Norton Motorcycles reintroduces the V4SV superbike
Rescued from bankruptcy by India’s TVS Motor Company, Norton has kicked off production if its V4 1,200-cc flagship sportbike after subjecting it to an extensive re-engineering process to iron out several reliability problems.
Norton Motorcycles has survived yet another turbulent period that broke out in February 2020 and drove it into administration when its management, and most notably its owner, Stuart Garner, found themselves under investigation for allegedly misappropriating funds from several UK pension schemes that were invested in Norton.
Garner was eventually found guilty and given a suspended sentence, but thankfully Norton had already been saved in April 2020 when TVS swiftly took over with a very ambitious investment plan of £100 million, including a brand new factory in Solihull, UK.
The new owners kept true to their word and in less that two years the new factory is up and running, ready to start rolling out the first Norton of this new era, the V4SV superbike.
The original plan was to resume production much sooner at Norton’s previous factory at Donington Hall, but the V4 turned out to be very problematic. The new engineering team uncovered at least 35 issues with the bike – which was then called V4SS – and announced that it couldn’t be salvaged. The V4 would have to go under the knife before returning to the spotlight.
Its return was finally announced a few weeks shy of the 2021 EICMA show, and now the almost production-ready motorcycle has been officially introduced.
The rolling chassis is more or less kept as was in the previous generation, starring the aluminum tubular frame that was developed over several seasons of racing at the Isle of Man TT, initially with an Aprilia V4 and subsequently with Norton’s own V4. It features a 15-liter fuel tank made of Kevlar-reinforced carbon fiber, housed under the rider’s seat.
The engine is quite different and probably constitutes the most reworked part of the whole project. The 72-degree V4 now peaks at 185 hp, which is down from the 200 the V4SS would make, whereas the torque hasn’t changed that much in its maximum value of 125.5 Nm (92.6 lb-ft), although this comes some 1,000 rpm earlier, at 9,000.
Sprinkled with highly-coveted gear from Öhlins and Brembo, the V4SV sports a rather spartan electronic package with lean sensitive traction control and three riding modes – wet, road and sport.
A brand new 6-inch TFT color screen handles information display, including the feed from a rear-facing camera that Norton oddly suggests is not a replacement for mirrors.
In England the new Norton V4SV will cost £44,000 (US$54,350), available in two finishes, the chrome-finished Manx Silver with red forged aluminum Oz wheels, or the Carbon version with BST carbon fiber wheels.
Potential new customers should be aware that Norton will prioritize orders that were placed prior to the 2020 TVS takeover.
Should everything go as planned with the V4SV, Norton’s next step is a fairly easy spin-off, the V4CR streetfighter. Hopefully the new owners of Norton will also turn their attention to the 650 cc in-line twin that in 2019 was supposed to power two new motorcycles, the Atlas and the Ranger.
Apparently the ordeal that ensued at the dawn of 2020 pushed these plans aside, but for Norton the introduction of more affordable models still seems vital. And, in a strange twist, the first application of Norton’s new twin may eventually come from China, under a different brand name.
In 2017 Norton licensed the rights to its new 650-cc twin to Zongshen Motor, which in 2019 used it to power two new motorcycles, the Cyclone RX6 adventurer and the Cyclone RK6 tourer. These presumably haven’t hit the Chinese market yet, but now that Norton is back on track they are bound to be making headlines soon.
Model website: Norton V4SV