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What a sad day for the British motorcycle industry.

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Steviegtr31/01/2020 00:04:59
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1770 forum posts
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Well how sad to hear that finally Norton have gone t-t's up. It has been on the cards for so long. The management conning the government & others for quite a while now. I have been following it as I am a keen motorcycle enthusiast & have been since the age of 12. Had a motorcycle of sorts for most of those years.

I have lost count of how many I have owned. As a hobby I used to buy write off's from Insurance companies & repair, & then re-sell them. Probably in the order of 150 bikes & scooters. I did not make a fortune & only did it because I have always been a petrolhead.

Trumpet blowing. Every bike I sold looked at least as good as showroom. I have done a lot of painting so some bikes required Candy type colours. The secret there was that I had a supplier of paint who must have been born with eyes better than a bar code reader. The answer when wanting paint & showing a panel from the bike or scooter was. Ah I don't think I can do a candy paint like that. The Japanese use a weird technique. He would then go & bring assorted colours out & mix them. Every single time absolutely bang on.

I have always had a love for British motorcycles. When I used to ride my illegal motorcycle in the woods most nights after school Excelsior 150cc, Bsa bantem 175 D4, Villiers twin 250 2T in a bantem frame. I was using old car engine oil for my 2 stroke mix.. I would be wearing my old leather jacket with Norton badges all over it. I have many friends with various models of Norton.

I have never personally had one. When I wanted one I could not afford one. When I got older & had some spare cash I bought the BSA in my photo album & a Triumph tiger 100 s. The Triumph as I believe is in the Craven motorcycle museum in Sutton on the forest near York.

It was immaculate & not down to me. I bought it from an Engineer, retired who built it from the ground up. He had no knowledge of Internal combustion engines. He had made a wonderful job of it , but it smoked a lot. A bit like me. So I stripped the top end to find. He had put all the piston ring gaps in a line.

So back to Norton. I go to the NEC with a gang of petrolhead's every year. This year I was at the Norton stand with one of my friends who is rather large & an ex bouncer & slaughter man. We engaged with the guy who started being very abusive towards us. I have a Tig welder & am trying to do Alloy. I am a good welder of all metals apart from alloy. So we were looking at the frame when my friend touched the swing arm & said look at that Steve, bet you wish you could weld like that.

So moving on the guy on the stand came over & shouted quite loudly , can't you read, it's says do not touch. I said we are just admiring the welding on the swingarm. It went from bad to worse. He started ranting about his wife leaving him because of something to do with the TT. So I knew that things were not right at Norton. I am a member of the Ducati owners club forum & I know a few guys on there had orders in for bikes. The V4 & had been waiting a long time for there bikes. I mean years. They I guess will have lost there quite large deposits now. Unless they can get them back. Some more than 18 mnths ago will probably get nothing.

 Sorry for rambling. Waited till after midnight as a minutes silence in order...….Still riding a lot in summer on my Multistrada 1200s DVT & renovating an old 1993 GSXR 750. Slingshot. 

Steve.

Edited By Steviegtr on 31/01/2020 00:13:14

peak431/01/2020 00:50:54
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1318 forum posts
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As a fellow biker, I've been following this with interest, particularly since the Visordown article last year.,

The two best reports I've seen thus far about the present problems are in The Guardian, and The FT Advisor.

A good friend of mine has one of the earlier ones of the new Nortons, and I think/hope, recently cancelled his order for one of the latest ones.

It almost seems to have shades of De-Lorean.

For the record. 1979 Bonneville 750, 1983 Guzzi LeMans3, 1989 Yamaha XT600 & 1977 Ducati 900GTS in the garage at the moment. All nominally on the road, but the Duke needs a bit of work due to an oil leak.

Also '74 Landrover Lightweight (3.5V8 auto), Disco-1, Peugeot Expert van for a house move, and a Marlin Berlinetta 2l Pinto (plus a small fleet insurance policy.)

