Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Norton NRV588 to be raced during the Mallory Park Summer Festival

The rotary-engined Norton NRV588. From the engineering perspective, it's the most outstandingly brilliant British motorcycle in recent years...
Pics: PB, Sport Rider

The Norton NRV588 – possibly the most intriguing British motorcycle in recent years – will be raced during the Mallory Park Summer Festival motorcycle races at the end of this month.

Developed and built by Brian Crighton, the NRV588 is fitted with the revolutionary twin-rotor Wankel rotary engine, which is now fuel-injected and produces about 170bhp at 11,500rpm. The engine also gets variable inlet tracts and ride-by-wire tech. In conventional engine terms, the NRV’s engine capacity is 588cc and with its carbonfibre fairing (made by Harris Performance), the bike only weighs 130 kilos.

The NRV588’s twin-spar aluminium chassis is made by Spondon, and race-spec Ohlins suspension is used front and rear. ‘The bike feels like it's powered by an extremely potent electric motor. There's a huge range of seamless, linear power from 3,000rpm all the way up to the 11,500rpm rev limiter. Throttle response is crisp without being abrupt, and the engine is so smooth that you have no sense of feel that it's time to shift. This caused me to bump into the rev limiter often…,’ says Alan Cathcart, who rode the NRV588 for Sport Rider magazine some time back.

British 250 GP racing champ, Lee Dickinson is the man who’ll be riding the NRV588 at Mallory Park at the end of this month. ‘It is a brilliant project to be involved with, and I hope we can put on a good show straight out the box,’ he says. ‘The engine characteristic is different to anything else I've ever ridden. The twin-rotor Wankel engine pulls from nothing at all and is very torquey. It’s easy to ride, but hard to ride fast. It handles well and feels like a fast 250, but stands a bit taller,’ says Dickinson.

Here at Faster and Faster, we love the old Norton F1 rotary racer and we think the NRV588 is utterly, totally brilliant. If only a company like Honda, with its huge resources and high degree of engineering competence, adopted the rotary engine concept and developed it further, who knows what it might have led to. A rotary-engined Fireblade, anyone?

The NRV588 on the dyno. Sounds awesome, eh?

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