THE NORTON SAGA

Published by Nick on August 15th, 2012 - in NEWS

BACKGROUND

The online rumours and claims started around two years ago: all was apparently not well with Stuart Garner’s newly re-incarnated Norton….  Sections of the motorcycle media and consumer organisations were approached by unhappy customers, detailing their grievances. A UK bike builder published details of his own problematic relationship with Norton on his website, and other complaints popped up in a variety of contexts, from the BBC to Classic Bike. But nothing was followed up, and the rumours kept on coming.

Prompted by an email from a disgruntled customer, we decided to investigate – since no one else seemed to be bothering. When Norton did get extensive coverage, it appeared to concentrate on spinning the company’s PR activities, such as their dubious ventures to the Isle of Man.

We collected evidence in the form of statements, signed correspondence, and interviews with a variety of individuals: Norton customers, suppliers, and dealers – including highly respected individuals with many years experience in their field. All of them were contacted again pre publication to ensure anything attributed to them was accurate. In cases where a source preferred to remain anonymous, they provided evidence of their identity and their relationship with Norton. All source details are listed at the end of the piece.

The picture they painted makes for disturbing viewing. Problems have not gone away, despite the 2011 EXEFG Government backed Santander loan aimed at boosting exports (and underwritten by the tax payer). We’re publishing registered company accounts for 2010 and 2011, plus details of Mr.Garner’s previous directorships and extracts from a company report on Norton, along with key allegations and evidence.

ALLEGATION 1

Norton Motorcycles have consistently failed to fill orders on time, despite holding deposits of up to 100%, a problem which has not gone away. In some cases customers have waited almost two years for a bike – or a refund, at which point they have had little option but to seek legal advice.

EVIDENCE

Customers who contacted us provided accounts which are remarkably consistent. A deposit is paid – up to 100% – on the basis that the bike is about to be built. The bike fails to materialise, and despite fresh delivery dates being promised, very little happens after that until the threat or commencement of legal action eventually results in the situation being remedied.

Richard Anderson is a solicitor who has successfully acted for eight such customers, with another two cases currently being examined. He said:

” Clients had paid money for a product which was not forthcoming. In such circumstances recovering funds becomes the objective, and in order to facilitate that, we were obliged to instigate serial winding up proceedings against the company on behalf of individual clients. At which point Norton satisfied the debt in question.”    

Richard Anderson¹

Bike builder Steve Hillary was one such customer, and published his account of his experience online. In a nutshell, Hillary waited two years for a bike, having paid a £12,000 deposit. It took the threat of a winding up order for him to finally get his money back, despite a personal meeting with Norton’s CEO, during the course of which the charismatic Mr.Garner made promises about delivery which were never kept, another familiar refrain from customers, suppliers and dealers alike.

 ” Going to a solicitor was the last resort. I was just fed up being lied to.”  

Steve Hillary ²

Clare from Cornwall (name disguised) ordered a twin seat Cafe Racer for her husband as a 25th anniversary present in February 2011 – at which point no such machine, parts or necessary tooling actually existed, and no twin seat CAD drawings had been prepared,  according to a separate source⁶ (see below). Having initially put down a £1,500 deposit, in July 2011 Norton rang her saying a ‘cancellation slot’ could be secured via payment of the balance. Reassured by positive Norton coverage in MCN on 1/8/11, Clare took out a loan and paid up. Nothing happened. In March 2012, three weeks before a winding up order taken out on Clare’s behalf was due to be enforced against them, Norton finally paid out. The stress of the experience is still with her.

” We ordered and paid a £1500 deposit for a dual seat café racer for my husband for our 25th wedding anniversary in Feb. 2011 at the factory itself, supposedly due for delivery in June. June came and went with no news. We kept phoning and struggled to get through. Eventually we reached them and were told by the Sales Manager, Craig Lormer that there was a problem with  the parts for the dual seat, hence the delay, and that the bike was now scheduled for delivery in late September. However, in July they phoned to say there was a cancellation slot so they could guarantee us delivery for a single seat café racer on a dual frame in 2 weeks if we paid in full to secure the slot. I thought this strange but the papers incl. MCN were full of praise for them…. so we paid up. 2 weeks came and went, no bike and not even an invoice to confirm we had paid. Calls went unanswered. I eventually received a call from Craig  to say that the factory had temporarily ceased  production due to problems with their suppliers !

We were willing to maintain the order as long as they returned all our money bar the deposit and gave us a new delivery date. They refused on both counts – Craig advised we would have to cancel the order ab initio to get our money back, which I did. He sent me an email in  Sept to say that the refund request was being processed and,  presumably because he knew he was about to leave the company, he also supplied me with the invoice I had requested on numerous occasions. Then we heard nothing more from him….”   

Clare’s Statement ³

 Norton themselves admitted to the BBC* in late November 2011 that a backlog existed, and our evidence suggests that this was still the case as recently as May 2012. We also have a statement from another customer with an outstanding order (August 2012) which, eighteen months after a full deposit was paid, has still not materialised despite the promise of numerous delivery dates:

” Awaiting bike for 18mths after paying in full and being promised at least 6 definite delivery dates.”   

Rob’s Statement ⁴

 MATTERS ARISING

A simple internet search will turn up page after page of irate customer comment. They could all be making it up, but the fact that a disparate group of individuals, from territories scattered across the globe, are autonomously exposing their own difficulties with the same small company, strongly suggests otherwise.

ALLEGATION 2

Norton have experienced severe problems obtaining spares, exacerbated by deteriorating relationships with manufacturers and suppliers, at least one of whom had to take legal action to recover monies owed to them by Norton.

EVIDENCE

Fritz Egli, legendary MD of Egli Racing, became Norton’s Swiss importer. This was what he had to say about his relationship with Norton.

” Unfortunately our relationship with Norton has been problematic. There have been a number of ongoing issues, particularly a chronic shortage of spares. ”  

Fritz Egli ⁵

Egli is currently involved in talks with Norton aimed at resolving “serious difficulties” he has experienced with the company. As a result, he was unable to comment further, but will be keeping BG informed of developments.

A senior ex-manager at Norton now employed elsewhere, who can not be named but whose identity is known to us, witnessed problems relating to suppliers at first hand.

” Many suppliers were significantly overdue payment. This caused the vast majority of product supply to move to a pro-forma plus debt basis, i.e a repayment plan must be agreed, maintained for a period and then, and only then, would parts be released on a cash before delivery basis. This was extremely difficult to manage due to the insufficient funds available within the business.”

Manager, Ex-Norton ⁶

This view was corroborated by Steve Gentil, director and co-founder of Xtreme Motorsports, who was contacted by Garner to fabricate frames for the 961 after Garner fell out with Xtreme’s predecessor, PAB Coventry. Gentil said:

” Our relationship with Norton in general and Stuart Garner in particular was problematic. Their business dealings with us left an awful lot to be desired. We no longer supply frames to Norton.”  

Steve Gentil ⁷

Nigel Gibson is the MD of Fabriweld, 35 years in the business of manufacturing tubular steel products. In June 2012 the firm made 85,000 separate items, and Fabriweld have a solid business reputation. Fabriweld were contracted to produce panels for the 961. Nigel Gibson spoke to us about his perception of Norton, and his firm’s dealings with them.

“They were a nightmare to do business with. They had absolutely no understanding of the business they were in.”  

Nigel Gibson ⁸

No wonder Fritz Egli had a parts problem. Likes so many others, Gibson had to resort to legal action to recover monies owed (to Fabriweld by Norton).

MATTERS ARISING

Nigel Gibson told us that when his bike was in for servicing, the top end was removed for no apparent reason. His suspicion was that it was urgently needed to furnish another bike.⁸ It wouldn’t be a huge surprise, since Egli’s statement and the manager’s statement corroborate each other regarding the constant problems with supply of spares. Egli was not the only Norton dealer to experience difficulties: we know of at least one other EU dealer who experienced serious supply problems.⁹

It has been suggested to us that the supply problem has not gone away, since the root cause of many of Norton’s difficulties – insufficient capitalisation – has never been satisfactorily addressed. Financial evidence we’ve published here suggests that the overall situation deteriorated sharply in 2011, despite the Santander loan.

ALLEGATION 3

Norton are in serious financial trouble.

EVIDENCE

The information reproduced below (documents, public domain) doesn’t look encouraging. But as long as Mr.Garner is prepared to fund the company (albeit on a subsistence basis), and is able to stave off legal challenges (like winding up orders) the current situation could continue for a while. The latest County Court Judgement against Norton took place as recently as July 2012 for some £14,500, with attendant implications. Credit ratings agencies reports on Norton do not make for encouraging reading for any potential investor and Garner’s own company history (reproduced below) is suggestive  of an intriguing relationship with business financing.

Almost everyone we spoke to about financial matters while researching this piece offered the same explanation for Norton’s predicament, one born out by published accounts. The operation was under capitalised from the start. Unless that scenario is swiftly remedied, it becomes self perpetuating, as Norton’s suppliers and customers soon discovered. According to our management source, there was ‘ a serious lack of investment, infrastructure and resources ‘ ⁶, a situation compounded by the high number of employees relative to sales.

MATTERS ARISING

A constant struggle for solvency has appeared to characterise many of Norton’s dealings during the Garner era. It is normally beyond the scope of a wealthy individual to bankroll an automotive factory – even if the factory is a small assembly unit where little or no fabrication takes place. Norton’s high quality, low volume ethos, targeting middle aged men with disposable income had to allow for a sufficient margin on each unit. We suspect that the margin was insufficient, and this, combined with the lack of capitalisation, was at the heart of the problem.

ALLEGATION 4

Norton have quality control issues.

