Whitham buys a Norton

Yorkshire’s answer to the National Motorcycle Museum decides to add another bike to his personal collection

UK MOTORCYCLE sales may be down almost 44 per cent but that hasn’t stopped Visordown’s Jams Whitham, a man widely known for his short arms and deep pockets, from splashing out £13,500 of his own wedge on a new Norton Commando 961 Café Racer.

The former BSB Champion turned journalist and TV presenter, coughed up for the new Norton after seeing the new machine in the flesh at this year’s Carole Nash Motorcycle Show.

“I’d not gone with a view to buying owt,” said Whitham in his charismatic Huddersfield drawl. “But I had a look at the Norton stand and was pretty impressed by what I saw.”

Whitham, a former World Supersport competitor, said he’d been brought up with the iconic British brand, claiming his father was ‘a Norton man’. “I’ve kinda been brought up with ’em,” said Whit.

“Nowadays, you know, most people, they’re like Suzuki, or Yamaha men. Well, my dad, he was a Norton fella, so I’ve been brought up with ’em from a nipper.”

The Norton name has been rekindled by businessman Stuart Garner, who’s set up shop at Donington Park circuit, where he employs a team of dedicated craftsmen to build the new 85bhp machines.

The company’s line up features the standard 961 Commando, a Sport version and the tricked up Café Racer model, for those looking for something extra special. The Café Racer’s built around the company’s new £9500 Norton Commando but has a few extra goodies to justify the £13,500 price tag.

The front-end gets a set of fully adjustable Ohlins USD forks, with radial-mounted Brembo Monobloc calipers and discs. At the rear the Cafe Racer gets twin Ohlins, to complement the front. The bike sits on black anodised, alloy-rimmed 17-inch wire spoke wheels.

“I like what they’ve done,” says Whit. “There’s some lovely attention to detail, like the timing case cover and the canted-forward engine. This finish is spot-on, too. I’ve gone for silver and black with red pinstriping.”

British and World Superbike star Chris Walker, who currently works for Norton as their Sales Manager, told Whit to expect his new machine in around three months.

“I’ll get it just in time for Spring 2010, when all the salt’s been washed off the roads,” a clearly very excited Whit told Visordown. “I’m pretty much done wi’ sportbikes on’t road. They’re too f%&*ing much for an old fart like me.”

The old fart had no further announcements to make regarding his acquisition plans as Visordown went to press.

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