NORTON COMMANDO 961 SE (2009-on) Review

Published: 04 December 2009

"A 'feel good' bike par excellence that gives riding and owning pleasure by the skip-load"

NORTON COMMANDO 961 SE (2009-on)

"A 'feel good' bike par excellence that gives riding and owning pleasure by the skip-load"

  • At a glance
  • 961cc  -  79 bhp
  • 45 mpg  -  205 miles range
  • Medium seat height (813mm)
  • £15,995

Overall Rating 4 out of 5

Revived Norton’s new Commando 961 SE is a ‘feel good’ bike par excellence. It gives riding and owning pleasure by the skip-load and is a machine you’ll park up and spend hours admiring in the garage with a cuppa.

Yes, in this full-bling, limited edition, £16K, SE trim, the 961 is arguably more ornament than transport, but that’s’s arguably irrelevent now this version has sold out (but it bodes well for the future, cheaper Café Racer and Sport) and, besides, I can’t think of any bikes that fulfils both roles so well.

Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5

The Norton Commando 961’s chassis is simply ‘there’: Neutral-feeling yet with enough sporting prowess to have fun and scratch with; light, slim and sharp-steering flickable, plus, of course, incontrovertibly good suspension and brakes.

I doubt it needed any adjustment. If it did, it’s all there, available.

Engine 3 out of 5

Although a beautiful lump of metal, this is NOT the best bit. That’s not a major criticism.

We rode the first production machine which is something of a development bike so there was bound to be a few teething troubles, most notably a flat-spot around 5000rpm. Even so there’s plenty to commend.

The Norton has plenty of low-down grunt from around 2000rpm, snicks though its gears happily enough and emits a quite addictive bark.

Eighty horses, or somewhere between a Bonnie and a Monster, feels about right and is enough to have fun with.

Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5

It’s hand-built, in the UK, using some of the best components available anywhere in the world so quality, on face value at least, is top drawer.

It’s still too early to say about reliability, although any doubts should be assuaged by Norton’s commitment to customer service and determination to correct any problems that might crop up.

Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5

With the Norton Commando 961 SE more than most, value is difficult to assess objectively.

The cynics will argue that, on paper, the performance is hardly eart-shattering and it’s a fairly basic, unproven machine for your £16K.

On the other hand, it’s a mouth-watering return of a legendary name, an instant classic, beautifully specced and never likely to depreciate… Find a Norton Commando 961 for sale.

Insurance group: 17 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.

Equipment 4 out of 5

As a straightforward, old style roadster, the Norton Commando 961 SE is fairly basic in terms of equipment – there’s obviously no luggage, fairing and so on.

But what it has is top-notch. Brakes, suspension, wheels, switchgear, instruments are all among the best there is, as befitting a ‘Special Edition’ model – and it’s price.

Owners' Reviews

1 owner has reviewed their NORTON COMMANDO 961 SE (2009-on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

We’re currently improving the way this section works, which means we’ve had to suspend the submission of new owners’ reviews for a short period. Please check back soon.

Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5
Equipment 3 out of 5
5 out of 5

Commando 916 - Sex on a Stick

18 January 2011 by Anonymous

I ordered a new Commando as soon as I could. Having got the bike and put a few miles on it before the weather really struck, I am very pleased with it. It rides well and as an old diehard put it: "That's motorcycle porn that is". The negative... Read more comments here are purile, clearly from people who don't understand what the bike represents. You are not going to get a hand built motorcycle for £7-8k - wake up and smell the coffee. Oil leaks, nope, sorry to disappoint Mr 'Mark My Words'. The world is full of miserable negative people, unfortuatly some of them ride motorcycles and leave comments which are factually incorrect. I've been riding bikes since the 60s and have gone through British, Italian, Japanese, German and American bikes. I am seriously chuffed to be riding British Iron. What Bird1050 says is quite right, the moment someone does something good in this country, someone with a chip on his/her shoulder has to start slagging it off. What Garner and his team at doing at Norton is nothing short of fantastic. In the world of mass produced plastic bikes the new Norton stands out from the crowd, and no one who has seen the bike has had a bad thing to say about it or the Company. Good luck to the Norton Motorcycle Company, I would like to think that this is the start of a long successful celebrated business. As for the neggies, move on sonny - nothing to see here. Steve H

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5
Equipment 3 out of 5
Read all 1 owners' reviews in full

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 2009
Year discontinued -
New price £15,995
Warranty term Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 17 of 17
Annual road tax £80
Annual service cost -
Performance
Max power 79 bhp
Max torque 66 ft-lb
Top speed 130 mph
1/4-mile acceleration -
Average fuel consumption 45 mpg
Tank range 205 miles
Specification
Engine size 961cc
Engine type Air-cooled, 2v parallel twin, 5 gears
Frame type Steel tube double cradle
Fuel capacity 17 litres
Seat height 813mm
Bike weight 188kg
Front suspension Ohlins 43mm, fully adjustable
Rear suspension Twin Ohlins shocks, fully adjustable
Front brake 2 x 320mm, four-piston calipers
Rear brake 220mm disc, two-piston caliper
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 180/55 x 17

History & Versions

Model history

2009: Norton Commando 961 SE launched

Other versions

Commando Café Racer: Brief comments
Commando Sport:

Photo Gallery

  • NORTON COMMANDO 961 SE (2009-on)
  • NORTON COMMANDO 961 SE (2009-on)
  • NORTON COMMANDO 961 SE (2009-on)
  • NORTON COMMANDO 961 SE (2009-on)
  • NORTON COMMANDO 961 SE (2009-on)
  • NORTON COMMANDO 961 SE (2009-on)
  • NORTON COMMANDO 961 SE (2009-on)
  • NORTON COMMANDO 961 SE (2009-on)
  • NORTON COMMANDO 961 SE (2009-on)
  • NORTON COMMANDO 961 SE (2009-on)
  • NORTON COMMANDO 961 SE (2009-on)
  • NORTON COMMANDO 961 SE (2009-on)
  • NORTON COMMANDO 961 SE (2009-on)
  • NORTON COMMANDO 961 SE (2009-on)
All related bikes for sale