EVIDENCE

Engines are currently assembled on site from parts sourced from a variety of manufactures. The quality of those parts depends on Norton being able to retain the services of high quality suppliers, which in turn depends on the firm’s ability to pay them on time. As we have seen, that is a questionable construct.

We were sent a document by a highly respected bike builder who had stripped a 961. Like many people involved in the story who still have some connection with Norton, he was reluctant to be identified. We forwarded his report to Steve Hillary, the only other person we knew of who had gutted a 961. Steve concurred with the report findings, which included:

  • Swing arm bearings not wide enough apart, base too narrow and lacking in rigidity. Swing arm bearings unsuitable.
  • Headstock bearing bores for outer bearing races distorted from welding process . 0.2mm – 0.3mm out of round and not in line. Should be machined and aligned after headstock is welded.  ¹⁰

A further eighteen items were cited including issues with the valvetrain and gearbox.

MATTERS ARISING

Although Norton have a dyno in situ at their Donnington Park HQ, a Norton dealer we spoke to claimed that it was not regularly used for engine testing. Our management source claimed that road testing was a haphazard affair and that there was no proper inspection regime.

” From a quality point of view, no inbound parts from the supply chain (engine or chassis) were subjected to inspection processes. ”   

Manager, Ex-Norton ⁶

ALLEGATION 5

Norton experienced a rapid turn over of staff at all levels. Senior managers and associates left the company because they felt professionally compromised by Norton’s activities under Stuart Garner’s control.

EVIDENCE

We know of at least one senior manager who left for precisely that reason.

” …eventually, like so many others, I felt that I could no longer compromise my professionalism and continue to be associated with this company.”  

Manager, Ex-Norton ⁶

We know from his signed and detailed statement that Norton have experienced an exceptionally high turn over of senior staff, including designer Pierre Terblanche. The association with rotary designer Brian Crighton – potentially of great significance to the new venture – was also prematurely curtailed. Staffing difficulties continue to plague Norton. As recently as July 2012 Norton were found to have unfairly dismissed Danni Hendley, an 18 year old female apprentice, who was awarded £7,000. She was never informed as to the reason for her dismissal and was left feeling needlessly ‘ashamed’. ¹¹

 MATTERS ARISING

More than one source told us that Terblanche left because he recognised Norton’s business model was unsustainable, and the development of entirely new machines – for which he had responsibility – had no basis in reality. Terblanche himself was quoted in print ¹² describing his experience as “disastrous”.

ALLEGATION 6

A UK consumer organisation is pursuing Norton with regard to its treatment of members.

EVIDENCE

The Consumer Action Group (CAG) is investigating the company. They have contacted Norton, but at the time of writing had not published their findings. Their investigation continues.

In in the interests of balance, we put a list of questions raised by our research to Norton company secretary Kay Johnson, who responded by referring us to the CAG. It was clear from our subsequent correspondence with the CAG that many pertinent questions – including our own – remain, hence the ongoing nature of their inquiry.

MATTERS ARISING

The CAG forums were the arena in which many unsatisfied Norton customers documented their problems.

NORTON’S RELATIONSHIP WITH THE MOTORCYCLE PRESS

That sections of the UK motorcycle media have made some very poor calls regarding their coverage of Norton is no longer a matter of dispute. MCN admitted to BikerGlory¹³ that evidence had been placed before them early in 2011 by irate Norton customers. Which came as no surprise: a dissatisfied customer had already published (online) details of his approach to MCN, who confirmed that his was by no means an exceptional case.

The story was spiked in favour of the usual coverage, disseminating the more florid examples of Garner’s spin: the return to GPs in 2012, the new rotary, expansion into new territories. Even the apparently chaotic forays to the Isle of Man were prominently hyped up, much to the chagrin of unhappy customers, while the elephant in the room was studiously ignored. We have already seen how this policy negatively impacted upon Clare – see Allegation 1 – who took MCN’s reporting at face value and handed over a 100% deposit to Norton on the basis of it. Why did MCN deliberately ignore an inconvenient series of truths?

” We had been aware of various difficulties Norton were struggling with, not least since unhappy customers contacted us directly. We never doubted the integrity of their allegations. It was a question of deciding on a course of action which would be the least destructive for all those involved.

After much soul searching, we decided that given the Santander loan, we would let the matter rest, for two reasons. Firstly, we hoped that the loan would ease Norton through their difficulties, and initially that seemed to be the case, since complaints to us dropped off in the second half of 2011, i.e. post loan. Secondly, we knew that a major expose would finish the company, and obviously we wanted to avoid that. If someone were to come forward with hard evidence that the same issues were still in play post Santander and into 2012, we would re-consider our position on the story.”

John Westlake, MCN Managing Editor.¹³

In other words, MCN took their eye off the ball post Santander despite the BBC November 2011 story and allegations continuing to appear online.

The sole exemptee from the collective blind spot in the Bauer stable was Classic Bike freelancer Mick Duckworth. In the July 2011 issue ¹², he told the story of another disgruntled customer, John Fahy, and was the only journalist to secure a quote from the outgoing Terblanche (see above).

” I felt strongly that there was a story to tell regarding Norton’s shabby treatment of customers and was glad that Classic Bike wanted to follow this, but subsequently felt that CB was not taking a strong enough line. The last time I spoke to Stuart Garner he said he was not willing to give me information, because I seemed sceptical. But, he said,  if I were to ‘get on-side’ with Norton, his door would always be open.”

Mick Duckworth ¹⁴

Thus we have two possible explanations for the unbalanced Norton coverage. To some extent one can appreciate the dilemma MCN found itself in, knowing home truths that it dare not print for fear of collapsing the company. But would Norton really have gone under in the event of the reality being exposed? The crucial export market would have remained relatively unscathed: cleansing the stables is not quite the same thing as burning them to the ground, and exposure might even have encouraged Norton to finally get its house in order.

On the other hand, we have no evidence of an improper relationship between Norton and the media, inevitable rumours and getting “on-side” notwithstanding. (Ironically, the bike press’s relationship with the industry was the subject of a recent BikerGlory inquiry. ) All we can definitely say is that Norton escaped censure while reaping the reward of extensive positive coverage.

CONCLUSION

Egli, Gentil and Gibson all cited difficulties with Garner as being central to the demise of their relationship with the company. Gibson – whose experience of manufacturing makes his opinion on such matters worth listening to – suggested that Norton could succeed with the right person running the company. Motorcycle production requires an experienced individual – with detailed knowledge of manufacturing, engineering and supply – in a very senior executive position. At Norton, Garner himself was responsible for key decision making in these areas, and Gibson questioned his suitability for the role.

Whatever the truth about Stuart Garner’s management style, almost everyone we spoke to has referred admiringly to his ability to turn on the charm, beguiling even hardened interlocutors, such as Nigel Griffiths, the Consumer Action Group and experienced journalists. But no amount of charm can make up for the trail of distress engendered by mismanagement, as Clare’s account and Danni Hendley’s experience demonstrate.

No one doubts that Garner has a genuine passion for Norton. He enjoys the image afforded by his position, playing the role of chef d’equipe and being seen in the pit-lane with the usual suspects – and no one can blame him for that. Unfortunately, it has nothing to do with the financial reality of the day to day running of a motorcycle manufacturer. The evidence we have seen (particularly regarding spares) is suggestive of a frantic, hand to mouth culture, so often a symptom of under capitalised operations.

Customers, our management source told us, were regarded as fortunate to be getting a Norton, and should be able cope with inconveniences during the process of acquisition ⁶. It is hard to imagine an attitude further removed from either John Bloor’s (Triumph) at one end of the new Brit scale, or Simon Saunders’ (Ariel) at the other. Bloor is a businessman with sound financial savvy and the intelligence to delegate to specialist employees. Saunders understands mechanical engineering and its relationship to the market place (as the redoubtable Atom amply demonstrated). Neither seem remotely out of their depth. For all his undoubted ability to win over sceptics, Garner’s adventures suggest that staying afloat may be a serious challenge. Treating customers, suppliers and dealers with respect might be a start – there are a lot of discontented people and businesses out there whom Norton have managed to alienate: our sources represent the tip of a nasty iceberg.

One thing is clear: simply saying nothing and hoping problems will go away is no longer a responsible judgement. The truth, as they say, will out.

DOCUMENTS (Public Domain)

It is important to remember that these documents give a background picture only. The company report linked below contains references to events which took place as recently as July 2012.

a)    Instant Report_NORTON MOTORCYCLES (UK) L_06718623        alternative link

b)  filed accounts, 2010 /11

c) Stewart Garner Directorships

SOURCES

1. Richard Anderson, solicitor, contemporaneous notes from telephone interview 9/8/12.

2. Steve Hillary, Norton customer, MD of Redmax Speed Shop: a) contemporaneous notes from telephone interview 9/8/12. b) experience of Norton published in Redmax blog http://bit.ly/QYR1v0
c) email correspondence with BikerGlory

3. Clare from Cornwall, customer, name disguised, identity known to BikerGlory, written statement including documentation demonstrating her link to Norton.

4. Rob, customer, name disguised, written statement emailed to BikerGlory, identity and purchase independently corroborated.

5. Fritz Egli of Egli Racing, Switzerland, Norton Dealer. Contemporaneous notes from telephone interview 9/8/12 and others; email correspondence.

6. Norton ex-manager’s written statement to BikerGlory and contemporaneous notes from several telephone interviews, July and August 2012. Identity known but withheld from publication at his request.

