Norton NRV588 at Bonneville: Faster!

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It’s day 6 for Stuart Garner’s attempt to set a speed record for the Norton rotary engined NRV588 racing bike at the Bonneville Salt Flats.  And on day six, Garner broke through 170MPH on the salt.

The power is fed in crisply but not over-enthusiastically, no wheel-spin, no ‘rooster-tail’ of spun-up salt to dramatise the launch but at the risk of excessive tyre wear, just Stuart sailing sublimely into the distance, his progress marked by a series of sharp, snarling applications of power between cog-shifts – the Rotary really does sound superb, a curious mix of the banshee wail of the 500cc stroker Grand Prix bikes of yore, and the deeper, more gutteral snarls of modern MotoGP machinery.

We wait with bated breath for the marshal’s now-restored-to-life walkie-talkie to crackle with our news – “Bike 747, 173mph” – !!!!!!!

I’ve never been on anything–except an airplane–that went faster than 170MPH.  The fastest I’ve ever been on a motorcycle is an indicated 130MPH.  That was for about 5 seconds.  173 miles per hour must be quite a rush.  And that’s 173 MPH on salt, so, that means that on asphalt, the NRV588 would be even faster, because the loose salt surface scrubs speed.

All the local experts say the same; running on the slightly loose salt knocks at least 10% off the speed one could expect on asphalt, so our 173 translates into an equivalent 192mph. Then factor in the 7000 foot altitude, and the thin air we’re all, including the NRV588 Rotary Norton, breathing and one can clearly see well over 200mph from this, our ‘baby’ rotary.

Well, OK, but I think that’s a theoretical speed.  I’m not sure wind resistance at lower altitudes would allow that.  Even for a small motorcycle, at 190MPH, you really do have to push quite a lot of air our of the way.  200MPH+ at sea level?

I think I’m gonna need to actually see that happen before I sign onto that prediction.

Author: Dale Franks

Dale Franks is the former host of The Business Day, ”a daily, four-hour business and financial news program on KMNY Radio in Los Angeles. From 2002-2004, he was a contributor on military and international affairs for TechCentralStation.com. Currently, he a publisher and editor of the monthly political journal The New Libertarian, as well as an editor of the popular web log, Q and O. Dale served as a military police officer in the United States Air Force from 1984 to 1993, in variety of assignments both in the United States and Europe, where he also was assigned to the staff of the Headquarters of Allied Forces Central Europe. In addition to broadcasting, writing, and speaking on various topics, Dale has also been a long-time technical training instructor on a variety of computer software and technology subjects. Dale has also long been involved with information technology as an accomplished web designer, programmer, and technologist, serving as the corporate knowledge specialist for Microsoft Outlook at SAIC, the nation's largest employee-owned corporation. Additionally, he is the author of a number of software user guides used for classroom training by one of Southern California’'s premier computer training and consulting firms. His book, SLACKERNOMICS: Basic Economics for People Who Find Economics Boring, is available from Barnes & Noble.