2019 Norton Atlas Ranger. This funky street-scrambler is one of two modular bikes built on a common 650cc parallel twin platform. The other is the Nomad roadster (images below). Norton canvassed a lot of public opinion before settling on the designs. Sounds like the right idea. In theory. But Phil Vincent of Vincent Motorcycles tried that long ago, and (famously) discovered that few riders actually bought the (Black Knight) finished product. Let's hope Norton fares better...



2019 Norton Atlas range

Ranger | Nomad | 650cc | Parallel twin | Scrambler | Roadster



You could argue that Norton is taking an unnecessary risk by saddling its new 650cc, liquid-cooled twins with the Atlas name; notably the scrambler style Atlas Ranger (image immediately above) and the roadster style Atlas Nomad (image immediately below).



After all, there are still plenty of old school Norton diehards who, with much justification, will immediately associate the Atlas name with the 750 (745cc) air-cooled pile driver built between 1962 and 1968—a machine famously accused of being capable of loosening teeth (and brand loyalty).


And there's no denying that. The original Atlas really was something of a beast if you wound it tight and left it on full tilt for extended periods. But buyers (especially in the important US market) liked the idea of a seven-fifty British muscle bike, and Triumph's 750 (744cc) T140 was still a few years away when the Atlas morphed into the 750 (745cc) Commando. So the choice at that time really came down to the Norton Atlas or Royal Enfield's 750 (736cc) Interceptor (both air-cooled parallel twins).




However, with careful fettling, tuning, setting up and coaxing (and favourable atmospherics), the '62 - '68 Dominator-based Norton Atlas had a lot going for it; such as brute power (at around 50bhp), a smooth delivery (if you worked the gears right) and plenty of torque. And there were plenty of individuals and companies willing to base their specials on the Atlas platforms (albeit with the aforementioned tuning and fettling). As a result, Atlas fans were offered a variety of bait. And tempting it often was.



Norton Atlas 750cc. Built between 1962 and 1968, the text on this brochure page reads: "The Mighty Norton Atlas. The machine which develops more power throughout the entire range than any other available. Real beefy power to give you searing acceleration and effortless top speed cruising. Yet, at the same time, having the flexibility required for about-town riding and sidecar work. A choice of handlebar is available—the higher western type illustrated or the usual flat bar. Rev-counter extra."



But that was then, and this is now. And evidently, Norton is happy (or at least prepared) to dust off the Atlas moniker for another public airing.


Both bikes (the Ranger and Nomad) are built around a common platform. The engines, as we understand it, are drawn heavily from Norton's V4 racer and utilise many of the main components (pistons, con-rods, cylinder head, valves, etc). This modular approach will naturally keep the price down and simplify the production line.






Specifications: Norton Atlas Ranger

Engine type: 650cc parallel twin. 270-degree crank firing order. Chain driven double overhead cam
Bore & stroke: 82mm x 61.5mm Compression ratio: 11.5:1
Fuel injection: Electronic fuel injection system. 4 fuel injectors. Full drive-by-wire system. Full Euro 4 compliance including secondary air injection and EVAP.
Power: 84bhp @ 11,000rpm

Torque: 64Nm
Lighting: Full LED lighting system including super bright high and low beam, daytime running lights, rear lamp and indicators.
Chassis: Twin tube seamless steel perimeter chassis with aluminium swinging arm mount. Braced twin spar cast aluminium swinging arm.
Wheelbase: 1470mm (57.9-inches)
Dry weight: 178kg (392lbs)
Headstock angle: 24.2 degrees
Fuel tank: Composite fuel tank with 15 litres (3.3 gallons) capacity.
Front wheel: 19-inch wire wheel with aluminium rim and 120/70-R19 Avon Trekrider tyre.
Rear wheel: 17-inch wire wheel with aluminium rim and 170/60-R17 Avon Trekrider tyre.
Bodywork: High mudguard, brushed aluminium rear panels.
Other equipment: Factory fitted sump guard, screen kit, headlamp guard. Braced handlebars.
Seat height: 867mm
Front brakes: 2 x 320mm full floating Brembo discs. Radially mounted twin Brembo monoblock calipers with ABS.
Rear brake: Single 245mm Brembo disc. Brembo twin piston rear caliper with ABS.
Front suspension: 50mm diameter Roadholder USD forks. Preload, compression and rebound adjustable. 200mm wheel travel.
Rear suspension: Roadholder monoshock with rising rate linkage and piggyback reservoir. Adjustable preload. 200mm wheel travel.
Colours: Titanium Grey or Manx Silver. Specials include: Royal Red, Galactic Black, Diamond White.


As for the prices, it looks as if the Ranger will be asking somewhere around £12k. The Nomad, meanwhile, will come in at around two grand less. For the UK market, Norton is talking about just 250 of each bike. The first machines should be available come May 2019. It's not yet clear how many, if any, bikes are targeted at the rest of the world.






The technical specification for the Atlas Nomad, incidentally, is much the same, so it seems that the extra cost for the Ranger lies mostly in the "scrambler" add-ons.

Overall, we think both motorcycles look pretty cool, and we can see Norton flogging quite a few of these—assuming, that is, that the factory can produce the bikes at a sufficient rate. In the past, Norton has had issues regarding order fulfilment, and the Castle Donington base in Derbyshire isn't anywhere near as well-equipped as, say, Triumph's Hinckley plant with regard to volume manufacturing. Small glitches in the supply chain can cause huge delays and backlogs.


Nevertheless, Norton's head honcho Stuart Garner has proved himself to be resourceful, dedicated and determined. We'll be taking another look at these bikes when we see them up close. And you can do that at this year's Motorcycle Live event at the NEC, Birmingham, 17th - 25th November 2018.



See also: Norton 650 twin scrambler planned (Sump Nov 2017)


























Copyright Sump Publishing 2018