2022 Norton V4SV review | Re-engineered Norton V4SV track test

Norton's new V4SV cornering on track at Mallory Park

The re-engineered Norton V4SV has landed, boasting billet aluminium everything, full carbon bodywork, 185bhp and 193kg dry weight

Details
Manufacturer:
Category:
Sportsbikes
Price:
£ 44000
Overall
Not rated

BILLED by its makers as the definitive British superbike, the new Norton V4SV looks every inch the real deal as it sits on paddock stands in the Mallory Park pits.

From nose to tail, it’s a visual smorgasbord of stunning CNC machined billet aluminium and carbon fibre, highlighted by some of the best motorcycle componentry that money can buy. And while we are on the subject of how it looks, this may outwardly appear to be the same bike that Norton has been producing for a while now, but peel away the bodywork and the design team will happily point out the 400 or so components that have since been changed. But we aren’t here to simply ogle the new Norton V4SV, we were there to ride it. The day marked the first time that the global motorcycle media would get to sample the new machine, and while Mallory Park wouldn’t be my primary choice, I was going to relish the chance to be the first UK journalist to trundle up pit lane.

2022 Norton V4SV review on track at Mallory Park

The main updates that have taken place with the bike centre around the engine, frame, swingarm and electronic systems. Norton found around 35 faults with the V4 SS - the updated V4SV is the result of fixing those issues and making a bike that’s befitting of the name on the tank. What does remain is the beautiful hand-built frame, swing arm and full carbon bodywork. The engine is now producing slightly less power and torque than before, something that points to Norton wanting this machine to be designated as a road-going sports bike with on-track ability, not an out-and-out racer.

That last point aside, swinging a leg over the Norton V4SV for the first time highlights a racy riding position. The pegs are high, handlebars narrow and front fairing very low. The chassis utilises kit from the best in the business, with Öhlins and Brembo combining front and rear, and wheels either coming from Oz (forged) or BST (carbon fibre). As the bike ticks over beneath me and begins to get up to temperature, a quick blip of the throttle rewards with a gravelly bark from the high-level carbon-tipped silencer. A little further down the pitlane a track marshal gives us a wave and flicks the traffic light from red to green, and we begin to trundle out onto the track.

Having never ridden Mallory on anything bigger than a Honda C90 before, my first few laps were a steady affair. With only six of seven corners, the circuit is easy to learn, yet difficult to go fast on. We had Steve Plater leading the way and BSB Superstock 1000 front runner Tim Neave chasing hard. As expected, I was quickly left with a track to myself and some time to get acquainted with the new machine. My first impressions of it are that it feels fairly stiff on its base settings. Mallory has some lumps and bumps to it, with one at the bottom of Devil’s Elbow being particularly big. On stock settings, I felt every inch of it, feathering the throttle until I was well onto the start-finish straight. Flashing past the finish line you are back on the anchors again in the blink of an eye, after momentarily hooking forth in the shortly geared, close-ratio ‘box. After around ten laps I trundle back into the pits for a chat with the technicians to see if something can be done about the overly stiff setting.

As a road rider and trackday wannabe, I’m more at home on a slightly softer suspension setup, where the bike dives more under brakes and offers a more forgiving ride. After chatting with the Norton suspension tech, he dials out some of the pre-load at the front and rear, reducing some of the compression damping in the Öhlins NIX30 forks and TTXGP rear shock.

After a quick breather and a drink of water, I’m back out again and the difference in the bike can be felt immediately. The bike is diving more on the brakes, riding the bumps and undulations much better and feeling like a more forgiving machine on the track. With the handling now more where I wanted it to be, I could actually start to get to grips with that 1,200cc Norton V4 engine.

On paper, it might be slightly less powerful and torquey than the V4 SS of old, but out here on the track, it certainly doesn’t feel slow. With 92lb-ft and 185bhp, you simply need to feed the bike gears to make swift progress, and with its short gearing and slick quickshifter, you’ll have no problem doing that. Sweeping down out Devil’s Elbow and onto the start-finish straight I have one fairly sizable moment as the back end of the bike sharply steps out before the lean-sensitive traction control sweeps in to sort things out. It was a nervy moment, as I didn’t think I was doing anything different to the previous laps. For me, the reason this happened was simply down to not having tyres that are up to the task. Mallory is short and fast, and with 185bhp and a shade over 200kg to control, the Dunlop Sportsmart hoops just didn’t seem up to the task.

