Purchasing consideration 961 Sport- confused Biker!!

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Sep 15, 2015
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Hi There,
Recently sold a BMWS1000RR due to wanting a different riding experience as opposed to chasing quiet roads and corners and riding quicker as get older!! Purchased a Harley Fat Bob two weeks ago, I really like the ride in many respects and find that my time out is more enjoyable and slower than the focused Sportsbike ride!

However, on reflection don't think a HD is for me as a sole bike, as most will be aware they obviously don't handle too well... Should have listened to my Friends !!

Really love the Norton Commando 961's and fancy a sport. Love everything about the brand, heritage etc.....I've not ridden one yet, but I'm told they handle well in relative terms and I think it will tick more boxes than the Harley.

If there is anybody who can share ownership, ride, handling, reliability experiences I'd very much appreciate it.
Also if anyone has moved away from Sportsbikes to one id be appreciative of feedback please.

Many thanks indeed!
 
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As you read the forum you will see that most people love everything about ownership of a 961. Just remember it's not an off the shelf. It's like a custom bike builder made it for you. Handles amazing. No wind break which keeps you safe from excessive speeding. I love mine. I've ridden Sport Bikes and before the 961 would not have known how boring they can be if you're not racing. Do something today you will thank yourself in the future for. Get the 961 with USD forks tho..
 

roofus

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The Norton is a very fine bike! Great handling, great looks!!!!!

However you must understand that it is like a beautiful woman!!! Unpredicitable, expensive, complex, but incredibly hot!!!!

Get the black one:

"Once you go black you will never go back!"

:D
 

G81 Can Cycle

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Fabulous handling. Not super fast, but fast enough.

I have had very few problems with mine. The 961 is a very good bike if you are looking for something between a exotic sport bike and a Harley (or big cruiser)

The café model was not a good fit for me (back and arms are getting too old), so I got the SF model. I have not ridden a Sport, so I cannot comment on the handling differences between the front forks (upside down versus regular)

Join the Club of 961 riders, we are few and eclectic.

John
 

BritTwit

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Richard is correct. The 961 Is not a typical production motorcycle, built, and sold by the thousands like your 1000RR. They are a hand assembled ‘boutique’ bike. They do have a few quirks about them, but chalk that up to character. They are a wonderful combination of old and new. The motor is an air cooled, pushrod, twin with a fair bit of mechanical clatter (character again), that has a whole lot of family resemblance to the old 750/850 Norton Commandos of the 70’s. On the other hand, the bike is fuel injected, and has a completely modern electric system. The brakes are Brembos front and back, and are excellent, as is the Olins suspension.

I’ve owned many sportbikes, and currently own a Ducati 999, the first thing you will notice is that these bikes are all about midrange power and torque, not all-out acceleration like your BMW sportbike. The Olins suspension is completely tunable to whatever riding you intend to do. Super slab cruising, back roads blasting, city roads, whatever. I own a 961 café racer with clipons, and the riding position for me is ok for day rides, but I would suggest that if you intend to go on longer trips, that you choose either the Sport, or the SF. They both have low handlebars. The engines are the same.

Properly setup, the bikes have excellent handling manners. Your 1000RR will have very quick turn in at corners. The 961 will be a bit slower, requiring a little firmer tug to initiate the turn in. The 961 will take a line in the corner and track precisely, very similar to a Ducati Monster, if you are familiar with that. I think your biggest issue will be going from a 180HP 1000RR to an 80HP 961.

Some owners have experienced issues with their 961’s. I have had a problem with my gas tank that required replacement, and a failed electric starter, which was also replaced, free, under warranty. The 961 has a two year warranty and to my knowledge, any 961 owner who has needed replacement parts has received them from Norton free, under warranty. So the company backs what they sell.

I think many other forum members will shortly chime in with their impressions.

Regards
 
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Handling is excellent all around. Mid-range power is good enough for any street riding. I chased a good rider on a Ducati 996 the other day for a spirited ride through the twisties around Alice's Restaurant in Woodside, CA; other than a slight disadvantage immediately after getting on the throttle (low-end torque), the 961 kept up quite well. This was particularly fun for me as I have a Ducati 916 and had wondered how the bikes would compare head-to-head.

Acknowledging that the Ducati 996/916 is underpowered by today's sport bike standards (like your 1000RR), they generate around 110HP at the crank, vs. I'm thinking around 90HP for the re-mapped/open exhaust 961, but usable power mid-range is not that different and fueling above 4K is excellent for both bikes.

