Norton-Influenced Zongshen Cyclone RE650: A Glimpse into the Future
Norton-Influenced Zongshen Cyclone RE650: A Glimpse into the Future
1 month ago Industry
Sponsored by Moto Animals

In an exciting collaboration, a Chinese motorcycle brand is set to introduce a forthcoming model equipped with a Norton-developed 650cc parallel twin engine.

The saga of Norton Motorcycles, which faced a dramatic downfall in early 2020, was poised to unveil an impressive lineup of 650cc twin-cylinder motorcycles, featuring the Atlas Ranger scrambler, Atlas Nomad retro-roadster, and the Superlight sportbike. Regrettably, following the company's tumultuous decline and the subsequent revival of Norton under the ownership of India's TVS, these ambitious projects have been put on indefinite hold.


Nevertheless, the contemporary Norton twin-cylinder engine, stemming from the front cylinder bank of the company's 1,200cc V-4 superbike engine, has discovered a new chapter in its story within China and potentially on a global scale. During the final moments of the original Norton Motorcycles endeavor (to be distinguished from The Norton Motorcycle Co., Ltd., the current TVS-owned entity), licensing rights for the 650cc twin were granted to China's Zongshen, a motorcycle manufacturer that markets its bikes under the Cyclone brand in China and various aliases worldwide. After substantial refinements, the Norton 650cc twin engine recently made its debut in China through the Cyclone RX650 adventure bike, with an expanded 850cc iteration already in the development pipeline. Furthermore, a retro-inspired roadster model housing the same engine has surfaced in design registrations.

Expected to bear the moniker Cyclone RE650 in China, this model might be introduced under different brand identities in other markets. This reincarnated roadster remarkably aligns with Norton's original vision for its contemporary twin-cylinder concept. The engine itself closely resembles the version utilized in the RX650, down to the exhaust collector positioned beneath the swingarm pivot, implying a similar level of tuning. Consequently, it boasts outputs of 71 horsepower at 8,500 revolutions per minute and 42 lb.-ft. of peak torque at 7,000 revolutions per minute, figures that place it ahead of comparable, equally sized twin engines. The 850cc engine, outwardly indistinguishable, could potentially find its way into the setup, elevating power levels to 98 horsepower and torque to 59 lb.-ft.


Nestled within a trellis-style steel frame, this framework appears to be shared with the RX650, albeit concealed to a certain extent by panels designed to mimic an aluminum chassis. The swingarm is genuinely constructed from aluminum alloy and once more resembles that of the RX650, featuring the same offset shock arrangement and swingarm-mounted license plate holder. The front end is likely to integrate an upside-down fork, potentially of the KYB brand, given its usage on the RX650, albeit in a shorter configuration to harmonize with the roadster's aesthetic. Wire-spoke wheels contribute to the retro allure, providing a visual contrast to the LED headlight, turn signals, and relatively contemporary dimensions of the fuel tank and seat. While there's a faint echo of the Ducati Monster in the silhouette, it stops short of being a mere mimicry that could taint China's motorcycle industry reputation.


The design displays an intriguing asymmetry. A whiff of flat-track influence emerges from the left side, where a side panel bears resemblance to a traditional race number board. However, the right-hand side is sculpted to expose the rear shock, creating a distinctive visual contrast. Notably, the left side also houses an air intake for the engine, a feature conspicuously absent on the right.

In the company of esteemed brands like CFMoto and Qianjiang, Zongshen holds a prominent place in China's motorcycle scene. A longstanding partnership with Piaggio has led to the establishment of a joint-venture factory in China, responsible for assembling various Aprilia and Piaggio-branded models. Recently, Zongshen unveiled the RA900 V-twin roadster, drawing inspiration from the V-twin engine and frame of the Aprilia Shiver 900. Excitingly, Zongshen's future plans encompass the assembly of a revived version of the Aprilia Shiver, slated to be marketed under the Gilera brand—a label also under the Piaggio umbrella. The production variant of this much-anticipated machine, initially glimpsed a year ago, is anticipated to be officially introduced in the near future.

#Moto #CFMoto #QJMotor

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