Skip to main content
000000 000003 000006 000009 000012 000015 000018 000021 000024 000027 000030 000033 000036 000039 000042 000045 000048 000051 000054 000057 000060 000063 000066 000069 000072 000075 000078 000081 000084 000087 000090 000093 000096 000099 000102 000105 000108 000111 000114 000117 000120 000123 000126 000129 000132 000135 000138 000141 000144 000147 000150 000153 000156 000159 000162 000165 000168 000171 000174 000177 000180 000183 000186 000189 000192 000195 000198 000201 000204 000207 000210 000213 000216 000219 000222 000225 000228 000231 000234 000237 000240 000243 000246 000249 000252 000255 000258 000261 000264 000267 000270 000273 000276 000279 000282 000285 000288 000291 000294 000297 000300 000303 000306 000309 000312 000318 000321 000324 000327 000330 000333 000336 000339 000342 000345 000348 000351 000354 000357 000360 000363 000366 000369 000372 000375 000378 000381 000384 000387 000390 000393 000396 000399 000402 000405 000408 000411 000414 000417 000420 000423 000426 000429 000432 000435 000438 000441 000444 000447 000450 000453 000456 000459 000462 000465 000468 000471 000474 000477 000480 000483 000486 000489 000492 000495 000498 000501 000504 000507 000510 000513 000516 000519 000522 000525 000528 000531 000534 000537 000540 000543 000546 000549 000552 000555 000558 000561 000564 000567 000570 000573 000576 000579 000582 000585 000588 000591 000594 000597 000600 000603 000606 000609 000612 000615 000618 000621 000624 000627 000630 000633 000636 000639 000642 000645 000648 000651 000654 000657 000660 000663 000666 000669 000672 000675 000678 000681 000684 000687 000690 000693 000696 000699 000702 000705 000708 000711 000714 000717 000720 000723 000726 000729 000732 000735 000738 000741 000744 000747 000750 000753 000756 000759 000762 000765 000768 000771 000774 000777 000780 000783 000786 000789 000792 000795 000798 000801 000804 000807 000810 000813 000816 000819 000822 000825 000828 000831 000834 000837 000840 000843 000846 000849 000852 000855 000858 000861 000864 000867 000870 000873 000876 000879 000882 000883
English French German Italian Spanish

MCN December review of Used Norton Commando 961

While leafing through my Christmas copy of Motor Cycle News I was delighted to read a very positive and balanced review of a Norton Commando Sport up for sale at a dealer with a couple of thousand miles on the clock. The reviewer really liked the bike without trawling up the usual heresay and social media fueled criticisms and suggested how much better the bike felt for a few miles on the clock. A mechanic's review of the bike was also glowing. Well cheered me up that did!

Permalink

I'm all for balanced reviews and I wouldn't want to put a damper on things but I take motoring journalists comments with a pinch of salt, they're there to help dealers sell bikes. I agree with a lot that was said, but it's the things they don't tell you which are often more significant.

No one told me when I bought my Triumph Bonneville Scrambler that the corrosion warranty is valid only upon the machine being washed, dried and protected every time it is used (this in the handbook, which you only get after you have bought the bike!) MCN's review of the Triumph didn't mention that even a locking fuel cap was an extra and this together with a different key for the steering etc. means having umpteen different keys. They didn't mention having to use an allen key to free the stupidly inaccessible allen bolts holding the seat down to get to the battery (something I've had to do an awful lot since I bought the bike). And I only discovered recently (from NOC comments by members, nowhere else) that the Commando's tank has to be removed to gain access to the battery. How utterly crazy!

The "mechanic" is actually the MD of a Norton dealership! I'm sure his review is bound to be glowing. He says "it isn't a Honda" as if that's a bad thing. I think he probably means character wise but I'm sure we all could do with a bit of Honda reliability, not to mention design sense (access to the battery on my forty year old CB750? - use the ignition key to flip the seat up and there's the battery, tool kit and a compartment for handbooks, sandwiches etc. -easy and couldn't be more convenient)

By, what must be a one in a million coincidence, I happened a few months ago to talk to the owner of a Norton Mercury and I mentioned how much I admired his bike but I wasn't sure I was up to maintaining an old Brit bike. When I told him I was thinking of buying a Commando 961 his comments were unprintable. It turns out that he had owned a new Cafe Racer and in the 8500 miles he had done he had had nothing but hassle (it is actually the 2011 model for sale at the bottom of the page in the MCN article, and I had been looking at this very bike only a few days before I met the guy - what an escape!)

