Norton Motorcycles is renewing ties with its past by jumping back into the cafe racer segment. It introduced a prototype called V4 Cafe Racer that blends the heritage-laced design riders expect from a cafe racer with an unexpected dose of superbike-sourced power.
Developed and built in England, the V4 Cafe Racer is based on the V4SV, but it stands out with a more compact overall design and less fairing. Its frame is shorter, and it loses the cladding below the engine as well as the panel that surrounds the V4SV’s headlight. In this sense, it falls perfectly in line with the cafe racer philosophy: These bikes were often stripped to be as light and as fast as possible.
The engine is exposed as well, which illustrates one of the coolest parts of motorcycle design. While the engine in most new cars is buried under a plastic cover, motorcycle designers go to significant lengths to make the mechanical parts look good because they’re in plain sight.
As its name implies, the V4 Cafe Racer is powered by a water-cooled, 1.2-liter V4 that’s related to the engine fitted to the V4SV superbike. It develops 185 horsepower, a figure that’s unusually high for a cafe racer, and it should be even quicker than it sounds thanks to an array of weight-reduction measures. The fuel tank and the fairing are made with carbon fiber, and the swingarm is manufactured with billet aluminum.
Norton stopped short of providing details about the riding aids and the technology fitted to the V4 Cafe Racer. While it stresses that the motorcycle is a prototype, it’s not shy about its intentions to bring the model to production soon. We already know that, when it goes on sale, the V4CR will be offered in two color schemes (Carbon and Manx Silver). Pricing information hasn’t been released.