In an interesting development at EICMA, Norton Motorcycles has announced a JV with India-based Kinetic Group. The Kinetic Group, also in a partnership with MV Agusta, is building a formidable exotic motorcycle range under its Motoroyale umbrella, through which it will sell Norton motorcycles as well.
UK-based Norton Motorcycles currently has a four-motorcycle stable, including two variants of the Commando 961 (Sport MK II and Cafe Racer MK II), the Dominator and a full-faired superbike called the V4 RR. While the V4 RR wasn’t showcased at EICMA this year, the Dominator and Commando were, and will also be the ones that will make it to India within the first quarter of 2018. The motorcycles will initially be imported through the CBU route but the Norton-Kinetic JV is keen on switching to the CKD route once an assembly set-up is in place. Keeping costs (and retail price) in mind, the JV will venture into locally manufacturing upwards of 50 percent of the motorcycles’ components.
The Commando 961 MK II, available in two guises, is the cheapest of its range and is priced at Rs 13-14 lakh in the UK, with the Cafe Racer being the most expensive. It harks back to Norton’s classic motorcycle design, with its simple, well-rounded aesthetics and a 961cc, fuel-injected motor that is displayed in prominence. The motor, common to the Commando siblings, as well as the more expensive Dominator (Rs 18 lakh onwards in the UK), produces 80hp at 6,500rpm and 90Nm of torque at 5,200rpm. Both motorcycles are equipped with the same five-speed gearbox as well.
The Dominator has the more aggressive naked design and is also the sharper handling machine of the two. A fully adjustable 43mm Öhlins USD fork is common to both motorcycles, although, only the Dominator gets the pricier Blackline unit. It also gets fully adjustable Öhlins TTX 36 monoshock, while the cheaper Dominator gets twin shock absorbers (from Öhlins, and fully adjustable). Brembo high carbon stainless-steel disc brakes (320mm twin-disc up-front, 220mm single rear disc) are also standard on both motorcycles. Although, only one variant of the Commando (the Cafe Racer) and, of course, the Dominator, get Brembo’s four-piston mono bloc calipers. Neither bikes get ABS.
If priced competitively (which will happen eventually, once assembly operations commence), Norton’s motorcycles will compete with the Triumph Thruxton R as well as the BMW R nineT.