Nevertheless I put his problems down to the bike being an early model, and I decided I might still be interested in a MK11 as it could just be that the bikes problems have all been sorted by now. The appearance of limited edition models (supposedly worth 21K) has recently further stimulated my interest - but can I find out just what they consist of, can I heck! No joy from the press and an email to Norton nearly a month ago has produced no reply!

Permalink

An inaccessible battery sounds crazy... until I realise that I cannot remember when I last did anything to my 'modern' (year 2001) car battery. And I looked at a used car the other day and found it had no service history. Why not,at 14000 miles? It turns out that its first service was only due at 15000 miles. Modern machines are so different from the things I was brought up with that there's no point in judging by the same or even similar criteria that we are mostly used to. Probably!

But it's still sad that modern press is totally uninterested in anything technical. Not least because how will young readers become inspired to become the next generation of designers?

Permalink

On the 961 Battery accessibility ,have found this not really an issue as it's a sealed type requiring no maintenance , and if it needs charging you just use the short lead and DC socket tucked awayat rear of bike in the recess at topof left hand suspension unit.

The only time I've had to remove the tank to access the battery was when replacing it for a new one after three years - and even then you don't have to take the tank right off , just remove the three allen bolts , lift tank to one side leaning it against something soft to protect it , leaving fuel pump connections intact. OK , granted still a bit of a faff but its only once in three years ...

Permalink

I think modern bikes are a bit different from cars in that space can be even more of an issue. The problem with my Triumph is that the battery size was reduced in 2008 to make way for the ecu. In 2010 the manufacturer realised that the battery was inadequate and moved the position of the ecu to accommodate a larger battery. My bike is a 2009 model!

In addition to compact dimensions, modern sportsbikes have a need to reduce weight, the upshot being that my 2009 Fireblade has a battery which is much too small and strictly speaking inadequate for the needs of the machine.

The result is that even though my two modern machines have modern sealed for life batteries they have needed frequent attention. I mentioned these problems to Clem when I visited the Norton factory last June and he sold me a Datatool charger.

Since then the Triumph has needed yet another new battery because modern sealed batteries just don't seem to last long and on Boxing Day I went to start the Fireblade and noticed that the Datatool charger had given up the ghost - just six months old! Nevertheless the bike struggled into life and so I went for a short run of about ten miles.

Noticing the low fuel light was on I pulled in for petrol and then sods law of course - the bike wouldn't start! Thankfully battery (and tool kit) access is not too bad (although still needs a screwdriver so could be better) so I removed the battery and walked the two miles home (could have been a lot worse!) with it in my hand to charge it up, returning three hours later to fit it - by which time it was dark and temperatures well below zero. God forbid if I had needed to start removing tanks!

Permalink

Previously alan_coath wrote:

I'm all for balanced reviews and I wouldn't want to put a damper on things but I take motoring journalists comments with a pinch of salt, they're there to help dealers sell bikes. I agree with a lot that was said, but it's the things they don't tell you which are often more significant.

No one told me when I bought my Triumph Bonneville Scrambler that the corrosion warranty is valid only upon the machine being washed, dried and protected every time it is used (this in the handbook, which you only get after you have bought the bike!) MCN's review of the Triumph didn't mention that even a locking fuel cap was an extra and this together with a different key for the steering etc. means having umpteen different keys. They didn't mention having to use an allen key to free the stupidly inaccessible allen bolts holding the seat down to get to the battery (something I've had to do an awful lot since I bought the bike). And I only discovered recently (from NOC comments by members, nowhere else) that the Commando's tank has to be removed to gain access to the battery. How utterly crazy!