7. Steve Gentil, MD Xtreme Motorsports, contemporaneous notes from telephone interviews July 2012.

8. Nigel Gibson, MD Fabriweld, contemporaneous notes from telephone interviews July 2012.

9. BikerGlory correspondent’s personal interview with EU Norton Dealer June 2012, identity withheld at latter’s request.

10. Document submitted to BikerGlory by established bike builder with ongoing Norton business connection, hence identity withheld; document forwarded to Steve Hillary for comment; written confirmation from Hillary to BikerGlory re document’s veracity.

11. Derby Telegraph, 24/7/12

12. Classic Bike, July 2011

13. John Westlake (MCN) statement to BikerGlory July 2012

14. Mick Duckworth, email statement to BikerGlory, 7/8/12

* BBC news online 28/11/11, Mike O’Sullivan interview with Stuart Garner.

Sources 1-9, 13 and 14 were shown comments attributed to them in this piece. All confirmed that the comments were an accurate reflection of their original statements.

COMMENTS

THE ACT OF POSTING REPRESENTS AN ACKNOWLEDGEMENT THAT ALL PUBLISHED COMMENT REFLECTED THE OPINION OF THE INDIVIDUAL POSTER, AND DOES NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT OR REPRESENT THE VIEWS OF THIS WEBSITE. 

 

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115 Responses

  1. denis says:

    Hello,
    Thank goodness somebody has brought this shambles with Norton to light.I myself managed to get my deposit of £1250 after 15 months wait for a double seat Norton.The blame lies completly with Garner and his side kick Kay. Well done on your journalism.

    • Have suffered exactly the same from TSS (Two Stroke Shop) in Cairns Qld. I do have an incomplete bike with bits that are not fit for purpose, tested or proven. A $20,000 investment not worth didley squat.

  2. Jim Reynolds says:

    Excellent piece of work, laying out the facts for the readers to draw their own conclusions. Thank you.
    Doubts were expressed about the company’s viability at a very early stage, An industry notable had assessed the original Kenny Dreer drawings and production plans and outlined the unsuitability of the basic design for large scale production. The estimated cost of set-up and production start was put at c.£30million.
    We too easily overlook the fact that we have experienced production people who know what they are talking about. They do not make headline material, but they do generally make long-term sense.

  3. David Smith says:

    After several factory tours I can say so many of the problems have been down to previous staff and mis-management which are now being sorted, many of the problems have been identified and are being rectified, the current team at Norton are the best its had and are working incredibly hard to sort it out, as far as I can see Nortons biggest crime is simply running before they can walk. I can see why so many people are unhappy but im 100% confident that in time they will come good.

  4. Simon Jefferies says:

    I can only speak as I find.
    I am an owner of a Norton 961se, I ordered the bike at the NEC show in November 2009 and paid a £1600 deposit at that time. The quoted delivery date was March or April 2010, the bike was built and collected from Donnington Park on the 28th April 2010
    The post transaction service I have received from the company has been second to none, I have not been lied to by the company at any point of time.
    My bike featured in an article in Classic Bike magazine during the summer of 2010, I am happy with the bike and the after sales service I have received.
    Whilst I apprieciate this is not the same experience that some others have had, it is fact.
    What Stuart Garner has done so far with Norton is remarkable, however the job is not yet complete. Norton must continue to focus on delivering bikes on time and keep customers informed as to the progress of their orders.

    • Nick says:

      Ed: Redireting Dynomutt’s post from wrong position in comments run order….

      There are always a few exceptions to any rule, and maybe you (Simon) are one of the lucky ones. It is a shame that Norton has ended up like this, but I think the Norton brand has become a bit of a poison chalice over the years. I personally would like to see more being done with the rotary motors. The cynical rebranding excercise that was the Spondon framed Aprilia Ooops I mean Norton!!! over at the island this year, was fooling nobody. Oh well, there goes the ghost of the British motorcycle industry….. again. DYNOMUTT.

      • andy simon says:

        Who made the frames for the all conquering Manx Nortons I wonder? Try to be positive and not a proffesional moaner please.

  5. Nick says:

    Just noticed Simon that you stated ‘I bought a cancelled order therefore I jumped the up the waiting list’ on the Norton Owners website, a fact you neglected to mention in your post above. I just mention it in the interests of clarification.

    I’m glad you had a positive experience. It’s just a shame that others did not.

  6. Bob Holt says:

    I’d relish the oppurtinity to comment on this. I worked for Norton early doors at a high level.

  7. James Keane says:

    This is one of the best pieces of investigative reporting I have ever read. The current standard of journalism, both digital and in print, could do well to take this as an example of the way it should be done!

  8. Paul Jones says:

    I’d agree that what Garner has done is remarkable. It really must take a lot of dedication and effort to alienate so many suppliers and customers in such a short space of time! Quite remarkable. An abject lesson in how to completely ruin an iconic brand. All the engineers that left Triumph to work at Norton, only to leave again must be laughing their socks off.

  9. Rich says:

    I ordered my 961 Special Edition over a year and a half ago. I put down my deposit, waited as numerous delivery dates came and went, and only started to lose failth when the dealer and Norton themselves stopped returning my calls. Sorry to be a bother guys, but had I been told I would be waiting 2 years I might have hesitated to hand over the cash! lol I did received a pretty vague letter in the mail claiming they were going to deliver the bike this Summer, but Summer is nearly gone and I don’t have much faith this will happen. It’s a shame as for many months I dreamed of owning this bike, lately I’ve been more just wondering how it might end. (lost deposit if the company goes under, bike full of defects if they try to push out the product without the proper resources, or ???) Time will tell.

  10. Ian Loram says:

    I have owned by 961 Sport for nearly two years. Yes, before the bike arrived communications were not good but as a business owner I can appreciate the vast interest in Norton and all the time wasters that might make enquiries. These enquiries would create a large expense to the company. However once the bike was getting close to delivery the service given has been excellent. I have hardly had an issue with my bike at all and the couple of electrical gremlins were sorted and the bike returned. I was told by Stuart Garner himself at Donnington that if any parts needed to be upgraded (due to it been such a new design) this would all be carried out free of charge. He has been good to his word with a few new items being fitted as upgrades. Mark Fisher who is in charge of the service department gets the bike in and out with no fuss and bother, it just gets done. It really is something that Stuart has got Norton up and going and it is a product I am so proud to own. I have 48 bikes in my stable and I would not sell her for the world as i get a real grin factor when out on her or just looking at her. I would say to anyone who has their name down for one, when she eventually arrives at your door and you sit on her and go for a ride you will be over the moon and the flustration of the wait will pale into the background. After 500 miles when she has her initial service put on the short stubby pipes and you will then know you have an Unaproachable Norton.
    I have done a number of journeys since owning her and am about to do a ride along with some other 961 riders from Lands End to John O’ Groats. Of course I can only comment on my own experience but i am already looking forward to adding another Stuart Garner new Norton when a tourer is designed. Let us all wish Stuart Garner well so the name and bikes are a product we can all be very proud of.
    Ian Loram

  11. Brian Crighton says:

    I was one of the three original people involved in the new Norton project instigated by Stuart Garner. I had several meetings with Garner explaining that he needed huge amounts of money to be able to produce good quality motorcycles. At the time the only motorcycle that we could make was a copy of the NRV588 Rotary which I had built for the National Motorcycle Museum of a bike I designed for the 1994 race season. I said to him that I needed a proper test bed facility and all the necessary equipment to achieve this. He said there was no problem at all with financing this and I questioned him as to whether he had sufficient funds to finance this and the Norton factory start up. He always maintained that the money was no issue. I therefore agreed to take on the role of Technical Director of Norton Racing which was the only Norton company at the time. In my contract it stated that I was to receive 10% shares of the company for my expert involvement.

    After starting, it became obvious to me that the guy was just full of bullshit and I didn’t get any testbed or any facilities for building the two NRV588 Rotary’s. I said for the bikes to be reliable I needed to develop new rotor bearings which were the weak link in the engine. There weren’t even ramps in the so-called workshop so I built the bikes in my own workshop at home. Garner kept asking me when was I going to go to the unit at Donington to work on the bikes and I told him that if he thought I was going to crawl about on the floor to build bikes he must be joking. Eventually he agreed to get me some ramps and some equipment… Sentence removed from original pending corroboration.

    Now we’ll talk about the Isle of Man TT. The first I heard about it was when I’d arranged to do some testing at Donington Park with Lee Dickinson to ride the bike. When I arrived in the garage I was introduced to Michael Dunlop and told that he had come to test the bike as he was riding it at the TT. I was obviously very unhappy about this as the bike was never designed for the TT circuit and was a lightweight quick turning short circuit bike completely wrong for the TT. I also said that the rotor bearings would not stand the long straights etc of the TT circuit due to overheating. I had several meetings with Garner telling him in no uncertain terms that if we go to the TT we would be made to look a laughing stock as the engine would break but as usual he would not listen to somebody that knew what they were talking about. Consequently Spondon Engineering had to rush and make two more chassis with bigger oil tanks and geometry to suit the TT Course. Due to this, the bikes were still being built up when we arrived at the I-o-M. The rest is history about this saga as everything happened the way I said it would and the engine failed in practice. Garnder said in MCN etc that every engine we had blew up at the I-o-M in fact, we only ever had two engines and only one blew up twice. Once at Jurby and once on the practice lap.

    Now for the 961 which came as a protype from Kenny Dreer of America. I said that it would need a lot of redesign and extensive testing before it ever went on sale. But again, Garner thought he knew better and basically copied the bike and put it into production. Although according to MCN reports etc. the bike was supposedly completely redesigned. This was untrue. Inevitably, there were reliability issues.

    Because Garner’s attitude and the lack of sufficent funds to finance Norton properly, I resigned. I didn’t want to be professionally associated with Garner. Obviously the 10% shareholding I signed for in the contract never materialised.

