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The Cafe Racer Goes Mainstream

After the release of the Norton 961 Commando in 2009, other manufacturers decided to put together their own versions of the classic “tonup” machines and design and market “off the shelf” modern Cafe Racers.

With the advent of the Norton Commando 961 Cafe Racer, Moto Guzzi V7 Racer, Ace 904 Thruxton Special, Hyde Harrier Jubilee and Royal Enfield Clubman, it was official that the cafe racer culture qualified as a mainstream alternative to the traditional culture of the American motorcycling.

So what is a cafe racer?

For a classic example from the birth of the cafe racer counterculture, you must look back to the British Isles. Riders raced from the Ace Cafe on the North Circular Road in London to the Hanger Lane junction and back again before a song playing on the jukebox ended as a demonstration of their prowess and daring. If you doubt the difficulty of that feat, consider that many songs of that era ran a touch over  two minutes in length and that was all the time the best riders needed to make the three-mile round trip…

There was one guy who distilled the essence of the breed down to a nice quartet of sentences:

“Some people will tell you that slow is good – and it may be, on some days – but I am here to tell you that fast is better. I’ve always believed this, in spite of the trouble it’s caused me. Being shot out of a cannon will always be better than being squeezed out of a tube. That is why God made fast motorcycles, Bubba….”

– Hunter S. Thompson




General information
Model: Norton Commando 961 Cafe Racer
Year: 2011
Category: Classic
Rating: 64.4 out of 100. Show full rating and compare with other bikes
Engine and transmission
Displacement: 961.00 ccm (58.64 cubic inches)
Engine type: Twin, four-stroke
Engine details: Parallel twin with push-rod valve actuation, dry sump, 3 bearing crank and balancer shaft.
Power: 80.00 HP (58.4 kW)) @ 6500 RPM
Torque: 90.00 Nm (9.2 kgf-m or 66.4 ft.lbs) @ 5200 RPM
Bore x stroke: 88.0 x 79.0 mm (3.5 x 3.1 inches)
Valves per cylinder: 2
Fuel system: Injection
Ignition: Crank fired
Lubrication system: Dry sump
Cooling system: Air
Gearbox: 5-speed
Transmission type,
final drive:
Clutch: Wet multi-plate hydraulic lifter
Driveline: 525 “O” ring chain
Emission details: Euro 3 compliant with electronic fuel injection and multiple 3 way catalytic converter
Exhaust system: Café Racer Sports Exhaust.
Chassis, suspension, brakes and wheels
Frame type: Steel tubular with integral oil tank
Rake (fork angle): 24.5°
Front suspension: 43mm Ohlins USD – Adjustable preload, compression and rebound damping.
Front suspension travel: 115 mm (4.5 inches)
Rear suspension: Ohlins reservoir-style twin shocks – Adjustable ride height, reload, compression and rebound
Rear suspension travel: 110 mm (4.3 inches)
Front tyre dimensions: 120/70-17
Rear tyre dimensions: 180/55-17
Front brakes: Double disc. Full Brembo system, twin semi-floating hi carbon stainless steel discs, Brembo 4 piston “Gold Line” axial callipers
Front brakes diameter: 320 mm (12.6 inches)
Rear brakes: Single disc. Full Brembo system, 2 piston “Gold Line” calliper
Rear brakes diameter: 220 mm (8.7 inches)
Wheels: Front wheel: 36 spoke 3.50 x 17” Black Rim. Rear wheel: 40 spoke 5.0 x 17” Black Rim
Physical measures and capacities
Dry weight: 188.0 kg (414.5 pounds)
Weight incl. oil, gas, etc: 204.0 kg (449.7 pounds)
Power/weight ratio: 0.4255 HP/kg
Seat height: 813 mm (32.0 inches) If adjustable, lowest setting.
Wheelbase: 1,420 mm (55.9 inches)
Fuel capacity: 17.03 litres (4.50 gallons)
Oil capacity: 3.30 litres (0.22 quarts)
Other specifications
Starter: Electric
Instruments: Norton electronic analogue speedo and tachometer
Color options: Black/gold, Red/gold, yellow/black, silver/red/back


Insuring your collectible or vintage motorcycle

As for insurance for your collectible motorcycle? You should be able to get Agreed Value coverage on a classic 1959 BSA Gold Star Catalina valued at $15,000 for somewhere around $25 a month, and that gives you the whole shooting match of coverage.

You can spend a lot less, but if you plan to ride the bikes in your collection, the above pricing is a reasonable approximation of what you can expect to pay.

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