Tag Archives: norton motorcycles

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

Norton Motorcycles boss under investigation

Failed Norton Motorcycle boss Stuart Garner is in more strife with the UK Pensions regulator now investigating his role in a pension scheme to fraudulently fund his company.

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

In 2012 and 2013, 228 pensioners invested in five-year pension funds (Commando 2012 Pension Scheme, the Dominator 2012 Pension Scheme, and the Donington MC Pension Scheme) which invested primarily in Norton Motorcycles.

Trustee of all funds and sole director of their provider, Manocrest Ltd, was Stuart Garner.

The pensioners claim their investment was not returned years after the lock-in period had expired and £14 million in investments were lost in the company collapse.

In February, Garner failed to appear at a public hearing held by the Pensions Ombudsman to investigate complaints about the pension schemes. 

Norton boss Stuart Garner at Donington CastleGarner in his home at Donington Castle

Under investigation

It’s taken until now for the Pensions Regulator to launch an investigation.

Last year the Pensions Ombudsman criticised Garner for a “clear” conflict of interest as trustee of schemes that invested all funds into his business.

“It appears to me that the investment of all of the scheme’s assets in Norton Motorcycle Holdings is potentially in breach of the restrictions on employer-related investments under section 40 of the Pensions Act 1995,” the ombudsman said.

Garner faces a fine and/or jail if found guilty of a conflict of interest.

Despite being chased by investors, customers, the government and now the Pensions Regulator, Garner and his wife, Susie, were last month spotted dining out at elite London restaurant, The Ivy, where a steak costs about £30 (about $A60).

Norton Stuart and Susie GarnerStuart and Susie Garner dining out

The photo was published on the Twitter account Notnorton Moto as another example of Garner’s extravagant lifestyle.

At least in Australia, importers Brisbane Motorcycles have returned deposits to those who paid for bikes not yet delivered.

The UK government is now being called on to investigate almost £8m in funding and loans amid claims that Garner squandered the money on fast cars and a lavish lifestyle.

Click here to read the whole sordid tale.

Buyers sought

Norton Motorcycles Donington Hall factory crowdNorton’s Donington Hall factory

The company ceased production in February, but administrators BDO UK say they have “significant interest” from potential buyers.

BDO spokesman Lee Causer says they are “taking all necessary steps to ensure that customers, staff and suppliers are supported through the administration process, as we seek the sale of the business and assets”.

“We have had a significant volume of interest and are hopeful that a sale of Norton Motorcycles (UK) Ltd can be secured,” he says.

That’s good news for Norton fans and customers.

Norton boss Stuart Garner at Donington CastleGarner relaxes at home

The rumour mill has been running hot with talk of Japanese and Chinese motorcycle companies and even motorcycle fan Keanu Reeves being interested in buying the venerable brand.

Norton KeanuKeanu on a Norton Commnando

A petition to Triumph Motorcycles boss John Bloor to buy the company has only received 61 signatures.

Meanwhile, another petition to the government to launch an official inquiry into Garner has more than 7000 signatures.

SuperBike Magazine 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”.

The deadline for bidders closed on 21 February 2020. There has been no update from the administrators.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Garner dines out as Norton sinks

Failed Norton Motorcycle boss Stuart Garner and his wife, Susie, have been spotted dining out at elite London restaurant, The Ivy, where a steak costs about £30 (about $A60).

The photo was published on the Twitter account Notnorton Moto as another example of Garner’s extravagant lifestyle.

Meanwhile, customers, pensioners, investors, the tax department and the government are still waiting for their money as the company languishes in administration.

Garner NortonThe Garners at a Swiss watch show in 2018

At least in Australia, importers Brisbane Motorcycles have returned deposits to those who paid for bikes not yet delivered.

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

The UK government is now being called on to investigate almost £8m in funding and loans amid claims that Garner squandered the money on fast cars and a lavish lifestyle.

Click here to read the whole sordid tale.

Buyers sought

Norton Motorcycles Donington Hall factory crowdNorton’s Donington Hall factory

The company ceased production in February, but administrators BDO UK say they have “significant interest” from potential buyers.