    Lots of well known people in the motorcycle industry bought into the idea of Norton, but in my opinion we were all conned. Many left when they found out the truth. Staff also experienced problems when it came to getting paid.
    I also feel very sorry for the people that have paid upfront in full for their bikes and have not received them: it’s the same old story.

    Look at all the promises that have been made by Garner regarding a new 700cc Rotary that he says in the comics has been made and is ready to test on the dyno? What about the MotoGP bike he said they were building? It’s all just spin. The new TT bike that they said had been designed inhouse was in fact a road Aprilia engine put into a sawn off NRV frame – not a Norton at all and how lucky was Garner that the Senior Race was cancelled.

    I think MCN have been misled by Garner into printing all sorts of claims about how many bikes they’re building a week etc. Sentence removed from original pending corroboration. They have to sell papers and the Norton concept helped them do that.

    Obviously I have kept quiet about all of this, and more, hoping that someone who was owed lots of money would close the company, which still appears to be insolvent. Because of this site, I think it’s now time to tell the truth about Garner.

    Brian Crighton

    Brian’s post has been edited with his approval. NICK.

    • Ady Baldwin says:

      I think Brians post says it all about what has been going on, totally agree with him, well put Brian,I took an intrest in this from the start

  12. h2al says:

    WELL….the above comments by Ian Loram and Brian Chrighton show the 2 extremes of this saga.My story is that i ordered and paid a deposit for a cafe racer 4th dec 2009 with a promised delivery in may 2010…In August 2010,I,(and apparently quite a few others) paid the balance because i was told the bike was going to be built.No bike was built..I’ve had 2yrs and 10 months now,and numerous failed delivery dates, and have been VERY close to going for a refund…BUT i didnt…My head said one thing but my heart said another…And now it appears my bike is actually being built…As i believe, are quite a few others…
    Yes, there’s been difficult teething troubles at Norton, but i’m sure we ALL want Norton to succeed and i’m pretty sure thats why MCN and other bike mags print nothing but praise for them.Slowly but surely Norton seem to be getting their house in order and the customer facing team they have at present are in a different league to the previous ‘jokers’.Andy Jeans and Mark Fisher have had to bear the brunt of people’s wrath on the phone, including mine, but i have nothing but praise for them. SO….I’m on Ian Lorams side of the fence… lets hang on in there and support Norton !

    • Paul Jones says:

      I would gladly support Norton if Garner and his “head of design” (what a joke)henchman were gone. It would be great to think that if they did make it work their attitude would change, but I think if they were successful they would be even more unbearably arrogant than they are now! It needs someone with a little humility, foresight and a head for business to take over from what are in effect a pair of clowns.

  13. Nick says:

    H2al, just wanted to comment re your post. You have a vested interest and I can see why you are reluctant to condemn a company which has treated you with contempt, speaking frankly. We all want to believe that it will work out, but how many times have we heard they are ‘getting their house in order’? This is August 2012 and we’re still talking of teething troubles? I suspect that the real problem is the hand on the tiller, and unless or until that is removed this situation will not be resolved. Hope you get your bike soon.

    • h2al says:

      Nick,I understand exactly what you’re saying, and totally agree that customers have not been treat very well at all….but the present 2 guys on the front line at Norton really are doing a fabulous job within their obvious restrictions. We know the problems at Norton are NOT caused by the front guys but the problems DO lie at their feet….and I personally ”don’t want to pull out the brick, if its gonna demolish the house” As for all the customers- its up to them- they either go for a refund, or they hold out,wait and (hopefully) get their bike. I have chosen to wait for my bike and (hopefully) i’ll have it soon.

  14. Dynomutt says:

    The guys at the front are just a convienient buffer between somewhat irrate customers wanting to know what is going on with regard to their much anticipated delivery, and Mr Garner himself.I really do not envy their position whatsoever, talk about rock and a hard place!
    Whilst those who are awaiting delivery or trying to obtain a refund will obviously need to tread carefully lest they say something that delays things even more for themselves, the outpourings of support for Norton are admirable and customer loyalty like that is usually built on years of quality service and products rather than what we appear to be witnessing here. Just strikes me as a little odd really when you have those who have first hand experience of working at Norton displaying a diametrically opposed position.

  15. Lindsay Brooke says:

    The BikerGlory article is a long-overdue revelation, and a nice piece of reporting. Here in the States, we’ve had little real journalism applied to the sham that Stuart Garner has perpetuated. Many of the Norton articles have been written by Alan Cathcart, who has glaringly avoided the customer/supplier/capitalization issues that are at the core of this tragedy. This has been a shame, as Cathcart obviously has access to Garner that business reporters seeking the truth would kill for. Worse, however, is how various bike magazine editors have printed the “Norton’s Back–Believe It” gushings by Cathcart and others without any skepticism, caveats, or balance.

    Not exactly a Bloor-caliber outfit, eh?

  16. Mathew larrett says:

    I’ve had my cafe racer nearly 2 weeks now and its fantastic, Norton seem to be really getting there act together and personaly I’ve had nothing but great service from them.
    I believe that most of the issues are in the past and they are trying there best to deal with it.
    The going bust of Norton maybe what unhappy customers would like but it will really affect the people that have bikes or are still waiting.
    They have more staff putting bikes together and there is a really good vibe about the place, be a shame if they have to close the place and put all the people out of work and ruin another UK bike company.
    Mat

    • Nick says:

      Mat – very briefly… Far from going bust, I think what everyone wants is to see Norton being run properly with a sound financial set up in situ. Industry people I have spoken to – and I’m not talking journos here, I’m talking people with proper credentials in manufacturing, production and financing – seriously doubt whether that can happen under the present incumbent…. as evidenced by the fact that problems are ongoing, and not merely historical.

  17. LC says:

    I had dealings with Norton – worst consumer experience ever – 2 years later we got our money back after the start of legal proceedings. My biggest concern now – how can you believe what they write in motorcycle magazines. Brilliant article, well researched.

  18. Peter Clifford says:

    Brilliant article, one of the best researched and considered I have ever read. A genuine service to the public good. There are far to many charlatans allowed to go on trading and ruining things for those who are honest and hard working.
    Peter

  19. Stuart says:

    Superb piece that is saddening when you consider how the great name of Norton is being abused in what appears to be an exercise in ego/vanity. Now I understand why Chris Walker stopped being their “Sales Manager” for no apparent reason…

    There’s nothing really new about it either – it’s too reminiscent of that period in the ’90s when boutique supercar “manufacturers” came and went with the passing of the seasons; promising cutting-edge-whatever and never building or selling a damn thing. All founded by “businessmen” you’d never heard of with investors that were fiction.

    You’d have thought all that would have died a death with the way things are in the world now.

  20. John says:

    Interesting read. It’s hard for me to ignore the parts about ‘gushing reviews’ that the UK bike press printed. SuperBike magazine didn’t. After running a news story on the situation that was anything but gushing, Stuart Garner called me to question the credibility of what we’d printed. He questioned it, he didn’t challenge it. I was invited up to the factory for an open door look at what was going on. Unfortunately his PA got frustrated at my attempts to find a mutually agreeable date to bag said feature and comms fell apart. Their loss in my eyes. Hands up who wants another quality British made bike to lust over? Mine is right up, I’d love to see Norton selling bikes that are built to go. Are they? Clearly not. Hands up who’s bored of everyone assuming that MCN is the voice of the UK bike press? I’ve got two hands up now so I’ll have to stop typing…

    John Hogan
    Editor
    SuperBike magazine

    • Nick says:

      John – unfortunately I missed your Norton copy. Re your MCN comments. First thing to be said: we’re lucky that we still have a weekly bike dedicated paper. News wise, for as long as most of us can remember, MCN have been in a position to lead the pack simply by virtue of their 4:1 publishing ratio vs monthly outlets. Which is why it’s frustrating when significant stuff gets overlooked. I guess the internet has changed the playing field to an extent, but then again MCN have their site. Personally, I reckon there is an opportunity to re-assess their online content so it feels a bit less generic. Just a thought.

      To be fair, I don’t think any of the UK bike titles particularly distinguish themselves in the field of investigative journalism, despite the fact that there are high quality individual voices in their midst. We seem to have a culture problem (at editorial level?) which assumes that the Planet Bike constituency can be satisfied by more of the same old, same old, occasionally dressed in new clothes…. But times have changed. People have a lot more media savvy these days – they recognise spin, they know we live in a corporation mediated environment. I think there’s an appetite for different. There is a wealth of interesting scientific / medical / cultural / political material which is relevant and doesn’t really get tapped. This place exists as an outlet for that. Contributions (in every sense) are always welcome…

  21. Baz says:

    I have been following this saga with interest.
    What we are all seeing, hearing and reading is a company in the throws of dying!
    When people resort to running a business like a Ponzi scheme, then you know it is curtains.
    To all you folk that have not received their bikes yet, get your money back……..if Norton are still in business in a year or so, buy one then. They will surely have fixed their bank account and their supply chain problems, or GONE BUST.
    Stop thinking with your hearts and start using your heads. The only reason they want their payment up front is because they have run out of cash and you are now bankrolling them with the chance of not getting your money or your bike.
    Stuart Garner’s other business (Fireworks International) is in Administration !!

    May the force be with you….you’ll need it.

