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Reborn (again) – Norton Commando 961SE

A little confession before I start. This Norton is the coolest most beautiful motorcycle I’ve ever seen. To me, this is how a sport motorcycle should look like: naked, round edged, with a big twin engine, single round headlight, 2 side exhausts, one on each side, and preferably black with golden stripes and logo.

The former 961 began life as a project under the leadership of Oregon-based American, Kenny Dreer, with Paul Gaudio as Design and Development Director. Dreer was a hardcore Norton fan with an excellent reputation for restoring, and improving, the original Norton Commando.

The new Commando seen here, produced by the new Norton company, looks like a homage to Dreer’s work but is said to have all genuine and new components, plus, it’s almost genuine British. Engine components, cases and exhausts are made in UK. And although brakes are Italian, Suspension is Swedish and body work is from Spain, the Assembly is 100% British.

The all new 961 engine, is an air-cooled parallel twin cylinder, that displaces 961 cc, and uses push-rod valve actuation with hydraulic lifters (see how it works here). Catalyst exhaust help it meet Euro 3 emission requirements. As opposed to the original 360 degree crankshaft, the new is a 270 degree , which will result in an uneven firing, which will probably resemble a Ducati.
The engine is equipped with a counter-balancer that said to do a good job canceling the strongest vibes, while still leaving a few of them so you’ll remember it’s still a twin 🙂 .

Output is said to be 79 hp at a moderately low 6500 rpm. On the paper, not too high, but if you look at the torque (66 ft-lb at 5200 , aprox 9 kg-m) you’ll see that this engine is strong enough to push you through any curve :). At 70 mph (112 kph) the engine will rev at 4000 rpm’s. Another 1000 and you’ll be doing 90 mph (145 kph). 320 mm twin Brembos with two 4 piston calipers, will help brake the 189 kg Commando, without a problem.

I can only hope that this Norton is here to stay, not that it makes any difference to me, cause at a 19,500$ price tag,   it’s bound to stay on the paper, and not in my garage, but none the less, it is time to revive the classic looks and feel of past motorcycles, because personally I was never a big fan of the mean looking , sharp edged, sometime origami looking motorcycles of this decade. Even Ducati is beginning to build Japanese looking bikes , so this Commando is fresh model and a reminder to all, of how a motorcycle should be like.

The original 73 Commando: 828 cc engine (50.5 cu in) air-cooled twin, 51 bhp (38 kW) @ 6,250 rpm, 4-speed (chain), 410 lb (186.1 kg dry) 485 lb (220.0 kg wet) . Photo from by: Yesterdays Antique Motorcycles & en Classic Motorcycle Archive

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