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Moving the Norton 961 Forward

Discussion in 'Norton Motorcycles (Modern)' started by TonyA, Aug 1, 2015.

  1. Britfan60

    Britfan60 VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2014
    I live on Long Island not to far from Gold Coast. Sentiment out here about them is dismal at best, even before the sale. Hey. They had what I wanted, so that was the risk I took. I also can't put all of the customer service blames on them. They only deal the "exotics" for the most part. Can't blame the dealership for delays if the manufacturers are not sending them the parts. I'm going back to straighten out my crankcase oil leak issues at the end of the season or sooner. Oct. or Nov. and have to go back to my little 49HP 79 Bonnie for a while. I'm hoping to get it back by March or April, although my confidence level is low. Its off warranty in May.

    As for the Dyno HP results. 67 RWHP and 80 at the crank? I'll take it. The Triumph retros are only 68 at the crank and 52 at the rear wheel. We knew this wasn't a superbike when we bought it and it performs like a beast for what it is. I'm happy. Besides, those Brembos and Ohlins are magnificent.
     
  2. BritTwit

    BritTwit VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2009
    Apples and oranges, really.
    Acceleration, handling, braking no comparison, the 961 will smoke my 850.
    On the super slab, I can tune the Olins suspension to be comfy and smooth, and still precise.
    On the back roads, my Mk3 needs new isolastics so probably not a fair comparison, but smoke city again.
    No leaks to worry about other than minor airbox dribble, my engine is oil tight.
    No issues with the electrics at all.
    50 mpg with my remap. Was getting 54 mpg before.
    I also can “cruise” at indicated 90 with my sportbike buddies on my 961. I’m not suggesting that owners would want to do this, but I would never try that with my MK3. My 961 has an SBN exhaust, and remap so it's not entirely stock.
    I would say the 850 has a better seating position than the forward lean on my Café racer 961. If I had to do it over again I would have bought the 961 SF or Sport with handlebars.
    The 850 has better low RPM torque. I love the locomotive torque of the 850. The 961 has strong midrange torque. From there on, the 961 performance is superior in every way.
    The 961 has a buzziness around 4000-4500 RPM, but it’s annoying, not serious vibration. Why they balanced the engine that way I don’t understand because 4000 RPM in 5th gear is indicated 70mph. The area many rides spend most of their time in on the highway.

    Of course, I don't know how a CNW build, or Dreer VR880 in peek form would do against the 961.
    G81 has a couple or CNW builds, he can probably provide a good comparison.
     
  3. DBono

    DBono

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2014
    Agree with BritTwit. No comparison. My 850 Commando is well sorted with upgraded brakes and shocks, but it doesn't come close to the performance of the 961.

    And, I regularly take off on the 961 for long rides through Northern California back roads without the anxiety that comes with older Brit bikes. When I take out the 850, I tend to stick close to home, just in case. Comfort-wise, the 961 Café fits me better than my 850 Commando. My 850 would likely benefit from rear sets. Always feels like my feet are too far forward, though the Roadster tank helps that some by allowing you to ride closer to the bars (have both Interstate and Roadster set-ups).

    I have also owned a modern Triumph T-100 which was modified a la Thruxton. Enjoyed the bike, but the performance left something to be desired. Stock shocks on the modern Bonnies are terrible. Handled much better with RaceTech Gold Valves and upgraded springs, but still not as agile and precise as the 961. Although weight was not too different, the 961 carries its weight lower so that it feels much lighter.

    Overall performance wise, I tend to think of my 961 as in the same league as my Triumph 675 Daytona and Ducati 916, though both bikes do have noticeably more peak power than the 961. Mid range torque and handling are more similar, and the sport bike handling. I tend to think of my 850 as being more comparable to my other classics and perhaps one of the most rideable classics around.
     
  4. TonyA

    TonyA VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2015
    [​IMG]

    There , How is that ? Don't thank me all at once.
     