  22. george cohen says:

    Hello, I have read with great interest this article and all the replies. I know most of the players involved. I have also followed the Norton saga from the demise of the NVT group, through to the various attempts to resurrect what was once the greatest manufacturer of British motorcycles. It has not been a very good story, so far, and James Lansdowne himself would be equally saddened that his motorcycles have not really been any good since the company left Bracebridge Street in the early sixties. My heart lies with the pioneer machines, Flat Tankers and the great over-head cam racers which dominated the race tracks during the thirties and fifties. It all started going wrong when the financiers from the AMC group pulled the plug on the racing department in 1953, the year I was born! “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday” was the old dictum. The Commando was based on a 500cc twin and it should have stayed at that capacity.
    Manx Nortons dominated motorcycle racing before and after the second world war, but by 1950 the Italian 4 cylinder engines were becoming a considerable threat to the trusty single cylinder unit.
    “Tony” Vandervell, who was part of the works Norton Isle of Man TT racing team in the early twenties (along side Murray Walker’s father, Graham), was Nortons major shareholder after WW II and he also had a great passion for racing cars. He was one of the major financial backers of BRM and commissioned them to develop a watercooled double over head cam four cylinder, 500cc engine for Norton in 1951. Numerous problems relating to engineering design failures, personality clashes and finally financial cut backs meant that the project failed, for three main reasons.
    Firstly, BRM failed to take into consideration the need to mount the engine in a motorcycle frame and the development was brought back to the experimental department at Bracebridge St, Birmingham. Here, Leo Kuzmicki, who was a former Polish fighter pilot, was found to be sweeping the floor far too slowly for the likes of the head of the department, a fiery Irishman and tuning maestro, Joe Craig. After a good telling off, Craig was told that this floor sweeper was a senior lecture on internal combustion engines at Warsaw University before the war. Soon, Kuzmicki was put into the drawing office where his genius on cam profiles, combustion chamber shapes, valve timing and porting soon paid dividends on the Manx engine, especially the 350 cc version. He also started work on the 4 cylinder engine.
    Secondly, Vandervell fell out with Raymond Mays at BRM and subsequently continued to develop his Thinwall specials, named after his very successful closed caged ‘Thin-wall’ bearings business.
    Thirdly, as a consequence of Nortons financial difficulties they were bought by Associated Motorcycles (AMC) in 1953. The financial backers at AMC were appalled at how such a large slice of the cake was being put into the racing machines to the detriment of developing better machines for the road. They pulled the plug on the racing department. No more works team, no more works machines and finally no more Leo Kuzmicki, who was given a much larger wage packet by Vandervell at his new venture the Vanwall Specials. It is ironic that the 2 litre Vanwall engine was essentially four 500 cc Manx Norton engines on a common crankcase.
    So what does this all mean?
    If I was in charge of Norton, I would build single cylinder 250, 350 and 500 OHC machines and 4 cylinder 750 and 1000 cc bikes, like Honda, Yamaha and the rest of them. But I am not at the helm, so my opinion is perhaps irrelevent.
    George Cohen, http://www.norton.uk.com

  23. Dennis says:

    The failure of the British motorcycle press to print “the whole story” of what is happening
    with Norton is no surprise to me.
    In the 1950′s and ’60′s the British motorcycle press did a lot of butt-kissing with the manufacturers to keep advertising revenue high. It appears this is still happening.

  24. Olivier says:

    Hello,

    I just read a few articles, but don’t have any comments on it. I ordered my 961 Se in June 2009, paid the enterely amount in januari 2011 and received a mail of Norton that my number 56/200 was going to be build this week. So may cross fingers, because I have cancer and life become shortly, but I still believe that my dream come’s true. Sorry for my English, I’m just not practising enough. Many sportive greetings,

    Olivier

  25. Wow.
    Isn’t a great name and a great bike worth waiting for?
    Yep like you guys I to had to wait 2.5 years for my hand built british bike,yes there was some bull shit to start with but isn’t there a lot from Buisness that start up from scratch? then why not wait for a British bike made and built by great british lads . Give the lads a breather and support them. Advise to Stuart ( tell them as it is, not what you think they need to hear!!

  26. Joe Seifert says:

    George, your bit is not really to the point at all. Nobody asked you what you’d build, neither was anybody after a history of Norton motorcycles which can be found in very much more detail in Woollett’s book.

    I admire Brian Crighton for his open words and could not have put it better.

    I have met Stuart Garner once, before he bought the trademarkn and got the 961 concept thrown in for free, when he attempted to buy my company Norton Motors Ltd, owner of all Norton rotary parts and drawings. The deal fell through, quite obviously because the money was not there.

    He then asked for quotes for parts to build several 588 rotary engines. These quotes we gave him, but never got an order bar for some small bits and pieces. Again, the reason why no engines were purchased was plainly lack of funds, because an employee of Garner was looking for a secondhand engine on the rotary forum and later admitted who it was for.

    To say I have yet to be impressed by the “New Norton Factory” and its commercial conduct is putting it extremely mildly.

    Joe Seifert, Andover Norton International Ltd (est.1977), Norton Motors GmbH, Norton Motors Ltd

  27. Patrick Bramman says:

    So to summarise you have a bunch of ex employees, who may have an axe to grind, a bunch of ex suppliers, who may have an axe to grind, some potential business rivals, who may have a hidden agenda, a few customers who are waiting and quite a lot it seems very happy customers. I may be missing something here but what’s the story? If anything it’s generally positive given this is a green field start up competing in a very difficult market and against a difficult economic background. If I was Stuart Garner I would get the all the components made in China for a fraction of the price, stick the wheels and forks in here, claim it’s made in Britain and make a huge profit but I suppose then he would come under fire for that as well.

    • Nick says:

      That would be foolish of you Patrick: fraudulent trading is a criminal offence. Stuart Garner is certainly not be that naive.

      People like Fritz Egli don’t need to grind axes. Unfortunately SG gave him one. I notice that you fail to mention Richard Anderson’s efforts on behalf of his clients -I don’t think regularly fending off solicitors and claimants is a great business model, and I’d be surprised if you did.

      What’s the story? Trading / commerce with Norton is a risky business as is buying one, comparatively speaking. There is also the question of the media / industry relations. Then there is the matter of SG’s stewardship of the company, referred to by Egli, Crichton and Griffiths. I hope that clears things up for you. But watch this space. There are other strands to this tale…

      • Patrick Bramman says:

        No I agree he is not naive nor does he deserve to be demonised on this web site. My point was that he should be given credit for manufacturing as much as possible in this country, not the easiest choice given that we have frittered away some many of the key skills we once had. It would be far easier and more profitable for him to get main components made in the east and assemble in the UK, just like Raleigh, Triumph, MG, Reebok, Dyson and many other “British” brands have done. My other problem with your report is that you have started with the premise that here’s some bad news, let’s lift the lid on it, rather than approaching in a even handed way. I don’t know if you have tried to interview anybody at Norton but I guess that’s a pretty slim chance now!

        • Nick says:

          Of course we contacted Norton and said so in the piece. I’d still genuinely welcome any contribution Norton wish to make (and said so on here pre publication.) This website is not interested in ‘demonising’ SG or anyone else. If it were, we would suppress positive Norton comments. We recognise they exist and we welcome them. We didn’t invent these problems and as a Norton fan – I was checking over a local Norton Manx hybrid a couple of hours ago – I’d like to see them sorted for once and for all. But in order to do that, stuff has to be acknowledged, like 961 owner Darren implied in his comment. You never know, the end result of all this may actually have benefits all round. Let’s see what transpires.

        • Pauk Jones says:

          It would be great if the people that Norton “used” to manufacture parts, could share their experiences with us! I have first hand experience and decided pretty early on that as a company they 1) do not value good British engineers, 2) the whole enterprise is run solely to massage one man’s ego, 3) they are not to be trusted in anyway! Needless to say like many others I chose not to work with them. I would dearly loved to have been involved but couldn’t believe how amateurish their approach was. So Garner “given credit”? Certainly not for anything admirable, especially as a manufacturer.

    • Mathew larrett says:

      Seems to me your about right Patrick, for every moaner there is many happy customers.
      I’ve got one and tho its had problems i love it.
      Been with ducati for many years, loved the bikes until the panagale so i needed a change and what else is there?
      Give the bloke a break! its probably the old guard doesn’t like someone new coming in and starting to make a success of it.
      I think the build quality is great, there assembled by hand and look fantastic.

      • Nick says:

        Mathew – I think many would say that SG has enjoyed a massive break – including one from the taxpayer – and largely uncritical coverage from people who were well aware that there was a backstory. He really has had a relatively easy ride. Bikewise – what else is there apart from the Panigale? Well, I guess that depends on where you are coming from. Steve Hillary, mentioned in the piece, has created some nice machines based on aircooled Ducati lumps. By the way – did you order your Norton once you’d seen the Panigale (they aren’t exactly similar)? Just interested in the timescale. Either way, glad you are enjoying the bike.

    • simon says:

      thats right you got ex-employees, ex-suppliers, ex-customers (more of these then happy customers to point out) telling you the really story on how it is, what more evidence do you need that norton is not what its made out to be.

  28. k.j. says:

    Sad to see all this turmoil. tried to order one when they first started selling them- Only interested in yanks and locals.
    Will stick with the original 70′s one and hope the brand survives. You can say what you like – in the end you just want one:)

  29. John Solo says:

    Is there no such law about Trading Whilst Insolvent in the UK? Where is the corporate watchdog? – or consumer protection authorities in all this?

    That said, luv Norton and would buy one in a minute.

    Dream solution:
    Maybe the likes of Egli, Crichton, Seifert and Gentil et al could come on board – with Garner maybe non-exec chairman: Get a public float going amongst the fans and do it right.

    PS Great article Nick

  30. David Bagnall says:

    I understand the frustrations…..but……there is always two sides to a story. Currently in the UK it is incredibly hard to raise money…sometimes it takes a maverick to do the stuff most people wouldn’t dream of trying. I hope that all frustrated customers get what they have paid for and the brand survives these hiccups. I do often question the need for journalists to over egg the pudding to get a good story………lets hope Norton get the financing they need to make a great bike for all those who enjoy two wheels.

