Norton is not a new name for the knowledgeable motorcycle enthusiasts in India. The issue is, in an otherwise densely populated 'biker space' in India, these chaps are few and far between.
Therefore, irrespective of the number of Manx Nortons and Norton Dominators you see in classic bike rallies, the first image to flash in the minds of the vast majority of under-forty 'bikers' in India, upon seeing or hearing the word "Norton", is that of an antivirus software.
That's why we thought of bringing to you a few facts about Norton Motorcycles, especially now that our very own TVS Motor Company has acquired them.
Norton is older than Harley-Davidson!
Norton was founded in 1898. Harley-Davidson? In 1901. And Norton AntiVirus in 1991. Now you know.
Norton has won more at Isle of Mann than BMW, Triumph, and Ducati put together!
The first official Isle of Mann TT race was held in 1907. Norton won it (in the twin-cylinder category). The rider was Rem Fowler. Between the first and second world wars, Norton won the Isle of Mann Senior TT race ten times. In fact, between 1931 and 1939, Norton took seven of the total nine Isle of Mann Senior TT trophies.
Norton continued its racing success after the war as well, winning in at least one category every year from 1947 to 1954. It swept both the 350 cc and 500 cc classes in 1952 and continued to taste success right up to the early '70s before going into insolvency in 1975.
The company bounced back again in the late '80s, making history again by winning the Isle of Mann Senior TT race in 1992 on a motorcycle (Norton RCW588) powered by a rotary engine.
In fact, when it comes to the total number of Isle of Mann TT race wins, Norton shares its position with Suzuki as the third most winningest manufacturers in the world with 94 wins each. Honda (227) and Yamaha (210) sit at the top two spots, whereas BMW (38), Kawasaki (34) MV Agusta (34), Triumph (21), and Ducati (9) complete the lower rungs of the ladder.
In addition to the wins at the Isle of Mann, Norton also won 78 out of 92 Grand Prix races between 1930 and 1937.
Norton is the only one to have successfully raced Wankel engine (rotary engine) motorcycles!
You just read above that Norton won the Super TT in 1992 with its RCW588 rotary engine motorcycle. And that, ladies and gentlemen, makes it the only motorcycle manufacturer in the world to have done that! Forget racing one, all others, except Hercules and Suzuki, couldn't even make a production, road-going, specimen. Well, to be fair, Yamaha and Kawasaki did make a bike each as well, but neither made it to production.
Back to Norton now. Its 1992 win was not its only one on a rotary-powered motorcycle—Norton scored victories in the British Superbike Championship in 1989 and 1994 as well on race bikes powered by rotary engines.
Also, Norton's previous boss, Stuart Garner, set the World Speed Record in 2009 for a rotary engine motorcycle. He clocked 173 mph (279 km/h) for a timed mile followed by a top speed of over 180 mph (290 km/h) on a Norton NRV588.
There's a lot to be told about Norton Motorcycles, but this should suffice for now.