The Commando Manual is now available around the world!
How to Restore Norton Commando
Aimed at owners and enthusiasts of the legendary Norton Commando, this manual covers all areas of restoration from the sourcing of the bike to its completion as a fully restored machine. The manual is based on the complete rebuild of a Norton Commando 850 MKIII, but there are sections that cover earlier models, where there is a difference. This is the fourth Restoration manual by the author, with the previous three manuals being hailed as being real game-changers in the world of workshop manuals.
Above all, this manual is written in a friendly and very readable manner that owners will find very accessible and easy to understand. It is not designed to replace the existing Norton Workshop Manual (which I highly recommend any owner purchases) but goes alongside that manual, explaining things in more detail and in clearer terms.
The author is an experienced mechanic who has rebuilt many British bikes in the past, but was new to the Norton Commando. This means that he is very much ‘in the same boat’ as the first-time restorer and encounters, explains and explains the various mistakes that he makes – so that you don’t repeat them!
It’s aimed at the DIY restorer who has limited space and tools, with this bike having been restored in the author’s own small workshop (basement) with limited resources.
It includes advice about the different models, spares availability and where best to source a bike to restore, but it is essentially a workshop manual covering every aspect or dismantling, restoring and rebuilding a Norton Commando, in detail. There are over 800 colour photos to accompany and illustrate the text.
The manual covers every aspect of restoring a Commando, including detailed sections on the engine, frame, gearbox, wheels, suspension and forks, brakes, clutch, starter motor, ancillaries, paintwork, electrics and carburettors. It also includes advice on buying and fitting some of the various upgrades that are now available to the owner.
Note that the term ‘Restoration Manual’ in this case refers to this being a workshop manual rather than an originality guide.
How to Buy a Copy
The Norton Commando Manual will be available from most good booksellers in March/April 2020, especially those specialising in automotive books, or direct from the publisher. It is also currently available to pre-order on-line from such places as Amazon. The links below will take you Amazon.UK, or to the publishers, Veloce. If you’re in a different part of the world, just type my name – Chris Rooke – into the Amazon search bar, and the book should come up. However, some sellers may begin selling the manuals later than others. You might also want to try such as e-bay etc. or just type the ISBN number (see above) into Google and see what comes up.
I’ve created a Facebook page specifically for the Norton Commando Restoration Manual. It’s a place for additional information, updates, correction and discussion. Members are encouraged to post their own questions or photos of their own bikes and restorations – in fact anything Commando related!
Now, this new book is a bit of a ‘must’ for new owners of a Commando, who may also be new to Classic ownership.
It does not replace the official Norton Commando Workshop Manual (the author, Chris Rooke, says so in his introduction) but it offers loads of tips, observations etc. as he gets to grips with the ‘foibles’ of this popular bike.
I’m fairly au-fait with these bikes, but still enjoyed reading through his procedures and sympathising/empathising with him when he hits the usual snags etc. whilst working on the bike.
The model he works on is a late MKIII. One thing I did notice is that the bike has ‘strayed’ from standard with pre MKIII seat fittings, earlier air filter and various non-standard features.
I’m familiar with Chris Rooke’s style as I already have his ‘Trident and Rocket Three Restoration Manual’. I like the way he finishes each chapter with a ‘Lessons learnt’ section. This is where one of the differences between the official workshop manuals and his guides show-up.
Whereas the official literature always states that ‘the xxx will disassemble by undoing the yyy’, Chris states that ‘the xxx probably won’t come apart by undoing yyy because it’s 50+ years old, cross-threaded and rusted in place – so this is an idea of how to get round the problem!’
Chris also shares his mistakes with the reader as part of the aforementioned ‘Lessons learnt’ summarisation.
I could not find any aspect of restoration that is overlooked and am impressed with the standard of writing. Perhaps some of the pictures could be a little larger for clarity, but nevertheless they are generally very helpful to supplement the excellent text.
The author also describes the modifications that he makes to the bike that many of us have done or will do in the future e.g. fitting electronic ignition and discussing the option of a different carb set-up.
This ‘softback’ book runs to 224 pages with 820 full-colour pictures.
Roadholder – Magazine of the Norton Owners’ Club
This meaty manual is his third in this series of detailed restoration guides which showcase his friendly and accessible writing style.
Covers all aspects of a potential Commando project, from choosing an appropriate model to sourcing the actual bike from the variants built between 1968 and 1975.
Then step by step instructions talk you through dismantling and refurbishing all the components – engine, frame, gearbox, wheels, suspension and forks, brakes, ancillaries, bodywork and electrics – illustrated by copious quantities of clear colour photos.
Chris isn’t shy about sharing the mechanical mishaps and the issues he’s experienced over the years.
The result is a book which involves, informs and entertains the reader.
Real Classic Magazine
Practical and informative words & pictures for Commie re-builders. Chris Rooke is the author.
Veloce Publishing has produced another tome in its Restoration Guide series, this one on the indomitable (pardon the oblique pun) Norton Commando It’s highly detailed. It’s packed with decent photographs. It’s well presented. It’ll set a lot of rebuilders straight on all kinds of issues and pitfalls. It feels like a genuine labour of love. It’s practical. And the asking price is fair at £37.50
Well we know that a few folk will dispute that. They’ll say that at nearly forty quid it’s expensive and bordering on a rip off. But that’s largely because these days we’re all used to getting free information (albeit often from unreliable sources). Consequently, we tend not to think too deeply about how much work actually goes into a publication such as this—and we’re often talking years of effort, and not weeks and months.
And for £37.50 this book will no doubt save you a lot of money in screw ups and will repay your investment many times over. Besides, if you shop around long enough you’ll probably find discounted copies—assuming you’re prepared to trust the suppliers, and many are pretty dodgy.
In conclusion, we think this is a good restoration guide. If we had to choose between this and a Haynes Manual, we’d pick this one, if only for the sidelong tips and heartfelt advice that Chris Rooke slips in from time to time.
Clearly he cares about rebuilding Commandos, and that’s invariably the prerequisite before you get out the tools.
Check it out.
Have you always wanted to restore a robust old Norton, but didn’t really dare to do it? ‘How to Restore Norton Commando’ by Chris Rooke, guides you step by step through all the different stages and takes the worry out of spannering!
British Classics Magazine (Germany)
If you’re thinking of restoring a Commando I’d strongly recommend this book. It’s proved a highly valuable resource and support for the official NVT manual. It’s also worth buying if you’re looking to purchase a Commando so you know what you’re letting yourself in for! Very well written with plenty of tips along the way. 5 STARS
This was a wonderful surprise. Great color photos throughout the entire book. Not a replacement for a shop manual by any means, but offers great pointers and is a very entertaining read. 5 STARS
I am the original owner of a 1973 Roadster and have accumulated several repair/maintenance and restoration books. This is one of the best. 5 STARS