It's no secret that Norton has a brand new 650cc inline twin motor in the pipeline, destined to spearhead its comeback with a new family of affordable models. Scheduled to break cover in November, the Atlas 650 has been revealed for the first time in two digital renders that Norton has just released.
When Stuart Garner took over Norton Motorcycles, his plans included much more than simply relying on the revamped Commando 961 model series that powered Kenny Dreer's previous efforts to resurface a long lost historic name out of Oregon, USA. Garner was thinking big and managed to unfold his strategy masterfully, first by securing a government loan and then moving Norton to its own production facility in Donington Park, UK.
In 2014 Norton fielded a shiny new V4 superbike at the Isle of Man TT, relying on an Aprilia RSV4 engine, and raced it with considerable success, before launching its own V4 motor in 2016, built on the frame and suspension setup that had been developed in the demanding Mountain Course of the Isle of Man.
As exciting as it may be, the US$35,000 V4 RR certainly isn't a motorcycle for the masses, but Garner had already rolled out his next plan – a 650cc inline twin.
The brand new engine is designed by Norton and last year Garner revealed that this design has been sold to Chinese giant Zongshen, apparently in an effort to secure the funds required for its production. According to this deal, Zongshen will produce its own version of the engine, which will be used in models for the Asian markets, but will not make it to the motorcycles destined for Europe.
Now Norton has just revealed two digital sketches of a new bike, which will be called Atlas 650 as a tribute to the 1963 Atlas Scrambler, and is scheduled to debut at the NEC motorcycle show in Birmingham, UK, in November.
As of yet there is no technical information on the new Norton, although Garner has confirmed that the twin conveniently consists of two cylinders from the 1,200-cc V4 unit, with slightly longer piston strokes to raise the capacity to 650cc.
The Atlas 650 is without a doubt a pivotal motorcycle for the company's future, as it is expected to be the first modern-day Norton with a price tag that can appeal to a wider audience. Should it prove to be successful, this new engine will probably power several other motorcycles coming from Donington Park in the years to come.
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