Simon Skinner is head of design at Norton, and the man from whose brain this stunning new Norton was born. He spoke exclusively to MCN last week at the Donington Hall factory last week, when we also spoke to Norton CEO Stuart Garner, about his vision for the V4.
“Getting the geometry of the bike right was a massive challenge, especially as we wanted to make it a 1200,” says Skinner. “It’s a really tricky packaging challenge to get the weight distribution right while using a big V4. From day one we had to get everyone on board to make an engine and package as small as possible.
Norton V4 RR & SS highlights
- All-new Norton V4 British-built engine
- All-carbon fibre bodywork
- Carbon fibre fuel tank
- Carbon fibre wheels (SS)
- TT developed chassis
- 7" high-def dash with rear-view camera
- Full electronics package
“You have to start with the end game, then work your way back to achieve it. I had to get Ricardo to stick a square peg in a round hole so that we could build a really compact superbike. And moving to our own engine changed the game massively.
“The Aprilia V4 engine is a 65-degree, ours is 72. Their engine is a 1000cc, ours is a 1200cc. The layout of our engine is very different to theirs, and we’ve used a lot of engineering tricks to make ours more compact. Even though it’s 20% bigger in capacity, with a bigger V-angle, it’s the same size as Aprilia’s in profile.
“Ideally what we needed was a 90-degree V, so you can ditch the balancer shaft, but then you end up with really weird chassis geometry. So the 72-degree is a compromise between chassis geometry, weight distribution and engine performance. A slightly wider V, like ours, also gives a better looking engine, and that’s important further down the line so we can make a naked version. I wanted the engine to be beautiful in its own right.
“The electronics are still in development, but electronics won’t make a bad bike good, they can only make a good one better. So you need a good fundamental bike beneath you, and that’s what we’ve developed at the Isle of Man.
“But this isn’t the TT bike with lights bolted on – this was a clean-sheet design. So while this bike came from everything we learnt with the SG5, this is a completely different bike, and will become the basis of next year’s TT bike.
“Engine-wise the output had to begin with a 2. Whether it’s 205, 206, 210bhp – it doesn’t make much difference, but it has to start with a 2. The race system on this bike will give it another 10bhp. The standard road system will have a twin underseat exhaust, and is Euro4 compliant.
“I lost the most sleep over making sure that we could deliver this level of motorcycle from a supply chain and quality point of view, because this really does raise the game for Norton.
“We’ve completely gone to town on making everything real, I don’t want it to be fake style like a new Thruxton R, we had to go another step to make everything a level above. We’ve mixed proper engineering with high technology.
“The Dominator is core to the brand, and if you turn up anywhere on one you’re absolute superstar, and it’s a bit special. But this is a really different project – an all-new Norton. I had to ask myself so many times, ‘What is a new Norton?’, and if Norton had carried on building superbikes from the F1, or Commando 850 days, what would we be building now? I’ve had to fill that gap in, and this is what I think we would be building.
“We’ve beaten all the production constraints into submission to deliver the vision, and it was really awkward at time, but we’ve made it happen. It’s exactly what I wanted.”
New Norton V4 SS & RR in detail
Radical liquid retention
There has been a glut of new bikes revealed over recent weeks using carbon fibre in ever-increasing applications, but the new Norton V4 is the only one to use a carbon fibre fuel tank. The tank, built by carbon gurus BST in South Africa, is of full carbon construction, then reinforced with kevlar for impact resistance, and finally chemically lined to make it safe for holding petrol.
Holding it together
The main frame is a polished, hand built aluminium twin-tube shotgun chassis on the SS, and a cast frame and swingarm on the RR. The engine acts as a stressed member, and features an adjustable headstock angle, and swingarm pivot. The frame is actually 3kg lighter than the SG5 race bike’s. The RR also gets a cast swingarm and cast outriggers, but the weight difference is minimal according to design chief Simon Skinner (see right). The frame takes around 26 hours to polish, by hand.
