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Norton Finally Ready to Cross the Pond?

The rebirth of Norton Motorcycles has now matured to the point where it will soon be ready to sell motorcycles in North America.  In the news item below, posted on the Norton website earlier this week, Norton announces successful completion of tests associated with EPA , CARB and NHTSA certifications.  In short, the iconic, air-cooled British twin will again be available in North American dealerships in the not-too-distant future.

Here is the news item from the Norton website:

Norton Motorcycles (UK) LTD today announces an important milestone with their ability to supply bikes to the North American and Canadian market upon the successful completion of the durability and emission testing for its Commando 961 series of motorcycles.

The emission and durability testing was carried out by a certified testing laboratory and at specific intervals during its 15,000Km accumulation the bikes are tested to ensure compliance with EPA and CARB exhaust, noise and evaporative emissions.  The lab’s testing also completes a significant durability and safety trial and the new 961 Norton Commando passed and exceeded all standards by a wide margin.

This testing process included NHTSA’s safety and compliance documentation, plus the certification testing review and processing required by the U.S. EPA and the California Air Resources Board.  The remaining steps in the certification process are primarily paper based compliance reporting and subsequent approvals from various departments.

Stuart Garner CEO of Norton Motorcycles (UK) Ltd commented:

“I would like to thank the dedicated Norton team for accomplishing such a monumental feat.  For the bike to come through the rigorous 15,000Km testing shows its’ great durability and build quality.  It’s a credit to both our design and production teams, along with our key suppliers who have also worked alongside us on to ensure we have the very best components.

The process of opening the key USA market began two years ago with the recruitment of Dan Van Epps, an industry veteran and ex CEO of Ducati North America.  Dan has helped steer us through the process which has taken continual resource and investment to achieve the approvals, which of course alongside Europe give us another of the most significant markets in the world.  I would also like to thank Peter Howes, Norton Canada who has worked tiressly to make this possible.

Both Norton America and Norton Canada have been busy building our dealer network and we now have a solid foundation to invest in and build upon.

It has taken the Norton team a little under four years to successfully rebuild this iconic British motorcycle brand.  However, whilst there is much left to do, our immediate focus will be to continue to work hard to get our early UK orders delivered ahead of growing production volume for the export market.”


  1. John says:

    I’ll believe it when I see it. It costs a bunch of dough to complete EPA certification and if Norton can’t pay its suppliers or deliver bikes to paying customers I don’t see how the company has the cash.

  2. John says:

    I will believe it when I see it. Given Norton’s antics so far, there is little reason to give this story any creedence at all.

  3. Mr.Mike says:

    This bike isn’t aimed at the average rider. There are a surprising number of people with rich veins of disposable income who would jump at the chance to own something with this much style, history, and exclusivity.

  4. Patrick D says:

    The Norton factory isn’t very big, and triumph have a mass market capability and intention. This is something else, and not far off the cost of a ‘customised’ Triumph when you consider the high end brake and suspension components.
    As we all insist on categorising bikes, the Ducati Paul Smart replica and accompanying unfaired machine are what this bike aims for, but I understand that this bike is more civilised. A very cool bike for sure, but out of my league. I’ll definitely go look at it if I see one parked up, whcih is part of the appeal for owners I’m sure.

  5. todd says:

    I’d love to have a new norton. The only issues are price and I wish someone would figure out how to make it look retro, but use a modern single mono shock.

  6. Leo says:

    Hot damn! I have a dealer about 10 miles away… Wait a minute, the don’t show anything on their website. Interesting link Charlie. Think I’ll need to research this a little more.

  7. rg500gamma says:

    My other ride is a ’71 BSA Lightning, and I’ve had brit bikes all my life. If I were to ditch my Lightning for a Commando I’d frankly buy a cosmetically well kept later model 850 Interstate, toss some money at a dry belt drive, upgraded trans, mild tune (modern carbs, CDI, a top end refresh w/modern parts), brake upgrade, Hagon shocks, some work on fork valving, a few other things for reliability mainly, and have a GREAT bike that probably has better spares availability than a new Norton and I’ll have maybe $10K still in my pocket that I wouldn’t have riding the new Norton. Nostalgia is great, but spending serious money for nostalgia when the real deal is around the corner at far less (elbow grease required I admit) cost is IMHO not prudent.

  8. bikerrandy says:

    This story sounds very much like the Excelsior-Henderson, Indian fiascos. Caveat Emptor.

  9. Ken says:

    I don’t see this bike as “retro” at all. It is a design that will always have its place: An air-cooled, parallel twin with standard frame geometry. It’s an honest design that isn’t trying to look like something it’s not.

  10. Tim says:

    I love the look of this motorcycle, and if I wasn’t married I might even consider buying one. Unfortunately, with marriage comes tough choices, and financial negotiations, so I can only justify a new bike every 4 years or so, and other bikes are more practical for the type of riding I primarily do. But this Norton is a beauty, no question about it. Now if Kawasaki would just bring that sween W800 to the states, I might be able to negotiate my way into two bikes in 4 years, given its affordability.

  11. John says:

    If I had unlimited money and wanted to look cool, I’d waste my money on it.

  12. Charlie says:

    It seems that all is not well in Norton land…

  13. Provalogna says:

    I suppose performance will about equal Honda’s sharp looking $7k MSRP all-new 2013 NCX700cc inline four sport-tourer. The Norton looks better than the Honda, but not to the tune of about 3x the cost, which is about correct.

    I don’t foresee a long, great USA future for Norton, especially in this age of de-leveraging. Frankly, there’s already plenty of choice here.

    Good luck USA Norton, no sarcasm at all.

    • Dave says:

      The customer who would be interested in this Norton would not consider a NCX700, ever. This is a niche, nostalgia piece. It’s supposed to make 80hp and has Ohlins suspension. There is no Japenese product that compares to this, regardless of what it’s practical value is. This is the bike that the XR1200 should’ve been.

      • Provalogna says:

        I’m interested in both this Norton and the Honda. It’s difficult to justify 3x the cost for nostalgia and likely less reliability.

        Otherwise well put, especially the XR1200 bit. I rode the XR1200R and liked it very much.

        • Dave says:

          I stand corrected then. I see this as a cost no-object toy. I hope it goes well. It’s nice to see compelling bikes coming out that aren’t living and dying on their dyno charts.

      • Nick says:

        Myself, if I was in the market for a Norton I can’t see myself cross-shopping an XR1200. A Norton is a Norton and a Harley is a Harley. Two different animals in my mind.

    • Charlie says:

      isn’t the NC700X an inline twin, not a four?

    • mickey says:

      The NC700X is a twin and only makes about 60 HP if memory serves me. They are not competitors for a buyers money.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “I don’t foresee a long, great USA future for Norton, especially in this age of de-leveraging”


  14. mickey says:

    Not a big fan of the rear end and rear shocks, but otherwise a superb looking machine. Should be a leader horsepower wise in the retro class of motorcycles (Triumph Bonnevilles, Moto Guzzi Classics,etc) unless Honda brings the CB1100 over (crossed fingers) but $ per HP wise its pretty pricey.

    • stinkywheels says:

      I agree about the rearend. I wouldn’t know how to fix it without some cheesy cover. Ducati had the same problem with the rear of their retro bikes. They didn’t sell well but are now bringing more money than similar year 1098/1198. I wish I had that kind of disposable income to have ALL these retro bikes.Good god, fix the captcha!