BDO spokesman Lee Causer says they are “taking all necessary steps to ensure that customers, staff and suppliers are supported through the administration process, as we seek the sale of the business and assets”.

“We have had a significant volume of interest and are hopeful that a sale of Norton Motorcycles (UK) Ltd can be secured,” he says.

That’s good news for Norton fans and customers.Norton boss Stuart Garner at Donington Castle

The rumour mill has been running hot with talk of Japanese and Chinese motorcycle companies and even motorcycle fan Keanu Reeves being interested in buying the venerable brand.

A petition to Triumph Motorcycles boss John Bloor to buy the company has only received 61 signatures.

Meanwhile, another petition to the government to launch an official inquiry into Garner has almost 7000 signatures.

SuperBike Magazine 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”.

The deadline for bidders closed on 21 February 2020.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Triumph winds down Hinckley production

Triumph Motorcycle will move more of its production from Hinckley in the UK to Thailand in a bid to target rapidly growing Asian markets.

In 2002, Triumph opened its first factory in Thailand where it now has three facilities making about 80% of last year’s total of 60,131 bikes.

There are also factories in Brazil and India supplying for the local markets.

And last month Triumph announced an agreement with Baja to build a range of 200-750cc motorcycles in India.

Proposed Triumph 250Proposed Triumph 250

Hinckley factory

Their factory in Hinckley, Leicestershire, mainly makes engine components and will become a research and development centre.

It will continue to build their new Triumph Factory Custom (TFC) motorcycles with production wound down from about 6500 a year to about 4500.

Triumph Thruxton and Rocket 3 TFC ace diamondTriumph Thruxton and Rocket 3 TFC

They will lay off about 50 workers on the assembly line, paint shop and weld shop.

However, they will add about 20 design engineer jobs in their upgraded R&D facility.

Thai advantages

Apart from the cost advantages of making bikes in Thailand, most major component suppliers are nearby, including an Ohlins factory.

Australia also has a free trade agreement with Thailand, which keeps a lid on prices.

Triumph boss Nick Bloor says the move is part of “Triumph’s next wave of strategic growth”.

“We want to maximise the growth opportunity for the brand globally, particularly in the Asian markets,” he says.

“This is why we are increasing our design resources here in the UK, and focusing our mass-production capabilities in Thailand.

“There will still be manufacturing capability in the UK but the role of our facility in Hinckley will be reconfigured to enable us to create a more flexible and high-value capability.”

Leicestershire automotive jobs have taken a big hit in recent weeks with Norton Motorcycles closing down and going into administration amid allegations of fraud, misappropriated government funding and unpaid taxes.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Call for government probe on Norton funding

The UK government may investigate almost £8m in funding and loans to Norton Motorcycles which has now gone into administration following £300,000 in unpaid taxes and claims of pension fund frauds.

Public accounts committee chair Meg Hillier is calling for an official inquiry and accuses government officials of “blindly pouring” millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money into the failed company.

Funding

Government loans and funding include:

  • In 2012, the UK government backed a £625,000 loan by Santander;
  • In 2015, the UK government granted £4m in funding with £1.8m to Norton and £968,123 to the British Motorcycle Manufacturing Academy, a charitable business controlled by CEO Stuart Garner;
  • In 2016, a further £1.2m funding was given to Norton by Innovate UK, a public body funded by the UK government; and
  • In November 2019, Norton launched a crowd funding campaign which it dropped when the Midlands Engine Investment Fund, part of the British Business Bank, provided the company with a £1.5m “growth loan”.

However, the loan was never granted as in January 2020, global accounting firm BDO UK was appointed administrators.

Norton factory, Donington Hall, Castle DoningtonNorton factory, Donington Hall, Castle Donington

Allegations

The 122-year-old British company was on its knees when Garner bought it in 2008.

And that’s when Norton’s problems seem to have started.

In 2008, a £1m loan came from the proceeds of a tax fraud over which two longstanding Norton associates were convicted in 2013.

