Norton’s Executive Director and Head of Design Simon Skinner has hinted the iconic British marque is working on supercharging it’s yet-to-be-released 650 parallel-twin.
Skinner made the comments while chatting to Cycle News about the 1200cc V4 superbike project, due to be first shown to the public at the NEC Show in Birmingham, UK, this November.
“Stuart [Garner, Norton CEO] has ideas about supercharging the 1200 V4, but we in engineering want nothing to do with that – we’ll give it to someone else to do as a relevant little project aimed at absolute performance,” says Skinner.
“Supercharging the 650cc parallel-twin spinoff from the 1200 V4 is much more interesting, and rational, and we’re working on that right now. A bike weighing 150kg (330lb) with 170bhp from a supercharged 650 twin would go like stink as well as being environmentally friendly, and better on fuel and emissions. I do think such a bike is missing in the marketplace – people want sportbikes, but fewer of them all the time want 440lb 200bhp things. Supercharging is widely misunderstood – people think it’s all about horsepower, but it’s not. It’s about torque, about acceleration, about thrilling performance.
“The biggest thing to my mind with our 650 twin will be throttle response. I want a bike that’s really light and really small, that can ride around the outside of everything on a track day and then clear off down the straights as well. We need something that operates really well on the edge of the tire and with a small throttle input, and we’ve worked so hard on our TT race bike to get that control that we’re looking forward to feeding this development back into the new 1200 V4 and 650 twin customer projects as well.”
“The great thing about modern day supercharging is that you can have variable boost controlled by the ECU. You put loads of boost on as standard, then bleed it off and on as you need it, but you do it electronically. We looked at turbocharging as well, but it’s that worry about the throttle response and the ability to get it off the line that deterred us, plus the issues of greater heat and bulk compared to a mechanical supercharger.
“Anyway, on a 650 twin you don’t want a bulky installation, so supercharging comes out on top every time, but there will be a non-supercharged 650, too, of course. This engine won’t entirely be a 1200 V4 cut in half – though probably 40 or 50 percent of the engineering is in the cylinder head and valve train, the cylinder block and the cam drive, and that’ll all be a straight transfer.
“But while obviously different the bottom end and transmission will be relatively straightforward, and then we’ll have to boost it by installing a supercharger. It’ll be the bike that Caterham and Lotus should have made with a relatively small engine but a great power to weight ratio – a superb cross-country motorcycle, not the big fat cruiser or glorified pushbike those two are making. So we’ll do it for them instead at Norton! But that 650 twin motor will have loads of different applications in normally aspirated form, such as a café racer, an urban Naked, a streetfighter, a sports tourer or a street scrambler. It’ll be an extremely versatile platform in creating a wide range of thoroughly modern Norton models.
“Back in the 1960s the 650 Norton Dominator was the bike that essentially invented today’s sportbike class, before Triumph ever came along with the Bonneville. So let’s do it again with a normally aspirated bike weighing 140kg with 100 bhp and superb handling that can go cross country faster than any 1000cc Japanese Superbike or BMW.”CN
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