961 versus original Commando

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Just an open question to you guys who own a 961 and an "old Commando"

Which bike do you actually like more and why ?
sam
 
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I like my 961 but love my 850. The 850 starts first kick, it does not stall when stopped at the traffic lights, spare parts are readily available,the engine and gearbox are quiet, neutral is easily selected, it does not drip oil after a ride and it has a bloody centrestand.
 
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I go the opposite way. I foresee myself preparing my two vintage Commandos for sale eventually. One of them will be sold for sure. I really enjoy my new Norton , It does everything better than the old one . As it should.
 
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I do not own an old Commando but a 1970 Bonnville 650 Café Racer alongside my Commando 961 (Café Racer as well). I would miss the one or the other if I had to give away one. For commuting I usually use the Norton, but I am nostalgic concerning real classic bikes and the Triumph has a big fun factor as well. Nevertheless for longer journeys I would always prefer the Norton although the Bonnie starts first kick as well...
Raphi, Switzerland
 
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I have over a dozen bikes, including 2 vintage Nortons, a Gold Star, 2 Triumphs, a Guzzi LeMans, an HD XR1000, my replica Egli Vincent, a modern T100 Triumph, a couple of mid-2000 Harleys - and my 961 SE, the latest addition. I have also owned and sold several other vintage machines. I have to say that my go-to bike these days is the 961. It has the retro appearance and feel that I like, great sound, it attracts attention - always good - and has modern power and reliability. I love to ride this bike! I generally just get on it and go, and my tool kit consists of 3 allen wrenches tie-wrapped to the frame, and a crescent wrench, Leatherman and small flashlight in my pocket. The downside for me is no luggage capacity, which limits the 961 to day trips, my general distrust of computer-controlled EFI engines, and the noisy drive train. My '71 Commando Cafe is more fun to take on a club ride, but I generally want a sag wagon close by or someone at home with the keys to my truck when out on any of my vintage machines. So - I wouldn't give up my old bikes, mostly because I'm a 72 year-old guy who relates to things of my youth, but for now the 961 is the machine that I like to throw a leg over, even if just checking it out as I pass it by in the garage. You are asking an emotional question when asking to compare these bikes, but I'm giving you both an emotional and pragmatic answer when I say the 961!
 
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Precisionbob said:
I have over a dozen bikes, including 2 vintage Nortons, a Gold Star, 2 Triumphs, a Guzzi LeMans, an HD XR1000, my replica Egli Vincent, a modern T100 Triumph, a couple of mid-2000 Harleys - and my 961 SE, the latest addition. I have also owned and sold several other vintage machines. I have to say that my go-to bike these days is the 961. It has the retro appearance and feel that I like, great sound, it attracts attention - always good - and has modern power and reliability. I love to ride this bike! I generally just get on it and go, and my tool kit consists of 3 allen wrenches tie-wrapped to the frame, and a crescent wrench, Leatherman and small flashlight in my pocket. The downside for me is no luggage capacity, which limits the 961 to day trips, my general distrust of computer-controlled EFI engines, and the noisy drive train. My '71 Commando Cafe is more fun to take on a club ride, but I generally want a sag wagon close by or someone at home with the keys to my truck when out on any of my vintage machines. So - I wouldn't give up my old bikes, mostly because I'm a 72 year-old guy who relates to things of my youth, but for now the 961 is the machine that I like to throw a leg over, even if just checking it out as I pass it by in the garage. You are asking an emotional question when asking to compare these bikes, but I'm giving you both an emotional and pragmatic answer when I say the 961!

Very impressive answer!
 

BritTwit

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My Mk3 is a time machine to me. It brings back a lot of great memories from my youth. Its visual form has always been my definition of two wheeled perfection, even if its function is sometimes less than perfect. I don’t use the MK3 for long trips because I really don’t want to find myself stuck on the roadside with the prospect of the bike being hauled to a shop that has no experience working on a 40+ year old motorcycle. The 961 is a completely modern machine. I was attracted to the original Dreer bikes because of the close family resemblance of the motor, and the motor has that big twin powerband not unlike my 850. All of the components on the 961 are first rate as well. At this point in my life I really appreciate spending time riding as opposed to wrenching. I have several modern bikes, the 961 is one of them. I would hate to have to make a decision to sell either the 850 of the 961. I think one of the other modern bikes would go first. I really loving the 961, and I have too much invested emotionally in the Mk3 to sell them.
 
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On my mk3, I go on long trips with camping gear - it starts on the button, doesn't leak oil and with a gel seat is reasonably comfortable. The secret to a happy relationship with old bikes is preemptive maintenance and I find mine has been very reliable except for electronic ignitions breaking down. Taking part in VMCC runs means accompanying older machines and the 850 is ideal for this as it is more at home with lower revs/speed. The 961 just wants to go and makes a great effort to keep up with modern bikes, especially in overtaking with 80bhp available. It's more at home on motorways so I take it if I need to get to an event quickly rather than a leisurely trip where time is not critical. With my advancing years, the mk3 has the edge but I currently cover (and enjoy) quite a large spectrum of motorcycling.
 