Other problems encountered by Norton include:

  • Customers who paid a deposit but never received a bike have taken legal action;
  • Claims that warranties have not been honoured;
  • A high turnover of staff;
  • Failure to pay parts suppliers resulting in a lack of spares and poor quality control;
  • A threat to strike the company off the Register of Companies over a late-filing notice; and
  • Isle of Man TT racing legend and 23-time race winner John McGuinness claims he could not contact Garner about his contract to race this year.

    TT legend John McGuinness and Norton boss Stuart Garner fundingTT legend John McGuinness and Norton boss Stuart Garner

The biggest alleged fraud involves 228 pensioners investing in five-year pension funds (Commando 2012 Pension Scheme, the Dominator 2012 Pension Scheme, and the Donington MC Pension Scheme) in 2012 and 2013.

The funds were invested primarily in Norton Motorcycles.

Trustee of all funds and sole director of their provider was Manocrest Ltd, owned by Garner.

The pensioners also claim their investment was not returned years after the lock-in period had expired.

Garner is expected to appear before the pensions ombudsman today (13 February 2020).

Customer out of pocket

One of the customers out of pocket is Steve Gadd who paid a £1800 deposit for a Norton Breitling Special Edition in June last year.

imited-edition Commando 961 Cafe Racer MKIINorton Breitling limited-edition Commando 961 Cafe Racer MKII

“Two weeks later a phone call from Ray Wilson said if we paid the balance, about £17,000 we could have the bike in three to 10 days,” he says.

“We still haven’t received it despite ringing them twice a week and repeated assurances that it was on the build list.

“Late November we realised something was wrong so we contacted the police suspecting that they had obtained our money by deception the police referred it to the fraud department and as far as we know the file is still open.

“We have contacted the consumer protection agency who are guiding us through the claims procedures.

“We had also paid a £500 deposit against an Atlas Ranger.”

Norton Atlas RangerNorton Atlas Ranger

Government support

Norton CEO Stuart Garner“Poster boy” Garner

It seems Norton was viewed by the government as one of the last bastions of British manufacturing and engineering. Garner was even a poster boy for British exports.

Several government ministers readily endorsed the company and posed in media photo opportunities with Garner, including former PM Theresa May.

“Government has got to step up and be better in its due diligence of the companies that it gives money to,” Hillier told the Guardian.

“A little bit of digging would have uncovered some of the problems that were going on at Norton … (the government) seemed to go on blindly pouring money into an ‘iconic British business name’, seemingly not having picked up that there were problems with this business.

“It reads a bit here of Whitehall not doing its due diligence and, perhaps, not challenging ministers enough when they said this is a good company.”

Administration

BDO is looking for buyers to bail out the company and has prepared a list of assets that include an £800,000 car collection with six Aston Martins, three Range Rovers and an F Type Jaguar.

It also shows that Garner personally owes the firm £160,000 while a £324,002 loan given by Norton to one of Garner’s other companies was “deemed irrecoverable” and written off.

These seem to point to the excesses that critics have accused Garner of, including lavish media parties and events, as well as the failed Isle of Man TT race attempts with their V4 RR.

Many customers who had paid deposits or full purchase price for the road-going version are yet to see the bike or recoup their money.

Aussie importer

Norton Commando 961 Sport Mk II James Mutton crowdJames Mutton

In 2018, Brisbane Motorcycles took over importing Norton from NF Importers who also distribute Ducati.

Brisbane Motorcycles managing director James Muttons assures Australian and New Zealand customers who placed deposits for new models with their local dealer would receive a full refund.

“However we are not sure what is in line for those that placed orders prior to our distribution with the factory directly,” he says.

“We will obviously do our best to put those customers in touch with the correct people in the UK.

“In regards to existing Norton owners, we still have good stock of servicing parts, and will still be operating to ensure our customers are looked after.

“Ultimately we hope a larger brand with more experience will come in and continue the brand however this is purely speculation and we have had no official correspondence.”

Former Norton retailer Matt Jones of now-defunct Rocker Classic Motorcycles says he believes many other small businesses will also “go the way Rocker did”.

