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Norton Relaunches Commando, But No NZ Release In Sight

Norton Motorcycles has relaunched its iconic Commando range with the new Commando 961 SP and Commando 961 CR.

Sadly for Kiwi Norton fans, the new Commando range is currently limited to sale within the United Kingdom.

Norton Motorcycles has relaunched the iconic Commando, but Kiwi fans will have to wait if they want to get their hands on one.

The new Norton Commando 961 family, which consists of the Commando 961 CR and 961 SP, have been launched into the UK market with a price tag starting at £16,499 for the SP model.

The bikes retain the iconic silhouette we are familiar with from the last Norton Commandos to be sold here in NZ but Norton has improved the bikes somewhat and shifted production to the firm’s brand-new factory in Solihull, England.

Both versions of the Commando are powered by an air-oil-cooled 961cc parallel twin, which develops 76.8bhp @7250rpm and 81Nm @6300rpm. The transmission is a five-speed constant mesh type, using a single plate wet clutch.

While the power figure and use of a 5-speed gearbox may come as disappointments for some, the Commando 961 makes up for this by opting for Öhlins suspension at both ends. Up the front is a 43mm USD fork with adjustment for preload, compression and rebound damping. At the rear, the Commando runs a twin shock setup which is again fully adjustable. The high-end suspension is complemented by a Brembo brake setup, with radial-mount calipers at the front coupled to a radial master cylinder.

The main difference between the bikes comes in the handlebars. While the SP keeps things relatively tame with a set of traditional upright bars, the CR - as its name suggests - opts for clip-ons to give the bike a more cafe racer poise.

“The Commando name is iconic and is unmistakably Norton. Our new generation Commando 961 SP and CR pay respect to timeless design whilst harnessing a modern flare. We’ve built a motorcycle that is unique and beautiful,” Dr Robert Hentschel, Chief Executive Officer at Norton Motorcycles, said.

“We have been rigorous in our approach to ensure we are providing the very best version of the Commando 961.

“It’s been some years since the sound of a new Commando engine has echoed through UK streets and we’re delighted to be able to offer our customers this experience once again.

If you’re wondering why there is such a heavy focus on “UK streets” that’s because currently, Norton is only selling motorcycles within the UK market. When contacted about whether the brand will return to the New Zealand marketplace, spokesman George Baines said that the company was establishing a plan to rebuild the brand globally.

“At the moment, Norton Motorcycles is not distributing in New Zealand, and current models are only available in the UK, he said. As a global business, Norton is establishing its dealership development plan, and working on what kind of dealer framework would best suit the brand.”

Norton Commando 961 Specs

Engine type: Norton air-oil-cooled pushrod parallel twin with dry sump lubrication

Bore & stroke: 88mm x 79mm

Displacement: 961cc

Compression ratio: 10.1:1

Ignition: Crank-fired, electronic fuel injection

Exhaust: Full stainless steel exhaust system with multiple 3-way catalytic converter

Gearbox: 5-speed constant mesh type

Final drive: 525 O-ring chain

Clutch: Wet multi-plate

Power: 76.8hp @7250rpm

Torque: 81Nm @6300rpm

Colour-matched seat cowl

Fuel tank: 15 Litre

Mudguard: Carbon front mudguard

Optional pillion seat (Aftersales)

The frame is hand TIG and MIG welded at Norton HQ

Handlebars: SP - Black anodised tapered high bars / CR - High-grade anodised billet aluminium clip-ons

Wheelbase: 1400mm

Rake: 24.5 º

Trail: 99mm

Seat height: 810mm

Yokes: Billet-machined

Front brakes: Full Brembo system – twin Brembo 320mm fully-floating high carbon steel discs and Brembo 4-piston Mono Bloc radially mounted calipers with ABS, and Brembo front brake master cylinder

Rear brakes: Full Brembo system – Brembo 240mm disc and 2-piston caliper with ABS, and Brembo rear brake master cylinder

Front suspension: 43mm Öhlins upside-down forks – adjustable for preload, compression and rebound damping

Rear suspension: Öhlins twin shocks with remote reservoir – fully adjustable

Front wheel: 36-spoke, 3.5” x 17” polished aluminium rim

Rear wheel: 40-spoke, 5.5” x 17” polished aluminium rim

Front tyre: Dunlop Sportmax GPR 300, 120/70 x 17”

Rear tyre: Dunlop Sportmax GPR 300, 180/55 x 17”

Optional black rims available with Matrix Black colourway

Lighting: Polished stainless-steel single headlamp

Instruments: Norton analogue speedometer and tachometer

Electronics: 300W high-output charging system


961 SP

Matrix Black with polished rims

Matrix Black with black rims

Manx Platinum with polished rims

961 CR

Matrix Black with polished rims

Manx Platinum with polished rims

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