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Inside story: Stunning Norton Commando 961 Street will be 50-bike limited edition

Published: 10 October 2018

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 reimagining of the 961 platform, combining Norton’s vision of a modern Commando, and Cole’s 40-year dream to build his perfect Norton.

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The new Street was conceived, designed and built by Cole and Willison, with a little help from specialist fabricators along the way – with much of the story being told in The Motorbike Show’s seventh series. But after Norton boss Stuart Garner gave the bike his nod of approval, it’s also now become an official numbered limited-edition model. Available now, each will cost £17,950 with production expected to start in December.

The bike started life as a standard Norton Commando 961 Sport MkII, before Cole set about restyling it within the constraints of maintaining its Euro4 homologation – which meant he could make no changes to the frame, positioning of electronics and ancillaries, or even the fuel tank capacity.

“We didn’t think ‘let’s build a retro’, we just built what we liked,” says Cole. “This bike delivers what we want. Riding it is hooliganism. The new bars, the riding position, the whole attitude of the bike. It’s a pure 1970s street bike. It’s still Euro4 compliant though, but it rides like a dream and looks more dangerous than a sailor in a nunnery.”

So what’s changed?

While Cole and Willison’s inspiration was the Harley-Davidson XR750 flat-tracker, the finished Street looks far more like a 1970s muscle bike. The rolling chassis and engine are pure Commando 961 MkII, but the tank, seat, tail unit and bars are all new, while it also boasts a glut of factory parts to complete the high-end look. The beautiful and tail unit are hand-crafted in aluminium, while the seat is a bespoke item made of Alcantara and stitched with a diamond pattern. The bars are black Renthal Fatbars, which are nicely accentuated by the polished top yoke and bar clamps, while the official factory carbon headlamp cowl, fender, chain guard and numberplate hangar all add a bit of classy bling, too.

“It’s mega,” says Garner. “It was all Henry’s idea on the styling and is very cool. I genuinely like it. It’s got that straight-bar street look, and reminds me of all my mad mates who were riding Z1000s or GS at that time. It’s changed the vibe of the Commando. It’s a fabulous twist on our 961 platform. It’s a gorgeous thing.”

Commando 961 Street

  • Limited edition of 50 bikes
  • Aluminium tank and tail unit
  • Öhlins fork and rear shocks
  • New exhaust mid- and end-can
  • Street style Renthal Fatbars

If you want to see it in the metal it will be on the Norton stand at Motorcycle Live from November 17-25.

 

All images © MCN/Richard Newland

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