Merely The Finest: NYC Norton’s Commando S-type racer
If there’s something we love greater than a traditional racebike, it’s one with a great story behind it. And this gleaming Commando ‘S’ Roadster from NYC Norton comes with a really uncommon historical past certainly.
NYC Norton is run by the affable and educated Kenny Cummings. He is aware of his method round a racetrack in addition to previous Brit iron, and he’s just about seen all of it. However the method during which this S-type arrived in his store nonetheless triggered his eyebrows to raise a notch.
“We regularly get enquiries from of us with previous Nortons who don’t know what to do with them,” says Kenny. “Both they’d put a motorbike away, years in the past, and forgot about it or they inherited one.”
“The primary query is all the time, ‘What wouldn’t it value to get it operating?’ The subsequent is, ‘What’s it value, as is?’”
Just a few years in the past, Kenny obtained an electronic mail from a girl who recognized herself as ‘Tina.’ She had a Norton she wished to promote. “I requested her to ship images, and I obtained some photos from a girl with a distinct title—which regarded as in the event that they’d been taken with a flip telephone in 1999. A bit suspect…”
The bike was intact, so far as Kenny may inform, however was very grubby. It had most certainly began life as a 1970 S-Kind. Then he obtained a name from a ‘Tina-Lina.’
“This was not a typical store name. She spoke in whispery, hushed tones, and advised me that the bike had belonged to her pricey deceased husband. It had been languishing in her New Jersey yard for a few years, however she had the previous registration and it appeared legit—albeit not solely of this earth.”
Kenny organized to satisfy and when he arrived on the tackle, the door was opened by a petite girl with large hair, a protracted sparkly costume, and lace-up sandals. She led Kenny to her yard, the place the bike was mendacity on its facet with weeds rising by it.
“As I walked as much as this unhappy sight, her neighbor got here hobbling over, eager to be a part of the motion,” Kenny remembers. “Tina revealed that he was searching for money to assist load the bike within the van.” The identical neighbor had tried to maneuver the bike a few years earlier, by tying it to his pickup truck and dragging it throughout the yard, breaking off bars and bodywork within the course of.
“I began to concern that I wasn’t going to get out alive,” Kenny says. “And the bike wasn’t transferring—the brake footwear had been frozen to the drums, rusty water was leaking from the gearbox, and the whole machine was lined in oil, filth, and bugs.”
Kenny gave Neighbor Man some money and so they dead-lifted the bike into the again of the NYC Norton van. “I instantly hosed it down with Brakleen to kill as many parasites as doable and never infest the rig.”
Kenny paid Tina money for the bike, and he or she was happy. Spirits had been excessive. However as he was about to go away, she requested why he hadn’t requested for her autograph. She defined that she was probably the most well-known Tina Turner impersonator on the earth. “How may I not know? I had her signal the invoice of sale and snapped a selfie for proof.”
Again on the workshop, the NYC Norton crew hosed the bike down with much more poisonous solvents, to remove any remaining residing creatures which may nonetheless infest the works. Then it made its house within the nook, the place it will await its day.
That day got here final 12 months, by way of a name from a Kansas Metropolis man named Ben Schmitt. Ben had raced with AHRMA a number of years earlier, and wished a clear slate for getting again on the observe. He preferred the idea of an NYC Norton bike construct and race help, so a plan was hatched.
Initially, Ben wished to run in AHRMA’s Novice Historic Manufacturing class—the proper solution to dip one’s toe again into racing. However the guidelines are very strict and wouldn’t permit sure upgrades Ben required.
So it wanted to be the BEARS (British European American Racing Sequence) class: not a starter class, however one with expert riders who would give Ben the mandatory house as he gained seat time and confidence.
The caveat was that the Norton needed to have an electrical begin, and Ben wished it to be transformed again to road trim if the racing didn’t pan out. His eyes wandered throughout to the legendary previous Commando S-type within the nook. The phoenix would rise.
The Norton was fully dismantled and inventoried—which took extra effort than common, due to all of the rust and corrosion. And among the elements had been too far-gone to be reused.
The gearbox, which had been filled with swamp water for years, was locked stable; the brake drums had been toast; and the fork tubes had been frozen within the yokes. (The uncommon S-Kind yokes now sit in a quiet spot within the store, ready for Kenny to unstick the tubes and convey them again to life.)
