MAR 05th 2014

Norton Goes Commando

2014 Cafe Racer whets our appetite

On the face of it the 2014 edition of Norton’s 961 Cafe racer is a hard sell. The list price is £14,750, which is a lot, and power output is 80bhp, which isn’t…

As a comparison the Aprilia RSV4 superbike will supposedly deliver 178bhp at a cost of £16,496 (£92.67 per bhp), whilst the Norton offers just 80bhp for £14,750 (£184.37 per bhp). However, to consider the Norton merely in terms of how much its ponies are going to cost gets us nowhere.

For starters, despite having less than half the power of a modern superbike, the Commando is still good for 130mph, which isn’t to be sniffed at. Secondly, this is not a bike to be spanked on the twisties and on track days; it’s a bike which will be cherished and maybe even kept for a lifetime before becoming an heirloom… and perhaps spanked on just the occasional track day! Thirdly and far more importantly, it is utterly gorgeous. There’s a good chance that this is the finest-looking machine on the market today.

The 961 Cafe Racer is a seriously classy piece of design, and it manages to work well with the sexy, radially-mounted Brembo calipers and Ohlins forks; a sensible concession to modern technology on an otherwise retro machine. It manages to offer an alternative to the ubiquitous Triumph Bonneville, which is a good thing, even if it costs more.

Few bikes are higher on our ‘to ride’ list right now. Fingers crossed we can convince Norton to let us have a go when they bring one down to the Festival of Speed.

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