Norton’s sexy twins on display at the NEC show

Norton Atlas Nomad
Norton Atlas Nomad

OKAY, they’re not *all* massively sexy. But ‘well-priced twins with seemingly-appropriate performance levels’ doesn’t do so well on ‘the Google’. Or so we’re told.

Anyway, slightly over-egged headlines aside, here, we have a pair of new Norton road bikes, the Atlas Nomad and the Atlas Ranger, plus a £20k mega-specced road-legal supertwin racer, the Superlight. New machinery, made in Britain, with decent specs can never be a bad thing. And while the revived Norton brand has had its troubles in recent years with delivering on certain promises, this looks fairly promising.

Norton Atlas Ranger
Norton Atlas Ranger

The new Atlas twins are a pair of 650cc roadsters, with sort-of retro scrambler-y styling. Both use a new parallel twin engine, based on the firm’s planned V4 1200 motor from the RR superbike. Making a twin like that obviously lets a firm double up on the investment in cylinder head design, and the whole top end down to the rods can be largely the same as on the V4. So the bore is the same as on the 1200, at 82mm, but the new crank has a longer stroke, up to 61.5mm. The crank is also a 270° design, so the firing order will be similar to a 90° V-twin, which is nice. Four-valve heads, DOHC, ride-by-wire throttles and Euro4 emissions compliance is all very well, and slightly dull, but what you have to do these days. The engine is bolted into a steel tube frame, with ‘Norton Roadholder’ (whatever the hell that is) suspension either end, and Brembo stoppers on the wire-spoked wheels.

Claimed power is alright at 84bhp@11,000rpm, and they also have a Norton ‘Superlight’ supertwin racer on the way. It’s got a much higher-tuned motor, making 105bhp, Ohlins suspension, Brembo M50 brakes and BST carbon wheels. There’s also carbon bodywork and a single-sided rear swingarm, woo. It’s nearly £20k though, which is a fair chunk of change, but for a 158kg, 105bhp supertwin racer-for-the-road, it’s actually probably pretty fair.

The Superlight is clearly a racer for the road. Indeed, as we write this, we see online rumours that a certain Mr Jonny Towers is set to develop just such a beastie alongside Norton, with John McGuinness riding, so expect even more patriotic fervour at the TT next year.

The road bikes are priced pretty well too. Just £9,995 for the base level Atlas Nomad and £11,995 for the Atlas Ranger, which comes with even more of an off-road scrambler look, including longer-travel suspension. Dry weight for both is around 178kg – again, decent numbers.

The most important question remains of course, will they be good at wheelies? We’ll just have to wait and see…