Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Norton Commando 961 SE to be launched in September 2009


No word on pricing yet, but the Norton Commando 961 sure looks good!

Norton Motorcycles are looking at launching their first new motorcycle in many years – the Commando 961 SE – in September this year. The company will start with producing 200 units of the limited edition 961 SE and will then start making the standard version of the bike. Also, according to a report on Dealer News, the iconic British company is now looking for distribution partners outside the UK. Deliveries are expected to start by the end of this year or early next year.

The new Norton Commando will be fitted with a 961cc air-cooled fuel-injected parallel-twin that produces 80 horsepower and 90Nm of torque. Other bits include a tubular steel chassis, five-speed gearbox, adjustable Ohlins suspension (43mm fork at the front, reservoir-style twin shocks at the back), 17-inch wheels and Brembo brakes (twin 320mm carbon-steel discs with radial mount callipers at the front, single 220mm disc at the back). The bike weighs 188 kilos dry, though the SE version will come with various carbonfibre bits for reduced weight.

‘The Commando 961 SE has been engineered by a team of experienced motorcycle design engineers at Norton's new facility at the Donington Park grand prix circuit. It was felt that, to bring the Commando up to date and deliver a good value product, a 'ground up' engineering exercise was necessary. This work started in 2008 and has now progressed to completion,’ says Simon Skinner, Head of Design at Norton.

‘The biggest challenge for the UK design team was the full integration of the fuel injection and engine management systems. This needed to be done without compromising styling and the classic look of the Commando. The fuel injection system is necessary to pass modern worldwide emissions legislation but also offers other benefits such as improved drivability and reliability,’ says Skinner.

Hmm… we are quite excited about the reborn Norton and we think the Commando 961 might – just might – turn out to be a very good machine indeed. Pricing would be crucial as would be R&D budgets for continued development. But we hope Norton can take those issues in their stride, put their series of false starts behind them and make a fresh, successful new beginning. This is one motorcycle brand that definitely deserves to be resurrected!

Update: Prices for Norton Commando 961 SE have been announced - US$17,899 for the base model and US$19,499 for the higher-spec model with carbonfibre wheels.
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