The Pre-1971 Norton Commando was fitted (like many bikes of the era) with a Wipac handlebar switch.
This was called the Wipac Triconsul switch.
It had three functions:
- a button for the horn
- a toggle to switch between dip beam and main beam
- a button to flash the headlight main beam
The horn button made the earth connection via the metal of the handlebars
The dip beam/main beam toggle switch took the U (blue) wire from pin 8 of the three position light switch and flipped between UR (blue/red) of the Dip Beam and UW (blue/white of the main beam)
The green flasher button took a W (white) wire from the Ammeter and used it as a ‘hot’ wire to a link inside the switch to the main beam wire.
These switches are actually no longer available.
But there is an alternative – the aftermarket Wipac Tricon (which was from magneto bikes originally) – it is different, but it’s all that is available these days.
It is well worth noting that this switch is very different from the original:
Both the buttons on this switch are push to ground – that is to say, they are earthed out to the metal of the handlebars when the buttons are depressed.
What it means is that if you buy this aftermarket switch, you are no longer able to wire the third button as the headlight flasher – in fact attempting to do so would resulting in you blowing your fuse when you press the button, as you would be effectively crossing the positive and negative sides of the battery!
The colors of the wiring inside is also different.
I have seen people modify these switches inside to work differently.
I have also seen people paint the red button green to maintain the original look, or there was someone 3D printing the green buttons at one point.
A popular idea is to wire the other button into the horn, so it behaves the same as the top one – at least the switch is doing something.
The other alternative is to use the aftermarket Ducon switch instead – this has only one button, and the wires are actually the correct color!
Here is an overview that walks you through the differences in the switch and how to successfully splice it in to the original wiring, if you want to use it.
|ORIGINAL (triconsul) switch||AFTERMARKET (tricon) switch||Comments|
|NB (brown/black)||B (black)||this goes to the horn – when pushed, the horn is earthed to positive via the handlebars|
|UR (blue/red)||R (red)||the dip beam – this goes to the headlamp bulb holder|
|U (blue)||P (pink)||this is the headlamp switched negative feed – it comes from pin 8 of the three position toggle switch|
|UW (blue/white)||R (red)||this goes to the connector that splits to the main beam warning lamp and the main beam terminal of the headlamp bulb holder|
|W (white)||N (brown)||this is unused in the new world – connecting it to the headlamp flash will blow the fuse!|
These switches are available from our friends at Andover Norton
I made a wiring diagram that shows the new Tricon switch on the original Pre-1971 wiring diagram. Note the unused red button (brown wire) is not connected to anything.
Hopefully this will be helpful.
Pre-1971 (ammeter in the headlight shell with AFTERMARKET Wipac Tricon type handlebar switch) PNG 3066×1841
Categories: motorcycles, Tech Articles, Troubleshooting & Diagnostics
Thanks so much. I think I can take it from here. Is the brown wire a ground?
Hi Marc – great to hear you found it useful!
The brown wire in this aftermarket switch is unused on the Commando.
This new “tricon” switch (with the red button) is different to the original “triconsul” that came on the Commando (the button was green).
This new tricon switch was actually designed for Magneto bikes originally, so pressing the red button would ground out the magneto and stop the engine.
Be sure that you don’t connect the brown wire to the headlamp flasher – doing so will blow your fuse!