Norton Commando 750

Neil Hudson's 1971 Roadster - a real triumph of determination


ďI bought the Norton 4 years ago. It's a 1971 model, and was in a pretty rough state - but basically all there. I stripped every nut and bolt and either changed to stainless or polished fasteners. I took the head and barrels off, de-coked it, polished the ports, bought new cycles parts, fitted new exhaust pipes and re-sprayed the tank, side panels and mudguards using a two-pack pearlescent red.

ďThe frame is painted with cellulose which, unlike two-pack, needs to be regularly waxed and polished to keep the shine on it. But the black cellulose frame certainly looks better than stove enamel or powder coating.

ďThe saddle, incidentally, is from Corbin, and the primary chain case has a two-pack finish.

ďItís not my first Norton Commando. I had another some years ago, plus various other bikes: a BSA Barracuda, a BSA C15, and a BSA 650cc Triton.

"But I particularly like this Norton Commando. It rides nicely and looks good. When I finished it in 2009, I felt it was worth maybe £4000. That has to have gone up since, but I've no idea what anyone would pay for it now. In any case, it's not for sale, so the question doesn't arise.

ďIt took a long time to finish, partly because I suffer from rheumatoid arthritisówhich Iíve had since I was twenty two. I need to have blood tests every month, and Iím on a pretty gruelling range of medication.



ďAlso, Iíve got a metal plate in one hand, and my joints ache a lot, especially when getting down on the floor and polishing things. I need a new knee joint too, but I canít have that fixed due problems I had some years ago when withdrawal from the medication I was on led to a heart attack. Iím okay now, mind, but the condition limits what I can and canít do. When the pictures of me and the bike were taken at the Ace Cafť, for instance, that was the furthest Iíve been able to ride itóand only then after stopping constantly to rest. Itís the wind blast that does it, plus my bad hand that gives me problems holding onto the Ďbars.

ďI did consider getting a little fairing or something to help out a little, but that would require lowering bars, so Iíll probably just leave it the way it is.

ďActually, since the pictures were taken, Iíve changed the colour. That is to say, Iíve bought new cycle parts and have kept the red parts. The new colour is black. But not any black. Itís a very special pearlescent metal flake in which all the colours, under the right conditions, go into reds, greens and blues. Itís amazingly rich and deep and unlike anything Iíve seen before.Ē


[Norton Commando buyer's guide]

[Norton Commando quick review]


The ride of your life



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We snapped this Roadster at the Ace Cafe being immediately drawn to it by the striking red livery (not a standard Norton Commando colour). Since then, the Norton has changed colour at least twice, and Neil continues to chop and change. For a guy with health and mobility problems, Neil Hudson has done an amazing job with this bike and puts us to shame.


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