  31. Dynomutt says:

    When you have the likes of Fritz Egli and Brian Crighton telling you the machine is fundamentally flawed and is unready to go into production, you would expect anyone with an ounce of sense to listen to their expert evaluation of said machine. Instead we see what is essentially a prototype being put into production and offered to the public, whilst the entire venture is being massively underfunded. Those putting down deposits appear to be paying for the bikes that are going out before theirs are assembled, and the bike you have actually paid a deposit for will only be assembled once someone else has put a deposit down for a future machine which will then pay for yours to be assembled. If the supply of new deposits dries up then presumably those awaiting delivery will be forced to go without their machines.
    I think the only way that the Norton will possibly survive is if SG relinquishes control and allows an individual or group of indivduals who have the requisite expertise and importantly adequate funding to try and salvage the situation.

    • Nick says:

      The annoying this is that both Egli and Crighton also reckoned that the flaws were relatively easy to iron out. In other word there’s the template of a sortable bike there, like you say it was a case of being unready rather than a case of back to square one. Regarding the future, there is always the possibility that the concern could be sold. The question of valuation might be interesting….

  32. h2al says:

    with the greatest respect to messrs(who said ‘messers’?…) Egli,Crighton,Lucas and Seifert et al-all experts in their own field-ANYONE who has/had an interest in buying a new Norton and has got to the stage of putting money down on a bike,would surely KNOW that the bike is in its ongoing development stage and KNOWN that there isnt multiple millions being thrown into this development (ala Honda).Yes, this development might be taking a long time,but surely this is to be expected. What we are seeing NOW is that problems reported to Norton by owners, are being rectified STRAIGHT AWAY. Talk is that there’s a new investment and there’s a hive of activity at the factory with bikes currently being built (mine included..) and delivered to owners who all seem to be delighted with their new acquisition.Yes we know there’s gonna be faults on the bikes, but time and experience will sort them.Remember that even Honda,Ducati,etc sometimes have to have ‘recalls’- even with all their millions!
    SO… i say to all the doubters,whatever your reason, GIVE NORTON AND STUART GARNER A CHANCE!

    • Nick says:

      I think this where opinion divides, because an awful lot of people would say that he’s had a chance. How much development does an old shool twin in a cradle frame actually need? What it definitely needs is quality control, testing and so on. Not quite the same thing as development. It has to be said that what they did to the very capable V4 does not not foster much confidence…..

  33. motopixie says:

    Want the other side of the story, here’s the interview with Stuart Garner addressing each issue in this blog, point for point.

    http://www.speedmonkey.co.uk/2012/08/interview-with-norton-ceo-stuart-garner.html

    • Nick says:

      I’ve responded to that ‘interview’ in situ – if the comment is still there.. There was a shortage of specific questions and when one was asked it didn’t get an answer. SG’s statements were allowed to go completely unchallenged, and key questions (number of bikes currently overdue, implications of latest CCJ etc etc) remain key questions….

  34. motopixie says:

    Nick, I think you’re wrong and judging by your comment, I’m starting to believe your intent is to slander Norton rather than provide a objective perspective. Stuart Garner clearly answered your allegations regarding delayed delivery times, problems with suppliers and previous employees of Norton. The simple fact is that your op-ed above only references the opinions of disgruntled former suppliers and employees, as well as customers that chose to get refunds rather than wait for their bike. Mr. Garner clearly expressed his remorse for the mistakes the company has made. And as a private company is under no obligation to talk about current financials although he did indicate that the company is well positioned to continue growing. I hardly think that a reputable company such as Santander would partner with Norton as a racing sponsor if the company were in financial difficulty. You can continue to publish the accounts of the disenchanted, and pretend they are news, but what you’re really doing in attempting to tarnish Norton is losing your own credibility.

    • Nick says:

      We’re working on a lot of other stuff right now so the amount of time I can spend on Norton is limited. I think your comments about Santander show the degree of naivety we’re dealing with here, since it was a no brainer for them – EXFG loans are underwritten by the taxpayer. So let’s just see what happens.

      In the interests of transparency, are your really an objective source? Someone who helps out here has picked up on a twitter trail linking Garner, Speed Monkey and …. Motopixie, which pre existed the BG piece. You’ll have to be more careful.

  35. Joe Seifert says:

    “In the last two years we have delivered many hundreds of motorcycles into the UK.”
    Where are they? No wonder all NOC rallies are flooded with the beasts and one can hardly find a 1970s Commando amongst them now!

    The best quote I read so far:
    “The rumors about Norton’s nonperformance have been fueled by Norton’s nonperformance.”

    As Nick says, that interview is just more of the same. Uncritical “journalism”, which is an opportunity for Donington propaganda disguised as a critical interview.

  36. Hi Nick,

    Please understand that I appreciate the work you’ve done on this piece and the interview on my site http://www.motorcycleinsurance.com/interview-with-stuart-garner-on-the-reincarnation-of-norton-motorcycles-and-nortongate/ is not meant to be propaganda for Norton, just a forum for him to address the complaints. Again, nice work and rest assured any comments you make on the interview will be published as written.

  37. motopixie says:

    I comment on lots of things and in lots of places and making another false allegation regarding Mr. Garner is ill-advised as he hardly has to hide behind anyone or any thing. I do not work for Norton, nor do I have any affiliation with them. But I also won’t stand for yellow journalism. I do not have influence or control over the speedmonkey website, nor over it’s author, so I cannot control what he chooses to allow in terms of commenting. Reciprocal commenting on twitter does not constitute an affiliation or an alliance.

    I do not think one tweet dated 6/22 from you was sufficient solicitation of comment from Mr. Garner, and for you to represent it as sufficient notice in your article is inaccurate to say the least. A proper “journalist” which you are not – you are a blogger with a forum called the internet at your disposal – would have formally contacted Mr. Garner, provided him with a copy of the piece prior to publication and given him fair opportunity to comment and respond. You did none of those things and then attempted to castigate him in your article by saying he chose not to respond.

    As an a person with a vested interest in the success of the motorcycling industry as a whole, and in particular the success of the resurgence of cafe racing, I will always champion one whom I think has been wronged. Your story should have published both sides, and it should not have relied solely upon supposition and the opinions of disgruntled former employees and suppliers. Has Norton made mistakes? Of course they have. Show me one company anywhere in the world that is perfect. There isn’t one. Period. However companies that do the right thing, which Norton has, admit their mistakes and attempt to learn from them, and right them and carry on.

    It would benefit you to do the same.

    • Nick says:

      1) Plenty of work published elsewhere, so sadly I am both a blogger and a journo.
      2) More than one tweet to SG, read the piece re KJ’s response.
      3) Just because someone markets something they call a cafe racer doesn’t mean they are incapable of being very naughty.
      4) I’m not yellow, I’m blue n white.

      Given Todd’s comments, we’re done with comments pertaining to the SpeedMonkey piece.

    • simon says:

      how do you he didnt contact mr.garner with a copy piece prior to publication, are you mr.garners sidekick I wonder???

  38. Matt Hubbard says:

    Nick, No slanging match from me but your comment appeared on speedmonkey.co.uk at 1.21am UK time and is still there! Please don’t allege that I have taken comments down. I, for one, am up for free and open debate on whatever forum and I don’t censor or edit. Can you rescind your comment about me removing your point please. Thanks, Matt – aka Speedmonkey

    • Nick says:

      Matt – big apologies, you are correct re comment removal. Jules the so called editorial assistant (ffs) here told me it had gone. Twat. I’ll lend him to you. N.

  39. Dynomutt says:

    If Garner actually had come on here to answer the various issues arising from his association with the Norton brand, then I’d have a little more respect for him.

    Anyone with half a brain would have listened when the likes of Crighton, Egli,Terblanche etc are telling you something is fundamentally wrong, and if they had been listened to then maybe we wouldn’t be here now. Much as I would like to see the Norton name grow in the future, personally I can’t see it happening under the current leadership.

    Personally I’d love to see the rotary engine developed further, I’ve always hankered after one since the first time I saw them racing at Cadwell in 1990. Far better to see a Norton rotary tearing around the circuits and island than the Spondon framed Aprilia V4 with a Norton badge stuck on the tank. Whoever thought people would swallow that one is a bigger joke than the bike itself.

  40. Matt Hubbard says:

    No problem. Glad that’s cleared up. Matt

  41. Kev Crighton says:

    Okay, getting a little fed up of hearing a few common and re-accruing phrase’s, such as:

    Patrick Bramman quote:
    “you had a bunch of ex employees, who may have an axe to grind”

    Matthew Larrett quote:
    “it’s probably the old guard doesn’t like someone new coming in and starting to make a success of it”

    Motopixie quote(s)
    “SG clearly answered all your allegations re previous employees. The simple fact is that your op-ed above only references the opinions of disgruntled former suppliers and employees”

    And

    “your story should have published both sides, and it should not have relied solely upon supposition and the opinions of disgruntled former employees and suppliers”

    If memory serves me correct, this website forum asked for FACTS and not rumour?

    I am Brian Crighton’s son. If you’ll please bear with me, let me state a few FACTS.

    For those who are too young to remember, or didn’t know:

    Brian Crighton started working at Norton Motorcycles (Shenstone, Lichfield) as a motorcycle technician in the mid-80′s. At that time Norton Motorcycles were manufacturing rotary engined bikes, for the Police, Military, and road side breakdown assistance companies. Nothing more desirable than that left the factory until the introduction of the ‘Classic’ and the ‘Commander’.

