Norton design 650cc twin for Chinese firm

Is this the next step in China’s quest to build better motorcycles?

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Norton have announced an agreement with Chinese motorcycle manufacturer Zongshen to produce a brand new 650cc engine that has been designed by the iconic British brand. 

Find out what Norton boss Stuart Garner had to say when he spoke to MCN

The engine will be produced under a ‘Design and Licence’ deal by Zongshen that will allow the Chinese manufacturer to produce and use the engines in its motorcycles.

It will be a 650cc parallel-twin that was developed between Norton and global engineering specialists Ricardo, designed to the requirements of Zongshen.


The engine will be Euro4 compliant, which means the likely hood of seeing it in the UK, under the Zongshen or Zongshen Cyclone Racing branding, in the near-future is quite high. 

Norton CEO, Stuart Garner said, “It’s a great endorsement of our new 650cc engine platform and shows the high level of engineering expertise we have here at Norton. Working with Zongshen going forwards will enable them to deliver high quality low emission engines compliant to current global standards. 

“The commercialisation of our IP is a key area for Norton and we will be investing the substantial revenue received back into our skills, training and engineering capability, thus ensuring long term sustainability to our British made Norton motorcycles here in the UK.”

How is this good for Chinese bikes?

The move marks a very interesting transition for Zongshen and should help to increase credibility for Chinese motorcycles – which have had a chequered history with a perception by the wider motorcycling community for not being that inspiring.

All about the millions

Although the costs relating to the agreement is unknown, a statement from Norton makes comment that the initial consideration paid to the British firm were in the ‘millions of dollars’ range.

The agreement has a term of 20 years that will see a royalty paid to Norton on each engine produced by Zongshen. Last year alone the Chinese firm produced around 4 millionengines. 

Norton V4 motorcycle

Although there’s no current confirmation on which bikes the 650cc engine will be used in, Norton are keen to point out that they will still be producing all of their own engines by hand for their motorcycles here in their Donington Hall UK factory.

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James Archibald

By James Archibald

Former MCN Junior Web Producer