2015 Norton Commando 961 Sport - DYNO TEST

At long last, we get the “new” Norton Commando on the Cycle World dyno.

The last time we dynoed any kind of Norton Commando that could be considered "new" was when we ran the final prototype built by Kenny Dreer and crew at Norton America in Oregon circa 2006. That bike was running carburetors and far from being compliant with emissions regulations in force at the time. That black bike made 75 horsepower at the rear wheel.

Here we are nearly 10 years later. Englishman Stuart Garner bought the remains of Norton America including prototypes and drawings, took the whole lot to the UK and has finally set up permanent shop at Donnington Hall.

This 2015 Norton 961 Commando is a new motorcycle, says Garner, using the Dreer-era designs but “everything has been changed.” The 2015 retains the 270-degree crank, gear-driven balance shaft, but uses EFI, catalysts and a pair of larger, very quiet mufflers and is road-legal in the US. This is a so-called Mark II engine, using Nikasil-plated aluminum cylinder bores (rather than iron liners pressed into alloy) and lots of detail changes for improved refinement and reliability.

How did it do on the dyno? The 961cc engine with 88.0 x 79.0mm produced 70.8 horsepower and 58.7 pound-feet of torque, with 50 pound-feet available from 2500 rpm to about 7500 rpm. Despite having an 8000-rpm redline indicated on the analog tachometer, the engine's rev-limiter cuts in at about 7750 rpm. This is about 15-horsepower down from an air-cooled Ducati Monster 1000 or Ducati SportClassic 1000, which we have measured circa-2006 in the 85-horsepower range.

For historical reference, I dynoed my personal 1974 Norton 850 Commando, which cranked out 46.6 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 44.3 pound-feet at 4600 rpm, stock airbox, Amal Concentric carburetors and all. Though I did cheat and have a Tri-Spark electronic ignition.

2015 Norton Commando 961 Sport dyno chart
2015 Norton Commando 961 Sport dyno chart.Cycle World