THE NORTON COMMANDO SS WAS A STREET SCRAMBLER
Today, the differences between types of bikes within a given brand can differ completely. Today, standard roadsters, touring bikes, sport bikes and adventure bikes are laid out totally different from one another, with different frames, suspension, wheels, brakes, everything. They’re optimized for their primary mission and highly specialized. In the 1960s and 70s, most motorcycles from a given brand were fairly similar with different trim and accessories. For instance, every Norton Commando had the same frame, suspension and wheels, but through the use of different tanks, bars, seats, fenders and pipes, they created an entire fleet of distinctive motorcycles. The Norton Commando SS was one such bike. In the 1960s, so-called street scramblers were quite popular, tucking the pipes up high to give greater ground clearance for off-roading. Mind you, Street Scramblers weren’t all-out dirt-bikes, they were the precursors to ‘enduros’, and what we call today ‘adventure bikes’, meant to live most of their lives on pavement, with occasional bouts off-road. Honda made a fortune with their early CL-series street scramblers in the 60s. Norton’s entry into this niche was well-conceived and -executed. While it’s hard to imagine a handsomer bike than a Commando with those long, upswept megaphones, Norton’s execution of the high pipes running along the left side of the SS is just plain gorgeous.