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The heart of the Mk2E* is the improved VR-880 style electric start conversion running on a belt drive primary. Then add improvements in handling, braking, oil-tightness, idling, carb servicing, lighting, seat height, etc. Over the last decade I’ve built 4 Norton Commandos, one twice, and converted four to electric start including two custom 850’s belonging to Phil Dansby, aka...
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*Called the Mk2E as it's based on the last of the pre-MK3
Commandos, the obscure 1974 MkIIA - only now with a
reliable, made in USA factory-looking electric start system
he idea of developing an electric start conversion came up 'cause
we both needed this “convenience" on our pre-Mk3 Commandos.
850’s take a good bit of umph to kick over and we both have
issues with our knees. Since Kenny Dreer had put E-starts on
later Norton VR-880’s we knew that it was possible. I had seen
a few pictures of KD’s bikes
showing a Bendix cover
continued below
Captain Commando Phil Dansby
trans gif
MKIIE blue bike
Three photos
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© Copyright 2020 - Custom Classic Cycles
Norton photo above & below by Dan Peirce, Trick Photography
MkIIE photo gallery
Click above to view
...into the primary over the clutch. After more research, ironically
through a resource in England, I met Bob Oswald of Quiet Power Drive in Pennsylvania. Bob designed and built Kenny’s prototype VR-880 primary - from the belt drive with QPD’s brilliantly smooth clutch, to the starter conversion using Bob's custom-made ring gear
Enlarge Photo of Estart
Enlarge Clutch Basket with Ring Gear
Enlarge Baby Ham Can
L-R: Conversion w/QPD clutch, ring gear, Bendix cover; Upgraded VR-880 style ring gear on Norvil clutch; Baby Ham Can’s shiny stainless
(Click + to view photos in higher resolution)
QPD produced a neat conversion for me but, needing a bit more development, I turned to Brink Racecraft to design, fabricate and mount the starter using QPD's clutch/ring gear setup. 3 primary belts later success came by adding a belt idler courtesy of Fred Eaton, Old Britts. After 3 hand-fabbed starter brackets, I asked Mike Brink of BRC to turn the main components - starter bracket, idler base, Bendix cover - into CAD. Then after a few tweaks - 3D plastic models, and now CNC machined 6061 T6 aluminum alloy brackets
bracket and bendix cover blends perfectly
with the Commando’s cast alloy primary and
other polished aluminum parts. Combined
with the Baby Ham Can and the polished
alloy American-made Spyke starter, the
entire conversion looks like it came from
Norton but fortunately works like it didn’t
(Norton’s attempt at electric start was called
an “electric assist”). No more SUV drivers
with itchy trigger horn fingers, well maybe
lectric Start, Belt Primary,
Baby Ham Can, Needle-bearing Swing arm, and many other functional and aesthetic improvements turn a 70's
Commando into a uniquely special and rideable Custom Classic Cycle Mk2E!
Enlarge All Alloy Starter Install
Phil Dansby’s 1974 850 Commando
now sporting the latest CCC Mk2E conversions
Photo by Dan Peirce, Trick Photography
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