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Thinking of buying a 961.

I am thinking of changing my reliable, 1988 Honda Revere 600 workhorse which I have owned for 16 years for a 961. I have looked online mainly on ebay and there are quite a lot for sale. many have very low mileages but all are at quite high prices. Why are owners selling their bikes with such little use. Is it;

* They bought them to sell on at a higher price!

* They are not reliable!

*They are not good to ride!

*They are expensive to run!

* They are not supported and you can't get spares!!!

However they do look good, I like the 961 SE Mk 11 in silver.


Right lets talk sense here, I own a 2015 961 Sport bought new from the factory.  I was told there was a two to three month waiting list and that's exactly what happened. Yes a lot of people bought them as an  investment and got their fingers burnt , good is what I say my reason for getting a 961 was to ride the damn thing not look on it as a financial gain. While I was there a brand new 961 was getting ready to be shipped out with no fluids in it to some ones posh office and put in a glass case just to be stared at all day. In a way I can fully understand that as I spend hours looking at mine which I consider one of the most beautiful looking bikes ever made.

If you're thinking of swapping your Honda and using the 961 daily DONT DO IT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.  These bikes are light years away from each other in every respect and running a 961 on a daily basis they wont compete with the Honda. I have covered well over 15K  miles on mine and there have been some issues, only minor ones but at the same time it is not up to Japanese standards but mine has been super reliable unlike some others. I think that I was lucky buying at the time I did because it seems the ones made before 2014 had more problems than those made 15/16, and after that it's my own opinion Garner started buying inferior products when the money started getting tighter and so more problems arose.

Are they good to ride, well only you can answer that one. I think anyone who buys a bike without taking it out for a test ride first needs his/her bumps feeling. It is such a subjective thing that the only way to find out is take one for a spin, which of course might not be that easy if is a private sale. The crank is a 270 degree one so it is more like a V twin than a parallel engine, some people will tell you it vibrates but I call it 'a throbbing' feeling. I grew up with British bikes and class 'vibration' as blown bulbs, triple vision, loosing at least one pound of assorted nuts and bolts and or brackets  and loose fillings after a good ride.

They are no more expensive than any modern bike to run, it will return high forties in MPG  and tyres are the same price as most other bikes. The last time I had it serviced for a 10000 mile one it came to around £400. Unfortunately some of the dealers have gone now thanks to Mr Garner but I service my own now which is quite simple actually and cheap. One word of advice don't mess with the hydraulic tappet adjustment or you may need professional help - (don't ask me how I know) it's bullet proof .

Now spares, everything is up in the air at the moment but the company who have taken over are a multi billion set up and one of the biggest bike manufactures in India. On the Norton website they say they are open for servicing  and spare parts so if that's true there should be no problems. Servicing items such as oil/air filters are readily available at a number of places so no troubles there then.

Would I but another one?.............your bloody right I would, the smile on mi face after a ride says it all, not since my last Commando in 1974 have I talked to a bike when we're alone in the garage. Always give it a pat on the headlight and thank it for a good time--"Sleep tight ".

That's my opinion of my 961, so listen to what other people say but in the end make up your own mind and try to get a test ride first it may just not suit you having been spoiled by Jap technology for so long..  Hoped this has helped you in some way.




Very good overview Peter. I am not a 961 owner, but have heard from others. James, the problem with all low mileage ones for sale is that you have no idea if it was built correctly (bad parts). If you would like one then get an early version that has done lots of miles and hopefully had items replaced. Word is that the first 200 were built with reasonable components. But you will be on your own for keeping it running.

Now in Peter's very nice picture the more desirable, rideable and reliable bike will be the R1200RS, and in Lupin Blue they are much sought after. Try and find one of those James from around 2015-17 and it will cost less than a 961.


"...more desirable, rideable and reliable bike will be the R1200RS..."

Sacrilege! But to continue in a similar vein and address one of the OPs questions, I rather fancy the BMW R NineT Racer (yes, I know...). There are a lot of these for sale, 2/3 years old with a couple of hundred miles on them. There was one in Chester Motorrad, 2018 and 386 miles! I asked where such low mileage second hand bikes come from. Turns out a lot of middle-age men buy these very pretty bikes and find they can't get on with them. Then trade them for something more GS-ish. So the advice to try before you spend a lot of money on something you might hate is well placed.

