Considering buying a 961

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Jan 21, 2015
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I am new to this forum and have registered to gather some further information as a potential owner of a 916 se. Its 2011 with just 650 miles on the clock.........so what can i expect for £18k ??????

The bike is drop dead gorgeous and fell in love at first site but i have heard of a few negatives attached to the engine, gear box and tank paint. I would be grateful for any comments to help me make my mind up as i don't want to spend this sort of money on a bike that i am going to regret.
So what do i look out for ? Will they hold their value ? Are there recalls or modifications that should have been done ?

Thanks in advance as i love the looks of this bike and the whole Norton look.

PS a recent conversation with the local NOC said not to touch with a barge pole :shock: :shock: :shock:
 
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Well, hold on as you're going to get a lot of mixed replies on this thread. I'll warn you that you will tend to get more negativity from on-line sites like this. Would suggest you listen more to owners having direct experience. Only a fraction of Norton owners are active on this site and many of the most active posters don't have real experience with the bike but are happy to share their views.

For whatever reasons, the 961 seems to attract a lot of haters. This may be because Garner had the balls to mess with an icon and nothing will compare in some folks' minds. And, there's no denying that the factory has not been particularly responsive.

From my perspective, I couldn't be happier with my 2013 Café Racer, which now has almost 3,000 miles. Although it is a 2013, it was newly delivered in July, 2014. It has one of the earlier dated frame numbers. It's my #1 ride these days among a stable of amazing bikes, including a cherry Mk3 Commando.

My only real complaint thus far is that I can't seem to get the bike re-mapped due to Norton's agreement with US and California Air Resources Boards to not sell after-market exhaust and related modifications in California/US. Having said this, the bike runs damn good as is, but with less restrictive exhausts, it would perform better with the remap.

However, if it were me, I'd buy a new one, where early production issues are resolved and with the guaranty in place.
 
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Its all subjective. I own a 2013 black Sport. Some owners might cringe seeing that I'm an early replier because I've had my share of problems so let me start out with I LOVE THE BIKE! Aesthetically, its
drop dead gorgeous. The external build quality and its components are of extremely high quality, like the dials, cables, fittings, pegs. So, that's a good start if you like those things. I've not owned many bikes. An old Honda CB350 in the seventies and a Suzuki dirt bike, then a 1979 Triumph Bonny Special since new, still have it. Everything out there to me is ugly. Didn't want a track/street racer nor did I want some vanilla cruiser. I did however love the British parallel twins thump, low end grunt and nimbleness, not to mention style. I also need more performance so I can at least hang with my Ducati and Aprillia riding friends on the twisty roads. All that said, the Norton met all of those requirements. The perfectly styled retro that has the sound, looks and feel with the modern performance that I need. The Brembo brakes and Ohlin suspension are just awesome. Now that bad parts, I had an oil leak from the starter gasket and it took over a month to get the new gasket. They fixed that during first service and 200 mi. later, my gearbox went. (about 1000 mi) That's when the frustration started. It wasn't only that it took almost four months to get the gearbox, its a new company, I have one of the first 10 in the states, it was the lack of knowledge and communication from the dealer, the total lack of communication from the US distributor, and also the lack of communication from Norton. Finally, a manager at Norton contacted me to ask you my repair went, I went a little ballistic, so he took the case personally, which really wasn't his job, and kept in touch with me via email. I've only put on 100 mi. since I got it back. The smiles are back on my face even though winter is here. I still love the bike and really would not be as happy with any other except maybe a Duc Monster 1200S. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for when I get back out there, but so far, I'm glad I bought it. It feels like it was made for me. I guess I could have just said "yea, go for it" :roll:
 

BritTwit

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Depending on what you are wanting from the 961, owning one can be either a beautiful experience, or an exercise in frustration. Produced in small numbers by a firm that is still finding its way in the motorcycle industry, replacement parts can sometimes require a long wait. Also, access to authorized dealers is, shall we say rather limited. As you mentioned, your local NOC buddy has already filled you in on the buzz surrounding the problems that some owners have reported. The early 961 had several issues. Among the problems were, starter failure, cam chain failure, cover leaks, excessive piston/bore clearances, gearbox shifter issues. Not all owners have encountered problems. I think being a 2011 model with only 650 miles, would raise a potential issue for me. If there are any early design/build problems still residing in the engine, 650 miles is probably not sufficient mileage to bring them to the surface. It has basically completed the run-in. Perhaps a new 961 would be a safer investment. On the plus side, the SE is a limited edition, so it would probably hold its value better than the regular production model 961’s.

I have a 2013 Café Racer with 1800 miles, with a de-catted SouthBay exhaust. Last November I finally had the EFI remapped, and the bike runs great. As other forum members have already stated, these machines handle precisely. The brakes are spectacular. With an aftermarket exhaust they sound wonderful, and the thing is obviously a treat for your eyes. I have 4 bikes, and the 961 is the one I ride most, it’s that much fun.

