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Norton COMMANDO 961 Retro Motorbike Review

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MCN overall verdict rating is 4

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.


MCN rating rating is 3
Owners' rating rating is 4

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.

Ride and Handling

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 4

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.


MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 3

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.

Norton Commando 961 SE (2009-current)

Detail Value
New price £15,995
Dealer used prices
£14,530 (2014) - £16,580 (2014)
Private used prices
£13,080 (2014) - £14,920 (2014)
  View full used price info
Engine size 961 cc
Power 79 bhp
Top speed mph
Insurance group 17 of 17
  MCN ratings Owners' ratings
Overall rating is 4 rating is 5
Engine rating is 3 rating is 4
Ride & Handling rating is 4 rating is 4
Equipment rating is 4 rating is 3
Quality & Reliability rating is 4 rating is 5
Value rating is 4 rating is 4

Quality and Reliability

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 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.


MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 4

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

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Model History

2009: Norton Commando 961 SE launched

Other Versions

Commando Café Racer: Brief comments
Commando Sport:


Top speed mph
1/4-mile acceleration secs
Max power 79 bhp
Max torque 66 ft-lb
Weight 188 kg
Seat height 813 mm
Fuel capacity 17 litres
Average fuel consumption mpg
Tank range miles
Annual road tax
Insurance group 17 of 17
Engine size 961 cc
Engine specification Air-cooled, 2v parallel twin, 5 gears
Frame Steel tube double cradle
Front suspension adjustment Ohlins 43mm, fully adjustable
Rear suspension adjustment Twin Ohlins shocks, fully adjustable
Front brakes 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

See all Norton COMMANDO 961 motorcycles for sale


750 miles






779 miles






1 miles


Owners' Overall Rating rating is 4(1 review)

  • Commando 916 - Sex on a Stick


    Average rating rating is 4

    Show Details

    Ride and Handling
    Quality and Reliabilty

    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 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

    18 January 2011


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13 June 2011 01:43




I heard recently that a bike dealer in the town that I live is thinking of selling the new Norton.This at first was very interesting .I quickly checked out MCN to learn more and found to my dismay it is selling for sixteen grand!I am an ex pat living in New Zealand so at present exchange rates that could be around thirty four thousand NZ dollars.I will never be able to afford one but will look forward to seeing it if the shop actually starts selling them.

22 April 2011 23:06


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£16000 noo thanks

Just too expensive they want to make a go at it then make bikes for around the 7-8 grand mark and at least modern wish them luck

06 January 2011 17:51


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heard the norton this week running at donno. sounds  great 

live down the road ,its nice to hear motorbike again there


hope we soon get some racing again

25 February 2010 14:29


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Thats it lads carry on the british tradition of slaging off anything that someone with the balls to try and put britain back on the map is doing.

People where doing the same to John Bloor  but he stuck with it and what a great job he has done.

Even after the great fire people still said that this was the end well he proved them all wrong.

Come on people give the guy a break and show him the support he deserves for having a go,Personaly i hope norton are a roaring succsess and prove all the doubters wrong.

The bike has some top speck items on it and dont forget this is not the main production bike.

Be proud of this country for once. Ihave stopped buying anything jap  and try and buy british made goods only , I own a speed triple a landrover and a british built caravan .

screw the rest of the world we owe them nothing but we owe the workers of this country to try and keep people in work.


24 December 2009 16:30

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