More generally, there must be a lot of bikes doing very, very few miles. While many in this club have several bikes and some of that is understandable, there must also be a lot just popping down the pub on the three sunny Sundays of summer and languishing in the garage the rest of the year. My MOT tester tells me that 2000 miles is the average these days, so bikes just aren't used anymore.

Whether this applies to 961s I couldn't say. My (uninformed) impression of 961 buyers are people who want a real Commando/Dominator but off-the-shelf reliable with modern brakes. Maybe their father (grandfather?) had one and they have rose-tinted memories of the Norton name. It's certainly what Garner played on. And maybe, for many of these, ownership is all, not the riding. As for why they have such high asking priices, I can only guess that they don't need the money and aren't really bother about selling. Will be interesting to see which way it goes in 5 years.


The Beemer in the picture was owned by Mick the silver haired fella in the photo, I was behind the lens. It's a sad  story, he had his gall bladder out but they damaged his liver so he needed a replacement, they gave him four weeks to live with a six week waiting list but luckily they found one in three. Months after the op he was doing great with all the medication so traded the Beemer for a MT09 and bought all new kit but then he suddenly lost his appetite and was admitted to hospital where they told him he had cancer and only had two weeks left. He passed away early this year, but one thing I know is he loved that 1200 and had toured all over Europe on it and never had a bad word to say about it.


hello you have  now see some addvice I am a long life Norton owners  Bracebridge Motorcycles only as these were the best  and I have owned many  Japanese motorcycles  And still have a Suzuki Gs550 In big lumps a future project  Now If I was You  and wanted a Retro Motorcycle  I go Buy a Honda CB1100Ex  relieable and better looking then the Norton 961  any time  and now we have the reliieble Royal enfield 650 twin along with Kawasaki 650 and 800 retro bikes  and for a light to middel weight Benelli 400 retro singles now on sale and others  bikes like Triumph  and Honda VT and other retros out there that are way better then any Norton 961  but if your  wanting a Norton buy the 650SS one of the best Norton twins  or and Royal Enfield 750 interceptor  one underated motorcycle So there is lots to chose from  You pay your cash and take your chance but remember not every thing that looks good or shines  like gold  may not good inside,  Do  your reseach first  , and happy riding  Yours  Anna J


Thanks for all the info on the 961, the Roadholder does not tell you much how Nortons perform or how they are to ride and own. I forgot to include that I also own a 1964 Norton Jubilee I bought in the early 90's as a basket case and have restored to showroom condition. I occasionally take it to local NOC (South Devon) meets and it is good to ride though the brakes aren't up to modern traffic conditions, so plenty of awareness needed. I do enjoy owning it as it has also become a work of art to look at and admire.

I have owned some great bikes in the past, the best one being a Kawasaki ZZ1100 followed by a 1998 Honda CBR 1000 Super Sportwhich was very user friendly and probably what I may buy again. I do very little mileage just pottering around locally, as I have the use of 3 cars also. I try to buy British as I have a MGTF 135 convertible and a Jaguar XJ6, and would like to swap my Honda for something made in this country really, it may be a Triumph! My age is against me though as I am 80 next birthday but still enjoy riding my motorbikes, perhaps trying to hang on to the remnants of my youth!!! Thanks again for the feedback, very helpful.


I’ve had a 2012 Mk 1 961 Sport from new. Also own five other bikes (‘62 BSA RGS , Egli-Vincent , ‘73 850 Commando Mk1a , ‘76 850 Commando Mk3 , 2010 Triumph Thruxton 900). They all have their own character but for all round performance and comfort on a long ride the 961 takes the prize with the modern Thruxton a close second. My 961 has been almost trouble free with just two relays and an indicator flasher unit needing replacement. It does need a well charged battery in good condition to guarantee easy starting.

In reply to by anna_jeannette_dixon


Well now that James has told he is nearly 80 yrs old the CB 1100 is right out the window unless his middle name is 'Arnie', a big heavy clumsy lump of a thing that it is. As for looking better than a 961 I really think it's time you took yourself off to the opticians for a check up Anna . It must be very tiring having all that hatred bottled up inside about everything non Bracebridgey especially the gorgeous 961.




