Something a Little Different: 1970 Norton 750S Custom

1970 Norton Custom L Rear

The iconic Commando was an example of classic British ingenuity: decidedly old-tech, but featuring simple innovations to keep it competitive in the marketplace. A needed bump in power necessitated a corresponding increase in displacement. That increased displacement led to unacceptable shaking from the bigger slugs. The solution? Norton’s Isolastic system that separated the rider from numbing vibrations.

And the primitive pre-unit engine and gearbox design was turned into an advantage: Norton could easily revise the parallel twin to cant it forward and make it look like it’s leaning forward aggressively into the wind, clearing up additional space for carburetors and airbox.

1970 Norton Custom R Engine

This one’s something of an odd duck, not quite a cafe racer, not really a cruiser, a bike that was built to look sporty, but in a laid-back sort of way. Like it’s trying to say, “Hey, I like to have fun and go fast and all, but I’m way too cool to try all that hard…” As if the builder was kind of a cruiser-guy but realized that, for the most part, British bikes can be turned into fine bobbers, but make really weirdly-proportioned choppers…

With its lowered stance and sporty style, it reminds me of the Harley 883 Sportsters I’ve seen with mid-pegs and clip-on bars, sort of a “drag-café” style.

1970 Norton Custom Dash

Some little details need to be put right like the weirdly canted tach, single-sided pipe wrap, and the droopy taillight. And are those highway pegs?! Regardless, this is someone’s particular vision of the perfect bike, but should be very easy to change if it’s not quite to your taste. And photos suggest that it’s been cared for, or at the very least thoroughly washed before the pictures were taken…

From the original eBay listing: 1970 Norton Custom for Sale

This 1970 Norton custom is a very nice ride for the person that enjoys being different. Not everyone has anything like this one. It has been lowered and made to look very different than the scrambler it started as. It runs and shifts through the gears nicely. It sat for about a year and a half though and needed the carb cleaned. Having done that we inserted new plugs and a new battery. The paint is not perfect but decent. I do not have the original seat or scrambler pipes for the bike. All that you see is what you get (the only way I know it was a scrambler was from the word of the previous owner). I liked the style of it so I bought it, wasn’t going for the scrambler remake. Having said that, I consider the bike somewhat of a project. There are no turn signals or mirrors on the bike… I have ridden it this way with no problem but it is probably not exactly legal. The headlight, brake light and speedometer all worked when parked but are not working at this time. I will need to go through and see if I can fix but I am no electrician. This is a super cool bike that really looks and sounds great. Tires are in good shape and the engine number matches the title. There is no serial number plate like on my other Norton.

According to the seller, this bike was built up from a Scrambler, Norton’s dual-sport variant of the Commando that featured taller suspension, a different seat, and high-pipes. Like the Ducati singles, there are many common parts shared with other Norton models, and it’s pretty easy to mix-and-match to build something that suits your style.

1970 Norton Custom Front

Purists may scream, and riders may bemoan the loss of do-it-all dual-sport ability, but the price is pretty low: bidding is currently at $1,100 and the asking price is set at $5,500. $5k will buy you a pretty wide range of bikes both new and old these days, but this one looks to be worth consideration if you’re into riding and not collecting. It’s no trailer-queen and could make a really nice bike for someone with the appropriate expectations.


1970 Norton Custom R Side

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4 Responses

  1. It’s good to be reminded occasionally that the Shinyas and Fosters and Deckers of this world are at the top of the Custom scene for a reason; they have well-developed eyes for line and proportion, and rarely err, or when they do, it’s spectacular in a different way. This machine begs to be brought back to standard. There aren’t many Commando customs – beside cafe racer jobs – because the original is so well done.

  2. Jess says:

    I Was thinking along the same line. The stance is all wrong. I thought if the forks were shortened a few inches and about 1-2″ longer rear shocks installed maybe the builder could get the low look and have a better stance. I don’t like the pipe wrap look to begin with but the single-sided pipe wrap is utterly stupid. However after studying the styling and lines of my ’72 Commando, I believe Mr d’Orleans has a point, it would be hard to come up with something better than the original.

  3. tad says:

    I think you’re on to something: some thoughtful updates to the suspension might get it to sit a bit better. Losing a bit of travel obviously reduces the cornering clearance, but if cruising is really your goal then that doesn’t matter. I like pipe-wrap, depending on the bike, but it does seem silly to wrap one side of a parallel twin. I’m definitely a fan of wrap when the exhaust runs up between your legs…

  4. tad says:

    Yeah, sometimes a designer gets the basic proportions so right it seems really criminal to mess with things too much. Unless you decide to go totally bonkers [Shinya Kimura] and make something that only vaguely suggests the original machine.