NEW NORTON IS TT READY
P78 British-built bike and new Aussie rider under Jurby record in first test
Norton’s new TT rider, David Johnson said he was “pleasantly surprised” after testing the new SG5 version of the British-built TT bike on the Isle of Man last week.
The fastest Australian ever around the TT Mountain course was inside lap record pace on the Norton at the Jurby airfield circuit. “The bike is a lot better than last year’s version,” Johnson smiled. “It feels really good and we have a lot more testing to come.”
The improvement in the performance of the Aprilia Rsv4-powered machine is down to an all-new Magnetti Marelli electronics package, and revised chassis. The new ignition system has allowed Norton’s race engineers to harness the phenomenal power of the 230bhp V4 and make it more useable in a lighter and more responsive frame.
“The guys in the team have done a really good job with the electronics and we have got everything on the bike now,” Johnson explained to MCN after his outing at Jurby.
“There is auto-blip, anti-wheelie and traction control, and it will be good to go to the BSB test at Oulton Park and compare it alongside all the other bikes that will be there.”
With Johnson on TT press launch duties on the first day of the three-day test, Norton’s resident test pilot Steve Plater was in the hot seat on the opening day of action at Jurby.
“I tested here about a month ago on the SG4 and that showed up quite a few of the issues that were wrong from last year,” the former Senior TT winner said as he echoed Johnson’s sentiments about the bike’s improvements.
“It needed an awful lot of work but a lot of that was to do with electronics. With the new system you can feel any changes you make straight away rather than just going on a wing and a prayer and guessing.”
Plater was also impressed by the SG5’S handling following the development of the new frame and lighter chassis, and said: “I tested with the steering dampers off first because it’s all about stability. I could keep it pinned out there in fifth and sixth over the bumps and now it’s mint with the dampers on it.”
Last year’s version of the Norton racer had been criticised by Cameron Donald, who has ridden the bike since 2014. The Melbourne man had questioned the speed of the development of the V4 but these recent changes appear to have addressed many of the issues that have previously dogged the Norton.
The British engineers will also be encouraged by Plater’s assessment that the new bike, which is largely a development tool for Norton’s own V4 road bike project, is now ready to race at this year’s TT.