The "mechanic" is actually the MD of a Norton dealership! I'm sure his review is bound to be glowing. He says "it isn't a Honda" as if that's a bad thing. I think he probably means character wise but I'm sure we all could do with a bit of Honda reliability, not to mention design sense (access to the battery on my forty year old CB750? - use the ignition key to flip the seat up and there's the battery, tool kit and a compartment for handbooks, sandwiches etc. -easy and couldn't be more convenient)

By, what must be a one in a million coincidence, I happened a few months ago to talk to the owner of a Norton Mercury and I mentioned how much I admired his bike but I wasn't sure I was up to maintaining an old Brit bike. When I told him I was thinking of buying a Commando 961 his comments were unprintable. It turns out that he had owned a new Cafe Racer and in the 8500 miles he had done he had had nothing but hassle (it is actually the 2011 model for sale at the bottom of the page in the MCN article, and I had been looking at this very bike only a few days before I met the guy - what an escape!)

Nevertheless I put his problems down to the bike being an early model, and I decided I might still be interested in a MK11 as it could just be that the bikes problems have all been sorted by now. The appearance of limited edition models (supposedly worth 21K) has recently further stimulated my interest - but can I find out just what they consist of, can I heck! No joy from the press and an email to Norton nearly a month ago has produced no reply!

Permalink

Just to clarify my initial response, as I got a bit sidetracked talking about battery access. (The battery access issue is just, to my mind, an example of poor design detail, it's not a big deal and wouldn't put me off owning a new Commando.) I also meant to say the "mechanic" says about the Commando "it isn't a Honda" as if that's a good thing (his dealership doesn't sell Hondas of course!)

The original point I was trying to make is that the motorcycle press can't be relied upon to give potential buyers a balanced review containing all the pros and cons of ownership of any machine.

In addition to their bias towards the motor trade, perhaps this is also because, understandably in order to sell magazines, they try to gloss over too many models instead of giving each a full, in depth, exhaustive review.

I wonder how many times, after reading a glowing review, do customers buy a new bike just to find it replaced shortly after by a "new and improved" version. They're then told all over again how the new model is the best thing since sliced bread and find out in the same breath all the shortcomings of the old one!

Permalink

Previously alan_coath wrote:

I think modern bikes are a bit different from cars in that space can be even more of an issue. The problem with my Triumph is that the battery size was reduced in 2008 to make way for the ecu. In 2010 the manufacturer realised that the battery was inadequate and moved the position of the ecu to accommodate a larger battery. My bike is a 2009 model!

In addition to compact dimensions, modern sportsbikes have a need to reduce weight, the upshot being that my 2009 Fireblade has a battery which is much too small and strictly speaking inadequate for the needs of the machine.

The result is that even though my two modern machines have modern sealed for life batteries they have needed frequent attention. I mentioned these problems to Clem when I visited the Norton factory last June and he sold me a Datatool charger.

Since then the Triumph has needed yet another new battery because modern sealed batteries just don't seem to last long and on Boxing Day I went to start the Fireblade and noticed that the Datatool charger had given up the ghost - just six months old! Nevertheless the bike struggled into life and so I went for a short run of about ten miles.

Noticing the low fuel light was on I pulled in for petrol and then sods law of course - the bike wouldn't start! Thankfully battery (and tool kit) access is not too bad (although still needs a screwdriver so could be better) so I removed the battery and walked the two miles home (could have been a lot worse!) with it in my hand to charge it up, returning three hours later to fit it - by which time it was dark and temperatures well below zero. God forbid if I had needed to start removing tanks!

Sorry for this Triumphbased reply. By coincidence I also havea 2009 Thruxton 900 with the small battery problem due toECUtaking up compartment space. If you lift up the ECU and lay it on top of the battery the next size up batteryfits exactly in thenow larger compartment space.Lay the ECU on some foam or similar to cushion it and there's still enough room under the seat to clear it. Have had no problem with this set upsince fitting larger battery6 years ago - battery lasts 2 to 3 years normally. Back to Norton ...

Permalink

Thanks for that tip James, much appreciated. I've actually recently replaced the Scrambler battery but here's hoping the underseat space is similar to the Thruxton and come next battery renewal I'll look to fitting a larger battery. I've also just this week renewed the Fireblade battery but there is definitely no room for a bigger battery on that bike.

My reason for mentioning the battery problems with my bikes was really just to show that easy access to any machine's battery is a good idea because you never know when (or where!) you need it. It may seem to some that you can just fit and forget a sealed battery because they require little or no maintenance but they have a nasty habit of giving up without warning, which could be anytime, anywhere. A further complication is that I've been told you can't just bump start a modern bike because it could destroy the cat. My 40 year bike has a top up battery so you need regular access but it is 15 years old now and when it's ready to give up the ghost it'll most probably let me know in good time (and there's always the kick-start!)

