Aaron Hagar Trusts CTEK To Protect Treasured Motorcycle
For Aaron Hagar, of Rat Runners Garage, the family history of his 1975 Norton 850 Commando motorcycle makes it extra special, so he trusts its care to CTEK’s battery chargers.
The British-made Norton Commando was purchased “almost new” by Aaron’s uncle, Bucky.
“Bucky was my mother’s brother. He was one of my father’s best friends growing up and introduced him to my mother,” said Aaron, the son of American rock musician Sammy Hagar.
A Passion For British Relics
Bucky had “a passion for British relics,” said Aaron, be they Norton motorcycles or Mini Coopers.
“The first time I went 100 mph was in his Mini, and the first motorcycle I ever rode on was the Norton,” remembers Aaron.
His uncle’s passion for British vehicles “was a deep part of my youth with him,” said Aaron, adding, “Norton, RD, Mini Cooper engines and transmissions blown apart and strewn all over the living room. It was not uncommon to wash dishes alongside a valve cover soaking in the sink or eat a meal in front of the TV next to an engine block with beer cans in the cylinders.”
Though his Uncle Bucky passed away more than two decades ago, Aaron said he was “a huge part of my childhood and automotive influence.”
“He was always wrenching on Dad’s cars and was always modifying or servicing Dad’s demanding sports cars. I would often hang out with him and help. He would teach me what he could along the way, but I was very young. My family also owned bicycle stores, and he worked as a mechanic there. I worked summers there and we often worked and rode together,” explained Aaron.
Motorcycle Painted Red for 'Red Rocker'
The 1975 Norton 850 Commando became part of Sammy Hagar’s collection 30 years ago when Bucky sold it to him. Three years ago, Aaron acquired it.
As a fan of preservation, Aaron wanted to bring the low-mileage bike back to its original condition.
“The bodywork that came on the bike when I inherited it was fiberglass. I was desperate to put it back to original metal,” explained Aaron.
Though originally black in color and then green, the Norton had been switched to red. “My father is known in his career as ‘The Red Rocker,’ and red was mostly his favorite color. When my uncle sold it to him, he painted the (green fiberglass) bodywork red for my father.”
However, the original metal bodywork still existed. “I was helping my father clean his warehouse and was atop a high set of storage racks removing some old Jaguar XKE parts when I came across the near mint bodywork,” said Aaron. “I was absolutely delighted.”
“I took them back to Tahoe, polished them up as best I could, and put them back on the bike. When my father passed the bike onto me for my 45th birthday, he said, ‘Bucky prepared this bike for me, now go make it your own,’” explained Aaron.
“Now that I had the original bodywork, I moved on to add the Dunstall pipes, Clubman bars, and cafe seat,” said Aaron, adding throughout the entire process, his decisions were based on the thought, “What would Bucky ultimately do?”
'Nortons Are Very Special'
Aaron calls the Norton his “absolute favorite.”
“Nortons are very special motorcycles, not very common to find these days,” he explained. “As far as British heritage goes, they are the best of the best! Although the Triumph brand won in the end, the ‘unapproachable’ Norton was the big dog of the British market back in the day, the heavy hitter.”
Aaron added, “Fast and superior handling gave it the racing heritage that propelled the brand for nearly 70 years. They have been around in their ‘purity’ since 1908. They built military motorcycles during wartime and went on to be a very popular motorcycle until (the company’s) demise in the 1970s after a merger with Triumph and BSA.”
“To experience a big bore Norton is a very unique experience. Parallel twin cylinders have a very unique resonance and the massive torque was unmatched in its day,” said Aaron.
“The vibration and character of the motor was unique and offered the rider something the competitors didn’t have. It is spirited and still performs very well for its age,” though he noted it doesn’t like the altitude, so he doesn’t ride it often.
But when he does, Aaron said, “The thunderous sound it makes is addictive, and resonates in your bones well after the ride is finished. It has a very low center of gravity and handles very well for its age. Riding along the back roads of 88 and 89 in the Sierras is like nothing else, the real joy of motoring.”
The next step in the Norton’s preservation history is a “deep service,” said Aaron. “There is a gentleman in California, Ken Armann, who is a Norton ‘Yoda Jedi Master.’ I have been wanting him to go through it, rebuild the carbs and jet them for the altitude (which is very difficult I’m told), replace the rubber mounts, and just make sure it is in top shape for the next phase in its life. New tires, brakes, and fluids, a front brake master rebuild and it should be ready to take on the roads with fury. It is running on 30-plus year old tires and brakes, and it could use a safety upgrade.”
CTEK Ensures Norton's Ready To Ride
Because rides on the Norton are few and far between for Aaron, he relies on CTEK battery chargers to keep the motorcycle battery in prime condition.
“The CTEK CT5 Time To Go is my ‘go to.’ It’s the most versatile unit, and it’s completely self-sufficient. Plug in and go,” said Aaron.
He also relies on CTEK’s CTX Battery Sense and the Comfort Connect Indicator Panel.
“Most often my batteries are tucked away and out of reach, so both of these little beauties allow me to remotely check the status of my battery when it’s not plugged into a charger. The Battery Sense app is a wonderful tech feature that I use to check on batteries, and the light panel is a quick and simple way to see if I need to plug in my vehicle for charging and maintenance,” Aaron said. “I sincerely love CTEK and trust it over anything else I’ve ever used!”
His Rat Runners Garage is “a magical place where I delve deep into the obsession and vision of serving these old relics,” said Aaron, who called his shop “a sanctuary of preservation.”
“I do have it open to the public by appointment, or the occasional drop in,” he explained. “Fans from all over the world come to visit and relish the beauty of these old machines. The Norton is a very popular attraction because of the family history, the story, and the passion we have put into it. I am proud and honored to have it and will continue to service and worship these treasures.
“For me, it is the sentiment of a deep family history as well as it’s nostalgic heritage. It is the pinnacle of what makes me tick as a preservationist, collector and enthusiast.”