Considering a 961 Cafe purchase.

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Hi, I am new to the forum & I am thinking about purchasing a new 2018 961 Cafe but have read many differing reports regarding reliability etc. I would appreciate any feedback from owners regarding, any inherrent problems, service costs (I can do minor serving myself) parts costs and future parts supply & what to expect with the Indian takeover. I only have a couple of days to make my decision & I can purchase the bike at a much reduced price, but I am not wealthy so can't afford large maintenance issues going forward.........I need a quick education regarding the 961 so I can make a relatively informed decision about purchasing the bike, all help will be much appreciated, thanks in advance. Afterthought ---- I am allso wondering about the original pipes, is there much of a note or have most of you replaced them, if so, what with & how much ?
 

Voodooo

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Hi, I am new to the forum & I am thinking about purchasing a new 2018 961 Cafe but have read many differing reports regarding reliability etc. I would appreciate any feedback from owners regarding, any inherrent problems, service costs (I can do minor serving myself) parts costs and future parts supply & what to expect with the Indian takeover. I only have a couple of days to make my decision & I can purchase the bike at a much reduced price, but I am not wealthy so can't afford large maintenance issues going forward.........I need a quick education regarding the 961 so I can make a relatively informed decision about purchasing the bike, all help will be much appreciated, thanks in advance. Afterthought ---- I am allso wondering about the original pipes, is there much of a note or have most of you replaced them, if so, what with & how much ?
First, welcome to the forum.
next, where are you from?
I live in the USA and have 2 Norton 961’s. I have no dealership support at all but I’m mechanically able to do my own repairs / service.
These bikes are basic and in my case, rather reliable. My only major issues are my aftermarket lithium battery goes dead, which is caused by a draw on the electrical system. But as I said, it’s also a aftermarket lithium battery that I installed. On my second 961 I replaced the first lithium battery with a new one and so far so great.
My only other issue I had with my second 961 (2017 dominator naked) was, the side cover gasket was torn during factory assembly and caused my oil pressure light to come on. It was a easy fix and I have no issues getting parts sent from the UK to my front door in Michigan USA.

If I was new to the 961 market toady, and in your shoes, yes I’d still buy them now as well. I love them. No regrets.
We are all here to help and the guys on this forum are the best of an forums that I’m a member of. Including being a member on car and other motorcycle forums. Access norton is the best.
 
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Thanks 4 the reply, I suppose the question is, how many miles do you have on your bikes ?
 
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Fast Eddie

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Which country are you in and how mechanical are you and how close are you to good support?

These bikes are very characterful and huge fun. But they ain’t Honda’s.

If you’re looking for a fun bike to add to your collection then you‘ll likely love it. If you looking for an only bike and expect modern hassle free motorcycling, you might be disappointed.

Now is a good time to buy it seems, demand is not high and therefore buyers can choose and negotiate hard.
 
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Clive

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I have a 2017 cr as my only bike and have covered 11000 miles using it as a daily commute when the weather is ok. Up to around 3000 miles I had electrical niggles and a starter motor problem, then a few miles ago the drive sprocket came off necessitating some exploratory investigation but no damage. Now I expect to get on it and it will start first time. Some have had idling issues but so far I have been lucky. If I had to replace it I would certainly look for another 961 and carry out some preventative maintenance based on owner experiences. Maintenance is not complicated and the riding experience is unparalleled in my view. The only real possible problem I can see is with the clutch - some were not built properly. Mine is ok after this mileage but it could do with checking. Again not a complicated task.

The bike needs to have had the cat removed, open pipes fitted and the ecu remapped. Most have had this done.

So in conclusion I would recommend one but make sure it rides and idles ok then I would carry out some preventative maintenance to avoid any big repair bills in the future. Hope this helps.
 

BLIGHTYBRIT/SF

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Buy Buy Buy , historically bikes & cars with character & a “ Cult “ type following ( us lot ) go thru a crap /low price /nobody wants one stage , the 961 is such a vehicle I believe , value for money to buy atm anywhere, most owners are bike enthusiasts & will wrap their bikes in cottonwool are sought out any niggles , some bikes do have gremlins but a lot dont. Mines a 2016, 21,000 , clutch prob/balence shaft req attention at 16k
 
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Thanks lads, i should have said earlier i am from the Sunshine Coast QLD Australia. The bike i would be buying is a brand new 2018 model.A mate of mine took one for a ride this afternoon, he rang me and said it nearly rattled his back teeth loose & he thought it was the worse bike he has ever ridden, and he's owned a few ! He is a pom so I thought he would give it a better review, lol. I am going to test ride it for myself & I did own an old Bonnie for years so maybe I will have a different opinion to him ? He said he would have to glue 4 inches of foam to his boots to stop his ankles dislocating. He does make me laugh. Keep the advice comming, I am learning as i go.
 
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Whats it worth to add a set of slip ons & map the ECU ? Also, has anyone just gutted the standard mufflers to get a better sound, if so, how successfull were you at getting a decent sound out of it ?
 
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Fast Eddie

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“Rattling and horrid“ or “characterful and unique” ... both are correct, it’s just a matter of personal perspective! Clive makes a good point, there aren’t many (perhaps any) new bikes on offer today that offer the raw, visceral, pure fun experience of a 961. Frankly, I don’t really know how they got them through modern sterile legal requirements !

Factory open pipes sound good. They do long ones that basically look stock and ‘shorties’. The more tasteful owners opt for shorties... although some uncouth types insist the longies are best :rolleyes:

Cat removal link pipes also should be available from the factory.

