The Norton Commando 961 is Unique, Beautiful and Rather Tasty

The Norton Commando 961 parked on a gravel driveway

Quintessentially, British Brand Norton launches their latest motorcycle, the Commando 961. Available in two models, the CR Cafe Racer and the SP Sport. Jeremy Webb had the pleasure of test-riding both in the beautiful English countryside.

Buying a Norton Commando 961 will not be for everyone, and the people at Norton are happily aware of this. Rather than chase the mass market, their philosophy is to make highly desirable machines for the cohort of bikers and aspiring owners who enjoy having something unique and select. The new owners of the iconic British brand have set out their plans for the company’s future and are starting with the Commando 961.

Norton Commando is a legendary name within motorcycling and has been since the model’s creation in 1967. That year, the world saw the first production superbike at the Earls Court Motor Show. Over the next ten years, it proved so successful that 55,000 bikes were sold, and it won MCN’s machine of the year five years in a row.

A close up view of the bikes fuel tank with a driver resting on the seat

The Commando 961 will lead the company into the next 125 years of production and is an insight into the vision of where the new owners want to take the brand. The stunning bike takes you back to the ’60s with its classic looks and detailing, but it is pure 21st Century.

Owners will enjoy riding the Commando 961 to a cafe or lunch at the beach. They will love the attention the machine gets and have pleasure talking to people about it. The bike is about the journey, not the destination or how fast you get there.

The two bike models being ridden through the British countryside

The Commando 961 is available in two versions, the CR Cafe Racer and the SP Sport, both running the same 961 cc engine, which produces 77 bhp. The differences in the machines are the riding position and subtle changes to the steering because of the handlebar setup.

The CR has a dropped bar, meaning you lean forward over the tank and lie lower when riding. The SP has a higher, wider, flat bar allowing you to sit upright.

The test bikes lined up side by side outside of the country house

On the launch, I was fortunate to ride both bike models changing between them as and when I liked, so I got a superb insight into the riding styles. The two versions are stunning-looking machines, and the colour combinations hark back to the bike’s heydays, as does the styling. The Commando 961 has a wow factor, which is backed up when riding it.

A rider opening up the throttle on a straight country road

As I mentioned, the CR has the lower handlebar configuration from the days’ bikers raced from London to seaside cafes and back. You have to lean forward and place your weight on the tank to find the best riding position, which at slow speeds is harder on your wrists and back. It means, though, that at higher speeds, you are in a natural position for reduced wind buffering as you are streamlined with the bike. Tuck your knees into the shaped petrol tank, and your weight disappears, your head in the perfect position to see everything ahead.

Jeremy riding the bike on twisty English country roads

Jumping on the Sport, you immediately notice the difference in riding position as your arms are wider apart and higher, so your body is upright. Easier to ride at slow speeds than the CR, with more steering lock available for manoeuvring. The payoff is that when you open the SP up, you get hit by wind, so again the best position is to crouch forward and lie on the tank. You still get a great view and plenty of fun.

A riders view, showing the sculptured fuel tank from behind the bike

Both versions have a 15-litre petrol tank beautifully crafted with classic curves for your knees to nestle into. These machines are not built for long-distance rides, but you will get around 100 miles on a full tank, equating to about one and a half hours of constant riding.

I see owners using this bike at weekends or going to bike nights, enjoying a 50-mile blast, parking, having a drink, food, and a good chat, and then happily riding home. And I would love one for doing precisely this.

Jeremy taking the bike around a bend in the road

Norton Commando 961 – Where and How?

The two variants are priced at £16,499 for the Sport and £16,999 for the Cafe Racer.

The new generation is available in two colour options: Matrix Black and Manx Platinum. Hand-painted, the Matrix Black finish is enhanced by a Duke Gold Norton logo and pinstripe combination. The Manx Platinum version adds one further detail to its Matrix Black pinstripes with fine Mercury Red detailing.

About Norton Motorcycles
TVS Motor Company bought Norton Motorcycles in April 2020. They are India’s third-largest motorcycle manufacturer. Under the leadership of TVS, Norton is located at a new manufacturing facility in Solihull, West Midlands. The company is building British motorcycles in England using traditional hand-crafted techniques with modern-day machinery for consistently high quality.

Two of the bikes side by side, one in silver, the other in a black livery

961 SP
Matrix Black with polished rims
Matrix Black with black rims
Manx Platinum with polished rims

961 CR
Matrix Black with polished rims
Manx Platinum with polished rims

For more information on Norton and Commando 961, visit

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