Five Classic Rarities #5: Norton Cosworth Challenge-News & Reviews-Motorcycle…

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05 Jul 2013 | Technologically clever, the Challenge just didn’t cut it at 750 level

Words: Ian Falloon Ian Falloon/MT archives

Hen’s heroes

True motorcycle are always hard to come by, but – Ian Falloon – these five are some of the rarest bikes in Here’s number five.

Cosworth Challenge

After its in 1966 as Norton-Villiers Ltd, managed to resurrect obsolete through clever design, the highly successful Commando out of an enlarged 500cc Dominator. But some impressive results in racing, and the introduction of a monocoque in 1973, the Commando’s days numbered, both as a production and a racer.

Ford of Britain’s success the Cosworth DFV 3lt F1 engine encouraged to think of a motorcycle engine two of those cylinders. By 1973 the four-valve water-cooled DFV V8 had won over 100 prix events. Two cylinders total 750cc and could 115hp (84.6kW).

During Norton and Cosworth entered an agreement to produce a parallel-twin based on the DFV, producing (55.2kW) in street form. highly ambitious plan, known as the P86 or Norton Cosworth called for a service life of and the ability to win international Formula 750 At the time it all seemed reasonable.

H2-R was fast and fragile, triples heavy wagons, and TZ750 lay in the future.

To keep noise levels the engine was water-cooled, with a rubber belt driving the overhead camshafts. As emissions easier to control with the rising and falling together, the was the traditional British-style 360-degree and thus the engine required balancer shafts. Carburetion was to be by a of 40mm Amal Mark II on the racer and a single carb for the bike.

The bore and … 85.7mm x 64.8mm and the electronic was a Lucas Rita.

Unfortunately was beset by problems and the actual of 95hp (69.9kW) a bit less anticipated. The camshaft drive failed, the engine suffered crankcase pressure, and the crank without a centre main flexed excessively. Primary was by a Morse Hy-Vo chain to a fivespeed gearbox.

Another problem was the engine – it weighed a considerable 88kg, but than 34kg of it was rotating. was not a great recipe for racing on tracks that required acceleration and handling.

By the end of 1974 race program had all but stopped and the was to prove the P86 in racing before it into production. But the main now facing the project was a lack of

On paper it looked promising but it was taken to Silverstone, racer Croxford’s best lap time was seconds off the F750 lap record. was a catastrophe, ensuring the project’s By now the money had run out and Norton and Cosworth on difficult terms, and the project

Norton water-cooled Classic

Ultimately the Cosworth Challenge an expensive oddity, and a contradiction. The of F1 car technology and traditional design obsolete street bikes was a dubious proposition. Things may been different if the bike had in the late 1960s, but by 1976 no four-… could succeed in 750 racing.

In the end the P86 simply faded much like Norton

Norton Cosworth Challenge

• Retired Managing Director of Motors, Richard Negus, was a for the original Norton Cosworth drawings. He was later responsible for the Classic, Commander, F1, F1 Sport, and machines.

• The John Player works team only had two completed Challenges at any one time. two bikes covered four versions that experimented suspension designs (front and

along with induction.

• JPN was disbanded Ian Sunderland bought out the shop and continued to develop the power unit, eventually success with the Quantell. bike’s JAB power unit was with MoTeC fuel

• Dave Croxford first the P86 prototype at Brands Hatch at the of the Year in 1975. A firstcorner when eight bikes down, saw the end of its debut.

• Dave Croxford paraded the monocoque P86 at Pukekohe at the NZCMRR meet in February, 2009.

Norton water-cooled Classic


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