SI­MON SKIN­NER THE MAN WITH THE PLAN

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week -

Si­mon Skin­ner is head of de­sign at Nor­ton, and the man from whose brain this stun­ning new Nor­ton was born. “Get­ting the ge­om­e­try of the bike right was a mas­sive chal­lenge, es­pe­cially as we wanted to make it a 1200,” says Skin­ner. “It’s a re­ally tricky pack­ag­ing chal­lenge to get the weight dis­tri­bu­tion right while us­ing a big V4. From day one we had to get ev­ery­one on board to make an en­gine and pack­age as small as pos­si­ble.

“You have to start with the end game, then work your way back to achieve it. I had to get Ricardo to stick a square peg in a round hole so that we could build a re­ally com­pact su­per­bike. And mov­ing to our own en­gine changed the game mas­sively.

“The Aprilia V4 en­gine is a 65-de­gree, ours is 72. Their en­gine is a 1000cc, ours is a 1200cc. The lay­out of our en­gine is very dif­fer­ent to theirs, and we’ve used a lot of en­gi­neer­ing tricks to make ours more com­pact. Even though it’s 20% big­ger in ca­pac­ity, with a big­ger V-an­gle, it’s the same size as Aprilia’s in pro­file.

“Ideally what we needed was a 90-de­gree V, so you can ditch the bal­ancer shaft, but then you end up with re­ally weird chas­sis ge­om­e­try. So the 72-de­gree is a com­pro­mise be­tween chas­sis ge­om­e­try, weight dis­tri­bu­tion and en­gine per­for­mance. A slightly wider V, like ours, also gives a bet­ter look­ing en­gine, and that’s im­por­tant fur­ther down the line so we can make a naked ver­sion. I wanted the en­gine to be beau­ti­ful in its own right.

“The elec­tron­ics are still in de­vel­op­ment, but elec­tron­ics won’t make a bad bike good, they can only make a good one bet­ter. So you need a good fun­da­men­tal bike be­neath you, and that’s what we’ve de­vel­oped at the Isle of Man.

“But this isn’t the TT bike with lights bolted on – this was a clean­sheet de­sign. So while this bike came from ev­ery­thing we learnt with the SG5, this is a com­pletely dif­fer­ent bike, and will be­come the ba­sis of next year’s TT bike.

“En­gine-wise the out­put had to be­gin with a 2. Whether it’s 205, 206, 210bhp – it doesn’t make much dif­fer­ence, but it has to start with a 2. The race sys­tem on this bike will give it an­other 10bhp. The stan­dard road sys­tem will have a twin un­der­seat ex­haust, and is Euro4 com­pli­ant.

“I lost the most sleep over mak­ing sure that we could de­liver this level of mo­tor­cy­cle from a sup­ply chain and qual­ity point of view, be­cause this re­ally does raise the game for Nor­ton.

“We’ve com­pletely gone to town on mak­ing ev­ery­thing real, I don’t want it to be fake style like a new Thrux­ton R, we had to go an­other step to make ev­ery­thing a level above. We’ve mixed proper en­gi­neer­ing with high tech­nol­ogy.

“The Dom­i­na­tor is core to the brand, and if you turn up any­where on one you’re ab­so­lute su­per­star, and it’s a bit spe­cial. But this is a re­ally dif­fer­ent project – an all­new Nor­ton. I had to ask my­self so many times, ‘What is a new Nor­ton?’, and if Nor­ton had car­ried on build­ing su­per­bikes from the F1, or Com­mando 850 days, what would we be build­ing now? I’ve had to fill that gap in, and this is what I think we would be build­ing.

“We’ve beaten all the pro­duc­tion con­straints into sub­mis­sion to de­liver the vi­sion, and it was re­ally awk­ward at time, but we’ve made it hap­pen. It’s ex­actly what I wanted.”

‘We’ve beaten all the con­straints. The V4 is ex­actly what I wanted’

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