Today's First Ride, Thoughts and Pictures.

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Sep 21, 2015
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Today I took the 961 out for a 311 mile run. Below I will post my thoughts and questions so please comment and school me. I rode with a friend that was on his 2015 Thruxton with British Customs pipes and WOW did his bike sound great. I am going to share my thoughts and will be honest in my feelings.

We stayed around the Catskills, NY and visited Phoenica, NY and Woodstock, NY to mention a few places.

NUTS AND BOLTS IN WASHER
My first stop was to fuel up and a guys says to me "Nice Norton, Does it always sound like that or is something loose in the engine". I have to agree with him the 961 sounds like shit! It sound like nuts and bolts rolling around in a washing machine. The 961 has a sewing machine type sound with metal parts rolling around. IS THIS JUST MY BIKE OR IS THIS THE WAY THEY SOUND??? It's actually kind of embarrassing. :shock:

FUEL CAP AND TANK
The fuel filler cap used on the 961 is from BMW and the bike would look nicer with a screw cap, something more traditional, classic, vintage. I wish the tank was not fiberglass it takes away from the classic feel. I feel Norton cut some corners.

Now were off to do some serious riding and as I went down the road I was feeling special since I really like the unique look of the 961. It does handle well and it's easy to throw into the corners.


TIRES
The tires on the 961 are Dunlop SportMax which I think takes away from the style and some cruiser tires with a nice tread pattern would help the look. The SportMax tires do great at holding the bike steady in the corners BUT ONLY if the pavement is warm. These tires are not the best for cold temps. It was easy to throw the rear into a slide in the corners even after 10 miles of harder riding so tires should have been warm.

SUSPENSION
We had to travel several roads not in the best shape and I NEED to do some adjustments on the suspension.

FAUX OIL LEAK
We stopped to take some pictures and WTH there is a HUGE oil puddle under the bike and dripping fast. Some guy came up and was admiring the bikes and he said "WOW you have a massive oil leak". I told him I really didn't and he said yes you do it's right there. I said "No sir the oil you see is for effect to make the owner feel like he is on a vintage brit bike, see the hose it is dripping from. The bike has a little reservoir that you can put oil in and when you stop it starts dripping. I can shut that off but wanted to let it drip today so maybe no one would steal it". He believed me.

SOUND
I need an exhaust, I have to do something to make this sound like a Norton should. Bob's Triumph sounded awesome but the Norton... not so much.


So I feel I have been bashing the bike so do I like it. Well let's see it sounds like shit, leaks oil, has cheap parts on it, the pegs suck since they fold up often, the brakes are really not that great compared to my KTM 1290 Super Duke or BMW HP2, The seat is a board that pinches my inside leg, the foot brake is in a weird place which makes it hard to use, even with a great suspension it beat the crap out of me, it's fairly slow and has no real bite at any rpm level, The headlight is nice and bright, The rear end looks like a Haybusa, the tires are track tires and don't fit the look of the bike but nor does the carbon front fender.

So what do I think? I think I am weird since there is something about this bike that I like, something that makes me smile and feel special. Now I must decide what my look will be when I ride this bike since I am all about fashion on and off a bike. I think I will be riding this bike a lot. It's not the fastest nor the best built but it has soul in a weird kinda way. Also people just seem to look past my friends Thruxton and went right to the Norton.

Picture of me. What do you think about my outfit? :p




Quick stop to leak some oil :D



Local in Woodstock



 

BritTwit

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Paul,
From your post, it’s clear you completed your initiation into the 961 club.

Probably the most popular mod to these bikes is to ditch the stock exhaust for an aftermarket unit. The engine is mechanically noisy, especially when new and tight. However, remember this is a pushrod, air-cooled twin, with aluminum cylinders. They make a good deal of clatter. A good aftermarket exhaust will help cover some of the noise, and bring out the motor’s character. If you do replace the exhaust, you’ll also need an EFI remap.

Since you mentioned the “massive oil leak”, I imagine the boys at Gold Coast removed the airbox drain plug form your airbox. The breather units on 961 are routed into the airbox for environmental purposes. The breathers tend to pass a considerable amount of oil laden engine vapor to the airbox. When the oil vapor condenses, it ends up accumulating on the bottom of the airbox, and will pass out the airbox drain line it the plug is not in place. Thus, the oil-stain beneath your bike.

You’ll find plenty of good info on this forum to assist you with your question about the 961 and its different characteristics.
 
Joined
Sep 21, 2015
Messages
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BritTwit said:
Paul,
From your post, it’s clear you completed your initiation into the 961 club.

Probably the most popular mod to these bikes is to ditch the stock exhaust for an aftermarket unit. The engine is mechanically noisy, especially when new and tight. However, remember this is a pushrod, air-cooled twin, with aluminum cylinders. They make a good deal of clatter. A good aftermarket exhaust will help cover some of the noise, and bring out the motor’s character. If you do replace the exhaust, you’ll also need an EFI remap.