I've had a couple of minor issues under warranty, but have been well supported by the local dealer. It's going in for its 6,000 mile service this week. I have not yet given up the sport bike habit and the Café Racer fits me very well ergonomically. I'm 5'9" with relatively short legs. However, sounds like you may be better off with the Sport/Sport Factory models. For my 2 cents, I'd also opt for the Sport Factory model if choosing between the two.

The 961 remains my ride of choice these days. Prior to getting the 961, I regularly rotated between my other bikes happily. For the past year, it has become somewhat of a chore to make sure the other bikes are getting proper exercise.
 
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The 961 is the king of the retro's. I also ride Harleys and sport bikes. The brakes and suspension and to a lesser extent, the weight will compare favorably with most modern sport bikes and blow away the Harleys. The motor is in between, it is tractable enough to ride with the cruisers but can still mix it up with the rice rockets.

Last weekend I found myself out with an R1 and a Gxsr and 2 Harleys. When we got to the twisties we immediately lost the Harleys and the other guys could pull me on the straights, but in the corners and especially coming out of corners I was pulling them!!!. The guy on the R1 was a roadracer but the kid on the Suzuki was in the wrong gear sometimes because I pulled him in a few sections!

The 961 has enough power for any kind of sane riding on the street and draws crowds every time you stop!
 
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Rizzo, It would help us all help you if you would just include your location in your signature!
 
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There are 2 reasons i bought the sport:

The price
The RWU forks. Almost every expensive sports bike these days has USD ohlins. The RWU is far more exclusive imho.

As for experience... Understanding that my bike was an early model, and you should filter everyone's opinion to make your own:

Style: 10
The first bike i never felt it needed customizing!

Design (technical): 8
The bike is properly designed and has the potential to be a very good bike

Build: 5
It can suffer from many little flaws, going from relays being able to vibrate loose to worse things as leaking gas tanks, failing valve lifters etc... Many of those problems are solved already. Some still exist.

Comfort: 7
A retro bike, but with sports suspension. some might not like that. I do. Clutch is my only minor issue here. Mine has a jumpy clutch (from new) but might be an isolated case.

Performance: 7
You don't buy the bike as a race bike, and for me it is sufficient, but still it does not feel like it makes the claimed power. It is not fast. You can't outrun a 90's CB750 (touring bike) on straights.

Handling: 9
Once set up correctly (mine came from the factory as if it was going to a rider twice my weight) it handles like a dream.

Reliability: 3
Sorry... true in my case. Mine has 15000 miles and left me at the side of the road at least a dozen times.

Parts availability: 3
Norton has not sorted this yet. Slow, not complete, expensive. Good for a second bike, but not if you want to ride it no matter what.
 
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A Beemer 1000RR to a Harley is a radical change. I was considering a Harley from my old Bonnevilles, then realized, I don't want to drage 800 lbs. around and love dipping and diving in twisties. What to buy? I didn't want a crotch rocket. I love standard bikes, but to me, most bikes are ugly, radically designed nakeds. I checked out the new Honda CB1100. Nice bike. Thought it was for me, but really, its slow and the suspension is way too soft. Its a commuter. Then I saw the 961 at the bike show. Had to wait a bit, but that is definitely the bike for me. Gorgeous retro Brit styling, Ohlins and Brembos, excellent exterior components, lots of billet, minimum plastic. Old school grunt with closer to new school power and handling. Yea, you're Beemer will blow it away, but the Norton is the PERFECT blend of old and new school. It fills every niche I've been looking for in a bike.

I too have had some problems. Minor and major. Minor, leaking starter gasket, flickering gas indication light. Substantial, leaking oil from the seam of the crankcase halves. Still have to address that one under warranty but will not give up my bike for another summer. Added 2 quarts of oil over the past 2500 miles. Going back in in November. Major: tranny went. Had to wait 4 months for a replacement. New one kicks ass.

Look. Its a new company in the states and has to undergo some expansion and popularity. The customer service has to be worked on but seems to be making improvements. Some minor changes to the bike have occurred for the better too. So, slowly but surely, Norton seems to be getting their act together.

If you can deal with the inconveniences ( I know plenty of Harleys that leak oil and have had tranny problems, Aprillia and Ducatis with problems too) and work the bugs out, I guarantee you will love this bike. It takes what you throw at it. Plus, around town, if you like being the coolest kid on the block and getting photos taken, its the bike for you.
 