Bill

Steviegtr31/01/2020 02:21:59
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1770 forum posts
235 photos

You seem to have a portfolio of machines . I do not have that many. The Mutlistrada 1200Dvt The Suzuki in bits now sold I think & a couple of others. Vivaro van 165bhp tuned twin turbo & loving it & my summer car the 2017 Ftype Jaguar cab tuned so far to 575 bhp. But still going further. The stupid thing is the 1st V4's were with the Aprilia engine & were superb. The last ones were there own V4 engines that apparently blew apart.

Steve.

pgk pgk31/01/2020 05:03:08
2015 forum posts
290 photos

For a bit of levity I attach the true story of Clarence Clutterbuck from my student days:

I'd change his name for this story but no-one ever believes he was called Clarence so there's not a lot of point.

Clarence and I shared a room in Bayswater around 1968/9. Clarence was a non-entity with big ambitions. He had started out in working life matching the left shoes from the left shoe factory with the right shoes from the right shoe factory. True. It was an anti-theft precaution and for Clarence that was a challenging occupation. It was also a lot safer than his short foray into welding which usually meant him coming home with another jumper turned to a colander and assorted spark marks over most of his visible skin.

But i digress. Clarence, as I have noted, had high ambitions. His hobbies included drawing with a 4-colour biro and making up tattoo designs; although the short welding course had lead to him being branded like a paper doily. His other ambition was to be a biker. In that regard he felt he was a bit held back 'cos the only bike he had was a BSA 125 and that didn't quite cut the street cred at the 69 club so he used to have to park several streets away and walk the rest claiming his Norton 650 was in pieces being souped up.

He was also the only member of the 69 club without black leathers and biker boots and his plimsoles and second hand jeans jacket and slacks set him apart from the rest. But Clarence always had 'a plan'

'A Plan' In Clarence's mind was always a simple scheme to help him fit in. His last plan had been to make his Bantam look like a Norton and he'd just spent several days shredding newspaper and mixing buckets of 'Tapwata' to papier mache his bike into the shape of a Norton. Clarence, of course, was not put off by the practicalities of the exercise and one has to give him credit for determination. Even if the result looked like someone had just thrown a bucket of cold porridge at a Moped. Clarence voiced his conviction that a bit of paint and it'd look the business.

Clarence really felt his only outstanding issue was the lack of leathers and came up with his latest 'Plan'. Simple really..dye the jacket and slacks and plimsoles black to look like leathers.

He bought some dye.

Now Clarence wasn't too good at instructions - he was having trouble at work with 2 left shoes as it was. So he asked me to explain the dye process. I had to point out to him that he'd bought hot water dye and living in one room with a gas ring this wasn't really going to work. He ought to swap it for some cold water dye.

I was late home the next evening so I suppose it was all my fault. I came through the door getting on for midnight to find Clarence stirring his jeans and plimsoles in a bucket of dye on the gas ring. Now at first sight that doesn't sound quite so terrible but this was Clarence. Clarence was using a plastic bucket!

As I came through the door the inevitable was just starting to happen..the bucket was turning Salvador Dali and starting to slump down around the rim. I was too late. The rim sagged and the dye poured forth..black, thick and never-ending.

It left the bucket. It crossed the carpet. It seeped under the door and started it's way down the stairs..

'Leg it' Shouts Clarence, packing his few possessions and precious tattoo book and off down in the wake of the black torrent. I packed my stuff as fast as possible and hurried down too.

Outside it was a filthy night. Rain was lashing down, it was cold and dark and I was dragging my one trunk of stuff and wondering where to spend the night. Clarence was on his bike. It looked like he had finally had a go at painting it. Clarence must have used the paints he was used to at school. As the rain lashed down the paint was starting to run and rivers of Norton 650 colour-scheme was puddling in the gutter.

The last I saw of Clarence Clutterbuck he was disappearing through a veil of torrential rain astride a soggy collapsing mass of wet painted papier mache turning into Bayswater Road.