Nonetheless, the body and swingarm had been in nice form, albeit with some delicate corrosion on one facet. The engine was surprisingly good inside, most certainly on account of the truth that it was lined in a protecting layer of oil and crud. There have been some interval mods achieved to the engine—“somebody had been in there”—however all in all, it was a really usable base.
Throughout the rebuild, Kenny obtained a name from a good friend who had a Steve Maney cylinder and metal flywheel out there. These are extremely uncommon finds, so Kenny added them to the construct. Normal-length Carrillo conrods and JE pistons (“our championship successful combo”) had been additionally fitted, together with a Webcam 12s (Fight-ish) cam. Gas is metered by a pair of Mikuni VM34 carbs.
“A squish band reduction was additionally machined within the pistons and the top skimmed, permitting increased compression,” says Kenny. “However we saved the ratio at 10:1, so the bike will be run on hi-octane pump gasoline—retaining it streetable.”
The valve practice is inventory, with Kibblewhite Black Diamond valves and bronze guides. Revs are measured by a Scitsu inductive tacho, and ignition is by way of a Pazon Certain-Hearth module. One can safely wager that this Commando can be quicker within the 0-60 dash than a factory-fresh bike, which recorded 4.2 seconds in a Cycle World street check.
It was now time to handle the chassis, and get it to work with 18-inch wheels to permit for good race rubber. Kenny chosen ContiRoadAttack 3 CR racing radials, in 100/90 entrance and 130/80 rear sizes. Excel flanged alloy rims had been laced with Buchanan’s spokes.
The rear hub is a Grimeca drum, full with a cush drive and a complement of 520 sprockets that let gearing adjustments for various circuits. The entrance is a later-model Commando hub operating an 11.5-inch disk and an AP racing caliper, pumped by a Brembo grasp cylinder.
The entrance suspension is adjustable: NYC Norton have put in parallel-bore pinch-bolt yokes, so the entrance top will be tweaked for good turn-in. Cosentino cartridge internals run contained in the forks, together with the Cosentino/NYC Norton Teflon bushings. (“The entrance finish is a dream and fully tunable to rider’s specs,” says Kenny.) The shocks are Hagon Classics.
The body tubing is unmodified, however the isolastic rubber bushes have been transformed to the later vernier model and set on the tight facet. A rod-end headsteady can also be used, because it’s essential to retain stable dealing with on a rubber-mounted drive practice. An NYC Norton rearset equipment was bolted straight as much as the inventory Z-plates.
As a result of the gearbox internals had been unusable, NYC Norton have put in a four-speed shut ratio gear cluster, tucked right into a modified Heavy Responsibility AMC-style shell. Barnett friction plates within the 850-style clutch cling off the mainshaft.
“One among Ben’s early requests was so as to add a dependable electrical begin,” says Kenny. “After a name to our pricey good friend Matt Rambow, we had our palms on a ravishing Colorado Norton Works electrical begin equipment.”
The CNW starter kits are fitted to nearly each NYC Norton road construct, and the sturdy belt drive and properly engineered however comparatively easy componentry made this a straightforward alternative for the race bike. A 21Ah Shorai battery and up to date 180W alternator end off the equipment.
However for each motion there’s a response: becoming a bigger battery meant switching out the early Commando center-mount oil tank to a later-model facet mount, with a later-style battery tray.
This was a sound resolution. “The side-mount tank has a breather return tapped in the next location than the older model,” says Kenny. “It reduces potential agitation of the engine oil—from optimistic respiratory pulses from the reed breather, while operating at sustained excessive rpm.”
For the gasoline tank, NYC Norton’s common hammer man turned out a Manufacturing Racer model aluminum piece. Then got here a modified PR seat and slim fairing, trimmed to be low profile however efficient.
And at last—as a result of the bike began life as an S-type—Ben requested an S-Kind high-level exhaust. “The dyno exhibits this exhaust provides incredible torque with out an enormous loss up prime, which is paramount to a great short-circuit racer resembling this,” says Kenny.
When the bike lastly rolled off the raise and Kenny and his crew may get perspective, they knew it was a winner. The Commando made its debut on the Heartland observe in Topeka, Kansas final month, and when Ben arrived within the paddock and eventually laid eyes on it, he was over the moon.
He took the racing college on Friday, and was out on the observe, tearing it up within the BEARS class, on Saturday and Sunday. “A cheerful dude, and we had been, too,” says Kenny. “I’m certain Tina-Lina could be proud.”