Many manufacturers claim that their bikes are ‘race developed’ but Norton are probably the only motorcycle builders in the world to use the daunting 37.73mile Isle of Man TT circuit as its primary development track.
The revived British brand is producing two new 1200cc superbikes in 2017, the £44,000 Norton V4 SS and a £29,000 V4 RR, and charismatic boss Stuart Garner says that the production machines are directly descended from the eponymously named SG5 that Australian rider David Johnson took to a 130.872mph lap in this year’s Senior TT.
Speaking of the bikes, which will be publicly unveiled at Motorcycle Live on Saturday, Garner said: “We’re very excited to be finally showing the world our new V4 and can’t wait to see what you think of it. For us, it’s an incredibly exciting bike and another chapter in Norton’s future.
“Through our experience building the business over the last seven or eight years, our recent Isle of Man TT activity, our seventh place in the Isle of Man Superbike TT earlier this year, and a near 131mph lap, we feel now is the right time to bring our own V4 to market.”
“We’re now ready to bring that Isle of Man TT race experience we’ve learnt over the last five years to Norton road riders worldwide. At the TT, we’re doing an average speed of 131mph, and it’s a road course. To be able to get the bike set-up to work at every point on the Mountain course - from 120mph sweepers to flat-out 200mph straights - has allowed us develop everything we need for a great handling road bike.
“When we say we’re race developed, we’re road race developed, and we think that’s the best way to test your road bike. Sure, some riders will take the new V4 on a track day and it will be ace for that, but it’s a very, very pure development process that we’ve done at the TT that has given us a very strong all-round road capability with the platform we’ve put together.”
While the race bike uses an Aprilia RSV4-derived engine in a Norton-built frame, the new production bikes have an all-new 72-degree, 1200cc V-twin unit that has been developed in conjunction with engine technology specialist Ricardo.
Norton say that the new V4s will take them into the exclusive 200bhp club, and Garner (pictured) says that his new bike will be a match for some of the most exotic bikes on the market. He continues: “We’ve tried to move the bar a little bit with this bike, with the chassis, the swing arm, the carbon, the electronics, and a V4 with 1200cc, banging out north of 200bhp. We’ve looked at where the competition is at today, and thought ‘how do we take that on and beat it?’ We wanted to create a bike that’s not lesser spec than the competition, but a V4 that is at least where the cream of the market is today, and then go past that. We’re confident we can go past it with some performance, we can go past it with some handling, and the electronics too. But then you get the exclusivity and the hand built British Norton. A V4 that delivers everything with a little bit more swagger, and a little bit more exclusivity than the mass market superbikes out there today, but with a hand built finish and exclusive numbers.”
While a 90-degree V is considered the best at delivering perfect engine balance without the need to use heavy balancing shafts, it is a configuration that inherently long. As a result, Norton has chosen a 72-degree V-angle to allow a more compact chassis and wheelbase. The design and engineering team also designed the engine to make it as compact as possible, including placing the starter motor and oil filter on one side, allowing the exhaust pipes to run down the opposite side of the engine so they’re tucked in, allowing the engine to be moved further forward in the chassis, improving weight distribution. It also makes for a narrower motorcycle overall.
We want the same kind of ownership experience from this bike that people get when they buy an Aston Martin. We want owners to go outside and look under the cover and dream of riding it
The V4 engine uses titanium valves, a six-speed cassette gearbox and a race-bred slipper clutch to assist with sports riding and rapid down changes along with the autoblipper system. The technology in the V4 continues with a six-axis Bosch inertial measurement unit to give the rider full control of the 200bhp TT-inspired race bike for the road using one of the most advanced electronic systems available on the market.
Norton’s Head of Design, Simon Skinner said: “It features multi-setting traction-control, anti-wheelie, engine braking strategies, cruise control and launch control along with a datalogging system for use on the track. For keen track day riders, or a sneaky run at the traffic lights, launch control is also fitted as standard.
Skinner, who was the brains behind Triumph’s brilliant Daytona 675, added: “The V4 has launch control, anti-wheelie, auto down blip gear changes, a quick shifter upshift, traction-control, fly-by-wire throttle, cruise control and it all functions through a full-colour 7” screen. We don’t think we need an infinite level of traction-control settings, it’s not about that. We have a couple of settings, or a rider can turn it off and have some fun. That’s what we’re about. The V4 is entirely our own engine developed in conjunction with Ricardo. We’ve packaged and designed the motorcycle at the same time as the engine to allow us to put everything where we want it, and it has allowed us to create an incredibly compact package. For a 1200cc, 200bhp, 72-degree V4 it’s incredibly tiny yet the riding position means bigger riders are comfortable too.”
