New Norton Atlas will have to shoulder a big load

Middleweight scrambler-style twin will be vital for firm’s future

Norton Atlas 650

LEGENDARY BRITISH bike marque Norton has been doing pretty well lately. Its Aprilia-powered TT racebikes have caught loads of attention – even that of British royalty (and biking royalty). Prince William was pictured posing on one earlier this month, John McGuinness rode one round the TT for parade laps and  it’s fair to say that the company is currently bathing in goodwill.

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But while it’s nice to have all that, this could be far more important for the company’s future. It’s a CGI image of a neat little middleweight scrambler, dubbed the Atlas, using half of its new in-house engine. Norton’s been working hard on making its own 1200 V-4 motor, essential for any self-respecting bike firm, and necessary to replace the elderly air-cooled parallel twins it’s selling at the moment.

The V-4 will power the new Norton superbike range, andwill sit at the top end of the range. But in order to get a better return on the investment in the engine development, Norton’s also making a 650 parallel twin, which will be able to use the same heads, valves, pistons, rods, etc as the V-4, but in a cheaper, smaller, high-volume offering. 

In the past the firm has spoken about having three versions of the engine – 70bhp entry level, 100bhp performance and 175bhp supercharged madness. We’ll expect the supercharged version to take a wee while, but the 100bhp version should be sweet – although it’s up against some stiff competition there, not least KTM’s new 790 engine.

The Atlas name, of course, dates back to 1962m when Norton sold a 750 twin under that moniker. It wasn’t a ‘scrambler’, rather a fairly standard roadster, aimed at the US market, and later replaced by the famous Commando.

Norton says the prototype Atlas will be on show at the NEC this year, with deliveries promised for 2019. We’re finding out more as we speak – and will get it up here when we do.