Norton rotary motorcycles are a good investment

Norton Rotary motorcycles are a good investment if you can get your hands on one. There is so much more to these motorcycles from the 1980s and 90s than can be seen at first glance, they were really special motorcycles. Norton made the first rotary machines in 1984 after supplying the police, RAC and other fleet users with the machines named the Interpol 2. You can read more in depth about the history of these machines here. They then produced a very lean, naked rotary engine bike called The Classic, in a limited edition run of just 100 units. They went on to create the Norton F1 in JPS racing colours, just like their incredible Rotary engine racers. 

Steve Spray JPS rotary Norton wheelying
Shared with thanks to Crighton Motorcycles

Norton rotary racing motorcycles

Norton rotary racing motorcycles were the brain child of Brian Crighton, who was employed to help ensure the maintenance of the police and RAC fleets. He realised that these motors had plenty of power tucked away in them, being a 3 time 50cc British champion himself. He is also a self taught engine tuning genius, he worked away in a shed at Norton pretty much abandoned by the factory who refused to support Brian’s vision for creating a race winning machine. The prototype racing motorcycle was built in 1987 and clocked 170mph on its first outing at the MIRA test circuit. Enthused by its unmatched speed and finally seeing its race winning potential, the factory agreed a super tight budget for a low expectation, minimalist effort to get the Norton name back on the race track. When the first rotary racer was track tested the team asked the rider if there was anything he needed to enhance the bike and maybe dial it in? “No”, was the answer, “it’s perfect as it is, just put petrol in it!”. Norton bagged their first win on August 14th 1988 with Andy McLaddery and a second win again on August 29th at Cadwell Park with Trevor Nation in the saddle. It cannot be under estimated what an incredible feat this was when going up against the might of the Japanese manufacturers who were spending more than ever before on winning races. These Nortons, which were pretty much put together in a shed, triumphed over immense resources. They continued to destroy the competition with their super light, high powered, Spondon framed motorcycles.  Only Britten Motorcycles achieved anything like this, but not for another seven years.

Norton rotary mid corner RWB1
Photograph shared by kind permission of Crighton Motorcycles

Norton rotary engine motorcycles were banned from racing

Norton rotary engine motorcycles were banned from racing in 1995, at the behest of larger motorcycle manufacturers. This, of course, had nothing to do with these tiny machines beating Honda RC30s on a shoestring budget. The big manufacturers cried foul and the authorities bowed to their will after six years of exciting racing and giant slaying. Make your own minds up about the fairness of such a decision, I’ve always felt that banning these motors was a tragedy. Let’s hope one day that someone has the finance, integrity and sheer force of personality to bring these rotary engines back to the race track competitively, especially now as the big manufacturers have got their machines into a competitive enough state to take on such a machine. Norton rotary motorcycles are a good investment because they won, were revolutionary and they were so good they were banned from racing by much bigger companies than Norton.

JPS Norton Nation and Spray Wheelie their rotary engined Nortons
Photograph shared by kind permission of Crighton Motorcycles

Norton rotary motorcycles are a great investment

Norton rotary motorcycles are a great investment, they’re now over thirty years old, they’re story is unparalleled and they won. They’re now coming back into the public’s consciousness, in no little part, due to the great work of the National Motorcycle Museum’s Racing Rotary Norton team, as you can see here. There are great videos of these machines racing at incredible speed for their time on youTube. Norton rotary engine motorcycles are now having their time and they will deliver great profits in the coming years. There is almost no other motorcycle in history, except for the Britten which will cost you in the millions of pounds if you want one, like these great howling banshees. These machines have their place in history like nothing else, again apart from the Brittens. Japanese investors love rotary engine motorcycles and they are going to become aware of these motorcycles and when they do, prices will escalate rapidly. Norton rotary motorcycles are a good investment and now is the time to get hold of a really good example while you can.

Roton rotary blue mid corner
Photograph shared by kind permission of Crighton Motorcycles

Unrivalled place in motorcycling history

These beautiful Nortons have an unrivalled place in motorcycling history and they also have an air of being so good they got banned. There is an atmosphere that they so frightened the competition they got sent to Coventry in the school playground and that stink still lingers. Had they never won anything, then that stink would not still linger to this day and it seems to get stronger as time passes. Race fans have a very special place in their hearts for these rotary engine motorcycles and would love to see them competing again today. The rotary engine was plagued with problems around excessive heat in the central crank and on the rotor tips, which meant they weren’t really reliable enough for high mileage tourers. These issues must have been resolved now as the rotary engine is now used, and excels, in aviation applications.

Norton rotary mid corner RWB
Photograph shared by kind permission of Crighton Motorcycles

How the rotary engine works.

How the rotary engine works is so simple it is a thing of true beauty. You can see in the article below a clear diagram of how these engines work far better than I could describe. That there are so few moving parts to this motor, and no parts operating at a reciprocal angle, friction is minimal- far less than a conventional motor. The rotors are turning on a horizontal like the wheels instead of moving up and down which makes for a much more efficient engine. These motors were banned from racing on the premise that they weren’t 600cc but were in fact 1800cc due to the three-sided rotor. Personally, I think it was done to eliminate shoestring competition that became impossible to live with. Rather than use the competition to up their own game, they gathered together to cry foul and destroy the competition, but that’s just my opinion. It’s interesting that Norton were banned once Brian Crighton announced he could build a 200 BHP machine with traction control, as you can see in the MCN article below.

MCN article about rotary engined Norton racing motorcycles
Photograph shared by kind permission of Crighton Motorcycles

Rotary engines run well on hydrogen

Rotary engines run well on hydrogen and they also love being super charged. It’s now time that the rotary engine comes back and earns its place, once again, in the motorcycle buying publics’ hearts. It’s such a shame that they have not had the last thirty years of being developed for use in motorcycling further. Mazda have had some success with these motors in their RX7 car, which has performed well as an expression of lunacy for drifters and boy racers, which demonstrates its excellent power output. Let’s hope we see more of these great engines in the future. VanVeen, Hercules and Suzuki, with their RE5, didn’t set the world alight with their rotary engine motorcycles in terms of sales. There were good reasons for this and the motor never really caught on. Brian Crighton’s incredible work with Norton really took these motors out of the dark ages, they terrified the opposition so much they closed ranks and outlawed them. I love the home brew racers Brian put together, the whole story behind these motorcycles, and I think the rotary engine will make a come back. In the meantime, now is a great time to pick up one of these Nortons, as Norton rotary motorcycles are a good investment.

Paul Jayson

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