The Cyclone RX6 will be based on the Norton 650 cc parallel-twin engine, and will likely debut as a 2021 model.
While there still doesn’t seem to be a buyer for iconic British brand Norton Motorcycles which went into administration in January this year, the firm’s 650 cc parallel-twin seems to be finding life in China. While Norton apparently sold off the engine rights of its 961 engine to China’s Jinglang just before the brand went into administration, the deal for the 650 cc engine was finalized way back in 2017 with Chinese giant Zongshen. The 650 cc parallel-twin engine was due to be used in Norton’s Atlas and Superlight models, but now it looks like that engine platform will make its debut in a Zongshen motorcycle, called the Cyclone R6.
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Two prototypes fitted with the 650 cc parallel-twin engine were shown in China late last year, on the Zongshen Cyclone RX6 adventure bike and the RX6 sport tourer. Both bikes used Zongshen-made versions of the Norton 650 cc parallel-twin, with 70 bhp of claimed maximum power. And the latest development is that Zongshen recently patented the styling of the RX6 adventure bike, as the design patents reveal. So far, there’s no concrete word on a launch date, but the bike is expected to be offered on sale sometime in 2021. And the bikes will be named under the Cyclone brand, to give more universal appeal.
The Norton 650 cc platform was designed and the manufacturing rights sold to Zongshen in 2017. Under the terms of that agreement, Zongshen will be able to manufacture and use the engine for a period of 20 years. Zongshen is an established Chinese motorcycle manufacturer with scale and experience in engineering prowess. While Norton Motorcycles kept going downhill, and the planned Norton Atlas models based on the 650 cc engine, as well as the Norton Superlight, never could see full-scale production, Zongshen seems to have proudly achieved and almost completed the RX6 adventure concept, possibly even nearing production.
Also Read: Norton Atlas 650 Models Unveiled
The patent images reveal the RX6 in two trims, one in a basic sport-tourer kind of trim, and the other complete with adventure kit, such as hard-case luggage and crash bars. The patent designs also reveal slight changes than the prototype revealed last year. Among the giveaways from the patent images, are the catalytic converters or bodywork which look almost ready for mass production. The patent images also show an additional swingarm-mounted rear mud-guard, elements which will be ready to meet homologation and other legislative requirements in several markets.
Zongshen is reportedly working on a slightly bigger version of the 650 cc engine as well, with a displacement bump to 850 cc. While the RX6 will likely compete with the likes of the Kawasaki Versys 650 and the Suzuki V-Strom 650, the 850 cc platform will help Zongshen target a segment above, like the one dominated by the Triumph Tiger 900 and the BMW F 750 GS and BMW F 850 GS.