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Thank you very much for all the replies thus far, nice of you to take the time to offer some useful insight. Despite some negative feedback in terms of reliability I'm still going to purchase one. As some of you have alluded to I think all the positive aspects out weigh some "potential" flaws!

I'm awaiting a dry day to demo one, next dilemma is - new or used. I've got my eye on a couple of 2014 models, I've heard that iteration has had a number of the previous issues addressed.

Thanks again.
Rizzo
 
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If you're considering used, not sure how this worked in the UK, but my US version was assembled and delivered new mid-2014, but due to frame numbering, it came with a documented 2013 model year. I believe it is otherwise the same as 2014 models.
 
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Agreed. But the 15s have some modifications to the controls, larger signal switch button, master cylinder for the brakes. Anybody's paint flaking off of their front brake reservoir? I think an overfill may have softened the paint a bit. No biggie. Nothing a little black touch up paint can't handle. If you don't mind a few trips to the dealer to sort out the short comings, you're going to love this bike. Sexiest hind quarters of any bike out there.
 
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dimitri said:
There are 2 reasons i bought the sport:

The price
The RWU forks. Almost every expensive sports bike these days has USD ohlins. The RWU is far more exclusive imho.

As for experience... Understanding that my bike was an early model, and you should filter everyone's opinion to make your own:

Style: 10
The first bike i never felt it needed customizing!

Design (technical): 8
The bike is properly designed and has the potential to be a very good bike



[/img]

Build: 5
It can suffer from many little flaws, going from relays being able to vibrate loose to worse things as leaking gas tanks, failing valve lifters etc... Many of those problems are solved already. Some still exist.

Comfort: 7
A retro bike, but with sports suspension. some might not like that. I do. Clutch is my only minor issue here. Mine has a jumpy clutch (from new) but might be an isolated case.

Performance: 7
You don't buy the bike as a race bike, and for me it is sufficient, but still it does not feel like it makes the claimed power. It is not fast. You can't outrun a 90's CB750 (touring bike) on straights.

Handling: 9
Once set up correctly (mine came from the factory as if it was going to a rider twice my weight) it handles like a dream.

Reliability: 3
Sorry... true in my case. Mine has 15000 miles and left me at the side of the road at least a dozen times.

Parts availability: 3
Norton has not sorted this yet. Slow, not complete, expensive. Good for a second bike, but not if you want to ride it no matter what.
 
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I was just wondering what bike Dimitri was talking about when he said he could not outrun a Mid 90's Honda CB750 . I think this is it . Not to worry Dimitri , He won't be able to run away from you either...
 
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I love my Norton 961SF, but be ready to wait for months if there is any sort of warranty need...and there will be.

As others have said, if you care about riding frequently you'll want more bikes than just the Norton. Things can and will go wrong that will take time to sort out. You must love the bike enough to lose her sometimes.
 

Fast Eddie

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Rizzo said:
Thank you very much for all the replies thus far, nice of you to take the time to offer some useful insight. Despite some negative feedback in terms of reliability I'm still going to purchase one. As some of you have alluded to I think all the positive aspects out weigh some "potential" flaws!

I'm awaiting a dry day to demo one, next dilemma is - new or used. I've got my eye on a couple of 2014 models, I've heard that iteration has had a number of the previous issues addressed.

Thanks again.
Rizzo
Well, in your shoes I'd go for new. You'll get the latest upgrades and fixes, and you'll get a full warranty.
 
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DBono said:
If you're considering used, not sure how this worked in the UK, but my US version was assembled and delivered new mid-2014, but due to frame numbering, it came with a documented 2013 model year. I believe it is otherwise the same as 2014 models.

My 2014 SE has 2013 on the ownership. You can look where the serial number is to see date of manufacture. Mine is May 2014 and I got my Bike August 2014. I was told it was a paperwork mishap but def. makes it a rare desirable bike.

Good luck on your purchase.
 

contours

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GoingCommando said:
I love my Norton 961SF, but be ready to wait for months if there is any sort of warranty need...and there will be.

As others have said, if you care about riding frequently you'll want more bikes than just the Norton. Things can and will go wrong that will take time to sort out. You must love the bike enough to lose her sometimes.
I will be adopting this attitude when my Sport arrives next Spring. Gotta have at least 3 bikes in order to ride while the weather permits. She may not look pretty, but for now my Daytona 955i is the designated rider ...

http://contours.bravehost.com/Photos/The_Daytona_right_side_view.JPG
 

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