Power and control
The V4 uses the ubiquitous Bosch Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) to give the rider full control of the 200bhp on offer. It features multi-level traction-control, anti-wheelie, engine braking strategies, cruise control and launch control along with a datalogging system for use on the track. There’s launch control as standard, too. In addition, there’s a quickshifter, autoblipper, fly-by-wire throttle, with all functions being controlled via the full-colour high-definition 7-inch screen.
The standard RR model (pictured) will roll on OZ wheels, which are super-lightweight and fit with Norton’s design brief, while the top-end SS model will use BST-made carbon fibre wheels, which shave another 1.7kg off the mass of the wheels, reducing unsprung mass, moment of inertia, and increasing agility on road and track.
The power to move you
At the heart of Norton’s new V4 is the, er, V4. Completely designed and developed by Norton and engine specialists
Ricardo, the 1200cc 72-degree V-twin is delivering 200bhp+ in standard road trim, and another 10bhp with the race system fitted. The engines will all be built at Norton’s factory. The engine uses titanium valves, a 6-speed cassette gearbox and a race-bred slipper clutch, quickshifter and autoblipper.
Dressed to thrill
Both the RR and SS boast carbon fibre bodywork, with the fender, main fairings, nose section and tail unit all being created in carbon. The SS is presented in a beautiful plain carbon finish, while the RR is painted as a TT replica, using a special silver-impregnated paint which is incredibly difficult to work with . The finished effect looks like chrome.
At the sharp end sits a fully adjustable
Öhlins NIX30 fork, clamped by a completely bespoke machined billet triple clamp. The top yoke was the first part of the bike Simon Skinner designed. At the rear is a bespoke version of Öhlins’ TTXGP fully adjustable monoshock acting on a simply stunning single-sided swingarm which is machined from a single 70kg block of billet. The finished swingarm weighs 3.5kg.
Taking care of the brunt of the braking force is a pair of fat Brembo M50 calipers, the lightest and most powerful current production brakes. They bite down on a pair of 330mm discs, with all the pumping force coming from a Brembo radial master cylinder, fitted with a bespoke machined Norton brake lever. At the rear there’s a single disc matched to another Brembo caliper.
Norton V4 Technical Specifications
Norton V4 SS £44,000 / V4 RR £28,000
Engine Norton 72-degree liquid-cooled V4, 1200cc. Chain-driven cams with idler gear for reduced engine height. Titanium inlet valves. Slipper clutch
Bore x Stroke: 82mm x 56.8mm
Compression Ratio: 13.6:1
Power 200bhp+ @ 12,500rpm
Torque 95.88ftlb @ 10,000rpm
Fuel injection Electronic fuel-injection system. Constantly variable inlet tracts. 8-fuel injectors. Full drive-by-wire system independent of front and rear banks of cylinders for ultimate control and feel.
Engine modes Road, Sport, Pro-Race
Chassis Polished aluminium twin tube Shotgun frame with single-sided swingarm.
Suspension Fully-adjustable Öhlins NIX30 fork. Fully-adjustable Öhlins TTXGP rear shock.
Brakes 2 x 330mm full-floating discs. Radially-mounted Brembo Monobloc calipers. Brembo discs, and Brembo master cylinder.
Dry weight 199kg
Fuel capacity 18L
Electronics Multi-setting traction-control, wheelie control, launch control and cruise control. Uses six-axis Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU), quickshifter and autoblipper, plus built-in datalogger
Dash Full-colour 7-inch screen with Road, Track and Pro-Race and rear-view camera and build-in datalogger.
Ignition Keyless ignition system
Dry weight 179kg
Front suspension Öhlins NIX30 system front fork. Fully-adjustable.
Rear suspension Öhlins TTXGP Norton bespoke fully-adjustable rear shock.
Steering damper Öhlins damper
Lighting Full LED lighting system including super bright low beam & high beam, angel eye DRLs, rear lamps and indicators
Race exhaust Full titanium race system supplied with aftermarket tune, approx 8kg lighter and approx 10bhp more.