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New Norton to premier at Long Beach motorcycle show!

by Richard Backus

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 New Norton, left side
Look for the new 961 Commando SE at the Long Beach International Motorcycle Show, Dec. 4-6, 2009. 

Norton Motorcycles in England, which has relaunched the Norton brand with the new 961 Commando SE, is bringing three new Norton Commandos to display at the International Motorcycle Show in Long, Beach, Calif., Dec. 4-6, 2009, and Motorcycle Classics will be there with them, welcoming the return of one of the most storied names in motorcycling!

Ian Kerr reported on the new venture in our September/October 2009 issue, and since then Norton, under the direction and ownership of British entrepreneur Stuart Garner, has been busy putting bikes together. The first bikes started rolling off the production line October 29, and activity at the new Norton facility in Donnington Park, northeast of Birmingham in central England, is picking up.

Garner initially promised 200 bikes for 2010, but with the U.K. allocation of 150 bikes already sold out Garner is now planning on building 500 of the first series Nortons. Fifty of the first 200 machines are earmarked for the U.S. market, and South Bay Norton in Lomita, Calif., has been appointed Norton’s exclusive dealer/distributor in the U.S. South Bay is owned and operated by Matt Capri, who also runs South Bay Triumph and is well known as the founder of BMW Luftmeister, a BMW accessory company. Capri has a long history in racing, working closely with BMW in the mid-1970s when the Superbike series was launched (BMW won the first-ever Superbike race with an R90S in 1976) and regularly running his own specials at the drag strips and Salt Flats. Capri currently holds a land speed record for a 162.472mph two-way average at Bonneville on a prototype turbo-charged 2005 Triumph Bonneville.

Capri tells us Norton plans on shipping three machines for the Long Beach show – a black SE, a red SE and a yellow SE with a bikini fairing – all first-production SEs with carbon fiber wheels and adjustable suspension. Only 50 SEs (for "Special Edition") will come stateside; subsequent 961 Commandos will have spoke wheels and non-adjustable suspension.

New Norton and Stuart Garner
Norton Motorcycles owner Stuart Garner with the Commando 961 SE. 

Motorcycle Classics will be there alongside South Bay Norton, helping celebrate the reintroduction of the famous Norton brand to the U.S. with a special display of first-generation Norton Commandos. We’re working up a great booth and display, and can’t wait to see the new Nortons in the flesh. This will be the only venue for this season’s International Motorcycle Shows where you’ll be able to see the new Norton Commandos, so get yourself to Long Beach Dec. 4-6, 2009, and join us in celebrating the return of Norton to the U.S.! – Richard Backus