Norton Taking Orders for 2007 Commando Motorcycles

Anticipating production for 2007, Norton Motorsports Inc. has announced that it will start accepting deposits for its born-again Commando 961 and 961S models. Bruce Murdock, President and CEO, and Kenny Dreer, Founder and CTO, have posted a message on the company's website that invites potential buyers to place "reservations for all 2007 production models including the Commando Signature Series, the Commando 961S and 961." This, the message says, will help enable the company to predict demand. The Gladstone, Oregon-based company says it will place the $500 deposits in an escrow account.

The Norton message adds, "This is a great opportunity to become a partner in the rebirth of the Commando, as your reservation will to help us take the next steps into the future of Norton Motorcycles."

To date, the company has worked on developing an air-cooled 961cc vertical-twin engine with pushrod valve operation and a chome-moly chassis with an aluminum swingarm to house. The look the motorcycles closely resembles that of the NVT Nortons of the 1970s. The limited Signature Series model is currently priced at $19,995. Other production models are currently listed at prices ranging from $11,000 to $13,200.

Despite the company's rosy predictions, its future is far from assured. It continues to seek funding for continued development and preparations for production. Failure to acquire continued funding has spoiled the plans of many would-be motorcycle makers. The most difficult financial hurdle seems to come when the company actually goes into production and needs to pay for all the costs that entails from purchasing raw materials and components, to setting up systems for everything from dealer training to warranty claims to ongoing R&D.; The income from initial sales is rarely more than a small portion of these new costs. This was the transition that tripped up Excelsior-Henderson and the last iteration of Indian.

It may also be years before a new motorcycle company is actually printing black ink on its financial statements. For example, even though it produced its first motorcycles in 1998, Victory has still not seen a positive cash flow and has only survived because it is part of a much larger corporation, Polaris Industries, which has been able to absorb the cash drain while it has corrected issues with early models, developed new ones and reached a level where demand for its products approaches the point where it will be profitable.