“Norton was a poisoned chalice and a lesson in business that I am still paying for today, both financially and mentally. Just horrendous,” he says.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Norton now faces fraud allegations

Not only has Norton Motorcycles gone into administration over £300,000 in unpaid taxes, but now charges of fraud have been levelled at boss Stuart Garner who blames Brexit for his company’s downfall.

It seems 228 pensioners invested in three different conventional five-year pension plans that fraudulently turned out to be Norton shares, according to an investigation by the UK Guardian newspaper and ITV News.

The pensioners also claim their investment was not returned years after the lock-in period had expired.

Allegations

Problems go back to 2008 when a £1m loan came from the proceeds of a tax fraud. Two longstanding Norton associates were convicted over the fraud in 2013.

It is one of many problems encountered by Norton:

  • Customers who paid a deposit but never received a bike have taken legal action;
  • Claims that warranties have not been honoured;
  • A high turnover of staff;
  • Failure to pay parts suppliers resulting in a lack of spares and poor quality control;
  • A threat to strike the company off the Register of Companies over a late-filing notice; and
  • TT racing legend John McGuinness claims he could not contact Garner about his contract to race this year.

Investments and grants

Norton Motorcycles Donington Hall factory crowdDonington Hall factory

Despite this long list of problems and fraud allegations, the UK government backed a £625,000 loan by Santander in 2012 and promised the company a £4m grant in 2015.

It wasn;’t the only financial boost for the company.

Last year Norton also signed a £20m deal with Japan to deliver an extra 1000 motorcycles worth £5m to Japanese riders over the next five years.

And in November, when the company launched a crowd-funding campaign to meet a £30 million order book for V4 and Atlas models an anonymous investor allegedly coughed up £1m ($1.89m), pausing the campaign.

So where has all the money gone from the Santander loan, government grant, Japanese investment and the “anonymous investor’s £1m” (if the latter ever did exist)?

Administration

Clearly Norton didn’t have the money to pay their taxes, so Metro Bank appointed global accounting firm BDO UK as administrators on 29 January 2020.

In the UK, administration protects a company from creditors and winding-up proceedings while a solution can be reached.

BDO now has eight weeks to send out formal administrative proposals to all of the insolvent company’s creditors and repay “without preference”.

However, we expect creditors will line up behind HM Revenue & Customs who are owed £300,000.

Garner blames Brexit

Prince William Isle of Man TTPrince William with Stuart Garner

Garner says he is “devastated” and “personally have lost everything”.

“However, my thoughts are with the Norton team and everyone involved, from customers, suppliers and shareholders at this truly difficult time,” he says.

“Without dialogue, Metro Bank appointed BDO administrators yesterday. We are now working positively and proactively with BDO to ensure Norton has the best possible chance to find a buyer.

“It has become increasingly difficult to manufacture in the UK, with a growing tax burden and ongoing uncertainties over Brexit affecting many things like, tariffs, exports and availability of funding.”

Australian customers

Norton Commando 961 Sport Mk II James Mutton crowdJames Mutton

In 2018, Brisbane Motorcycles took over importing Norton from NF Importers who also distribute Ducati.

Brisbane Motorcycles managing director James Muttons assures Australian and New Zealand customers who placed deposits for new models with their local dealer would receive a full refund.

“However we are not sure what is in line for those that placed orders prior to our distribution with the factory directly,” he says.

“We will obviously do our best to put those customers in touch with the correct people in the UK.

“In regards to existing Norton owners, we still have good stock of servicing parts, and will still be operating to ensure our customers are looked after.

“Ultimately we hope a larger brand with more experience will come in and continue the brand however this is purely speculation and we have had no official correspondence.”

Former Norton retailer Matt Jones of now-defunct Rocker Classic Motorcycles says he believes many other small businesses will also “go the way Rocker did”.

“Norton was a poisoned chalice and a lesson in business that I am still paying for today, both financially and mentally. Just horrendous,” he says.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Norton Motorcycles goes into administration

Norton Motorcycles has gone into administration three weeks after being in court for non-payment of £300,000 (about $A570k) in taxes owed to HM Revenue & Customs.

