Our good friend, Todd, came to us a couple of years ago asking if we’d spruce up his BSA A65 he had dubbed “Jolene”. We did, and Jolene was something to behold when she was done. But… during periodic visits to our shop Todd repeatedly confessed under his breath he’d always lusted after an S-Type Norton Commando. His hands would shake. His knees went weak as he scanned the Nortons on the lifts. Sure enough, shortly after the shiny BSA left our shop, in came a Commando basket case (several baskets) that would become the foundation of a S-Type Street Performance build with all the right moves. The kind of build we do best, and the perfect stablemate to the more mannerly Jolene.
We started with the motor. It was agreed we’d do this up using our tried-and-true recipe of a moderately tuned engine without sacrificing the streetability (i.e. low down torque) the Commando was known for. Good cases, a rebuilt crank, polished rods, JE Pistons, and a Hemmings PW3 camshaft were used as the base. The head was ported by our master flow guru Jim Comstock, and new KPM valves and bronze guides installed. The barrels were surfaced for flatness and the head was skimmed, bumping compression to ~9.5:1; making good use of the high-lifting cam, but still within reason so pump fuel could be run (a rider, not a racer).
The gearbox was completely redone to NYC Norton standards with a roller layshaft bearing and the kickstart shaft shimmed up proper.
The wheels were built around polished Commando hubs and Excel alloy 18″ WM3 rear and 19″ WM3 front rims, allowing our favorite Bridgestone BT45s to run on both ends. The front brake employed a 11.5″ Hemmings disk (Norton factory Production Racer spec), drilled for lightness, with an AP Racing caliper mounted to a cast fork slider, and Brembo master cylinder. This setup is the same used on our own racing 750s. It works as good as it looks.
The ubiquitous high pipes down the left side are the hallmark of the “S” model, and a reinforced exhaust mounting setup was designed to prevent the common fracturing of the headers. Polished alloy mudguards front and rear were fabbed to keep the line looking lean.
All electrical was run through a custom harness broken out of a 6-port fuse box, with switchgear integrated within the European spec handlebars. Although this bike is a special through and through, all parties felt it necessary to secure as many as possible of the features that made that made the “S” unique among other Commandos. Therefore, an original headlight ring and mounting, headlight shell, and yokes, were sourced from around the world’s swap meets, all dollied up and chromed, with the yokes powdercoated. The silver sparkle taillight fairing is also indicative of the S-Type. The frame, cradle, battery box, swingarm, stands, etc, were powder-coated in a charcoal gray, which really made the bike pop in contrast with the blue sparkle paint work. And about that blue sparkle bodywork; no self-respecting S-Type can enter the world without making a good bit of a statement. And that it does. Good golly!
We love what we do, and it is always a lot of fun doing up a badass bike like this. But the best part of it all is when the bike rolls off the lift and onto the streets – first making small jaunts around town, then back in for some tweaks, re-torque, etc, then bigger and bigger circles, until finally it makes its way out to the top-secret test ground for a good amount of law breaking. This bike made us smile as much as any other custom Commando we’ve done, and Todd smiled even more when it rolled off the van into his driveway. It is in good hands, with a nice garage spot next to Jolene. That is, when it isn’t scratching the twisty roads of upstate NY.
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