Norton Motorcycles seems to be gearing up to bring out a rival to Royal Enfield’s new 650cc parallel-twin engined motorcycles. Norton had entered into a 20-year design-and-licence alliance in July 2017 with Chinese company Zongshen Manufacturing for the new, 650cc twin-cylinder engine developed by Norton with assistance from UK’s Ricardo.
Norton’s current volumes are rather low on a global scale with all bikes being hand-built at its plant in the UK. However, this is set tochange with the new 650cc bikes. The company has said that it plans to industrialise production of its midsize models, as it anticipates a sharp rise in its volumes in the near future.
Speaking to our sister publication Autocar Professional, Norton Motorcycles’ CEO and owner Stuart Garner said that a midsize twin-cylinder, 650cc engine is in the works and are set to power affordable motorcycles aimed at emerging markets such as India and other Asian markets.
The company has recently signed a 51:49 joint venture with India’s Motoroyale, Kinetic Group’s exotic motorcycle umbrella, where both parties have plans to co-manufacture and localise Norton’s bikes for sale in India and other Asian markets. It is expected that the first Nortons to be made in India would be the Commando range, which is powered by the parallel-twin, 961cc engine.
At the 2017 EICMA show in Milan, Garner told Autocar Professional, “The next engine to come from Norton is the 650cc, twin-cylinder for India and the Asian territories, be it Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand or Taiwan. We see the start of this relationship (with India’s Kinetic Group) with the 961 but we think the volumes and a lot of commercial sense will come from the 650s (650cc models). The 650cc, twin-cylinder bike is still under development. It will commercialise the whole venture. It’s going to be a very good engine, very compact and I think it will be a very suitable bike for the partnership.”
Royal Enfield has recently unveiled its all-new parallel-twin, 650cc motorcycles – the Interceptor 650 roadster and the Continental GT 650 café racer – at the EICMA 2017. Royal Enfield has plans to launch these models first in Europe in April 2018, and then in other regions including India later in the year.
Norton Motorcycles’ aim is to begin manufacturing and retail operations in India by end-2018. Concurrently, it plans to launch its 650cc bikes in the UK market.