Global accounting firm BDO UK has been appointed administrators of the 122-year-old British company, resurrected in 2008 when business man Stuart Garner bought the company.

Australian customers have been assured their deposits will be returned and service and parts will continue.

Path to administration

Norton was in the Insolvency and Companies Court in London on 8 January 2020 in an effort to avoid a winding-up petition over its tax bill.

Stuart had said some of the money was covered by outstanding research and development tax relief owed to the company.

The company was promised a £4 ($A7.6) million government grant in 2015, but £135,000 ($257k) was still outstanding, having been held back by the HRMC over the unpaid taxes.

Stuart said they had paid £300,000 of a £600,000 bill to HMRC and had asked for 63 days for the outstanding amount to be settled.

The hearing was adjourned until 12 February 2020.

However, BDO was called in yesterday (29 January 2020).

BDO spokesman Lee Causer they will “determine and execute the most appropriate strategy as swiftly as possible to protect creditors’ interests, bearing in mind the need to minimise distress for all parties”.

Norton administrationLee Causer

“We are currently assessing the position of each of the companies in order to conclude upon the options available to them and the most appropriate way forward.”

We contacted Lee for an update on administration proceedings, whether production had ceased and the order of payment of creditors. We will update when he replies.

As usual, the tax bill will be top of the list.

Motorbike Writer has also tried to contact Norton Global Sales & Marketing boss Kay Johnson for comment, but his emails now bounce back. 

When we contacted him after the court appearance he assured us they were operating business as usual and invited me to visit the historic Castle Donington factory next time I’m in the UK.

Norton Motorcycles Donington Hall factory crowdDonington Hall factory

Sadly that visit may never happen now.

The factory employs about 100 people and recently opened a new production line.

Meanwhile, the official website is still operating.

In the UK, when a company goes into administration, it is not necessarily the end.

It protects the company from creditors and winding-up proceedings while a solution can be reached.

The administrator is given eight weeks to send out formal administrative proposals to all of the insolvent company’s creditors and repay “without preference”.

Aussie customers

James Mutton Brisbane Motorcycles discountingJames Mutton with Norton motorcycles

Australian importer James Mutton of Brisbane Motorcycles says they have had no official news from Norton UK or Stuart Garner yet.

“It appears that one of the most iconic brands in motorcycling has been unable to survive the current pressures on the industry,” he says.

“Australian and New Zealand customers that have placed deposits for new models with their local dealer will be able to receive a full refund for orders.

“However we are not sure what is in line for those that placed orders prior to our distribution with the factory directly. We will obviously do our best to put those customers in touch with the correct people in the UK.

“In regards to existing Norton owners, we still have good stock of servicing parts, and will still be operating to ensure our customers are looked after.

“Ultimately we hope a larger brand with more experience will come in and continue the brand however this is purely speculation and we have had no official correspondence.”

Turbulent times

Prince William Isle of Man TTPrince William and Stuart Garner

Norton has been through some turbulent times.

Early last year, Norton said there was “no cause for alarm” when a British notice that Norton be struck off the Register of Companies and dissolved after a late-filing notice.

Then customers started complaining that the V4 and some other models had not been delivered, despite deposits and even full payment being made.

One customer who paid for a V4 even started up a petition to wind-up the company in the Business and Property Courts in Manchester.

Kay says this was a dispute over several months with freight company DHL that was resolved and the action dismissed by “mutual consent”.

“At no point was it ever about a motorcycle, it’s solely over import and export duty on components,” he said.

Mid-year Norton signed a £20m deal with Japan to deliver an extra 1000 motorcycles worth £5m to Japanese riders over the next five years.

Things were looking up.

But in November, the company seemed to struggle for cash and launched a crowd-funding campaign to meet a £30 million order book for V4 and Atlas models.

However, a single, anonymous investor sunk £1m ($1.89m) into the company, pausing the campaign.

Stuart said he has not ruled out returning to the crowd-funding campaign at a later date.

In the same month, Norton announced it would produce the127kW supercharged Superlight SS off the Atlas platform.