Another point is that when you fit a new battery it's often difficult to know how long it has sat on the dealers shelf. I always use Yuasa batteries because I believe they're the best but when I tried to find out the age of one recently even Yuasa UK couldn't help me (they said the dating code is only known to headquarters in Japan and they don't pass this information on to anyone!)

Permalink

Previously philip_jones wrote:

Previously alan_coath wrote:

I'm all for balanced reviews and I wouldn't want to put a damper on things but I take motoring journalists comments with a pinch of salt, they're there to help dealers sell bikes. I agree with a lot that was said, but it's the things they don't tell you which are often more significant.

No one told me when I bought my Triumph Bonneville Scrambler that the corrosion warranty is valid only upon the machine being washed, dried and protected every time it is used (this in the handbook, which you only get after you have bought the bike!) MCN's review of the Triumph didn't mention that even a locking fuel cap was an extra and this together with a different key for the steering etc. means having umpteen different keys. They didn't mention having to use an allen key to free the stupidly inaccessible allen bolts holding the seat down to get to the battery (something I've had to do an awful lot since I bought the bike). And I only discovered recently (from NOC comments by members, nowhere else) that the Commando's tank has to be removed to gain access to the battery. How utterly crazy!

The "mechanic" is actually the MD of a Norton dealership! I'm sure his review is bound to be glowing. He says "it isn't a Honda" as if that's a bad thing. I think he probably means character wise but I'm sure we all could do with a bit of Honda reliability, not to mention design sense (access to the battery on my forty year old CB750? - use the ignition key to flip the seat up and there's the battery, tool kit and a compartment for handbooks, sandwiches etc. -easy and couldn't be more convenient)

By, what must be a one in a million coincidence, I happened a few months ago to talk to the owner of a Norton Mercury and I mentioned how much I admired his bike but I wasn't sure I was up to maintaining an old Brit bike. When I told him I was thinking of buying a Commando 961 his comments were unprintable. It turns out that he had owned a new Cafe Racer and in the 8500 miles he had done he had had nothing but hassle (it is actually the 2011 model for sale at the bottom of the page in the MCN article, and I had been looking at this very bike only a few days before I met the guy - what an escape!)

Nevertheless I put his problems down to the bike being an early model, and I decided I might still be interested in a MK11 as it could just be that the bikes problems have all been sorted by now. The appearance of limited edition models (supposedly worth 21K) has recently further stimulated my interest - but can I find out just what they consist of, can I heck! No joy from the press and an email to Norton nearly a month ago has produced no reply!

I've found Teasdale Motorcycles really helpful with the Technical Specification for the limited edition models currently available.

The spec' for the California is up on their website, they've also given me the specs for the 50th Anniversary Cafe Racer and Sport.

Permalink

Many thanks for that info Peter. The specs for the California seem well publicised, the limited editions not so. I'll give Teasdales a ring, or maybe even pop down there at the weekend.

Permalink

Previously alan_coath wrote:

Many thanks for that info Peter. The specs for the California seem well publicised, the limited editions not so. I'll give Teasdales a ring, or maybe even pop down there at the weekend.

No problem, I called in just before Christmas, they had a California and V4 on display, though I'm not sure how long they're there for.

There's an A5 brochure giving the full spec' for all three 50th edition models, though I'd previously been given the Sport spec' electronically.

Be careful if you go though..... I couldn't resist !!

James. I think you may be a life saver! I have a 2012 961 Cafe Racer and need to get at my battery. I tried this morning and got stuck when I tried to remove the fuel pump connector. Since then I have been trawling the forums for advice. I had already armed my self with the very helpful article by Richard at Colorado Norton Works: 

http://coloradonortonworks.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Fuel-Tank-Removal-Norton-961-web.pdf

(for anyone else in my position). However the connector on my bike is of a different design. It appears to have a green button on the bottom. Any advice on how to remove it would be welcome. But in the meantime I will return to the garage with renewed vigour!

Attachments

 

Norton Owners Club Website by White-Hot Design

Privacy Policy