Perhaps Asphalt & Rubber summed it up best, with this headline: “Norton Announces V4 Superbike, Again.”
Earlier this week, the British manufacturer announced they plan to build a V4 superbike. If that sounds familiar, it’s because they said the same thing last year in mid-August. Back then, Norton was coming fresh of a huge cash infusion from the British government, and promised their fans a 1200 cc superbike powered by a 72-degree V4 engine. Intriguing, but we haven’t heard anything since … until this week’s promise.
At that time, Norton also promised an IOMTT-friendly 650 cc sportbike, and they also reiterated that promise this week.
However, while Norton had plenty of promises (Simon Skinner, their head of design, was full of promises their bike would be a desirable luxury machine), what they did not do was show off either bike. There were no teaser shots released, only artistic renderings.
When the 1200 cc superbike was first announced, there was considerable conjecture the machine would be powered by an Aprilia motor. On their Facebook page, Norton said that wasn’t the case — they said the motor is a totally new in-house design.
Motojournalists and readers alike seemed dubious about Norton’s announcement (with some snide comments about government funding), and they also suspected the price would render the superbike unobtanium for the average riders. Maybe, maybe not — no price tag was mentioned — but Norton’s current lineup is certainly pricey. More importantly, it took a long time for the revised Commando to make it to market, with many customers unhappy over long delivery times. Norton has said they plan to unveil their new superbike this fall, with mid-2017 availability, but whether that is realistic is a good question. The first production run will be limited to 200 models anyway, which are likely easily snapped up in the UK and Euro markets, with backwater markets like Canada falling far down the priority list.
As for that 650 cc sportbike — Norton said nothing, but that they’re working on it. Maybe we’ll see something at next year’s Isle of Man?