Norton adds supercharged Superlight SSSuperlight SS

Kay said in November they were on track with production.

“We are currently making Atlas chassis and other components ready for production/deliveries next month,” he told us in October.

“First customers have been advised and we look forward to deliveries shortly.”

Sadly it looks like those deliveries will not happen, the Atlas will never make it into production and customers who have paid deposits will have to stand in line for a refund.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Visit Blacktop Motorcycles Works museum

If you’re riding around South East Queensland, chances are you will call in to Esk where we recommend dropping into the Blacktop Motorcycle Works museum.

The free museum and British bike workshop is right next door to the Red Deer Cafe in the main street where many riders stop off for a coffee.Blacktop Motorcycle Works and Red Deer Cafe

It’s important riders visit and spend their tourism dollars in these areas that were cut off and affected by the recent bushfire emergency.

Blacktop museumBlacktop Motorcycle Works museum

After your coffee and cake, pay a visit to see the old British bikes at Blacktop and chat with owners Jim and Naomi McKenzie and their business partner Brian Holzigal.

What they don’t know about old British bikes you could print on a postage stamp —remember them?

Jim and Naomi moved their business from Clifton about 18 months ago because they like the Esk area with its great motorcycle roads and quick access to Brisbane and the coast.

“We’re on a great bike route over the mountain (Mt Glorious) and around the dams,” Jim says.

The Blacktop museum features about 25 old British bikes.Blacktop Motorcycle Works museum

Naomi says they get visitors to the museum all day (except Sunday when they are closed), and not just riders.

“There is a lot of interest from old blokes who’ve had one or their dad had one,” she says.

Most of the museum bikes are owned by Brian and they are not for sale.

“I have about three times that many at home but the bulk of the clean ones are here on display,” says Brian whose work you can see on his BMC website.

“We rotate the display as we finish restoring bikes.”

British bike specialists

Blacktop Motorcycle Works museumBrian (left) and Jim in their workshop

Blacktop also sell merchandise, parts and have a workshop where they do restorations and repairs on classic British bikes.

“We mainly do Triumphs, Nortons and BSAs because that’s what we like and are good at,” Jim says.

“We have customers send us their bikes from all over Australia.”Blacktop Motorcycle Works museum

Jim started many years ago as a service station mechanic in Brisbane.

Several years ago he met up with Brian who had owned British and American motorcycle shop centre in Brisbane in the 1980s before moving to the USA for about 17 years.

“We met when we were racing classic sidecars,” Jim says.

Brian says Norton is his favourite, especially the Commando because it’s “easy to play with”.

Blacktop Motorcycle Works museumBrian with his Norton collection

“My favourite every day rider would be the Commando Fastback,” Brian says.

“Then it would be unit-construction Triumphs.”

Jim’s favourite bikes are pre-unit Triumphs, so between them they have a pretty good knowledge of the venerable British brand.

Please call Jim on 0414 477 823, Naomi on 0408 312 341, or email Naomi to arrange group or club rides.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Norton fighting tax debt to stay afloat

Norton Motorcycles was fighting in the Insolvency and Companies Court in London this week (8 January 2020) to avoid a winding-up petition over £300,000 (about $A570k) in taxes owed to HM Revenue & Customs.

Owner Stuart Garner says some of the money is covered by outstanding research and development tax relief owed to the company.

The company was promised a £4 ($A7.6) million government grant in 2015, but £135,000 ($257k) is still outstanding, having been held back by the HRMC over the unpaid taxes.

Stuart says they have already paid £300,000 of a £600,000 bill to HMRC and has asked for 63 days for the outstanding amount to be settled.

The hearing has been adjourned until 12 February 2020.

We contacted Norton Global Sales & Marketing boss Kay Johnson for comment yesterday and will update this article when he replies.

Fighting for its life

Prince William Isle of Man TTPrince William and Stuart Garner

Norton is used to fighting for its life after a turbulent 2019.

Early last year, Norton said there was “no cause for alarm” when a British notice that Norton be struck off the Register of Companies and dissolved after a late-filing notice.

