The F1 Sports was the swansong of Norton Rotary motorcycle production, representing the peak of the development at the time. It came about through the frustrating experiences of German importer Norton Motors GmbH in emissions testing, and the main ideas were outlined in a fax from Joe Seifert to Richard Negus in 1991.
Starting with an idea derived from David Garsides SAE paper on the development of the rotary engine in combination with the fact the Commander had no emission problems, the return to SU carburation was the cornerstone of development. The other main change was to rid the motorcycle of its beautiful but problematic bodywork, replacing it with something that not only already existed, but furthermore gave the motorcycle more street credibility- the factory racers tank/seat unit. This allowed to take off the fully-enclosing main bodywork, and, using the front part of the F1 fairing, getting far more air through, and out of, the motorcycle.
Richard Negus once said the main expense in making the P55B prototype was the 300 Pounds the first hand-made petrol tank cost- everything else was already there. This, obviously, does not take into account how many hours Richard and Bob Rowley spent on other things not apparent to the casual onlooker, the main breakthrough being Richards idea to mount the carburettors higher up, above the radiator, to get some cool air to them.
The end result was a motorcycle that sold on a subscription basis, every single one being snapped up immediately, and the last one (No.66) actually being built in Germany from new parts, as the factory in Shenstone had run out. The F1 Sports or "TT" is now considered to be the best and most desirable model of all Rotary Nortons, if not off all rotary engined motorcycles.
The frustrating thing was, that these motorcycles were only built as an exercise to use up unshiftable parts originally bought in for F1 production- thus making Midlands Bank some more money, but never with the seroius intention to make any more after the original stash of parts was used up. This was not aparent to the directors of Norton Motors Ltd, nor to their trade customers, until it was too late, i.e. after the last bike had been produced.
In order to explain the inexplicably low retail price at the time- in fact a price that was not only far too low, but also uncalled for as all bikes sold instantly-, rumours were placed with the press that as parts dried up from the original left-over high-price parts (PVM wheels, Brembo Brakes, White Power supension components), these were to be replaced by cheaper Yamaha-sourced items. Whilst this was then faithfully repeated, and still is in all publications about Norton ever since ("The F1 Sports was built with cheaper parts" etc), this was, in fact, never done, the only bikes using these FZR1000-sourced "cheap" components being the non-functional F2 prototypes.
The P55B- Everybody should have one, but there are only 66 bikes out there! But for the front fairing the bike could easily pass for a works racer replica. A bike that can be ridden very fast in production trim, as was shown in a German Battle of Twins Championship round in Speyer in 1992 where a production bike, actually ridden to the race course that morning, made 12th place in the race (in a field of 20), only to be put back on normal road tires and to be ridden home, 300 miles away, the same night. The very same bike was later loaned out to a novice rider, who was very taken with the unproblematic, docile engine, good brakes and predictable handling- a real "Jekyll- and Hyde"-machine!
Few came in the "JPS" colours, most were plain black, and German market machines (23 out of the 66 made) had red transfers and were called "TT"s.
Displacement: 588.00 ccm (35.88 cubic inches)
Engine type: Dual disk Wankel
Power: 95.00 HP (69.3 kW)) @ 9500 RPM
Cooling system: Liquid
Transmission type final drive: Chain
Weight incl. oil, gas, etc: 229.0 kg (504.9 pounds)
Front tyre dimensions: 120/70-17
Rear tyre dimensions: 170/60-17
Front brakes: Dual disc
Rear brakes: Single disc
Top speed: 231.0 km/h (143.5 mph)
Fuel capacity: 21.00 litres (5.55 gallons)