Are such a subjective thing. Probably the best way to describe a 961 is 'Marmite'.

Some love the look, others seem to hate it. 

Me? If asked, I can't say I like it too much. Personally, there are too many features that look disjointed, just don't 'flow', or are not in proportion. To ME, it seems to be a collection of 'bits' rather than  a clean, cohesive design. Take a side by side picture of a '70's Commando and a 961 and one is elegant and sleek, the other..? Add in the ability to get 'non routine' spares that fit and work first time (e.g. crash damage bits, electronic items) brings them into the same hassles of owning a 60 year old classic Norton. 

Are there better bikes out there (at significantly lower cost)? Certainty are, and lots of them too, but they don't have Norton on the tank.

That said, if someone has their heart set on a 961 and providing that they have researched properly and know the pitfalls and buy wisely, then why not? 





Well James, your last post answers all your original questions: "...I do very little mileage just pottering around locally, as I have the use of 3 cars also. I try to buy British..."

hello there is nothing wrong with my eyesite  on the 961  that is built form parts from anywhere on earth  but not the uk  And I would not wast my money on a Lemon  like the 961 its only Norton in name only  commissioned   by a conman  list of faults   starting with it rusts before your eyes  stainless exhaust   peal off oil consumption frame cracking on weld joints  clutch problems and gearbox problems camshaft sensor failures    oil leaks for starter motor  and it runs and sounds like a bag of spanners  battery failures   and it look like its was built by some novis  its the most untidy Norton I ever seen  No mate the best Nortons where built at Bracebridge street, The worse built at dodgington park !!! now for a modern retro  give me a Honda any day and there cheaper to buy and run  a honda cb650 with run rings round a 961                    yours   Anna J


James Norman, if you like the look of a 961 and it will make you smile everytime you open the garage,, then get one. I was out for a ride with a small group a few weeks ago and one of the guys was on a 961and it did everything the other bikes did. 


Would it run oval rings around one....that wasn't their finest hour was it?. Also there was the Honda "Dullsville" very aptly named . When I had my KTM serviced they gave me a Nonda 750NC as a courtesy bike, when I got back the manager , who obviously liked Rondas asked me how I liked it .I said "it's a very relaxing bike to ride"  (I hate people who say they drive bikes)  "It's so boring I fell asleep coming back". About as exciting as watching a worm race.

Oh and by the way 90% of the bad things you said about the 961, I had an B/S 88 with the same problems, only with terrible vibration  to boot.  :)           


 Submitted by Anna Jeannette Dixon on Sat, 15/10/2011 Forums Donington Nortons

Hello To all Norton owners The 961 Commando is The Best Built Machine under the name of Norton , and the Engineering is superb And well Engineered motorcyle , And worth every penny that you pay for one . Its like buying a Manx Norton and just as special and it will retain its value for a very long time and the value of these machine may even go up is price , the Owners that have got there New 961 Commados Will be very proud in owning one , And If you Have Not thought of buying one yet , then go and Have a Visit to The Norton Factory first and see for your self at first hand , And I know that you will what to own one. There A worth wile investment , The Future Can only get brighter For Norton Motorcycles. There Built with the light of experience .Your Anna J Dixon


Hello  Now TVS as Dropped the  961  So it will be long made  so  now like our old nails and is now  obsolete  yours  anna j



A quote attributed to TVS, from the Access Norton forum:

"We are going to be producing another 40 961 Motorcycles towards the end of the year beginning of next and then we shall not be producing the 961 any longer, however you will still be able to purchase parts for your motorcycle should you require them".


I believe Euro5 for bikes came in on Jan 1 2020 & there is a year's grace for bikes currently in production before they must gain Euro5 or cease - the 961 is only Euro4 so I think TVS has little choice at present


Plus Garner sold the 961 Engine manufacturing rights to the Chinese, so no point in using an engine in an premium priced bike also used in a cheap Chinese look alike.


Has there been any news out of China as to what the Chinese are going to do with the rights?



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