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New Norton Gaining Ground – Can it Appeal to the Younger Generation?

If Ferrari has proven that the manufacturing of low volume, unique, and expensive automobiles can be a successful business plan during a recession (if you keep your volume low enough, there are always buyers for a special product, despite its price), Norton may be proving the same thing in the motorcycle market.  According to a report posted by MCN, Norton is hiring additional employees to support its transition to the production and promotion of two new models based on the existing Commando 961 SE (pictured above), which is already available here in the U.S. for $17,899 (with wire wheels) or $19,499 (with carbon fiber wheels). 

It will be interesting to see what demographic these bikes ultimately appeal to most, particularly the age group.  The original Norton Commando was one of the most lusted-after products of the “baby boomer” generation here in the U.S. (now in its late 40s, and older).  The bikes were promoted with memorable advertising that included gorgeous women draped over them.  If you read popular motorcycle magazines here in the U.S. as a young man in the 1970s, and had a relatively normal level of testosterone, I am sure you can picture one or more of these advertisements in your mind today.  We took the liberty of locating one such ad on the web, which we reproduced below.  If you want to see more classic Norton advertising (and who doesn’t), visit this site.

The Norton brand is a special one for a number of reasons, but can it take its retro looks and iconic status with older riders and translate that into sales to a younger generation?  My guess is it can. 

Norton Commando 961 SE Specs

  • Frame
  • Frame : Steel tubular cradle with integral oil tank
  • Swing arm: steel construction
  • Wheelbase: 1420mm (55.9 in)
  • Rake: 24.5 degrees
  • Trail: 99mm (3.9 in)
  • Front suspension: 43mm Ohlins RWU – Adjustable preload, compression, and rebound damping.
  • Rear suspension: Ohlins reservoir-style twin shocks – Adjustable ride height, preload, compression, and rebound damping.
  • Front wheel: 3.50 X 17″ BST Carbon Fibre
  • Rear wheel: 5.50 X 17″ BST Carbon Fibre
  • Front tyre: 120/70 X 17″
  • Rear tyre: 180/55 X 17″
  • Front wheel travel: 115mm (4.53 in)
  • Rear wheel travel: 100mm (3.94 in)
  • Brakes & Hydraulics
  • Brembo 320mm semi-floating hi carbon stainless steel front discs
  • Brembo 220mm rear disc
  • Brembo 4 piston “Gold Line” axially mounted front callipers
  • Brembo 2 piston “Gold Line” rear calliper
  • Brembo “Gold line” front brake master cylinder
  • Brembo “Gold line” hydraulic clutch master cylinder
  • Brembo rear brake master cylinder
  • Brembo hydraulic clutch actuation slave cylinder
  • Power Assembly
  • Engine type: Parallel twin with push-rod valve actuation, dry sump
  • Displacement: 961 cc
  • Cooling system: Air
  • Valve Actuation: Push rod, hydraulic lifter, two valves per cylinder
  • Bore x stroke: 88 mm X 79 mm
  • Compression ratio: 10.1:1
  • Power: 80PS @ 6500RPM
  • Torque: 90Nm @ 5200RPM
  • Exhaust: 1 3/4″ header system with merged collector and twin silencers with catalytic converters.
  • Ignition: Crank fired electronic
  • Euro 3 compliant with electronic fuel injection and multiple 3 way catalytic converters
  • Carbon Pack
  • Front mudguard
  • Chain guard
  • Rear wheel hugger
  • Rear number plate hanger
  • Headlight mounting
  • Front wheel
  • Rear wheel
  • Transmission
  • Gearbox: constant mesh 5 speed
  • Final drive: 525 “O” ring chain
  • Wet clutch
  • Electric start
  • Electronics & Controls
  • Charging system: 300 watt hi-output charging system
  • Instrumentation: Norton electronic analogue speedo and tachometer with dual trip meters and ‘hidden until lit’ warning lights
  • Miscellaneous
  • Fuel tank capacity: 17 litres (4.5 US gallon)
  • Dry weight: 188kg (414.5 lbs)
  • Seat height: 813mm (32 in)
  • Billet machined upper yoke
  • Billet machined lower yoke
  • Tapered aluminium handle bars

68 Comments

  1. Nobby says:

    £15k is thrice that of a new Bonnie, but it ain’t thrice the bike…

  2. al banta says:

    I need this bike! Anyone want to lend an old man some money?

  3. Bill says:

    These guys need to follow Triumphs lead , hey how about a Thruxton for aroun 8 grand

  4. Henry says:

    I’m a 27 year old motorcycle mechanic, cant afford it, but i’ve bought one. Still waiting for its arrival sometime soon.

  5. Morgan says:

    My big question ever since I saw these new Nortons is “Where the pillion seat?” Naked and retro bikes generally are great two up bikes, an area that many new motorcycles have ignored.

  6. Ricardo says:

    For this kind of money I can buy a usde Ducati 848 or 999 (Ferrari of motorcycles)and still have money left to buy a classic Norton, the real deal and have the best of both worlds…

  7. Dave Thom says:

    Very interesting bike but the price is going to keep the market for it small