If Ducati is the two-wheeled equivalent of Ferrari, then Norton is trying to be the analog to Aston Martin. At least that’s what Norton’s Head of Design, Simon Skinner, is saying with the release of the first sketches of the company’s all-new, 1,200cc V4 superbike.
“The UK turns out some fantastic design and engineering projects at the moment,” Skinner told Bike Social. “The Mclaren P1, Aston 177, and of course all F1 cars are right up there so the design quality is paramount. At the minute we need to think Ducati, think Ferrari, think Norton, think Aston Martin.”
Norton just received a substantial cash infusion from the UK government. Part of that £4 million in funding will help build a new 10,000 sq-ft manufacturing center, a motorcycle building academy, and a new “clean” bike – likely electric – due in two years.
But Norton is also focusing on other projects, and that includes the development of a new fuel-injected and liquid-cooled V4 with 1,200cc of displacement and making around 200 horsepower.
It’s something Norton has been planning since 2009 and it’s got the Ducati 1299 Panigale in its sites, with full carbon fiber body work, an aluminum frame and billet bits, carbon fiber wheels, and a single sided swingarm that could be made either out of carbon fiber or billet aluminum.
With Ducati’s flagship pegged as the new – and yet-to-be-named – bike as its natural competitor, it will also have to pack scads of high-end tech, which includes Ohlins and a TTX rear shock, Brembos, ABS, traction control, and a full-color display.
“If you imagine your R1 is your Nissan GT-R and the bloke gets his brochure and turns to the back page to look at the spec list, the bloke who buys the Aston just sits there looking at the cover and thinks ‘f**k me, what a beautiful car’,” says Skinner. “That’s where we need to be. But it needs to be an appropriate level of technology so we need ABS, we need traction control, but we don’t need five anti-wheelie settings. It’s not what we’re about. But it will be a premium motorcycle, there will probably be a couple of different versions.”
Different versions could fit on each end of the spectrum, with a lower displacement version at the low side and a Superleggera competitor at the hyper-high end.
There’s no word on pricing or a set delivery date yet, but the interview with Skinner is worth the read to get a sense of where Norton is headed.