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:

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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

Is the Norton Commando 961 too modern for you? You really do prefer the original version?
Is the Norton Commando 961 too modern for you? Do you really prefer the original version?
A brand new Norton Commando 850 Roadster by Norvil. Note the brakes upgrade.
A brand new Norton Commando 850 Roadster by Norvil. Note the front brakes upgrade.
The bike you order will be at your spec like this one which combines The Interstate (tank), Roadster (side panels), Fastback (seat), Production Racer (fairing) and the S version (exhaust). 5 bikes in 1!
The bike you order will be built at your spec, like this Fastback LR one which combines the Interstate (tank), the Roadster (side panels), the Fastback (seat), the Production Racer (fairing) and the S version (exhaust). 5 bikes in 1!
A restored Norton 750 Commando Interstate
A restored Norton 750 Commando Interstate
One of the most popular spec, the Norton 750 Commando Production Racer. Add £450.
One of the most popular spec, the Norton 750 Commando Production Racer. Add £450 to the list price
The Norton 750 Commando Fastback, as presented in 1967
The Norton 750 Commando Fastback, as presented in 1967
Very rare, the Norton Commando 750 S inspired by the Flat Track and targeting the US market
Very rare, the Norton Commando 750 S inspired by the Flat Track and targeting the US market
So far Norvil was proposing any Dominator and and spec, but the last orders were manufactured in Dec 2013
So far Norvil was proposing also the Dominator and the Manx, but considering the high demand for the Commando, the last bikes to be built left the workshop in Dec 2013.
This is it, you break the piggy bank and wait 3 long years...
This is it… you break the piggy bank and wait 3 long years… but the result worth the effort.
Colorado Norton Works has restored more than 55 Commando to the highest standards. However because of the builder takes some liberty with the upgrades, it is subject to polemic as it often happen in the Classic Bike world.
Colorado Norton Works has restored more than 100 Commando to the highest standards. One even says, “too far”. Indeed you can nearly ask anything you want, and critics flies because some see in this exercise a classic bike sacrificed. This is anyway a quite frequent polemic in the classic bike world.
This particular bike, #89, is a 1974 Norton 850cc RoadsterIt’s benefited from over a hundred upgrades, including a rebuilt engine with dual Keihin carbs and a thorough head job, complete with a 3-angle seat cut and Black Diamond valves. Rambow has upgraded the transmission with a Jim Comstock Engineering hydraulic clutch, and changed the primary to a belt drive. The electrics have been given a shot in the arm with a high-output alternator, tri-spark ignition and a single-coil setup. The brake system is modernized, with a Brembo 320mm full-floating disc and a 4-piston caliper. Matt also modifies the front and rear hubs, and fits his own design of billet triple trees. Source Bike Exif
This particular bike, #89, is a 1974 Norton Commando 850 Roadster, which benefited from over a hundred upgrades, including a rebuilt engine with dual Keihin carbs and a thorough head job, complete with a 3-angle seat cut and Black Diamond valves. the transmission is upgraded with a Jim Comstock Engineering hydraulic clutch and a belt primary drive. The electrics included a high-output alternator, tri-spark ignition and a single-coil setup. The brake included a Brembo 320mm full-floating disc and a 4-piston caliper. Matt also modified the front and rear hubs, and fits his own design of billet triple trees | Source Bike Exif (see link below)
If you want to know more about this bike or see more pictures of it, here is the source link: http://www.bikeexif.com/1974-norton-commando
If you want to know more about this bike or see more pictures of it, here is the source link:
http://www.bikeexif.com/1974-norton-commando

Sources:

http://www.norvilmotorcycle.co.uk

http://coloradonortonworks.com

http://www.bikeexif.com/1974-norton-commando

The Commando Scrapbook:

https://egli-vincent.net/3-mid-60-70s-ton-up-bikes/commando-scrapbook/

A decade of Competition (1967-1976)

https://egli-vincent.net/3-mid-60-70s-ton-up-bikes/

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3 thoughts

  1. Some journalists have written the 961 would look “like a 1970s motorcycle”, but despite some details like wire wheels, chrome and paint, it is just a twin-shock modern bike: like a fattened supermoto, with nothing of the Commando’s original proportions and lines, not even those of any period bike. Worst of all, of course, is the different crankshaft angle supposed to make it sound like a V2 instead of the gorgeous parallel twin bark… It’s just like Citroen: Start off “retro” with the intention to recapture a cult classic, and then letting stylists and engineers move away from it, resulting in a cart-stiff “DS” line…

    1. I have seen the 961 on the show, but never heard it. However I already heard this comment and agree that a 360 et quite different from a 180 crankshaft. Back on the 70s it was already noticeable that a CB450 and Yam 650 sounded different than a Bonneville or Commando. I am with you on that. Philippe

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