The 2009 Isle of Man TT was to be the return of Norton motorcycles to the island and its Mountain Course. It has been 16 years since the British manufacturer raced the city streets of the Isle, and we eagerly awaited their return to the TT, and the showing of their rotary motor powered NRV 588 race bike. We, like many others, were disappointed then to see the Norton only shuffle around on a parade lap, and not tearing down the asphalt in the quest for absolute speed.
Michael Dunlop, son of the late motorcycle legend Robert Dunlop, was to race the NRV 588 in the Seniors TT, in what was supposed to mark the revival of the British brand, which had been dead for 15 years.
We caught up with the Norton earlier this year when they first made their bid on the IoM TT. The bike looks the part, and the benchmark sheet left our mouths dropping. The Norton NRV 588 puts out over 170hp, all while tucking itself into a 286lbs form factor. Think Kate Moss skinny with Charles Manson crazy. The Norton sounded downright mean as well, as it took laps around Donington Park during testing.
So what became of the Norton Rotary NRV 588 at this years Isle of Man? After a slew of mechanical problems, and difficulty getting the bike in order to make a practice run, Norton watched as weather and crashes sidelined their Wednesday night time slot for testing. With Friday morning being the last possible chance to get the NRV 588 around the track and qualified for the day’s later race, Norton had to settle for a parade lap around the Mountain Course while being escorted by race officials. This is certainly a frustrating end to all the work and effort that has gone into bringing Norton back in motorcycling, but we have a feeling they will be back next year.
Outside of its racing at the Isle of Man, Norton has announced that they plan on making a limited edition of their NRV 588 race bikes available to buyers as hand built street bikes. No word on price or volume, but expect it to be many pounds of sterling silver.
Photos: Amadeus Photography