring Bike Riders interested in buying this model for long trips. It had a 6 gallon tank and got a very respectable 60 MPG. The Combat version was rated at 65 HP which gave it alot of get up and go - 60 MPH in 4.8 seconds which could take on the big boys (muscle cars) in the quarter-mile.
One of the original Norton Girls Advertisement
To get use to a bigger and faster bike I drove it to Montreal and other local towns/cities to see if it suited the purpose of being a touring bike. It proved to be a nimble bike which with it's big gas tank I had a range of over 300 miles between fillups. I got myself some Lord Saddlebags and a carrier installed which would allow me to carry a large backpack and case.
I had been riding motorcycles since I was 16 years old and started out on a 1966 Honda 90 like so many of my age. I progressed to a 1965 Suzuki 250 T-10, then a 1970 Kawasaki 250 Samurai and finally a 1969 Suzuki 350 Rebel just prior to purchasing the Norton. I had just joined the Canadian Forces (Regular Force) in late 1971 and had planned to ride back home to British Columbia in the summer of 1973 on this bike. It was a trip of over 6000 miles which had it's challenges but I felt that it would be quite the Adventure. I was going to be shipped out to Cyprus on my first UN tour in the fall of 1973 so I got three weeks off to take this trip which would be from Kingston, Ontario to Surrey BC and back through the Northern States. I would return through Windsor and make my way back to Kingston via the 401 Hwy.
Heading North just past Sault Ste Marie at Pancake Bay
Riding through the Canadian Rockies just east of Jasper
Taking a break at my Aunt and Uncle's place in Kirkland, Washington
It proved to be a very enjoyable trip and I made it back to Kingston on time after a ride of over 600 miles the last day. I was stiff but the only part of the bike that maintenance was needed was I had to change the oil and take out a link in the chain which was stretched. Like any British bike of that era you still needed to get your hands dirty and do periodic maintenance but the bike proved to be a keeper
A view of Mt Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota
The Ontario Norton Owners at Norton on the Rocks
Well 45 years later I still have my Norton Commando and although I don't ride it as much as I use to it. I removed the Vetter fairing and now it is Black and Gold as it was when I first bought it. I will keep it until I can't swing my leg over and ride it like it should be. They don't make bikes like these anymore but the parts are readily available and the camaraderie with other Norton Riders has always been special. It seems I have an attraction to "Orphan Vehicles" such as Studebakers and Nortons.
"Ride them Don't Hide them"