Norton Motorcycles cannot be rescued

Norton Motorcycles cannot be rescued as a “going concern” because it owes its creditors a whopping £28,352,089 (more than $A57m).

However, administrators are still negotiating with eight potential buyers.

Joint Administrators’ Proposals report to creditors sent to us by administrators BDO UK says Norton Motorcycles cannot be rescued in its current form.

“Due to the extent of the Company’s known liabilities (including sums owed to Holdings), it is not considered that the Company will be rescued as a going concern,” the report proposes.

In January, Norton Motorcycles went into administration amid claims of pension fund frauds and a £300,000 unpair tax bill.

Almost half the debt is in the 228 pension funds that owes £14m.

UK Pensions regulator is now investigating boss Stuart Garner (pictured above in a UK government export campaign) over his role in the pension scheme to fraudulently fund his company.

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 Motorcycles Donington Hall factory crowdNorton’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.

Norton KeanuKeanu 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”.

Operations mothballed

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.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Polaris/Indian boss suspends salary

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.

The company closed all its five factories in the USA, plus factories in Mexico and Poland on March 23 and expects to reopen this week.

“Polaris continues to carefully calibrate its manufacturing operations with anticipated product demand,” a company statement says.

“Production will restart this week on select manufacturing lines for products with adequate demand and supply chain coverage.

“Polaris continues to ship finished vehicles to dealers, and to produce products that are consistent with governing federal, state and local directives.”

Meanwhile, boss Scott Wine will forgo his salary for the remainder of 2020.

We’re not sure how much he earns, but it was recently revealed that sacked Harley-Davidson CEO and president Matt Levatich was paid a record $11m last year.

Matt Levatich Harley-Davidson CEOP and president boss HogLevatich in Australia last year

Salary cutting

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.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Retrospective: 1977-1981 Yamaha DT125 MX

1977 Yamaha DT125 MX
1977 Yamaha DT125 MX. Owner: Don Carver, Creston, California.

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.

1977 Yamaha DT125 MX

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.

1977 Yamaha DT125 MX

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.

1977 Yamaha DT125 MX

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. 

1977 Yamaha DT125 MX

Source: RiderMagazine.com

Mamola: from king of saves to king of Instagram

“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!”

Source: MotoGP.comRead Full Article Here

New Gear: D.I.D. VX Chain

DID VX chain

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. 

See your dealer or visit didchain.com

Source: RiderMagazine.com

HJC i10 Helmet | Gear Review

HJC i10 helmet

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.

For more information, see your dealer or visit hjchelmets.us.

Source: RiderMagazine.com

Do you hold the clutch lever at lights?

Does it damage the bike’s clutch to keep your motorcycle in gear with the lever pulled in while waiting at traffic lights and is it safe?

RACQ technical officer and Triumph Bonneville rider Steve Spalding says the mechanical issue largely depends on the type of clutch your bike has.

“Most bike clutches are wet which means they run in oil ( usually the same oil as the engine and transmission) but some, such as many old BMWs, use a dry clutch that’s essentially the same as a car,” Steve says.

Steve Spalding RACQ voidSteve Spalding

Clutch wear

“Either way, there is still an element of additional wear by holding in the lever for long periods.

“With a dry clutch the thrust bearing (or sometimes called a throw-out bearing) rubs against the pressure plate fingers while on a wet clutch a rod pushes against the clutch pack – the purpose of both types is to separate the friction plates.

“Both types add unnecessary wear if the clutch is held in for prolonged periods. It’s also holding the clutch cable and linkage under tension.  

“Also, with a wet bike clutch there is always a level of drag because wet friction plates never fully separate. That’s why most bikes have a firm clunk when first gear is selected.

“This drag is friction and therefore wear, it also places additional stress on the oil and tension on the chain.

“So it’s better for mechanical reasons to put the bike into neutral.”

Safety issue road rage tailgate tailgating rear-ender motorcycles BMW S 1000 RR lane filtering lane splitting gap

For safety, it is advisable to leave your bike in gear at the lights, at least until you have a couple of cars pulled up behind you to avoid a rear-ender.

The reasoning is that you are ready to take off in case the driver behind you (and sometimes the driver behind them!) doesn’t pull up in time.

Leaving the bike in gear in this crucial stage means you are ready to move away and avoid a rear-ender, which is one of the most common types of motorcycle accidents at intersections.

Keep an eye on your mirrors for a vehicle about to rear-end you and plan where you can go in an emergency.

You should have your right foot on the rear brake and your left foot on the ground for a quick getaway.

Once the line-up of cars behind you is stationary, you can pop the bike into neutral if the traffic light sequence is long.

You can also filter and sit between the lanes of traffic for further protection.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Royal Enfield Himalayan new colours

Even the coronavirus hasn’t stopped the rugged Royal Enfield Himalayan adventure bike in its tracks with sales booming and two new colours for 2020.

RE closed all its production facilities around the world from March 23 for nine days.

The bike recorded a 116% increase in sales in February, but the nine-day production setback may only be temporary with the bright new colours in the line-up.

Australia importers Urban Moto Imports says the 2020 model will come in six colours, including the new Lake Blue and Rock Red.Royal Enfield Himalayan colours

They now come with ABS and electronic fuel injection and cost just $7490 ride away.

For the first time, you can also order online.

While you await the arrival of your new Indian adventure bike, chill out and watch this majestic video of the Himalayan in its namesake mountains.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com