Norton Commando: 850 Versus 961
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Just how was it?
A key element for modern re-creations of much-loved models of days gone by is how faithfully they recapture the spirit, as well as the looks, of the original. That’s been a no-brainer with the Royal Enfield Bullet, essentially a further development of the original, whether built in Redditch, England, or Madras, India. But Triumph’s twin-cam multi-valve Bonneville owes little to its pushrod two-valve 1960s namesake that debuted more than 50 years ago, other than its overall architecture and clever John Mockett styling. So in applauding the creation of the new Norton Commando 961, how much are today’s customers for such a bike being seduced by the undoubtedly spot-on styling concocted by American Commando specialist Kenny Dreer, who created the prototype in his Oregon workshop before Norton was purchased by Garner? How closely does riding today’s two-valve air/oil-cooled Norton pushrod parallel twin — with its 270-degree let’s-pretend-I’m-a-V-twin crankshaft — compare to the 1970s original of identical format, but with a traditional two-up 360-degree crank format? MC
Order the January/February 2012 issue of Motorcycle Classics to read more about the Clash of the Commandos, including a road tests by Alan Cathcart. Contact Customer Service at (800) 880-7567 or contact us by email.
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