If you do decide to purchase the 2011 SE, I wish you the best of luck. Keep us updated on your quest.
 
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I took delivery of a 961 SE December 2014, had problems from day one; dead battery. Replacement battery from dealer started the bike but it drained overnight before I could even ride it. Dealer told me to disconnect voltage regulator, bought new battery had one day of riding (it was great), parked it and dc regulator but battery still drained to a point it will not hold a charge. Don't want to be labeled cyber whiner but this experience needs to be shared too.
 
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If you are in the UK, you can go onto ebay and there are 7 961 Nortons on there currently, a 2011 for £18K is steep. It may have a fancy low number in the limited edition stakes but it also has all the faults of a pre production model.
 
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Chrispyduck, where in the world are you? Welcome to the forum.

I got my Sport in silver in Sept 2014. I have had zero serious issues with it and I put 2000 miles on it before putting it away for the winter. Im UK based in the East of England. Running in is hard work as its sounds like crap until it loosens up and gets remapped and loud pipes. They don't loosen up properly until about 2000 miles. 700 miles isn't run in at all.

The bike has been in constant development since its release and my 2014 model Sport is markedly different to the 2011 SE. There have been major upgrades in the last 3 years so Id look very closely at a 3yr old bike with no miles and no warranty...

I love my Sport to bits and its my number 1 bike, among a stable of 4. I cant see anything on the market today where I would say 'I'll sell the Norton and have one of those in its place'. Wherever you ride people will stop you and say 'that's gorgeous'. Youll need the £1500 open pipes on it if they aren't already.

18k sounds a lot though, for Sterling? Or is that dollars? For instance, Krazy Horse in Bury St Edmunds have just sold a 2012 biposto Sport second hand for £12000.00. If I was you Id buy new if youre UK based.

Some of the NOC can be a bit funny about them, as I think anything that isn't pissing oil and kick started isn't a 'proper' Norton to a lot of the NOC (although many members are very supportive). For a lot of them the world stopped in 1962... I think some would prefer the new Norton venture to fail. Youll see a huge negative online database about the 961, written almost exclusively by NON owners. Most owners love them, even the ones that had issues like Brit Fan. Very similar to the forum for old and new Triumphs when they were relaunched. A lot depends on your geographical location I think. UK owners have a very good dealer network. US owners have massive distances and several thousand miles of supply chain to deal with.

My advice? Ignore the forums, especially the NOC and quite a lot of posters on this forum (but not all, check if they actually own one). Go take a test ride. If you get off smiling, buy it. If you don't, walk away...

Good Luck :D :D :D
 
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Buy a New Norton . Get the warranty and the improvements . But , by all means buy one.
 
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Thanks for the replies.

Never really looked at the 961 till a couple a weeks ago when this dealer offered me good money for my Kawasaki H2 against the 2011 SE he has for sale. Part of the attraction is for a numbered bike which could be seen as an investment and something i could ride which i considered the SE would give me.

Logic tells me as its out of warranty i could have regular large repair bills on an unreliable bike that i am unlikely to want to ride.

Illogically i can have a gorgeous looking bike sitting in the garage :roll:

I am in Shrewsbury UK so not so far from from Donnington :p
 
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For that kind of money I would buy new. Many improvements have been made since 2011 as others have stated. They are incredible bikes and that is coming from someone that owned 28 others. Do buy one though as others stated.
 
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Dozer said:
Chrispyduck, where in the world are you? Welcome to the forum.

I got my Sport in silver in Sept 2014. I have had zero serious issues with it and I put 2000 miles on it before putting it away for the winter. Im UK based in the East of England. Running in is hard work as its sounds like crap until it loosens up and gets remapped and loud pipes. They don't loosen up properly until about 2000 miles. 700 miles isn't run in at all.

The bike has been in constant development since its release and my 2014 model Sport is markedly different to the 2011 SE. There have been major upgrades in the last 3 years so Id look very closely at a 3yr old bike with no miles and no warranty...

I love my Sport to bits and its my number 1 bike, among a stable of 4. I cant see anything on the market today where I would say 'I'll sell the Norton and have one of those in its place'. Wherever you ride people will stop you and say 'that's gorgeous'. Youll need the £1500 open pipes on it if they aren't already.

18k sounds a lot though, for Sterling? Or is that dollars? For instance, Krazy Horse in Bury St Edmunds have just sold a 2012 biposto Sport second hand for £12000.00. If I was you Id buy new if youre UK based.

