Norton Racing let it all hang out that last few days of Bub Week’s motorcycle speed trials at Bonneville this past week, and we know this for two reasons: One, check out the lad on the far left of the above photo, he’s not sucking in that gut, that’s just pure British sexiness at its finest. Secondly, the Norton Racing team is coming back from the salt flats with a recorded speed of 173 mph.
Hoping to run an official land speed record time for rotary powered motorcycles in 2010, this venture sets not only a benchmark for Norton to better next year, but also raises the bar of what other entries will have to contend with on the salt.
When we last left the Norton Racing team, they were four days into their adventure at Bonneville, and could already hang their hat on a 150 mph run. With Tuesday a wash because of weather, the Norton NRV588 would have only two more days to set its mark on the salt.
Wednesday allowed the Norton team to get on the timed track rather quickly, which proved to be a good omen for the team. After watching the NRV588 leave down the flat, the speed report came back,“Bike 747, 173mph.” With the salt flats typically sucking 10% of a bike’s normal speed on asphalt, the run confirmed that the NRV588 could easily attain 200+ mph on a macadam surface, and with 800 rpm’s still showing before redline, Norton knew they could go faster on the salt.
Hoping to gain an extra 15 mph by making up the difference of 800 rpm before redline, the Norton team opted to change out the front tire, a full-wet, to a cut slick. The swap should in theory create less rolling resistance on the front-wheel, and thus hopefully gain the team a few more miles per hour. And this is where the salt flats can be a cruel mistress.
Thursday’s run with the cut-slick proved to be exactly the same as Wednesday’s, 173 mph. Delighted that they now have a repeatable result, the Norton squad also learned the limitations and trials of pursuing maximum speed. Unable to change the gearing of the NRV588 (a tooth add to the rear would result in a lower-top speed even at full rev, and a tooth removed would only leave the bike farther down in the powerband during timing), and showing no indications of rear-wheel spin, the team had to come to the realization that you can only go so fast when dealing with a fixed amount of horsepower, and an exponentially increase aerodynamical drag quotient.
Still, the week was a huge success for Norton Racing, who hope to hear from the FIM that they can compete for a land speed record in the 1200cc twin-cylinder four-stroke class at next year’s event. Such a ruling will require the FIM to agree to a proper way of categorizing the rotary motor for displacement.
Norton Racing has proposed using a 1.7:1 equivalence algorithm to provide for parity with the conventional piston-motor design. Also at issue is finding a way for the motor’s displacement to be checked accurately and easily on the salt flats once a record breaking run has been completed.
We hope to see them on the salt next year, and hopefully Guinness will be there too with the blessing of the FIM.
Source: Norton Racing