    Brian, as a gifted engineer and former national 50cc champion, soon realised that the underdeveloped 588cc Norton Wankel Rotary offered far much more potential than was currently being delivered, and after tinkering in his own time, and with permission by the then Norton Motorcycles management, embarked upon an adventurous but UNPAID race program.

    The Norton RC588 made its debut at Darley Moor in August 1987 –

    ‘from small acorns, grow large trees’.

    Had it not been for Brian Crighton:

    The red, silver & blue Air Cooled Rotary Racer that got crowds flocking back to British short-circuit race tracks, would not have won the Power Bike meeting at Brands Hatch piloted by Steve Spray, this being the reason for getting the Imperial Tobacco JPS brand sponsorship for the following years. Therefore, you would never have seen Steve Spray, Trevor Nation, Robert Dunlop, Steve Cull, Ray Stringer, Terry Rymer and Ron Haslam and others being photographed walking around the paddocks of many circuits around the world, in the now legendary black & gold JPS Norton leathers.

    Steve Spray and Ron Haslam wouldn’t have finished in the points in the Australian and British MotoGP’s.

    Steve Hislop wouldn’t have won the greatest senior TT in history in 1992 noted as the number 1 of the top 100 races.

    And Ian Simpson and Phil Borley wouldn’t have won all those races, setting many lap records between them, with Ian going on to win the 1994 British Superbike Championship.

    Had Brian Crighton not achieved what he had, then none of that success would have happened, and all Stuart Garner would of acquired a few years ago, would have been the rights to a defunct, insolvent, 1980′s forgotten vintage motorcycle manufacturer, and NOT what the self admitted JPS Norton fan actually acquired “cus he loved the brand, had the chance to bring the brand back..and who on earth would turn that down!?” *
    * quote published on speedmonkey interview with Garner 26/8/12

    Brian still has a typed contract from Stuart Garner stating that Brian Crighton would become “Technical Director of Norton Racing Ltd” and also receive 10% shareholding of that company”. Obviously this was all just a carrot to get Brian to join but of course the 10% shares were never registered or issued. More lies…!!

    That is FACT – these are not just the words of the son of “a disgruntled former employee”.!!!

    These are FACTS! And we still have the written proof.

    Brian is NOT a disgruntled former employee, but even if he was, would you REALLY blame him???!! After everything he’d previously achieved, then been promised, and what he actually received? More broken promises….???!!

    Be sceptical of what you read elsewhere. We know that after contacting and trying to voice our side of certain stories, that certain sections of the press are biased, and cautious of printing negative stories and comments about Norton. All I’ll say is be careful as to what you believe.

    Kev Crighton

  42. jeff casae says:

    i have had a deposit down for almost 2 years, stateside. promised delivery dates have come and gone. norton USA took a non-refundable deposit !!! met w van epps, finally offered me a refund, never answered my question about questionable business practice of non refundable deposit for others. i hear 2 story to every question. did they really redevelop the engine, if they own spondon, why not have them build the chassis ??

    • Nick says:

      Unfotunately the ramifications of this story are not confined to the UK. Stewart Garner does not own Spondon, that I’m afraid is yet another example of misleading spin. There has been much speculation re Spondon / Garner matters arising. Watch this space.

  43. graham fordham says:

    yes i just wanted to say i was involved in the early days of norton racing i did the promotional films for the 916 sadly like many other people i to was at the TT in 09 and it was a why of making cash by selling merchandise for SG like brian i had leave i have been around motorcycle racing for 30 years
    and believe norton have let the fans and paying customers down. Please make sure the truth comes out for the name NORTON its are history

  44. Lindsay Brooke says:

    Nick, have you interviewed Matt Capri of South Bay Triumph in California? Matt’s supposed to be the official U.S. Norton distributor. Also, Norton’s recent press release about the 961 passing U.S. EPA and California ARB regulations needs to be explained. I won’t believe anything from Garner until motorcycles are in U.S. showrooms. Until then, the U.S. is crawling with Andover-era Commandos that are better looking, less expensive, and in many cases will outperform the “new” one. Can’t wait to see what Garner’s follow-on product is…

    • Nick says:

      Lindsay, several aspects of this story have American connections dating back to the original purchase of the brand, an intriguing deal in its own right…. Yup, I am aware of Matt. Will be interesting to see how things develop Stateside….

  45. Dave Sheppard says:

    I just wonder about the balance of the article abour Norton.I have a deposit on 961 and I Know that I am just going to have to wait a bit.. that is no problem as I have a triumph anyway to play with. I dont think I would ever want to be best drinking friends with Mr Garner but he is doing something which all the other “Experts of a certain age” would not or could not do and that is produce a lovely classic looking british built bike. The fact that he and Norton have got this far is terrific considering the lack of development funds.I run a business and know that you need a lot of luck to get going and you can do it without the millions that the “never will do anything much moaners” say you need. Well done Simon Garner I for one salute you sir. What about some coverage of the fact that Triumph hide where individual models are manufactured..Triumph Bonny made in the far east!! thats the disgrace really, not what Norton are trying to do.. Dave Sheppard Stourbridge England.

    • Nick says:

      Dave. Like all manufacturers these days Norton use parts from a variety of non UK sources. Let’s just say it wouldn’t be a surprise if some of them were far east sourced. To be fair to SG, I don’t think he’s ever claimed that the bike was 100% Brit. Country of origin wasn’t really an issue from my point of view.

  46. Dave Sheppard says:

    Nick, Thanks for the comment I know some components are sourced from other countries.No problem with that but you miss the point.You are guilty of not going after the really big story and that is that Triumph are not being straight about where models are manufactured.That is why Norton who make the Frame, Engine and machined components in the UK and buy in other UK manufactured parts deserve a chance and praise actually.Manufacturung in the UK is the only way we are going to get out of the financial mess created by those bankers who never want to get their hands dirty,Man Up Nick.

    • Nick says:

      Dave thanks for commenting back. Engines are assembled at Donnington but components come from far and wide, including well outside the EU. Which is the way of the world – BMW use Chinese manufactured components. Incidentally the gearbox is HD sportster derived, I believe there were plans to use a redesigned one manufactured in the UK which was trialled and worked well – but deemed too expensive to put into production.

      Re Triumph – there may be a story there but I looked at Norton because two BG readers asked me to, and I don’t have the resources to follow all suggestions. I think Triumph’s view is that Far East production and outsourcing is fine as long as quality control is rigorous. That is absolutely fundemental. Next time I speak to someone at Triumph I will ask if they provide information to customers as to a bike’s origins, and post up the answer. But the real truth here is political: our manufacturing industry has been devastated over the years, and that is a political/economic story.

  47. Les Norton says:

    As i see it the solution is perfectly clear to Stuart Garner and the Norton name reinstate Brian Crighton, Peter Williams and Colin Seeley. lee Dickinson as rider and tester let them run the whole show, pay them well then maybe we will have Norton domination yet again on the race track.
    from Norton Owner, Rider, life long supporter.

    • Joe Seifert says:

      Les,
      What is the reinstitution of three men who are at, or beyond, retirement age, and who are- save perhaps Peter Williams- not of help in either of the main problems, production and finance- going to solve?

      Racing as such, even success in racing, does not really help a motorcycle company, let alone one that has its inherent problems. The Norton rotary era 1988-1992 proves my point.

      Racing a product that is not produced for sale is totally pointless. This would apply to the rotaries these days as well as to the latest Aprilia engined contraption. With the 961 Commando- an air-cooled, pushrod twin- you don’t want to compete against a modern twin, the best of which are easily at twice the horsepower in production trim.

      You may be a lifelong Norton supporter but your enthusiasm has run away with you. The focus should be on real, pressing issues rather than on toying around at another front which ties up personel and finance in a field that does nothing for the future of the company.

  48. John D. says:

    The silence of the motorcycle press relative to the “Norton Affair” is simply terrible. Even worse is the shamless shilling on the part of Mr. Cathcart, whose journalism I once admired. The press has been willing to give Norton and Mr. Garner a pass at the expense of consumers around the globe. I don’t look for any improvement.

    Mr. Garner demonstrated his inability to grasp reality to me when he declared that Norton would be taking the Moto GP grid. How could one even consider the monumental expense of such an endeavor (which Suzuki and Kawasaki had to abandon) when he had yet to deliver more than a handful of motorcycles?

    Perhaps he is a dreamer, who, while well intentioned, is just not up to the task of actually running this business. Or, maybe he is simply hoping that by keeping up the string of positive spin, he generate some value in his company that he can unload for a profit on some investor.

    I hope it is the former as that means that if outside management and manufacturing expertise is brought in Norton might survive and this grand old mark can live on.

    This is a great article. Thanks for all of the information. A fine example of what the motorcycle press should have been doing all along relative to Norton.

  49. barney says:

    The suggestion that Triumph hides the fact that some assembly of the line is done in Thailand is ludicrous. I won a Bonneville and knew from the start that they are assembled in Thailand….it’s common knowledge and is cited with pictures of their Thailand plant in their newsletters etc. Triumph is not a fly by night operation.

    • Nick says:

      That was my impression too. Like I said in my reply to the person who raised this, as long as quality control is rigorous the issue of where stuff is manufactured becomes an economic rather than a practical issue….

