Motorcycling Australia events and licence sales suspended
COVID-19 pandemic results in extended period of inactivity.
Image: Foremost Media.
Motorcycling Australia (MA) has moved to suspend all scheduled events and licence sales due to the global coronavirus crisis.
With events already postponed on a broad scale both locally and overseas, competition has now been halted altogether by the governing body.
“With the rapidly changing environment and increasing government restrictions around COVID-19, it is with regret the Motorcycling Australia federation confirm that as of April 1 no further events will take place and license sales are suspended until further notice,” the statement read.
“Once we better understand the period of inactivity, we will be discussing extensions of licenses already issued and advise you. All state controlling bodies and MA are putting in plans around office activities and services available during this period of inactivity and we will provide you frequent updates.
“The ongoing COVID-19 is having a devastating effect on our sport, jobs, and the economy across the world, none of us are immune and the challenges we will face over the rest of 2020 will be huge, but we hope not insurmountable. This situation is unprecedented, with change not only to the sport but to our everyday lives.
“We encourage you to keep up to date with developments in the sport, and government advice to ensure the safety of you and your families.
“We will continue to work during this downtime to ensure that motorcycle activities can recommence as soon as humanly possible and we can begin to rebuild our sport. There will be many sacrifices we will all have to make and this is a time when the sport and motorcycle community needs to come together and work to come out the other side stronger.”
The remainder of the debts are to secured creditor Metro Bank (£7m) and the rest to unsecured creditors.
BDO UK’s report to creditors will soon be filed at Companies House and made public.
If anyone is owed money and wants the report, I will email it to them. Contact me via email here.
Buyers sought for Norton Motorcycles
Norton’s Donington Hall factory
BDO UK is also still considering selling the company, claiming it has received “significant interest” from potential buyers:
A deadline for initial offers was set for 21 February 2020, which resulted in 29 formal offers being received for all of the business and assets of the Company. Following the Joint Administrators’ assessment of the offers received, eight offers were progressed to phase two of the sales process, where additional information was being provided to such parties together with site visits and meetings with management, if requested. A deadline for best and final offers has been set for close of business on 25 March 2020, with a view to concluding a transaction as soon as possible thereafter. Further details of the indicative offers received cannot be provided at this stage, as to do so may prejudice the ongoing sales process. Accordingly, a further update will be provided in the Joint Administrators’ next report to creditors.
So, while we don’t know the identity of the buyers yet, the rumour mill suggests Japanese and Chinese motorcycle companies, John Bloor of Triumph Motorcycles and even motorcycle fan Keanu Reeves whose first bike was a Norton.
Keanu on a Norton Commnando
SuperBike Magazine also claims the company’s biggest single investor, Steve Murray, could be interested in buying the company.
They say he invested his entire life savings or about £1 million for 10% equity and loaned the company an extra £500,000.
He was a company director for three months, but chose to be “hands-off”.
BDO UK has mothballed Norton’s trading operations and production, but continues to pay employees while it tries to find a buyer:
It was not considered possible to continue production activity whilst in administration due to (i) the increased level of costs that were anticipated to be incurred in continuing production, (ii) difficulties in sourcing raw materials without appropriate lines of credit, which would exacerbate the cash position whilst in administration and (iii) it not being possible to provide warranties to any customer who may acquire a motorcycle from the Company whilst in administration. This strategy has therefore been adopted to provide the best opportunity to source a purchaser for the Company’s business and assets, whilst seeking to minimise the associated holding costs.
The third and final proposal by the administrators is to sell off assets to pay creditors if it cannot find a buyer.
However, assets appear only to amount to enough to pay Metro Bank which is owed £7m.
At least in Australia, importers Brisbane Motorcycles have returned deposits to those who paid for bikes not yet delivered.
Team HRC rider Mitch Evans is recovering nicely at home in Australia after having surgery on the right shoulder that he damaged in a crash at the second MXGP of the season in Valkenswaard, Netherlands.
Performed by the respected Dr Steve Andrews at the Brisbane Private Hospital, the arthroscopic anterior stabilisation went smoothly and without complications, giving Evans the best possible chance to recover as quickly as possible during this enforced absence from the MXGP calendar.
Mitch Evans and HRC team-mate Tim Gajser on the podium earlier this year in Italy
At the moment, the next scheduled event is in Russia on June 6th in just over three months’ time, but with the nature of the current COVID-19 pandemic causing uncertainty, there is no real timeline for the Australian’s next race and as such, he can concentrate on his recuperation and getting back to the form that saw him go three-seven in his first ever MXGP round at Matterley Basin, Great Britain.
