Norton's new Atlas 650 scramblers prepare to tear up a green lane near you
When Norton built its monster V4 RR carbon superbike, it developed the 1200cc engine such that it could be lopped in half to make a compact 650cc parallel twin. Now that 650 has surfaced in a pair of stylish and lightweight scramblers that look like a lot of fun.
The new Atlas bikes share the same 650cc parallel twin, which fires at 270 degrees and offers a healthy 84 hp and a moderate 64 Nm (47.2 lb-ft) of torque. So it seems it needs to be revved to get the most out of it, up to an 11,000 rpm peak.
Both bikes make a fine meal out of the current neo-retro trend, with nice clean lines along the tank, comfy looking seats, nicely shaped twin-tube frames, very scrambly-looking bulletholes in the exhaust heat shields, and analogue twin-clock dashes behind neat LED headlight units. Unfortunately the Atlas's superbike heritage shows up in a motor that's clearly designed to be compact and powerful rather than to look good. Silver side plates help a little, but that's a mess of an engine to look at, so it's lucky the rest of the bike oozes charm.
The Atlas comes in two flavors: the Ranger being the more dirt capable, and the Nomad being set up for the road. As such, the Ranger gets 200 mm of suspension travel at each end, where the Nomad gets 150 mm. So the former's better for bouncing down green lanes, while the latter has a seat nearly an inch lower.
The Ranger gets radiator protection, a bash plate, a flyscreen, headlight protector and a beaky high front fender, where the Nomad has a regular road fender up front and a wheelbase nearly an inch shorter thanks to the lower suspension, which will make it a quicker turner on the road. As will its 18/17-in spoked wheel set where the Ranger runs a slightly larger 19-in front rim.
Strangely enough, although the Ranger is clearly more off-road oriented, both bikes ship with the same Avon Trekrider tires, which look to us like terrific road sports touring hoops with some gravel and grass capability. Anyone who's serious about punting these things down trails tougher than the average green lane will probably want to look to Continental TKC80s or something else a bit muddier.
The new Atlas bikes (and you're reading about the new Atlas on New Atlas) are available for pre-order now. Deliveries begin in the UK in May 2019, American orders will follow a few months later, and Australians will get theirs in late 2019. There are plenty of shots of both bike in the gallery.