Iconic British marque Norton is returning to racing; they’ll enter a new machine at the Isle of Man TT this year.
Don’t get all excited about seeing a Commando 961 ripping through the Mountain Circuit, though; because that motorcycle’s classic design isn’t in line with modern supersport racers, Norton has instead designed a machine with an off-the-shelf V4 motor from Aprilia stuffed into a Spondon chassis.
While some purists may complain this machine isn’t a true Norton without a vertical twin motor, it’s actually a pretty similar idea to the CRT bikes running in MotoGP right now. Besides, Spondon provided the chassis for Norton’s last race bike, and the factory’s putting an aluminum tank on the bike that should recall firebreathing Nortons from the past.
The bike will also feature Ohlins suspension front and rear, as well as Brembo brakes. The wheels are BST carbon units.
Norton isn’t saying they expect to rocket out of the gate and win the TT, even though they have reigning TT Privateer’s Champion Ian Mackman piloting the machine. Instead, they’re describing the racing project as a three-year effort; they say they’ll be happy just to finish at first, but they’d like to be on the podium by the project’s end.
The return to the Isle of Man makes sense on many levels for Norton; although they haven’t won a race there since 1992, and haven’t won regularly since long before then, they do have 43 wins at the event, going all the way back to winning the first race there in 1907. And of course, running at the TT means they don’t have to follow the homologation rules they’d face if they wanted to race British Superbike or World Superbike.