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2008 Norvil Commando 850
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When Norvil invited us to ride their new Commando 850 roadster, they promised we wouldn't have trouble starting it. Now you can see for yourself how easily it fires up on the button...

There's a Norton 850 Commando Roadster lurking in the Shed at home, so we know exactly how easy it usually is (not) to start these bikes on the button. If the battery is fat and full of charge, and if the engine has run recently and so liberated some of the lube from its slump in the sump, and if the fates are smiling upon you, well, if all those planets coincide in your heaven at the appropriate moment then applying a firm thumb to the green electric starter switch may well induce a cough followed by a rumble and… ignition!

But what normally happens to us is more like cough, whine, fizz SILENCE.

And then, at a repeat application of thumb to switch? Cough.

And at the third attempt? A dismal click.

At that point we apply a battery charger for several days and retire hurt.

But Norvil put a Commando together every couple of weeks in their West Midlands workshops. Every year they build a raft of brand new machines, and a bunch of better-than-original rebuilds.

Waiting on the platform for a brief encounter? Norvil 850 Commando

And they've been doing this for donkey's years so have tackled most of the inherent problems which have plagued Commando owners over the decades. Norvil are also aware that modern riders tend to look askance at kickstart lever ('how quaint!') and expect their bikes to fire up on the button without recourse to jump leads or physical exertion.

So the bike we tested (which appears in the Jan issue of the magazine, by the way) was fitted with Norvil's Super Starter kit. This uses a four-brush motor to produce really high torque, employs ball bearings to improve spinning efficiency, has O-ring seals to keep the damp and oil at bay (cos neither of them are ideal in your electrics…). The starter motor drives through a 9-tooth pinion which provides a 15.8 gear reduction ratio - that's an 11% improvement over the 10-tooth OE Prestolite item.

The Norvil starter weighs about a kilo less than the Prestolite unit, thus trimming some unsightly flab, and you don't need any special adaptors or fitting kits - just bolt it in place and away you go. For maximum effect Norvil suggest that you use heavier duty starter leads which are designed to transmit more power than the standard ones, and a gurt big battery.

So does all this gubbins really make a difference?

The Norvil starter fits in place of the original Watch the wee film clip below and find out!

Click this play button twice to start the video...

The Super Starter motor costs £275 plus VAT (quote part number 064791B), and don't forget to order your leads (065909, 065910 and 065911) and matching battery (063300BIG) from 01543 278008 or see

After riding the new Commando we came away with huge grins on our faces. However, we couldn't quite bludgeon the piggy bank into giving us enough cash to afford one for ourselves. So instead we made a poster out of one of the photos we took, and stuck it on the wall of the Shed.

Just what your shed wall needs... Norvil 850 Commando poster

Then we figured that you might want to gaze upon the handsome Commando (and the equally handsome chuff-chuff) as well, so we asked the printer to produce a whole bunch of posters.

Nortons on Right Now......

Sorry. Posters no longer available...

You might not be able to afford a brand new Commando - but this way you can tell people you've got one in your garage!


Frank W, trying to keep huge grin off his face... Norvil 850 Commando


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