Norton Commando 961 Sport: Coming to the U.S. soon?
We’ve been pretty quiet about developments at the revived Norton Motorcycles in England, headed up by businessman Stuart Garner, mostly because there hasn’t been much news coming out of the U.K.-based company. Importantly, Norton recently announced it has finally cleared one the biggest hurdles to entering the U.S. market, EPA certification, and is on track to deliver 2013 Commando 961s.
Norton Motorcycles announced the news in a press release dated November 8, calling U.S. EPA certification “it’s most important U.S. milestone.” The U.S. market has been viewed by many as critical to Norton’s success, making this a piece of good news in a revival that in many ways seems to have had as many ups as downs. Launched in 2008, the revived Norton Motorcycles has been struggling under the labor of bad press, much of it claiming that financial and organizational problems have been keeping Norton from delivering bikes to the public as promised. Norton originally hoped to have bikes in production by 2009, but it took another year for the first bikes to start rolling out of the firm’s Donington Park factory. We reported on Norton’s efforts to get EPA certification in February 2011, when the company predicted certification by April, with bikes heading to U.S. customers by April or May.
The news of EPA certification was preceded by a press release from the company claiming record production during October. No numbers were given. The company has been delivering completed motorcycles to some European customers, and currently has a Commando 961 SF (for “Sport Factory”) on view at the NEC Motorcycle Live show outside of Birmingham, England. The SF, which appears to be basically a 961 Café Racer with black chrome exhaust and other detail differences, will be on display at NEC through December 2.
Norton claims production of U.S.-spec models “is ready to begin” but has yet to give any date for delivery of the first bikes to these shores. We’re still crossing our fingers that Norton will finally deliver bikes to our shores, and better yet that we’ll finally get a chance to sample one once delivery begins in earnest. Stay tuned. – Richard Backus