It came sixth, but is it RE­ALLY any good?

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - By Adam Child SE­NIOR ROAD TESTER

‘It’s scar­ily fast, mak­ing Cad­well Park seem like a go-kart track’ ADAM CHILD

Nor­ton were the tar­get for plenty of scorn and de­ri­sion when they re­turned to the Isle of Man TT in 2012 with their first all-new race bike in the mod­ern era.

And although the firm has suf­fered more than its fair share of lows over the last five years at the is­land, the team’s re­solve – driven by Nor­ton CEO Stuart Gar­ner – is now be­gin­ning to pay div­i­dends. And as dra­mat­i­cally larger man­u­fac­tur­ers strug­gled to even make it to the start line, Nor­ton shone through. The small Bri­tish team were awarded the Tech­ni­cal Ex­cel­lence award at this year’s TT; both bikes fin­ished the Su­per­bike and Se­nior races; their worst po­si­tion was eighth, and both lapped above 130mph – de­spite lim­ited prac­tice laps. Nor­ton si­lenced the crit­ics with blis­ter­ing re­sults – even record­ing the quick­est pit­stop in the Se­nior.

The SG6 is the fastest Nor­ton to ever lap the TT course (at 130.883mph) and is the best Nor­ton of the mod­ern era. MCN grabbed the 220bhp mon­ster as soon as it landed back in Eng­land to put it over the UK’S other Moun­tain course – Cad­well Park.

Bring the noise

The SG6 is a thing of pure beauty – but it’s also a 220bhp beast. It’ll en­tice you closer with its stun­ning looks, then bite you on the arse when you’re not look­ing. The source of all that ag­gres­sion is a World Su­per­bike-spec Aprilia 60° V4, nestling in the same frame and clothes as the road-go­ing V4 RR. And as the idle set­tles to a melod­i­cally painful tick­over, I ram my earplugs in deep, and pre­pare for the on­slaught around one of Bri­tain’s most beau­ti­ful cir­cuits.

Hello new friend

I’m given the nod to edge out of the pits and onto the cir­cuit. I’m greeted by a 7in full-colour dash, sim­ply read­ing rpm, and an ar­ray of but­tons on the left bar for the rear light, pit lane lim­iter and two but­tons for the trac­tion con­trol (plus and mi­nus). There’s an ex­tra lever, too – which op­er­ates the back brake, mark­ing this out as Josh Brookes’ bike. It’s ex­actly as it was when it crossed the line on Glen­crutch­ery Road at the end of the Se­nior. The bars are set much fur­ther in than I was ex­pect­ing, which is a sur­prise as TT bikes nor­mally run wide bars. The clutch feels very heavy, but thank­fully won’t be needed once out of pit-lane as the quick­shifter/ au­to­blip­per al­lows for clutch­less shifts up and down the race-pat­tern box.

The rid­ing po­si­tion – which is shared with the road bike – is more on a par with a BMW S1000RR. You’re no longer sit­ting in the bike, but on it. The tall TT screen makes it feel larger than it is, but with­out that it would feel like an S1000RR or Suzuki’s GSX-R1000 – while it’s not as small as Honda’s new Fire­blade or an Aprilia RSV4.

Lap dog

The first lap is taken with cau­tion. How­ever, de­spite the noise, anger and power of the Wsb-pow­ered Nor­ton – it proves in­stantly user-friendly and softer than I was ex­pect­ing. Brookes runs it fairly soft on the rear, plus I’m a few ki­los heav­ier than him, help­ing to smear that fat rear Dun­lop into Cad­well’s tar­mac.

I’ve never re­ally felt com­fort­able on any of Nor­ton’s TT rac­ers, but the SG6 is dif­fer­ent. Within a few laps we’ve clicked. The V4 pulls hard from low down and has a nice spread of torque in the mid-range. It’s shock­ingly use­able, but at the top-end it just goes bonkers.

The shift light flashes de­mon­i­cally at 14,000rpm as you tap another gear home with­out shut­ting off, and a sec­ond later you’re at the red­line again as your foot goes for another cog. It’s scar­ily fast. Cad­well Park sud­denly feels like a go-kart track. But while the SG6 feels com­posed here, it must have been fright­en­ing in the flat-out fast sec­tions on the Moun­tain Course.

The Brembo GP4 RR ra­dial brakes are im­pres­sive. I didn’t even ex­per­i­ment with Brookes’ thum­b­op­er­ated back brake, just re­ly­ing on the safe ter­ri­tory of those su­perb front anchors. There was a slight ten­dency to back-in, but it al­ways felt pre­dictable – that new­found feed­back and ease of use com­ing to the sur­face again. I felt com­fort­able enough to change the trac­tion con­trol lev­els on the move, re­duc­ing the amount of in­ter­ven­tion as my con­fi­dence in­creased. With the TC set to level three, it was smoothly con­trol­ling the fat 205-sec­tion rear Dun­lop while al­low­ing me enough free­dom to lift the front wheel over the Moun­tain.

Josh Brookes’ bike was made ready for MCN Brookes blitzed through the 130mph TT lap bar­rier in the Se­nior

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