Norton Dominator California - 650cc

Norton to make 650cc bikes in India

Norton Motorcycles has launched their new Dominator California (pictured above), signed a deal with India’s Kinetic Group to build 650cc motorcycles and plans on a scrambler and off-roader.

Norton is one of many motorcycle manufacturers looking to do business in the world’s biggest motorcycle market.

However, the latest move has many purists concerned that it may water-down the venerable British marque.

Norton is already suffering from reliability concerns from owners of the new 961cc Dominator and Commando.

While Norton is initially targeting India and Asian nations with their smaller-capacity bikes, Norton Motorcycles CEO Stuart Garner says it is not watering down the product.

In fact, he claims the 650cc parallel twin will have about 75kW of power compared with their current 961cc parallel-twin parallel twin pushrod engine with 60kW of power and 80Nm of torque.

Norton Commando - 650cc models coming
Norton Commando

The businessman bought the rights to Norton in 2008 from some US concerns and relaunched Norton in its Midlands home at Donington Park in 2013.

The company last year broke with tradition to release their first four-cylinder motorcycles, the limited-edition V4 SS costing £44,000 (about $A74,000, $US55,000) and the V4 RR at £28,000 (about $A47,000, $US35,000).

Norton V4 RR - 650cc models coming
Norton V4 RR

Dominator CaliforniaNorton Dominator California - 650cc

At the recent EICMA motorcycle show in Milan they also launched their latest model, the Dominator California with buckhorn bars.

It is obviously targeting the American market which used to equip Nortons and Triumph Bonnevilles with these cruiser-style handelbars.

There is no indication yet on pricing or availability of the 916cc Dominator California.Norton Dominator California - 650cc

650cc development

Norton is also making low-powered 650cc engines for Chinese firm Zongshen, but the new 75kW 650cc Norton engine is being developed in-house.

The Norton move to 650cc twins comes as Indian-owned Royal Enfield recently unveiled their 650cc Interceptor and Continental GT at EICMA.

Stuart says they are also working on a new range of engines and platforms, including a scrambler and off-roader, which will be shared with Kinetic MotoRoyale.

It is not yet known what models and engines will be available outside of India and Asia.

  1. From the days of the Manx, International and ES2 Nortons…..

    “There was a young man from Bell Broughton
    Who had an exceedingly short’un.
    To make up for this loss, had the balls of a hoss
    and a stroke like a 500 Norton.”

  2. The 650 looks good although the colour scheme is not to my taste. 75kW (~100hp) from an air cooled 650 twin sounds fairly highly tuned considering it would have to comply with numerous noise and emission standards. At least it appears that it won’t have the quirky gear lever arrangement of the 961.

    The 961’s 60kW rating seems quite understressed in comparison. I suppose it is meant to be a torque monster.

  3. So many old marques making comebacks over the last few years, it is a wonder that the Matchless brand hasn’t reappeared on showroom floors, even though I do remember some talk about it possibly being revived a few years ago.

    1. Hi Ian,
      Yes, Bultaco, Jawa and BSA are all making comebacks.
      But the Matchless comeback seems to have stalled. They wheeled out a concept bike at the EICMA show in 2014, but we’ve heard nothing since.
      Their website still only sells Matchless branded clothing and accessories.

      1. With the retro/scrambler fad in full swing it is surprising that nobody has tried to the revive the Hodaka Combat Wombat, at least in name.

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