  5. Britfan60

    Britfan60 VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2014
    Thank you. Much easier to read at a vertical sitting position that a horizontal lying on the desk position. :roll:
     
  6. TonyA

    TonyA VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2015

    FROM BIKEZ.com

    2014 Triumph Thruxton
    69HP @ 7400 RPM
    50.9 ft/lbs Torque @ 5800 RPM
    230KG/507 lbs Weight with gas and oil
    32.3 in. Seat Height
    58.7" /1490mm Wheelbase

    2014 Norton Commando 961
    80HP @ 7700 RPM
    66.4 Ft/Lbs Torque @ 6000 RPM
    203 KG /447.5 Lbs Weight with gas and oil
    32 in Seat Height
    55.9" /1420mm Wheelbase

    1970 Norton Commando 750
    60HP @ 6800
    troque 47 ft lbs ??
    195 KG /429 lbs Weight with gas and oil
    32 in Seat Height
    57" / 1448 mm Wheelbase

    I owned all of these bikes at one time , I currently do not have the 1970 Commando , But I feel this was my fastest Vintage Commando (quickest quarter mile). I currently have a 1973 850 and a 1972 750 Commando. Without modifications , the Vintage Commando IS NOT in the same class as the current 961, Chassis or Engine. In fact Eddie, it is not even close. In comparison to my Thruxton , the Norton 961 feels like 80 LBS less weight. It is only 60 lbs lighter according to the specifications from BIKEZ.com. I still desire to keep and ride the Thruxton and it is a great bike. It may be sold for the New Bonneville/Thruxton liquid cooled (maybe). Come on folks , We are talking about a 40 - 45 year old Bike here !!!
     
  7. worntorn

    worntorn

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2006
    The original Commandos don't act their age.
    I am always pleasantly surprised when getting off the 161 HP(149 + 12 for TORS pipe and tune) , 422 lb 955i Daytona and onto the 850 MK3 Commando. The 955i has enough horsepower and torque to blow a 961 or an 850 Commando into the weeds if fully used. Nonetheless, the old 850 still feels very strong, mainly from 3,000 rpm to about 5,000 rpm, which is where a lot of road riding happens on that bike.
    I find I am forever downshifting the Triumph to get max boost, no need to with the old 850. Of course the Triumph is ultimately quicker if the upper rev range is utilized, but it is amazing to me how quickly one can navigate through twisty mountain roads on the old 850 Commando, just using that great ball of low to mid torque when pulling out of the corners.

    Glen
     
  8. Fast Eddie

    Fast Eddie VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2013
    Hey Tony, don't let me mislead anyone here, I'm not knocking the new Nortons or a anything like that at all.

    I'm just saying, there are folk on here with 'old' Commandos putting out more than 67 RWHP. And weighing A LOT less than a new one...

    Hence my original question was about a well tuned (ie modified) old Commando...

    And I'm kinda still of the opinion that it would be interesting to put them back to back. Of course, the new one will feel infinitely more refined, and that could never be reversed. But, despite the age gap, IF an old one has similar or even more power, and a lot less weight, and good chassis and brake upgrades, it will be on a par / better, performance wise.

    And note, I said IF... !
     
  9. BritTwit

    BritTwit VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2009
    The 850's low and midrange torque is sweet for sure. No doubt due to the heavy crank and 89mm stroke. It's the reason I love the bike. It's part locomotive. The 961's low rpm torque is quite different. More like the Hinckley twins, but the mid range on the 961 is superior. the 961 has only a 5 speed gearbox, but there is no downshifting required for passing acceleration on the rode. twisting the throttle above 4500 rpm, for me, produces the same locomotive style torque as the 850's at lower rpm. Above 5000 rpm performance is very good, and suprirising so for only 80HP. While I'm sure that a properly setup 850 with new isolatics, headsteady, fork work, and swingarm work would handle nicely, the 961 chassis is in a different class. I would say that around town, 20-35 mph my 850 is a bit more maneuverable, with more steering lock, and a bit lower center of gravity than the 961. Out on the road, the 961's handling is impeccable, and can be adjusted to your preference.

    I don't think it takes more than a few moments to see that the 961 with a lighter, pressed together crank, with 79mm stroke is going to perform differently that a vintage 850. Both are sufficiently different from one another that I can enjoy both for their individual strengths. I think a good comparison would be a CNW 850 vs 961. I'd love to see a comparison on the road, then a track day matchup.
     
  10. BPHORSEGUY

    BPHORSEGUY

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2013
    I have owned and ridden several older Norton's and they simply are not in the same league as a 961 even if highly modified.

    In regards to dynos my 961 made 74 hp and 61 ft-lbs iirc and will be different on every dyno.
     
