Paulo Avelino, the Real-Life Goyo, Rides This British Classic

Paulo Avelino rides a Norton Commando 961 café racer.
IMAGE Koji Arboleda

Gregorio del Pilar is remembered by history for many things and in as many ways. But one constant aspect of his legacy is that he is consistently depicted on horseback, and was even known to show off his skillful horsemanship to the women who admired him. This is why Paulo Avelino, who will reprise his role as the Boy General in the upcoming Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral, had to take horse-riding lessons as part of the production.

But in real life, Avelino defers to a different steed: his Norton Commando 961 Café MkII. It's a handsome way to get around, and like his character, Avelino has every right to show it off. Check it out:

Paulo Avelino rides a Norton Commando 961 Café Racer MkII, which he usually takes up to Tagaytay or down to Tanay. IMAGE: Koji Arboleda

Avelino's ride is a modern iteration of the Norton Commando, a motorcycle by the British manufacturer Norton-Villiers that was first released in 1967. At the time, the Commando was the natural, 750 cc evolution of the Norton Model 7 from the 1940s, which was designed by renowned motorcycle engineer Bert Hopwood.


The Commando was eventually discontinued in 1977, after being driven to extinction by the prevalence of Japanese motorcycle manufacturers. But within the decade that it was in production, the Commando saw over 500,000 units made, several evolutions, and worldwide acclaim. It was even crowned "Machine of The Year" by British publication Motor Cycle News for five consecutive years, from 1968 to 1972. It was a lean, mean British classic.

Through the decades that followed, there were several disputed attempts to revive Norton and the Commando. But it wasn't until 2010—after Norton had been reestablished and moved to a new factory in Donington Park, Leicestershire—that the Commando truly came back to life as the Commando 961, designed by Simon Skinner. There are three versions of this new Commando 961: a special edition, a café racer, and a sport model.

Paulo Avelino happens to own the café racer version, which was the most specifically designed to replicate the classic stylishness of old-school British motorcycles. You might find him taking it around Metro Manila, for quick trips and coffee runs (what's a café racer if you can't take it to a café, after all), but in his downtime, he also occasionally takes it down to Tanay, Rizal or up to Tagaytay for more leisurely riding.

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