What do you do if you’re a tiny British motorcycle company making mega-expensive parallel-twin throwbacks, struggling with funding, but still want to compete in the Isle of Man TT? Well, you call up your old friends at Piaggio, ask nicely for an RSV4 SBK motor, then commission English chassis legends Spondon to build you a bespoke frame. Hand paint the Norton logo on the raw aluminum tank and call it a day.
“We will be genuinely happy to come home with a solid finish this year,” says Norton ceo Stuart Garner. “Any position would be a bonus. Over three years we would like to be in a position to be podium competitive, although we understand that it is a huge mountain to climb, and we have our work cut out to achieve this.”
If you think the bike you see here appears startlingly close to one of Aprilia’s CRT bikes, you’re not alone. Unlike those MotoGP competitors though, Norton appears to be doing without APRC or other electronics (no wheel speed sensors) and both the components (SBK-spec Ohlins rather than GP-spec) and chassis geometry appear less track-focussed than those of the CRT teams. Makes sense, the 36.6-mile TT Mountain Course is a real road with real road bumps and weather and limitations. Still, this is about as close to a GP bike as you’re going to see in real road racing.