But the best looking and sounding pipes IMHO are the short ones sold by Thiel Motorsport’s in Germany, they also do a cat removal link pipe.

Pic of mine (since sold on) with the Thiel pipes below. I highly recommend the Thiel pipes.

The biggest challenge I think you‘ll have is in getting and installing the right map. Your best bet might be to go the Dyna jet power commander route, as you don’t need to rely on factory maps and none existent Norton dealerships to do this.

3D7E97B2-2F62-496A-BF33-0F78990C9F45.jpeg
 
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MAK

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“Rattling and horrid“ or “characterful and unique” ... both are correct, it’s just a matter of personal perspective! Clive makes a good point, there aren’t many (perhaps any) new bikes on offer today that offer the raw, visceral, pure fun experience of a 961. Frankly, I don’t really know how they got them through modern sterile legal requirements !

Factory open pipes sound good. They do long ones that basically look stock and ‘shorties’. The more tasteful owners opt for shorties... although some uncouth types insist the longies are best :rolleyes:

Cat removal link pipes also should be available from the factory.

But the best looking and sounding pipes IMHO are the short ones sold by Thiel Motorsport’s in Germany, they also do a cat removal link pipe.

Pic of mine (since sold on) with the Thiel pipes below. I highly recommend the Thiel pipes.

The biggest challenge I think you‘ll have is in getting and installing the right map. Your best bet might be to go the Dyna jet power commander route, as you don’t need to rely on factory maps and none existent Norton dealerships to do this.

View attachment 19663
Don’t get consumed by analysis paralysis. Do some strong research then buy it.
This will become a platform for your own 961 ownership dream.
I have one,had a few niggles but most have been corrected.The knowledge on this site is outstanding and you will never be short of advice.
I love my 961 to pieces and no it isn’t a Honda, and all the better for it.
 
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When you say factory open pipes sound good, are you talking about the stock pipes being opened up, because this is what I am asking. Has anyone adapted the stock pipes ? And how do they sound. How much are the Thiel pipes ?
 

Stephen_Spencer

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Thanks lads, i should have said earlier i am from the Sunshine Coast QLD Australia. The bike i would be buying is a brand new 2018 model.A mate of mine took one for a ride this afternoon, he rang me and said it nearly rattled his back teeth loose & he thought it was the worse bike he has ever ridden, and he's owned a few ! He is a pom so I thought he would give it a better review, lol. I am going to test ride it for myself & I did own an old Bonnie for years so maybe I will have a different opinion to him ? He said he would have to glue 4 inches of foam to his boots to stop his ankles dislocating. He does make me laugh. Keep the advice comming, I am learning as i go.
You’re going one step further than I did, you’re gonna test ride it! I walked into Brisbane Motorcycles, drooled all over my fast opening wallet and bought it (961 CR); literally love at first sight! Test ride did’nt even register - luckily! The day I picked it up I rode it to the nearest petrol station, got off and thought “what the f#^*k have I done!” It felt radical, bordering on a perverse riding position that was both uncomfortable and alian (to me). It was hesitant, clearly badly fueled and rattled like a mechanical paint tin mixer. Try not to be put off by your first ride - this machine seriously grows on you. For me it’s an absolute keeper however, I would’nt have it as as my only bike.

Awesome machine with inherent flaws, but nothing that can’t be fixed. Principle amongst these is opening up the exhaust and remapping. Exhaust Professionals Brisbane ripped the guts out of the standard longs and removed the cats. With remap this was a transformational - sounds great too. Don’t take my word for it, come and listen to it whilst drinking my beer:). I’m on the Sunny Coast. Steve
 
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Thanks Steve, I might take you up on having a look at yours, I am near Bribie Island so love to see & hear your bike. Any chance of having a chat, my number is Mob 0498193026 anytime from 10.30am to 10.00pm.
 
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I bought my 2014 Sport in Dec 2014 , and still love it. It is best as a second bike , but can do it all if need be. Oh yes 17,000 miles on now .
 
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There was a thread here awhile back that dealt with elimination much of that engine vibration your friend referred to.
It was corrected in part by proper balancing of the balance shaft, which was out of whack.
The other issue was the crank, which was seriously out of alignment, probably because the centre bearing mount was attached with incorrect cap screws (too long) that bottomed before tightening the mount.
Once those things were corrected, the engine vibration level went way down.
It does require a full engine strip and dynamic balancing.
The cost wasn't great as that owner was able to do all of the disassembly and reassembly work in his shop.


Glen
 

Clive

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This is where you really need to compare to another bike otherwise you may be trying to fix a feature.....
 
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I'm always trying to eradicate or at least minimize vibration.
There is an acceptable or perhaps expected level of vibration and that seems to be different for everyone.
Some of it may come down to the type of riding done. For myself, I want a bike, old or new, to be comfortable enough to do a 400 mile day at 70 mph. If it's a shaker, 400 miles at 70 is not fun. Got a couple of old bikes like that now, unfortunately. I don't ride them very fast or far.
If 900RS is just doing short runs maybe the vibes could be tolerated. It's hard to imagine vibration as a feature. Aside from being uncomfortable, it is damaging to the human body if severe and sustained.
In the case of the 961, it seems to be fixable. At least you have a modern balance shaft to work with!
Whoever put that in the design ( Kenny Dreer?) was obviously looking for ways to reduce/eliminate the usual parallel twin vibration, so I don't believe the shakey engine idea was intentional.

Glen
 
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