NORTON COMMANDO 961 SE (2009 - on) Review
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
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 & brakesNext up: Engine
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.
EngineNext up: Reliability
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.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
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 vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
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…
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.
|Engine type||Air-cooled, 2v parallel twin, 5 gears|
|Frame type||Steel tube double cradle|
|Fuel capacity||17 litres|
|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|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||45 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£96|
|Annual service cost||-|
|Used price||£11,000 - £15,000|
17 of 17
How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Two year unlimited mileage|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||79 bhp|
|Max torque||66 ft-lb|
|Top speed||130 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
|Tank range||205 miles|
Model history & versions
2009: Norton Commando 961 SE launched
Commando Café Racer: Brief comments
MCN Long term test reports
Inside story: Stunning Norton Commando 961 Street will be 50-bike limited edition
Norton are set to build a limited edition of 50 Commando 961 Street models, with the stunning new bike being officially unveiled tomorrow night at the Donington Hall factory. Born out of the vision of Henry Cole and his bike building buddy Guy Willison (of The Motorbike Show fame), it’s a superb rei…
Owners' reviews for the NORTON COMMANDO 961 (2009 - on)
3 owners have reviewed their NORTON COMMANDO 961 (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.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
Version: SF Mk 2
I never give top marks
It's a great looking bike with the performance from a bygone era,it takes time to get into its zone but given quiet country roads at 60-70mph in third and fourth it's a peach.
If you are an iron butt you can run the tank dry ,about 180 miles
1960s performance with to-days quality and reliability, and not a single drop of oil on the lounge floor.
The only slight issue I have had is with the gearbox ,when accelerating hard in fourth and changing up to fifth it does not always engage properly.
Bought the bike second hand in July 2015, I have only done 2000 miles on it (total mileage 3500).
Looks great ,I could spend all my time looking at it.
Buying experience: From a dealer £13495 price as advertised and paid
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