“I’m glad to have had the surgery, and I can now get home and begin my recovery. It’s a strange situation with the season and all these postponed races but my aim is to get my shoulder feeling 100% and to get back riding and feeling comfortable on the bike again. A big thanks to the team for all their support and advice and hopefully I’ll be back soon. Stay safe everyone!”
Polaris, which owns and produces Indian motorcycles, has introduced a range of cost-cutting measures including the boss, Scott Wine (above), suspending his own salary for the rest of the year to cope with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Other cost-cutting includes delaying salary rises for staff, two weeks leave without pay for some staff and pay reductions of 20% for other staff including the executive leadership team.
“This is an unprecedented crisis with a sudden and stark impact on our business, but in difficult times Polaris has always responded with agility and proved our resilience,” Wine says.
“While the immediate future is uncertain, what is crystal clear is that Polaris must act judiciously but decisively to win both during this situation and after it is resolved. The measures we are taking today are necessary responses to a dynamic environment that compels us to bolster our liquidity and rapidly adapt to extraordinary circumstances.”
Polaris is also reviewing all operating expenses, postponing non-essential capital expenditures, and suspending share repurchases.
The company will draw down an incremental $US150 million under its current revolving credit facility. As of March 31, Polaris has more than $420 million in cash-on-hand “to help weather the current COVID-19 crisis”.
“The Company will continue to evaluate its operations and make adjustments based on the safety of its employees, demand signals, the health of its supply chain and distribution network, and government mandates and local orders,” the company statement says.
The Japanese were selling a lot of “street-scramblers” in the late 1960s, but these were merely street bikes with upswept pipes. Yamaha, in particular, was advertising three twin-cylinder “scramblers” in 1968, the same year it brought out the DT-1 Enduro 250 single, soon followed by the AT-1 Enduro 125. That enduro nomenclature made a bike a little more serious about bad roads, but still, it was a compromise, doing neither street nor dirt extremely well.
Despite its imperfections, the 125 changed the world for a lot of Americans. With a gallon of gas in the small 1.8-gallon tank this little charmer weighed in at about 220 pounds, light enough that just about anybody could pick it up. When buyers scooped up all the AT units that first year Yamaha understood it was on to something profitable.
Move along to 1974, minor improvements were made, and model codes were changed. The bike was redesignated the DT125 — the DT now denoting all of the enduros, from 125 to 400. The 125 chassis was quite conventional, with a cradle-style tubular-steel frame, dual shocks at the rear and a pair of 18-inch wheels.
For 1977 a new version of the DT125 appeared known as the DT125 MX, instantly recognizable as it came with a single shock rear end, just like the Yamaha’s YZ Monocross racers. As they liked to say those many years ago, “That looks really cool!” Image has always been important in the motorcycle world, and this had great image. Like the racers it used a cantilever-style swingarm, with a long DeCarbon hydraulic shock running all the way to the steering head, under the gas tank. The lengthy damper proved to be excellent for shock absorption, allowing the rear wheel to follow the bumps and dips rather than bounce over them. A dose of nitrogen gas made sure the shock would not bottom out.
Wheels were a 21-incher on the front with a 2.75 Yokohama trials tire, and an 18-incher at the back, with a 3.50 tire. The Takasago wheels each had a rim lock, a hint as to the expectation of a goodly amount of abuse. The five-inch drum brakes on both wheels were adequate in the dirt but rather weak when used on the pavement. The tubular frame cradled the engine/transmission, with a large backbone concealing the shock absorber. The subframe elevated the saddle to some 32 inches above the ground, the suspension allowing for 10 inches of ground clearance. The center-axle 31mm fork had 30 degrees of rake, five inches of trail, providing some seven inches of travel. Almost 53 inches ran between the axles.
The engine was semi-new, still with an oversquare 56 x 50mm bore and stroke totaling 123cc, but now with radial fins on the cylinder head for better cooling. A 24mm Mikuni slide carburetor using reed-valve technology fed gas and air into the crankcase, while Yamaha’s Autolube sent oil to where it should go. An aluminum sleeve fit into the cylinder, utilizing a five-port induction system, with a compression ratio of 7.2 to 1. Power was on the discreet side, with some 10 horses at 7,000 rpm, but that might have enhanced sales, as it was not enough to get into serious trouble.