Speaking of the styling, Skinner confirmed that he was heavily influenced by British car brands, adding: “I’ve had to go outside of motorcycles for design inspiration for this bike. From a design point of view, brands like Aston Martin, Jaguar and McLaren are leading the world, so I’ve been looking at the DB11 for instance, and the way that has developed, the way McLaren has built the P1, and what Jaguar are doing, and I’ve tried to incorporate that into a motorcycle design.
“We want the same kind of ownership experience from this bike that people get when they buy an Aston Martin. We want owners to go outside and look under the cover and dream of riding it. For us, it’s the quality of design, the materials, and the ability to do things with a motorcycle that larger companies couldn’t. I’m talking about the billet swing arm, the carbon fibre bodywork, the hand built frame. Working with bikes like our Norton Domiracer where we had a hand built aluminium tank next to carbon fibre, it was a really unique design and proposition and we’ve built on that philosophy with the V4 for a really unique experience.”
Continuing the relationship with the suppliers of the race forks for the SG5 TT race bike, the Norton V4 features fully-adjustable Ohlins NIX 30 system front forks with radially-mounted Brembo Monobloc calipers on large 330mm fully-floating front discs.
At the rear, the Norton V4 uses an Ohlins TTX GP rear shock specially designed for the Norton V4 in conjunction with the legendary suspension firm. An Ohlins steering damper is also fitted as standard.
Norton has already sold out of the 200 top-spec V4 SS models they have committed to building, but if you have £28,000 burning a hole in your back pocket and don’t mind a bit of a wait for your new bike (Norton haven’t given any release dates and will be hand building all the bikes) the ‘base’ V4 RR can still be ordered. The main difference between the two is that the RR makes do with a cast frame and swingarm, where the SS has its main components machined from aerospace spec billet.
Type: Norton 72-degree liquid-cooled V4, 1200cc. Chain-driven cams with idler gear for reduced engine height. Titanium inlet valves. Slipper clutch
Bore x Stroke: 82mm x 56.8mm
Compression Ratio: 13.6:1
Power: 200bhp + @ 12,500rpm
Torque: 130Nm @ 10,000rpm
Fuel injection: Electronic fuel-injection system. Constantly variable inlet tracts. 8-fuel injectors. Full drive-by-wire system independent of front and rear banks of cylinders for ultimate control and feel.
Euro 4: Full compliance including oil thermostat, knock sensors, secondary air injection and EVAP
INSTRUMENTS: Full-colour 7" display with multiple functions. Engine mode adjustability including: Road, Track and Pro-Race. Road modes include rear-view camera.
QUICKSHIFT: Full quickshift system and auto down blipper
ELECTRONIC AIDS: Multi-setting traction-control, wheelie control, launch control and cruise control. Uses six-axis Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU)
BUILT-IN DATALOGGER: Full data-logging capability including: lap times, max lean angle, max speed, max throttle, and max braking force.
ENGINE MODES: Road, Sport, Pro-Race
IGNITION: Keyless ignition system
TYPE: Polished aluminium twin tube Shotgun chassis.
ADJUSTABLE GEOMETRY: Chassis is fully-adjustable including swing arm pivot and adjustable rake angle. 23.9 degree steering head angle as standard set-up.
SINGLE-SIDED BILLET SWINGARM: 570mm long. Braced and underslung design developed in conjunction with SG5 TT race bike. Billet machined from 7020 billet aluminium.
DRY WEIGHT: 179kg
FRONT SUSPENSION: Ohlins NIX30 system front fork. Fully-adjustable.
REAR SUSPENSION: Ohlins TTXGP Norton bespoke fully-adjustable rear shock.
STEERING DAMPER: Ohlins damper
FORK YOKES: Billet machined top and bottom
FRONT WHEEL: Choice of carbon or forged wheels depending on spec
REAR WHEEL: Choice of carbon-fibre or forged wheels depending on spec/colour
FRONT BRAKE: Dual 330mm full-floating discs. Radially-mounted Brembo Monobloc calipers. Brembo discs, and Brembo master cylinder
REAR BRAKE: Single 330mm disc. Brembo caliper and master-cylinder
BODYWORK: Full-carbon-fibre bodywork. Available in either bare carbon-fibre, or chrome with air-brushed Union Jack on the tail unit.
LIGHTING: Full LED lighting system including super bright low beam andhigh beam, angel eye DRLs, rear lamps and indicators
FUEL TANK: MotoGP-style 18-litre fuel tank is all carbon-fibre, with Kevlar reinforcement and chemically coated internally to meet fuel resistance standards. Underside of tank forms part of upper airbox.
FOOTRESTS: Billet foot rests, billet pedals and billet sprocket cover supplied on SS model. Forged foot controls on the V4 RR.
OPTIONAL: Full titanium race system supplied with aftermarket tune, approx 8kg lighter and approx 10bhp more.