To call Norton Motorcycles an icon in motorcycling is similar to calling George Lucas an icon of science-fiction films – it’s a no brainer and anyone who knows anything about either industry will know the name and much of the story. Norton was on its way back to production when Kenny Dreer, legendary Norton fabricator and tuner, set up his operation in Oregon during the late 1990s.
However, things did not go as planned and the rights, designs and the Norton name were all sold to UK businessman Stuart Garner and it was moved back to its spiritual home in England. For just about two years now, the new Norton has been producing the 961 Commando and selling them to the select group of people who put their deposits down early. Now the company is preparing to bring the celebrated marque back to the US market.
The first step they announced after receiving federal government approval for the 961 Commando to roam the US roads was the hiring of former Ducati Senior Manager of Product Development Dan Van Epps as Norton Motorcycles USA CEO. Van Epps will have the duty of bringing Norton back to the frontal lobes of American riders. With the 961 Commando line of bikes, he really will not have to work too hard. After all, the UK is buying them up as fast as they are made and Norton has already had to ramp-up production just to keep pace.
Arriving in the US in May of 2011 will be the standard 961 Commando Sport, the 961 Commando Café Racer and the 961 Commando SE – all of which are powered by a 961cc fuel-injected, counter-balanced parallel-twin engine. All bikes also host numerous high-spec components including Ohlins suspension and Brembo braking workings. Given early riding reports, all Norton will have to do to put the marque back in the thick of the market is to give potential customers a ride on one…and it will sell.
US customers, get your bank accounts in shape and be ready to bring home the modern version of the indomitable Norton motorcycle – the 961 Commando.
Written by J.C. Current, Courtesy of AllAboutBikes.com