The Autolube oil container, holding a little more than a quart, was discreetly concealed behind the left-side panel, and once the panel was removed the reservoir could be swung out and refilled. A little light went on in the instrument cluster when the oil got low. The oil-injection system did vary the amount going into the engine depending on throttle load, which served to reduce oil usage as well as prevent fouling the plug.
To get rid of that troublesome need to occasionally set timing, as well as check points, the DT125 was blessed with a magnetically triggered capacitor-discharge ignition system, better known by its abbreviation, CDI. This benefited the engine by offering a quicker spark, reducing the possibility that any of that oil and gas mixture in the combustion chamber would foul the plug. The magneto also served to keep the small six-volt battery charged.
The exhaust system was well designed. Enduro bikes tend to fall over on occasion, and the idea is that the rider disentangles him- or herself, gets up, lifts the bike, pulls in the clutch, gives a kick and away they go. Presuming no damage to the header pipe or muffler. The DT125 header went up and back under the right side of the tank, and then crossed over to the muffler and spark arrestor on the left side, tucked away behind frame members. Very protected, very efficient.
Getting power to the rear wheel was done via helical gears running the ponies back to a five-plate wet clutch and a very good six-speed transmission, where the top two gears were actually overdrive. A minimalist chain guard covered the chain, with sprockets having 15 and 49 teeth allowing for a solo rider to exceed the 55 mph national speed limit. The relatively comfy saddle was capable of seating two friendly riders. High fenders kept mud-collection problems away, and turn signals kept the feds happy, along with a speedo and tach, indicator lights and a horn.
And to ride? Fun! Within reason. Turn the petcock, pull the choke knob if cold, turn the key and kick to start. The little engine did best, of course, when a rider weighed less than 200 pounds, but it was happy scrabbling in the dirt. With a few minor changes this model lasted through 1981, after which two-stroke street bikes became illegal in the U.S.
“As I was getting on the plane there’s a lot of paddock members, who said, “great dancing, Randy!” I said, “What are you talking about?” “Your Instagram!” “I don’t have an Instagram…” “No, you have one!” So I got home and asked my lovely daughter, turns out she didn’t give me the name or password or anything and just said what a way to start your Instagram page!”
D.I.D’s 120-link VX Series chains ($122.80) are high-performance, low-friction, long-life X-Ring chains that fit numerous street and off-road motorcycles ranging from 350 to 1,100cc. The increased rigidity of VX Series chains reduces pin flex for a smoother ride and better throttle response. Compared to D.I.D’s VO Series O-ring chains, the VX Series offers 32% to 41% (depending on size) longer life thanks to D.I.D’s patented X-Ring seal.
I see a lot of HJC lids when I’m out and about with other riders, which is no surprise: they’re attractive, functional and easy on the wallet. Its CL-17 has been a bestseller and a workhorse of the lineup for years, and for 2019 HJC released a new model to replace it, the i10. Its advanced polycarbonate composite shell has a fresh, modern look, with crown, forehead and chinbar intake vents and always-open exhaust vents at the rear, and the Taze graphic we tested (shown above) also features subtle silver reflective striping on the front, top, back and sides. The liner is removable and washable and the Pinlock-ready visor snaps on and off easily. The i10 is also ready to accept the optional built-in SmartHJC 20B or 10B Bluetooth communication system, or it can be used with a separate system from a manufacturer like Cardo or Sena.
My i10 was comfortable right out of the box, with ample room for speakers. I would say fit is intermediate oval that leans just a hair toward round oval, but I didn’t experience any hotspots or pressure points. The chinbar and forehead vents are super easy to use with gloves on, but for some reason I struggled to locate and operate the top vents at times, usually when wearing thicker gloves. The visor is easy to use too, with a large tab front and center that eliminates the fumbling at traffic lights I’ve experienced with some other brands, but I wish it had a smaller initial “de-fogging” opening. I also miss the convenience of a built-in drop-down sun visor, but if that’s a deal-breaker for you, HJC’s i70 (reviewed in the October 2019 issue and here) is a nice step up for not too much more dough.
With a lower-priced lid like the i10, your primary concessions are in the comfort category; at 3 lbs., 9 oz. my size small i10 is nearly 5 oz. heavier than a similarly featured high-end competitor. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but after a full day of riding that third of a pound can become apparent. That said, the i10 is still a lot of helmet for the money, especially given it carries the newest Snell M2020 certification in addition to DOT. It’s available in sizes XS-3XL (3XL is DOT only) in five solid colors starting at $149.99, and in three graphics starting at $169.99.