Some of the NOC can be a bit funny about them, as I think anything that isn't pissing oil and kick started isn't a 'proper' Norton to a lot of the NOC (although many members are very supportive). For a lot of them the world stopped in 1962... I think some would prefer the new Norton venture to fail. Youll see a huge negative online database about the 961, written almost exclusively by NON owners. Most owners love them, even the ones that had issues like Brit Fan. Very similar to the forum for old and new Triumphs when they were relaunched. A lot depends on your geographical location I think. UK owners have a very good dealer network. US owners have massive distances and several thousand miles of supply chain to deal with.

My advice? Ignore the forums, especially the NOC and quite a lot of posters on this forum (but not all, check if they actually own one). Go take a test ride. If you get off smiling, buy it. If you don't, walk away...

Good Luck :D :D :D


really interesting mate :) I've been considering selling the last of my modern japanese bikes my gsxr 750 ive been using every day commuting on an lc now instead haha and adding a 961 how've you found the finish in bad weather ? :)

so have we actually got some dealers stocking them now :D
 
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really interesting mate :) I've been considering selling the last of my modern japanese bikes my gsxr 750 ive been using every day commuting on an lc now instead haha and adding a 961 how've you found the finish in bad weather ? :)

so have we actually got some dealers stocking them now :D[/quote]

Tom, I wouldn't commute on it in winter, the same as I wouldn't commute on any piece of exotica, Ducati, Harley etc....! The finish is v high quality and I wouldn't subject it to British winter roads. Ive ACF50'd mine too, just in case, but its still in the garage til spring.

Krazy Horse in Bury St Edmunds have 3 new 961s in stock as of yesterday, as they buy as many as they can from the factory over and above dedicated customer orders. I think they had 2 sports, black and silver and a silver SF. They also do finance and the have a fully run in open piped demo sport, which is a major factor as you can feel a massive difference between a stock, strangled, 961 and a loud, run in bike. Go over there and book a demo, cos they can be an acquired taste and feel more Italian than Japanese. Come March Id bet those stock bikes will go in a matter of days once the weather warms up.

Chrispyduck, Id buy new if I was you, (but Im not). The SE was a stunning bike when it came out, but the law of design development states that the newer bikes will have all the upgrades since 2011. I also think the spoked wheels look stunning on the new bikes rather than the CF ones (but that's just my opinion). Youll be taking a risk buying it as an investment, as that type of thing has backfired spectacularly in the classic car and bike market in recent years. They are made to be ridden, hard, and you cant do that with an investment!
 
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I've been riding motorcycles for twenty years, and have owned every lusted Ducati and BMW made over the last twenty years. My Norton 961 Sport is the first bike I've owned that I find myself sitting for long periods of time and staring at it, waiting for the Spring. What I'm getting at, is the emotional aspect of owning this bike. It's like the feeling you had when you rode a bike for the first time.
 
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Here in the states the head says no because it is not tried and true, the heart says that is one bad ass beautiful bike. I like the old saying "follow your heart".
 
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chrispyduck said:
Thanks for the replies.

Never really looked at the 961 till a couple a weeks ago when this dealer offered me good money for my Kawasaki H2 against the 2011 SE he has for sale. Part of the attraction is for a numbered bike which could be seen as an investment and something i could ride which i considered the SE would give me.

Logic tells me as its out of warranty i could have regular large repair bills on an unreliable bike that i am unlikely to want to ride.

Illogically i can have a gorgeous looking bike sitting in the garage :roll:

I am in Shrewsbury UK so not so far from from Donnington :p
Although I don't own one, I've visited the Factory and done a test ride. Great handling and really looks good in the flesh. The gear changes are a bit rough but you kind of put it down to "characterfulness"!
It's a no-brainer. DON'T TOUCH the one in the dealers for 18KGBP! For the same money or less get the latest versión possible. I'll be tossing a coin between the rumoured Triumph Thruxton R and the 961 next year. I really hope they continue to grow and improve the bikes and especially the dealer network and service. Good luck with your purchase.
 
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If it helps, My dad has a 2013 SE with over 7,000 miles and it has been trouble free. I have a 2014 SE with only 500 miles, also trouble free. I personally would not buy a 2011 without a warranty based solely on what I've read. >>>>>>But perhaps you could call the factory and see what sort of support they would provide if you did buy it. If they tell you they will support you of any known issue, then maybe pursue it.

Great bike!!!
 
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This is a genuinely good idea. Lets see what Norton will say. Also , a list of the improvements/fixes since 2010 .
 
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Thanks for replies and advice. :D

I asked the dealer if he would contact previous owner on my behalf to find out if there were any modifications, recalls or repairs to the bike. What are the chances of me getting this information :?:

I don't part with £18k lightly :roll:
 
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Still wouldn't do it without a warranty from the factory. And, can't imagine why Norton would offer that, but doesn't hurt to ask.

The other benefit of buying a new bike with warranty is that you'll have the confidence that it was broken it properly.
 
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I have a 2014 961 which was made shortly after they improved the gear-box. As others have said I think you'll be happier getting a new one with the latest improvements and a full warranty.
 
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