It was a question I put to the Norton team; with so many top-spec tyres to choose from, Metzeler, Pirelli, Michelin even, why go for this fairly hard compound on what is supposed to be the definitive British Superbike? While I wasn’t given a straight answer, they did point to the bike being designed as a road bike first and foremost, and a track weapon when needed, but it’s not like many of these Nortons are going to be taken out in anything other than perfect weather, kind of negating the need for wet or cold weather tyre performance. What the team at Norton did say was that the final spec of the bikes is not totally nailed down and that any comments would all be taken on board as the launch spec is finalised. If the tyres we used were to be on the bike at its launch (and you wanted to do more than simply look at your Norton V4SV) the first purchase I’d be making would be some stickier boots.

Hoops aside, the rest of the riding experience is good. It’s not quite as gnat-like and nimble feeling as something like a Ducati Panigale V4, although the cornering of the bike feels reassuringly solid. There was some resistance to tip into turns, although on closer inspection the tyres seemed to have a fairly squared-off profile that could have caused this. Once it's on its side though it carves a line through a curve well, refusing to be kicked off course by some of the smaller ripples you encounter around Gerard’s Bend. Deceleration on the Norton V4SV is just as immediate as the acceleration, with the Brembo brakes scrubbing off speed with eye-popping ability. The radially mounted Brembo master cylinder works as expected giving you a reassuring, progressive feeling lever.

With its narrow bars, high pegs and small fairing, the whole riding experience feels physical and engaging, leaving me breathing fairly hard after each of the sessions.

2022 Norton V4SV verdict

Beautiful, fast, exclusive and, for most people, expensive. That’s probably the easiest way to sum up the re-engineered Norton V4SV. But it’s also more than that, it’s a complicated beast too - and I mean that in more ways than one. While it is equipped with all the technology and features you’d want and expect from a high-powered sports bike, it’s also got some that I could really do without. While a reverse-facing camera is commonplace in the four-wheeled world, I’ve never heard a two-wheeled rider bemoaning a particular make and model because of its absence. I’d much rather leave that on the cutting room floor and slot on some better performing tyres. Just saying…

And the new V4SV is complicated on another level too, I’m not sure if it actually knows what it wants to be. I know Norton has coined the ‘definitive British superbike’ tag line, but then goes on to state that it’s a road bike with track-ability, but then they give it a suspension set-up that Fred Flintstone would consider a little firm. Topping it all off, they hogtie the whole thing with mediocre rubber, that part makes no sense to me. It’s close, annoyingly close to being the finished article, but for me, there is still some work to be done. While it may look like the most perfectly polished diamond from afar, it just needs a polish to the riding experience to match that outward gleam.

2022 Norton V4SV price and spec

Engine

Liquid-cooled 1200cc, 72-degree V4

Bore & Stroke

82mm x 56.8mm

Compression Ratio

13.6:1

Power

185bhp @ 12,500rpm

Torque

92lb-ft @ 9,000rpm

Cooling

Liquid cooled

Gearbox

Six-speed with quickshift and blipper

Engine electronics

Three power modes - wet, road, and sport

Frame

Aluminium tubular chassis. Aerospace 5-axis CNC machined outriggers and headstock

Adjustable Geometry

Adjustable rake, steering offset and swingarm pivot

Swingarm

Braced and underslung single-sided billet swingarm with rising rate linkage

Wheelbase

1434mm

Dry weight

193kg

Seat height

836mm

Fuel tank

Underseat 15-litre

Price

£44,000

For more information or to place a deposit, head to: www.nortonmotorcycles.com

Moto Corse Norton Commando Custom | Tokyo Motorcycle Show 2019

Moto Corse Norton Commando Custom | Tokyo Motorcycle Show 2019