Since you mentioned the “massive oil leak”, I imagine the boys at Gold Coast removed the airbox drain plug form your airbox. The breather units on 961 are routed into the airbox for environmental purposes. The breathers tend to pass a considerable amount of oil laden engine vapor to the airbox. When the oil vapor condenses, it ends up accumulating on the bottom of the airbox, and will pass out the airbox drain line it the plug is not in place. Thus, the oil-stain beneath your bike.

You’ll find plenty of good info on this forum to assist you with your question about the 961 and its different characteristics.
Thank you BritTwit, Yes I think I am in now and hooked for some reason. I had a lot of fun yesterday and would have had more pictures but somehow I lost my GoPro. I think I kicked it off since I had it hooked to the passenger peg. It's getting cold as you know so I must ride more days during the week. Have a great day, Paul
 
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My sport sounded like a can of nails too, at first, even with the the SBN pipes right from the dealer. 80% of that goes away with use. Around 1K, it gets considerably quieter. I personally like the tires. I kicked it out a few times, but that may have been a little Long Island sand. I like them, personally. The pegs were an issue for a bout a week. I rarely kick them up any more. That just takes a little getting used to. After a while, its second nature and you'll probably avoid them. I took a major step up from old Bonnevilles, so performance wise, I have a much different comparison: speed and braking. I never puked up that much oil. I drain a bit on the fly, but never left any on the ground while standing still. I am venting some between the crankcase halves, which will be addressed over the winter before my warranty lapses. I've ridden some better handling bikes, Ducs and Aprillia and a few other sport bikes, but haven't owned any. The bike fills every niche I was looking for in looks, sound, style and performance. I too wish it didn't leak oil. As for components? Really? The only plastic on that bike are the signals. The dials are top notch, lots of billet, braided cables, Brembos and Ohlins. I have a few beefs, but overall, that was the right bike for me. I compared it with the build of the Beemer Nine T, and the Norton won hands down. Hey. You're the coolest kid in the neighborhood until they start showing up in droves, which more than likely won't happen since its still a "boutique" bike. Hope you grow into it. All the best.
 

G81 Can Cycle

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Welcome to the club

Your observations are not much different than all first impressions of the 961

I believe the tank is plastic and not fiberglass

The sound is something I have been thinking about, but need to talk to Richard 7. The 961 transfers the crank to clutch basket drive via what's called a balance gear. It is not a chain driven primary. I believe a lot of the noise comes from this system. Not sure what can be done about it except a louder exhaust. I have 2 961's. One with the short Motads, and one with South Bay DT's. Both bikes sound great (although I like the sound of the short Motads better) The gear noise of the balance gear is not as noticeable with the aftermarket exhaust

BritTwit explained the oil leak. I keep a golf tee in my drain line, and it has worked well for me. I remove the tee after my ride, and put a cup under the bike to drain the oil. The bikes are also very oil level sensitive. Too much oil and you will get additional oil in the airbox. Venting the engine helps I think (get Richard 7's tech supplements) TonyA is the forum expert on the oil level and dipstick issue. Before I knew about the airbox oil drain issue I did have a problem. My 2014 SF was shipped to me with the drain plugged, and I did not know about the issue. I did a hard stop to test the front Brembo's. The oil in the airbox, which had accumliated to a large volume, surged forward and soaked my air cleaner. The bike stalled, and when I restarted, it bellowed smoke like a 70's two stroke Kawasaki. It smoked all the way home (about 20 miles), and I do not mean a little smoke. The good thing is the air filter element is cleanable, and a K&N cleaning kit works well.

I am putting new Bridgestone tires on my 2015, but this is for track use, I will update later on any improvement from this change.

PM me an email address and I will send you a video of the 2015 SF with the short Motads. The video format on my phone is not supported by this site Richard 7 and TonyA are also running the Motad shorties

I will repeat this: Get in touch with Richard 7 and get his updates. They are in a PDF format, and will cut your learning curve by 90%.

Great to have another crazy SOB on the 961 forum

John
 

BritTwit

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These bikes will grow on you as you get them broken-in, and their personality quirks become apparent. The replacement exhaust will make a big positive improvement.

Watch your oil level carefully during break-in to make sure it doesn’t dip too low. Word is that Norton is working on a fix for the breather to address the oil in the airbox issue.

You should also buy a tank protector. If you sit close to the front of the seat your jacket will rub the back of the tank without you even realizing it.
You said that you didn’t like the grip from the stock tires when cold. Check your tire pressures. I find the stock rubber to be very good, but of course you do need to ride and put a little heat into them before they are at their best.

Sorry to hear about your GoPro.
Hell, these bike are expensive enough without losing stuff on your rides. :lol:
 
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Welcome to the 961 club. If you PM me your email addy I will send you some manuals that will explain a bunch. Or go to the manuals thread and drop your email there. 5 of us did a Sunday ride from Niagara Falls Canada to Finger Lakes NY and all the way around Canandaigua Lake - If you haven't been go there, it's a great spot for motorcycles. Looks like you and I live the same distance from Finger Lakes and this was the first time I've ever been there. I was the only Norton and it was quite the mix of bikes too. One of every style. It would be cool to get a meet up one day with all the 961's in the area.


Canandaigua, NY, 961 SE
 

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