I was alone.

thaiguzzi31/01/2020 05:19:07
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703 forum posts
131 photos

As per usual, some of the reporting is downright outrageously bad. Inc the BBC and the Guardian.

Norton famous for being in a Che Guavara film and the James Bond movie Spectre?

Really?

Howzabout all the engineering feats? The TT wins? The Featherbed frame? The Commando chassis? The Wankel rotary bike winning at the TT again?

Oh and then the previous ownerships, the original failed companies, etc, i could go on.

Jeez.

Norton, a crap business model this century, but a wonderful brand.

Oh and they made some wonderful motorcycles in the past, RIP.

TG, a Luddite and big Brit bike fan.

Neil Wyatt31/01/2020 09:53:44
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18404 forum posts
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Isn't it a case of 'oh no again'? (as the petunias thought).

This failed company is really not materially the same one that made the classic bikes.

The ill-fated name will be one the main asset, and sooner or later someone capable of making decent bikes will buy it.

It will be ironic if it is Indian-based Enfield, chiefly because they would no doubt make some really excellent modernised versions of the classic bikes...

Obviously little consolation to the pensioners, people with deposits and employees...

Neil

Hopper31/01/2020 10:04:23
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5040 forum posts
112 photos

The Guardian story does show what a bunch of sharks were running the new Norton show, using the historic name to milk money out of government development programs and pensioners' savings.

Shame. Because as you say, Enfield have made an increasingly good go of it, having just released an all new 650 twin "retrobike" that looks like an old'un but is modern technology. And Triumph are a world leading motorcycle company once again, in both retro and modern bike fields.

So it can be done. And maybe will be with the Norton name having so much history. Yes, TG, I snorted at the movie references too. Like that means something compared with winning the Isle of Man a record number of times etc. But you've got to remember the story would be written by some yuppie reporter who was not yet born when Norton (the real Norton) went out of business. And he's writing for a general audience who think Norton is an antivirus program.

I might have to venture out to the shed and finish off getting the 1967 Norton Atlas ready for registration inspection just to take a memorial ride. Most vibratingest bike I ever rode, vintage and modern Harleys included. A true crime against engineering but lots of fun.

Mike Poole31/01/2020 10:36:58
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2842 forum posts
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Norton folded many years ago, the name has been applied to all sorts of failed projects since. In some ways it is a shame that names can be bought and sold, we have Bentley on Volkswagens and Rolls Royce on BMWs, Brough Superior on some French creation. John Bloor made a success of Triumph but he did the sensible thing of starting from scratch with a clear plan and proper budget and costing. The motor industry is a big badge engineering business, a familiar name can be applied to almost anything.

Mike

larry phelan 131/01/2020 10:52:45
902 forum posts
17 photos

As the Bard said---------------What,s in a name !

Geoff Theasby31/01/2020 11:07:13
613 forum posts
17 photos

Well! A host of posts about bikes and even one Clarence Clutterbuck, but nary a mention of Ogri! (And Malcolm)

**LINK**

Mike Poole31/01/2020 11:44:58
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2842 forum posts
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The lads across the road from my mothers house nicknamed me Ogri, inevitable in those days if you rode noisy British bikes. I bumped into one of the lads a few years ago and was still greeted as Og

Mike

JA31/01/2020 11:54:26
1055 forum posts
54 photos
Posted by Hopper on 31/01/2020 10:04:23:

The Guardian story does show what a bunch of sharks were running the new Norton show, using the historic name to milk money out of government development programs and pensioners' savings.

Norton has folded more often than a Moulton pedal cycle. The firm's owners since Manganese Bronze, the last 40 years, have generally been dodgy to say the least. The one who owned the company when it was at Shenstone, when it built and raced rotaries, was done for fraud.

All the old British motorcycle company names have a high value and most, A.J.S., Enfield and Triumph excepted since they are in the motorcycle business, attract fraudsters, hucksters and chancers.