  11. Fast Eddie

    Fast Eddie VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2013
    Well I've never ridden a 961 BPHORSEGUY so will have to bow to your experience here sir.

    Would love to though, so if anyone near-ish to Oxford, England has a 961 and fancies meeting up for a ride swap with my JS Motorsport / cNw equipped 'old' Commando, then please let me know.
     
  12. TonyA

    TonyA VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2015
    Hello Fast Eddie , Wouldn't it be easier if you just told us all the things you have done to your bike/bikes ? All of the hard work and research you did , and the money you spent to get it that way ? Tell us about the power and show us the dyno graphs . Its people like you that I have admired and have kept me interested in Norton all of these years . Why does it have to be us or them , aren't we all on the same team ? And don't you think that one day the Norton 961 could be your next platform ? That's what the 961 represents to me , a strong , reliable , easy to care for package. I know it is expensive and not everyone that wants one can buy it. It would be great if the 961 was the same price as a Thruxton , wouldn't it ? How long have you been riding/racing your Nortons ? I bought my first Commando in 1978 and I still have it ! I can imagine a day when Jim Schmidt will work the magic on the 961 , all of the others too.
     
  13. Fast Eddie

    Fast Eddie VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2013
    Hey Tony "wouldn't it be easier if I just told you" ... Well there's not much to say that hasn't already been said matey! I put some details in a description here: pictures-your-norton-commandos-t6210-810.html and in a thread titled "engine build prep" which ended up waffling on about the whole build.

    I nearly bought a 961 a while ago, but (right or wrong) got put off by the negative feedback (and not just from on here). So, I decided to save a small fortune and buy an old one as a fun runaround. I then proceeded to get characteristically carried away and have probably spent just as much on my old one !!

    So as far as I'm concerned, we are definitely all on the 'same team' ... Hence it would be good to compare hardware.

    But finally, and importantly, please do not confuse me with someone who knows what they're talking about re Nortons! This is my first Commando and everything I know about them has been gleaned from the real experts on this forum and by talking to the likes of Norman White and Roger at RGM.
     
  14. Britfan60

    Britfan60 VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2014
    cNw equipped Norton? Colorado Norton Works is international? Tell ya what. For about half the price of a cNw Norton, you can get a new Commando 961. Don't get me wrong.....I drool and long for a cNw. Just can't afford one. :cry:
     
  15. Fast Eddie

    Fast Eddie VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2013
    Neither can I ...

    "cNw equipped" means that I bought a lot of bits from Matt that I incorporated into my DIY build.
     
  16. Britfan60

    Britfan60 VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2014
    I'm sure I'd love your bike too.
     
  17. G81 Can Cycle

    G81 Can Cycle VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2012
    Well 2/3 of a CNW will get you a 961 SF. I know this for a fact? LOL Build 99 was about $32K with $2K donor bike. #99 has fullauto head worked by Comstock, Kehein flat slide pumpers, it cost about $4K more for those goodies. But it is the only vintage Norton I own that comes close to the 961 as far as performance. I will be getting my Interstate back from Matt in October at Barber. It will be build #119. Previous to sending it out to CNW, Matt did the paint work, and I added lots of CNW pieces (Brembo front brake, hyd clutch, billet primary cover, head steady, braided oil lines, billet headlight mounts, CNW turn signals, and on) But it never looked as good as #99. So I sent it to Matt and got a award for best donor bike LOL. Can't wait to ride it.

    It is a toss up now as to which bike is my favorite to ride. The 961 or Build 99. Build 99 has such great torque down low, and with the reduced flywheel weight (belt drive) and pumper carbs, it jumps out of corners. On spirited rides with other vintage Norton owners, they are amazed at the throttle response out of the corners. Even though I love the 961, I think my favorite steed in the shed is the CNW (I guess I should not say that on the 961 forum LOL)
     

    Attached Files:

  18. TonyA

    TonyA VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2015
    It was great to see TC Christenson in the link you included Ed . Nice carbs by the way .
     
  19. Fast Eddie

    Fast Eddie VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2013
    Britfan: thanks, I quite like it too, although it is still work in progress (when are they not?)!

    Tony: the carbs really are quite fantastic instruments, I am totally sold on them!
     
  20. Britfan60

    Britfan60 VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2014
    That is absolutely stunning. No shame in having a vintage be your favorite in the paddock. :)
     

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