Words by Ajinkya Nair
The much glorified JV between Kinetic MotoRoyale and Norton Motorcycles was announced at the EICMA. As a result, we will be seeing a slew of Norton bikes soon our roads. Let’s dwell upon the headliner – the Dominator.
Based on the exclusive Domiracer, the Dominator gets high spec components while still keeping the retro café styling in check. The British company will be bringing the Dominator as a CBU initially, so it’s bound to be very expensive. But once local assembly starts at the Kinetic Motoroyale plant in Ahmednagar, Maharashtra, we can expect the costs to mellow down. It gets a 961cc parallel-twin with a 270-degree crank (similar to the Triumph Bonneville), mated to a 5-speed gear box. The engine, developed in-house by Norton churns out 79bhp and a maximum torque of 90Nm, and of course, the handmade Featherbed frame. Retaining much of the classic charm, the Dominator also gets premium 43mm upside down Ohlins forks and Ohlins monoshock at the rear too, while braking is taken care of by Brembo. “Norton motorcycles are like the Aston Martins of motorcycles”, optimistically says Ajinkya Firodia (MD, Motoroyale), commenting on the exclusivity of these beautiful machines. And we can’t agree more.
But what makes Norton so special? Nortons were among the most popular, best handling, and fastest motorcycles of their time. The Dominator was launched back in 1949 as a competition to the ever so popular Triumph Speed Twin. The vertical twin market was crowded in the 1950s, and the Dominator did not grip much traction initially. Then came the Featherbird frame, designed by Rex and McCandless, which gave the Dominator a quantum leap in terms of handling. The frame itself is called one of the finest racing chassis of its time. Created to tackle the twisting and excruciating Isle of Mann TT course, it was truly a frame designed for a racer. In fact, the frame was so good, plonking the same old engine into it made it a completely different motorcycle, which was called the Norton Dominator 88. After that, came the 99 (1956-62), which was a 596cc version of the old 500cc Model S.
Norton Motorcycles have produced much loved products among enthusiasts, and looking at the rise in demand for premium motorcycles in India, we expect the beautiful Dominator to be given a warm welcome, when it lands here.