After years of development and multiple ownership, the new Norton company seems to be on the right track for success, but it will be a long and winding road before this new business comes out of infant care. The 961 Commando is definitely an interesting bike, blending new technology with a good old classic look, a bike that the classic bikes enthusiasts will likely notice on the street. However, will they really make the leap and buy it? not really sure for those who have the Classic Bike in their blood. What about you, do you also find it just too modern? I can nearly hear you some of you, which prefer the original version, because it looks like and is a genuine Classic….
No problem, Norvil can deliver a genuine brand new Commando in any specification: Roadster, Interstate, Fastback, Production Racer or the “S”, in any color with a list of traditional upgrades for a Classic such the brakes, cams or belt primary transmission. So you probably think “what’s the deal?” Well, beside some hefty prices compared to the second hand market, due to the slow process and the high demand, the waiting list is 3 years long. So, if you did not yet faint, bear with me.
As every part is now available as new on the aftermarket, it is possible to assemble brand new bikes from scratch with a new frame and a complete new engine, this is called today “re-creation”. As a result, these motorcycles are titled in the year of production (e.g. 2014). This is possible in the U.K. due to the regulation, which authorized the assembly and registration of “specials” under an emission waiver. However, if this approach works in the UK, for the rest of the world, you will likely not be allowed to title such product unless you leave in a country having a lagging regulation (definitely and sadly not the rest of Europe and USA).
So if this does not work for you, you still have the choice of the restored bike, which is anyway an excellent alternative working for everyone as the motorcycle comes with its original title, from 1967 to 1975, upon the bike found on the second hand market. Indeed the regulation applicable in most countries is the one in force at that period of time, so it is no different than importing a classic bike. Upon a deposit, your future Commando is purchased on the pre-owned market and then fully restored with second hand or new parts with the selected upgrades. Beside the interest of an “authentic and genuine” old bike, this solution is also more cost effective.
In both cases the quality delivered is premium and the customization possible (upgrades, paint and spec). Interestingly, the engines can be built not only in the original 750 and 850 displacements but also in larger 920, 950 and 1000 cc specifications. This latest is only available for the new bikes as it requires specific crankcases and crankshaft.
Here are the prices and Specs for new bikes:
Norvil was the pioneer in the re-creation of the Norton Commando; if you leave in the USA, another company is also focussing on the “reborn” Commando: Colorado Norton Works. CNW propose exclusively rebuilt bikes and you can either provide your donor bike or they can procure it on the market. If the quality of the work looks faultless, the prices are even higher and on my perspective disconnected from the value of a Commando: Count $4,500 for the donor bike and add $32,945 to $36,945 for the 850 Mk3 (thus about $37,500 too $41,500 finished…)
So if you are tempted by a genuine Classic rather than the modern interpretation such the Triumph Bonneville or the modern Norton 961 Commando, Norvil proposes a descent alternative. There is however a price for this. It’s called patience… a virtue that consumer have been forgetting over time, so this is why Norvil products are only for genuine passionates.
Philippe Guyony © 2014
The Commando Scrapbook:
A decade of Competition (1967-1976)