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I don't own any vintage Nortons, so sorry for the reply. I do however own two old 79 Bonnevilles. On is all original nice shape, the other totally restored. I love the old Bonnies, however, no longer enjoy highway rides among newer faster high performance cars where the average speed is 70mph. I enjoy country road twisties in the shade. I call the gentleman's bikes. The 961, at 80 mph just purrs along on the highway. The Ohlin suspension sucking up bumps like a Mercedes, softly absorbing the shock with no afterbounce. The Brembos stopping on a dime. The 961 fills the niche of loving a British bike grunt, throaty sound, classic styling and a fit and finish that I rarely see matched by any other manufacturer. As mentioned, a hard question because we've owned these bikes since our teen years and I wouldn't part with them, but yea....the 961 is a superb and better bike.
 

G81 Can Cycle

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I own 4 vintage Nortons and 2 961's

2 Vintage Bikes are CNW builds (73 Roadster and 74 Interstate). Very reliable bikes, I would do a cross country trip on either. I have updated both CNW builds with the CNW electric start conversion. These are my favorite bikes in the garage.

2 Vintage Bikes are stock or near stock. 71 Roadster is near stock with the addition of electronic ignition, everything else is OEM with 9,000 original miles. 75 Mark 3 is as stock as the day it left the showroom. Even has points for ignition (which I nostalgically love setting the gap) I love riding these two bikes, but, as other posters have mentioned, I don't take long trips, or we have a chase vehicle

2 961's One is stock with a decat pipe change. One has been modified for road racing.

Overall averages: The best handling bikes are the 961's, but they feel top heavy and you have to "work it" a little harder on the twisty's. The CNW and Stock bikes are great to ride, and the handling is much more responsive than the 961's, but with the fixed foot pegs, you have to watch the lean angle ( I have slid around several corners on a foot peg and the front tire.)

Power Average: The 961's are much faster. But, I still like the feel and power (and sound) of the vintage Commando, especially the CNW builds.

As I said above, my favorite rides of all 5 street bikes, are the CNW builds.
 
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CNW. roughly 40k plus a core bike. No argument there. I'm sure they are superb and kind of in a class of their own. I should have picked up ...I think it was #54 build sold for 20K on ebay. The old Bonnies are a bit more nimble to toss about too. I agree with the slightly top heavy, but the Ohlins do provide more stability in the curves and really do take a bump.
 
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Sam, I have had my current 750 Roadster for 17 years, I owned (past tense) my 961 for three years, nuff said. Glad to see people enjoying them though just wasn't for me.
 

contours

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BPHORSEGUY said:
Precisionbob said:
I have over a dozen bikes, including 2 vintage Nortons, a Gold Star, 2 Triumphs, a Guzzi LeMans, an HD XR1000, my replica Egli Vincent, a modern T100 Triumph, a couple of mid-2000 Harleys - and my 961 SE, the latest addition. I have also owned and sold several other vintage machines. I have to say that my go-to bike these days is the 961. It has the retro appearance and feel that I like, great sound, it attracts attention - always good - and has modern power and reliability. I love to ride this bike! I generally just get on it and go, and my tool kit consists of 3 allen wrenches tie-wrapped to the frame, and a crescent wrench, Leatherman and small flashlight in my pocket. The downside for me is no luggage capacity, which limits the 961 to day trips, my general distrust of computer-controlled EFI engines, and the noisy drive train. My '71 Commando Cafe is more fun to take on a club ride, but I generally want a sag wagon close by or someone at home with the keys to my truck when out on any of my vintage machines. So - I wouldn't give up my old bikes, mostly because I'm a 72 year-old guy who relates to things of my youth, but for now the 961 is the machine that I like to throw a leg over, even if just checking it out as I pass it by in the garage. You are asking an emotional question when asking to compare these bikes, but I'm giving you both an emotional and pragmatic answer when I say the 961!

Very impressive answer!

And informative. Thanks, Bob.

This is a great thread! Thanks for asking the question, Sam.
 
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All interesting replies , keep em coming fellas.
I don't have a 961 but have 2 x Mk 3 , 1 Interstate , 1 Roadster.
I must admit I'd take my Interstate anywhere and expect to get there without any bother. It's a relatively standard motor but has Mik 34 carb, Campbray wheels, big front disc with ally Lockheed caliper and Harley starter motor amongst a myriad of other small mods. the bike is properly reliable !
I guess I would like a 961 although some of the stories don't make good reading , sometimes no pain no gain.
I do think they are a stunning looking bike ! almost as good as a T160 :roll:
 
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