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Discussion Starter #1
I have read that the electric start Norton Commandoes are not actually electric start. Since this bike is on my short list and I know where to find one that seems maybe doable, I'm needing some information on these models, a 1975 left hand shift Interstate. Did they in fact have f&r disc brakes and internal spring forks or is this a bodge ? Any idea what one is worth that seems fairly complete , decent shape, but not running , in need of work and paint ?
 

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They are truely an electric start, but from what I understand the original starting system was somewhat dodgy and the kick starter was often used. However, I understand the starter can be improved with aftermarket parts and a better battery to be reliable. They do have front and rear disc brakes, but Norton disc brakes are pretty wooden without some upgrades. Also, shifts on the left. All Commandos have internal fork springs.
There are also 2 kits on the market to convert earlier models to electric start, one by Alton has been out there awhile and seems to be working out okay. The other is new and is from Colorado Norton Works and knowing their reputation it will be first rate.
http://www.alton-france.com/
http://coloradonortonworks.com/part-categories/cnw-elctric-start-conversion/
Neither one is cheap but on the other hand the Mark III's are harder to find and generally seem to be priced higher, so if you found a good earlier bike at a more reasonable price you might come closer to a wash.
I'd say a Mark III like you describe might be in the 3-4K range, while you might find an earlier one in the 2-3K range. Based on the 72 I've completed and the 74 I'm in the middle of, you will probably end up with around 10K in it after you finish it, assuming you do most of the work yourself. The good news is Commando values seem to be somewhat on the rise and you should get most of your money back.
I'd suggest you post your query here. Lots of Norton knowledge on this forum.
http://www.accessnorton.com/norton-commando-f1.html
 

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I have read that the electric start Norton Commandoes are not actually electric start. Since this bike is on my short list and I know where to find one that seems maybe doable, I'm needing some information on these models, a 1975 left hand shift Interstate. Did they in fact have f&r disc brakes and internal spring forks or is this a bodge ? Any idea what one is worth that seems fairly complete , decent shape, but not running , in need of work and paint ?
I have a 1975 Norton Commando 850 MKIII. I also had one new back in 1976.

They are awesome bikes with many of the problems of the day in British bikes but can be sorted pretty easy because there are a ton of new and aftermarket parts for them.

They have disc brakes on both wheels. Early disc brakes that aren't the best. They put too large of a MC on them so the feel isn't good, but this is easy to rectify with a sleeve kit or aftermarket MC. The brakes themselves are known to fade under hard use. Not up to today's standards but still can be made to work good.

They have standard internal spring Roadholder forks.

I have put adjustable dampers on mine and Brembo brakes front
and rear.

The starter was a two brush Prestolite that didn't have the power to turn the engine over. There are 4 brush conversions or better starter upgrades that cure this problem.

Norton's are appreciating in value and are an iconic sought after British twin. They are awesome bikes in my opinion and if you can find one for a decent price you will do okay no matter what you do with it...although you may fall in love and enjoy the heck out of it.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Htown, Dennis, Thanks so much for the inside info. I had heard the starters referred to as "start assist" and was hoping to hear that they could be upgraded. I'm so happy to get detailed info that is first hand . The bike is apparently overpriced by your standards, which I suspected. I viewed it as "asking price" with some wishful thinking thrown in. It's nice to have an idea of its value. The bike is not too far away to make it worth my while to go view it and see if it's in as good shape as the photos suggest. I was not shopping for another project bike, but I can't resist at least taking a look. Thanks again.
 

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duc96cr,

Not sure I agree with htown16 price assessments because the market is changing pretty quickly. I bought my 75 for $3500 a complete non-running original bike. I got it running right away and thus it was a pretty good deal at the time.

In my area, which isn't far from you the going price for a decent non-running complete bike is $4000+

A runner that needs restoration is closer to $5K and on up from that depending on condition. A buddy bought a nice patina original running bike for $5500 last year.

There is so much variation in condition that it is really hard to give you an accurate price but based on what you described could be worth $4-5K so if it's in that range try and negotiate. A few hundred won't make much difference if you plan to restore it. The better the condition the lower the restoration cost will be so keep that in mind.
 

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One more price comment.

These bikes are sought after n Europe and Australia because the majority of them sold in the USA market in the day.

They are paying double and triple for bikes over there and in the past few years have been snatching up US bikes because they can buy them cheap and even with shipping they are much less than they can buy there...if they can find them.

This is having an effect on the number of restorable bikes and values.

If you really want one then take the time to investigate and negotiate on the one you have found.
 

