The now-legendary rotary-engined Norton F1 from the early ’90s could possibly make a comeback. The mega-expensive (about US$45,000 back then…) F1 had a liquid-cooled 588cc rotary engine that produced 95bhp@9500rpm. The racebike based on the F1, the Norton F1 RCW588, won the British F1 series in 1989, and was also raced at the Isle of Man.
Now, there’s an all-new Norton – the NRV588 prototype – powered by a 170-horsepower Wankel rotary engine. Displayed at the recent NEC show in the UK, the new bike has been developed by Brian Crighton, the man behind the Norton racing team in the late-1980s and early-1990s. The machine is essentially based on the old F1 and the National Motorcycle Museum in the UK (where some of the old Norton rotary racers are displayed) has paid for development costs!
The engine is still a 588cc twin-rotor Wankel unit, but now it gets fuel injection, variable inlet tracts, and fly-by-wire technology. Chassis is a Spondon-made twin-spar aluminium frame and the front forks are Ohlins-made. The bike weighs in at a featherweight 130kg, and with 170bhp on tap, performance should be phenomenal. Here’s hoping the bike makes it past the prototype stage and gets into production. Should make for one hell of a giant-killing superbike!
Video footage of some rotary-powered Norton racebikes from the late-1980s