Then customers started complaining that the V4 and some other models had not been delivered, despite deposits and even full payment being made.

One customer who paid for a V4 even started up a petition to wind-up the company in the Business and Property Courts in Manchester.

Kay says this was a dispute over several months with freight company DHL that was resolved and the action dismissed by “mutual consent”.

“At no point was it ever about a motorcycle, it’s solely over import and export duty on components,” he said.

In November, the company launched a crowd-funding campaign to meet a £30 million order book for V4 and Atlas models.

However, a single, anonymous investor sunk £1m ($1.89m) into the company, pausing the campaign.

Stuart said he has not ruled out returning to the crowd-funding campaign at a later date.

In the same month, Norton announced it would produce the127kW supercharged Superlight SS off the Atlas platform.

Norton adds supercharged Superlight SSSuperlight SS

Business as usual

Norton Motorcycles NOT going bust!Castle Donington where Norton continues to build motorcycles

Stuart bought the Leicestershire company in 2008 and the Castle Donington factory now employs about 100 people and recently opened a new production line.

The 121-year-old British motorcycle manufacturer now values its business at £55 million.

Last year Norton signed a £20m deal with Japan to deliver an extra 1000 motorcycles worth £5m to Japanese riders over the next five years.

Australian importer James Mutton of Brisbane Motorcycles told us last year he had no concerns about the financial viability of the company.

He still expects delivery of Atlas and V4 models this year.

Norton Commando 961 Sport Mk II James Mutton crowdJames Mutton

Kay said in November that they were on track with production.

“We are currently making Atlas chassis and other components ready for production/deliveries next month,” he told us in October.

“First customers have been advised and we look forward to deliveries shortly.”

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Icon Motorcycles plan new-age Triton

Dutch company Icon Motorcycles plans to hand-make new-age Triton motorcycles with Norton featherbed frames and modern Triumph 900cc engines.

Original Triton

The original 1960-70s Tritons were not factory models but private builds where enthusiasts mated the lithe-handling Norton featherbed frame with Triumph Bonneville engines.

Now Dutch company Icon Motorcycles plans to supply handmade Triton cafe racers for private orders with bespoke specifications. However, they won’t bear the name “Triton”.Icon Motorcycles plan new-age Triton

Wouter Pullens of Icon Motorcycles says the frame is special build.

“It’s a replica from the famous Norton ‘featherbed’ frame of the sixties,” he says.

They will use the air/oil-cooled 900cc parallel twin from the previous model Thruxton, so it’s not liquid cooled and doesn’t have an ugly radiator.

He says the “Triumph engine is standard, not tweaked”, so that means 51.5kW of power and 71.8Nm of torque.

“They are available in the second half of this year, I expect about July,” he says.

“This is depending on the final inspection/approval of the Dutch Government.”  

There is no word on pricing because each bike will be handmade to order, but Wouter says they can can “ship to every country”.

As a bit of a guide, Triumph 900 models cost around $15,000 while Norton 961 models cost more than $30,000.

So we expect they will cost around the Norton prices, or more depending on how much exotic kit you want to add.Icon Motorcycles plan new-age Triton

Hyperbole

Icon Motorcycles says the original Triton was “perhaps the most influential motor movement the world has ever seen”. 

Certainly the cafe racer seem was seminal, but they may be overstating the case a bit.

Here’s more hyperbole from their website:

Icon motorcycles guarantee you exclusivity as exclusivity is intended. You invest in craftsmanship and quality. We see every Icon engine as an investment in life that only becomes more beautiful with the years. You never really own a motorcycle really look after it for the next generation. Authentic hand assembled engines , we create an interesting investment . This is how we achieve our goal, creating rare motorcycles for the owner. Because of the exclusivity and rarity we create, you are guaranteed a right investment. Courtesy is timeless class, you must be able to enjoy the ownership.

At Icon Motorcycles we don’t just produce motorcycles, we go back deep into history. We let our hands do the work and lay our soul and salvation in every model, with the greatest care for the smallest details and that with only one goal let man and machine come together in perfect harmony.Icon Motorcycles plan new-age Triton

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com