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I'm the first to admit I might be a little low on my price estimate, I'm a lot more familiar with the non Mark III models. Maybe the range should be 3500-4500$. I personally would have a hard time paying more than that for a non-runner that needed a complete restoration. Hagerty lists their bottom category, #4, fair, at 6000K, and the description to that category is a runner with cosmetic issues. Sometimes I've paid a little more than I should for a bike but there were some offsetting factors such as a clear title, the bike was local so no shipping, extra parts were thrown into deal. As mentioned above, time you factor in the restoration costs and the hours you will have in the thing, probably a couple of 100$ bump isn't worth turning down a bike you really want.
I've always found it best to show up with a wad of 100$ bills and my trailer.
 

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I think the price threshold is what we are willing to pay. Given what duc96cr said I was trying to comment because he thought your numbers told him the price was too high for the bike he was looking at.

Very little difference between us actually.

There just seems to be fewer and fewer bikes for $3500 or less. Those that are out there are basket cases or very bad barn finds (rusty, frozen, missing parts).

Demand is pretty high for these bikes in my experience.

I don't totally agree there is a difference between MKIII's and the earlier bikes.

Lot's of people prefer the earlier non electric start models. There also are some sought after models in the earlier ones (Fastbacks and SS).
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thank you all for the further clarification on pricing. In my area asking prices have been around $2500/up for an incomplete basket case, $4000/up for a runner , $7000/up for a fairly original bike in decent shape. Stuart , Thanks for the sources for further info, much appreciated. The issue of consequence being electric start original bikes rarely come up, and the price has been higher when I've seen them. When I consider that the bike obviously needs paint, and you know what will cost, I obviously have some thinking to do.
 

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Thank you all for the further clarification on pricing. In my area asking prices have been around $2500/up for an incomplete basket case, $4000/up for a runner , $7000/up for a fairly original bike in decent shape. Stuart , Thanks for the sources for further info, much appreciated. The issue of consequence being electric start original bikes rarely come up, and the price has been higher when I've seen them. When I consider that the bike obviously needs paint, and you know what will cost, I obviously have some thinking to do.
Pretty much the numbers we've been talking about.

To do these right you will spend $10K so paint is actually the least of your worries.:grin2:

How much is the owner asking?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Asking $7000 but I really considered it wishful thinking , at any rate over what I would pay. You know how pictures can be. Condition of the pieces looks as if it has been stored with care, but I must see it in person . In my mind it better be as good as it looks and very complete, keeping in mind it is not a runner. So many issues can go undetected when the bike can't be ridden and shifted, etc, and I have been stung before. If it is a good core and doesn't require me digging up a bunch of rare parts I will make a bid.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Ive found non ES models in that range but owners of decent ES bikes seem to want more . I've seen one lately for $13000, Though I think he's dreaming. I don't want a museum piece, but I also don't want one that couldn't be made into a museum piece if I wanted to spend the money. No choppers, no boogered up frames, welded up cases, Harley rear wheel. Just a stock rider made as reliable as I'm capable of. It will have silver paint, pin striping , and Norton emblems on the tank.
 

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I think we are talking apples and oranges now.

A properly sorted running bike that looks good is worth $10K+ and price varies by how good or bad it is.

Bikes like CNW (Colorado Norton Works) builds are over $30K and that doesn't include the core bike.

I thought we were talking about a decent complete bike that could be restored. $7K is too much for that type of bike.

Pictures would help to pin down value. The bike could be worth $7K but it should be running in my opinion.

I haven't seen a difference between ES and earlier bikes price wise. Norton people actually don't like the later ES bikes because Norton made changes that are a bit bodgy like the left hand shift.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Unlike a lot of people I don't mind left shift, in fact I prefer it. If that drives others away, all the better for me. I need to arrange a viewing because that's the only way of getting a true idea. The bike isn't completely assembled or running so I need to check it first hand. You know I could find hundreds of dollars worth of fairly rare stuff missing , even when owner claims it's "complete". Then the motor doesn't turn over and it won't shift, you need to allow for that. Right now it's an overpriced core.
 

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The only parts that are somewhat rare are the side covers (tins) and the tank. There are reproduction tanks that are pretty good but spendy. You can build a new Commando in all new parts (although it would cost a fortune), but all the parts are available for these bikes.

The important thing to consider is that at $7K you may still put $10K into it to sort it properly. That's why core price should be lower.

If a well sorted bike that needs to be put together that's a different story...it might be worth that much.

Typically Norton people end up around $10K into a build. You might want to think about value when your done. Can you sell the bike for $17K? Not likely unless it's really nice.

If that isn't important and you just want a nice Norton then go for it.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
When I started this thread I was thinking the bike I'm looking at might be worth $4000 tops if it's really complete , no frame damage, no case damage, and it shifts ok. After our conversation my mind hasn't changed. The pictures look nice, you know how that goes.
 
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