The British motorcycle industry in its glory days was something of an illusion. The investment was low, for a few years the shareholders did well and the directors, generally, were rubbish. In the 1950s Lord Docker ran BSA which made BSA, Triumph, Ariel and Sunbeam motorcycles - enough said.

And I own 4 British bikes.

JA

David Noble31/01/2020 12:42:30
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228 forum posts
10 photos
Posted by pgk pgk on 31/01/2020 05:03:08:

For a bit of levity I attach the true story of Clarence Clutterbuck from my student days:

I'd change his name for this story but no-one ever believes he was called Clarence so there's not a lot of point.

Clarence and I shared a room in Bayswater around 1968/9. Clarence was a non-entity with big ambitions. He had started out in working life matching the left shoes from the left shoe factory with the right shoes from the right shoe factory. True. It was an anti-theft precaution and for Clarence that was a challenging occupation. It was also a lot safer than his short foray into welding which usually meant him coming home with another jumper turned to a colander and assorted spark marks over most of his visible skin.


I was alone.

That's a brilliant piece of writing Shame I was drinking tea when I read it!

David

Edited By David Noble on 31/01/2020 12:43:16

Graham Titman31/01/2020 12:47:58
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96 forum posts
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img_1560.jpgHi Geoff talk of Ogri i found this in the back of a cupboard this week a Ogri toilet roll still very shiny and slippery

not done it yet31/01/2020 14:36:01
5354 forum posts
20 photos

How long before it rises from the ashes again?

Steviegtr31/01/2020 14:43:02
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1770 forum posts
235 photos
Posted by Neil Wyatt on 31/01/2020 09:53:44:

Isn't it a case of 'oh no again'? (as the petunias thought).

This failed company is really not materially the same one that made the classic bikes.

The ill-fated name will be one the main asset, and sooner or later someone capable of making decent bikes will buy it.

It will be ironic if it is Indian-based Enfield, chiefly because they would no doubt make some really excellent modernised versions of the classic bikes...

Obviously little consolation to the pensioners, people with deposits and employees...

Neil

I am a member of the Ducati owners forum & quite a lot of guys on there have lost some big money. There are even some of them that had paid the full amount for the bike & never received. One reply was a £5000 deposit paid in 2014.

old mart31/01/2020 19:18:12
2465 forum posts
169 photos

It is a shame, even if the modern ones were just for the super rich, not at all like the Nortons of the sixties and seventies.

Steviegtr31/01/2020 19:32:45
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1770 forum posts
235 photos

One of the problems were that they built a bike around an Aprilia RS V4 engine & the bike was very good. They then went on to make there own V4 motor. It sounded stunning but they kept blowing up. This is what happened at the TT. I think they got 2 laps out of it. I'm sure if they had stuck with the Aprilia lump it would have been more fruitful.

Another company in trouble is Aston Martin. There was talk of Lance Stroll F1 team & a Chinese company looking at them. Now it seems Mercedes are looking at withdrawing from F1 & buying Aston. Is it just media rubbish.???

Steve.

Geoff Theasby31/01/2020 21:21:57
613 forum posts
17 photos

Edward Turner...

Hopper01/02/2020 00:48:49
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5040 forum posts
112 photos

The Jawa name is being revived in India too. Four stroke retro bikes with that communist era styling, so ugly its kind of cool **LINK**

They have also shown some images of some pretty cool prototypes looking more like the Jawa fouir stroke singles of the 1930s but whether they will go into production, who knows.

And the Chinese are making four cylinder sport bikes with the name Benelli on them.

I think Indian set the precedent for dodgy multiple reincarnations. Floyd Clymer tried with Velocettes rebadged. There was even a pair of Vincent powered prototypes made, one with the Vinnie engine in Indian frame and running gear and one was a Vinnie with new tank badges and buckhorn handlebars. Then over the following years there was a string of new owners of the name with various plans in the 80s and 80s, including one with a Harley engine and maybe running gear. Finally they seem to be doing well in a small niche market today. Pretty impressive machine in the flesh.

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