      • Jon Wilman says:

        I have read all of the above, but where stuff is manufactured is not just economic Nick. I am a British employee of a British company who export in a world where it is easier to produce abroad for lots of resons, but my companys owner keeps R&D and production in the UK so I still have a job and pay Taxs to a UK goverment.
        I do think Stuart Garner has made quite a few mistakes and I was let down on delivery dates but I knew it was a fledgling company and was prepaired for a wait. I to am the owner of a 961 Sport since June 2011 which so far is not flawed as described, and any problems I have had (2 off minor) have been sorted after contacting Mark Fisher who has been most helpfull with evey contact made.
        One of the main problems that has been missed by most of you is that here in the UK bank funding for anything that is not to do with Foreign owned companys is left on the back burner. Take a look at the Reaction Engines web site and watch The Three Rocketeers on BBCi for proof of lack of UK investment for British companys, yes they need good leadership but they also need good banks who are not just interested in just taking big bonuses !!
        What pisses me off is also thae fact that when you visit our capital our government let our Police ride foriegn bikes. Whats wrong with Triumph for UK cops even if Mr bloor has Ti factories take a visit to Hinkley whose taxs must be paid to a UK government. Yes ther are problems at Norton but send some of your questions to our Govenment to !!!

  50. Ian Foote says:

    Very Sad to hear of Nortons demise again. I thought the racer built by Spondon with an Aprilla engine was a bad joke , NOT a true Norton at all it should have been called an Apron not an Norton. I was keen Norton fan having owned a Domi the Commando was not as good. I would love to see Nortons back but original quality an reputation of Norton must be maintained. It is interesting to see who , ie what type of person can get funding for their business from a Conservative Govt when many others cannot !! Anyone remember Tycom or DeLorean under Mrs Thatcher This is truly appalling Bring back Hanging !

    • Mathew larrett says:

      Go and see them at Donnington, speak to the guys selling and building them and come Back and let us know what you think then.
      Perhaps nick should do the same? can’t hurt can it.

      • Nick says:

        Very happy to talk to anyone – in fact I asked another journalist who is due to interview SG (and who had contacted me) to reiterate the invitation to have a chat which was posted on here while researching the piece. Good things may yet come out of all this, but in the end that isn’t really up to me. Let’s see how things progress.

    • simon says:

      to me it looks like they just used the nrv588 rolling chassis and bodywork anyways??

  51. LT says:

    I want to say how sorry I am to all the poor customers left without bikes with only empty promises and pockets to show so far. Good luck with any resolution! If Norton had been properly funded and run by grownups I’m sure even in these difficult times we would all have felt a little more proud to be British. Garner ignoring what was wrong was bad enough, but being told how to put the bikes right and ignoring that is unforgivable. When it was announced Garner’s Norton was back in Britain I passionately from the love of bikes and Norton name applied to be a part of it. I rang and e-mailed and was encouraged (even by Garner himself) to supply my designs and market research on to him. From launch party proposals to illustrational concepts including the Manx orientation, nose fairings, 2-1 exhausts and duel seats I stupidly sent in my presentations in along with my CV. After I sent my many months of work I stopped and waited for a response. Nothing, phone, applications never answered and my e-mails ignored. The expression of the donkey and the carrot became clear but what really bucked me off was a while later when I saw the launch parties and model ideas I had sent turn into fruition. If there is a God please give the people what they deserve and paid for, and give the people who know what they are doing a chance do properly the job he plays at.

  52. h2al says:

    One of the things that has kept my head above water in all this, when i’ve felt like packin it all in, was reading posts like:-
    ” i waited and doubted, but eventually i got my Norton and the wait has been SO worthwhile”
    Well now i’ve finally got MY bike, with exactly the spec i wanted, and it looks absolutely stunning!
    SO…for those waiting, its MY TURN to say-
    keep patient and keep the faith, because WHEN you DO get YOUR bike, you’ll be glad you DIDN’T

    • Nick says:

      This is excellent news. Since the piece appeared I’ve had reports from other sources saying that things have picked up. A dealer phoned to say that he had finally received long awaited bits and pieces, and felt that the BG feature had helped move things on. Which may or may not be the case – either way I believe positives will emerge from reporting on the situation.

  53. h2al says:

    DIDN’T GET A REFUND !!

  54. simon says:

    have you got an email address i can contact you at nick.

  55. Dave says:

    Paid the deposit.
    Visited the Norton factory.
    Met Garner. Got offered a test ride on a SE which I accepted. After the ride the engine leaked oil from the head. I pointed it out and was told it would be modified on my bike. Handed over the remaining amount as I desperately wanted this bike sat next to my 850 Interstate. Watched Nortons being delivered to customers in Europe whilst I received nothing but smoke and mirrors from Norton. Special Edition my ****. Eventually had to hire a solicitor to get my money back. My thanks to Andy Jeans who seems to be a man of his word. My dealings with Norton have been a huge disappointment however I would still consider buying a Norton but not until they have squared themselves away.

  56. Andie waite says:

    Along with Bob Holt, I worked at Norton for almost 2 years. Starting out as PA to Stuart Garner and then onto Sales Administrator alongside Chris Walker. Considering Garner hand picked his staff for there ‘expertise’ in their given area he never listened to a word anyone said. All of the original staff employed by Norton gave the company 110% as we were passionate about the brand and wanted so very much for it to succeed. Promises were made that never materialised, cash flow was non existent, suppliers lied to and never paid, customers sold a ‘dream’ that would take 21 days to deliver, some took over 2 years! No one bought cancelled orders, I know as I dealt with ALL the orders! Celebrities were pushed forward in the build plan to keep bad press to a minimum, the list goes on. The company had zero cash to pay suppliers but still we were staying at The Landmark Hotel whilst attending the Ally Pally bike show…

    The last straw for me was being asked to … SECTION EDITED PENDING LEGAL ADVICE

    After being asked to do this for the 3rd time I refused. Low and behold I was sacked for the taking the moral high ground. I won my case for unfair dismissal!, I am not a ‘disgruntled ex employee as I loved my job but the state of the company was an absolute joke.
    I know of managers sacked on the spot for disagreeing with Garner and many tribunals held and upheld against him.
    Stuart Garner was a close friend of mine ….not anymore.
    All said and done the business was a tool for Garner to live the dream, I doubt any customer realised that their deposits were used to fund his stays in The Fairmont Hotel during the Monaco F1…

    • Nick says:

      Andie’s post contains an allegation which is supported by corroborative evidence from another source. Despite this, I’ve chosen to edit out the allegation pending further investigation. For an update on matters pertaining to Norton, follow this link.

      • h2al says:

        Whilst i’m not doubting these stories are true-in fact i was one of the customers duped into paying the balance for my bike way back in August 2010-most if not ALL of these stories are old hat now….and (i don’t wanna tempt fate)it SEEMS that the business of producing Norton Motorcycles is running a lot smoother now.Customers-including myself-are receiving their bikes but those waiting have got to remember Norton are a very small manufacturer and there are a LOT of orders to get through…lets look to the bright future and not the problem past.

        • Paul Jones says:

          h2al. I can’t help thinking that, you work for Norton, have shares in the company or have some other interest in it. Maybe you and SG are buddies?

  57. barney says:

    What Andie Waite has to say is rather devastating. This Garner fellow sounds awfully shaky.
    Shame, I was so looking forward to owning one hopefully after they toned down the ‘superbike’ look on the Commando.
    Fingers crossed. Where are you Mr. Bloor?

  58. Bob Holt says:

    I worked at Triumph for over 7 years and left to join Norton as their 3rd employee. Stuart Garner was a joke from the start and clearly didn’t know anything about manufacturing or buisiness. Worse still he wouldn’t listen to anyone who did! I brought some excellent suppliers to Norton who were treated very badly and were ultimately re-sourced when they dared to ask for payment. Not a pleasant experience. It’s a shame Mr Bloor didn’t buy Norton when Stuart offered it to him – but Garner is greedy asked way too much. Hopefully when it folds it will be purchased by someone with integrity who wants to build a business rather than make a quick buck.

    Worse than the treatment of suppliers was the treatment of customers. Testing was non-existent. We advised the necessity for mileage, pave etc. but that would cost money – and Garner didn’t have any (or worse, wouldn’t part with it). We experienced airboxes filling with oil which leaked over the back wheel and gearbox lock-ups on bikes that Garner was happy to send to customers. There was generally a complete disregard for safety in the factory too.

    It’s a shame that all of the decent employees have left. The original FD was a star and Andie was really sound. We initially had some great people and goodwill which quickly disappeared.

    I’m now a Purchasing Manager for a (proper) Aerospace company and most people have moved on to better things.

    I’d like to say good luck to Stuart but I actually hope it folds quickly and gets a decent person at the helm.

    Bob Holt.

  59. john liddell says:

    I ordered a commando 961 in May 2010 paid a deposit then in july 2011 was asked to increase that to 50% as bike was in production ???? to be delivers within 4 weeks now dec 2012 and still not delivered !!!!!!!! It is only the case that i am working overseas this year that has stopped me from taking legal action to recover my money ,perhaps the bike will be ready when i am back in UK in march ??? 3 years what a joke oh and only communucation from them when money required?????

    • Ex Norton Manager says:

      John,

      Having looked back into my day book I can see you as being in the build plan for late 2010. Like so many others who will remain nameless you have been abused and had your money used to pay other debtors.

      I am afraid to say that, at the time, this was standard practice for Norton and can ben confirmed by Andi and Bob (see above). I cannot comment on the current practices as I, like so many others, walked out from Norton at the first available opportunity, however, a leopard never changes its spots and I suspect this is still the case.

      Might be interesting to run off a new set of accounts and see how many new CCJ’s there are?

  60. Charles Mitchell says:

    What a fantastic bit of journalism!But where are the recent Posts?Has anyone gone onto The Norton Website recently?There’s a Post of 21st January ( after a long absence of activity ).Usual bullshit – The Company alledgedly has Bikes coming out of it’s ears!To all those awaiting their Orders like me-keep pressing HARD before the inevitable collapse!

  61. Ian says:

    Appreciating not all bikes may be registered for the road it does not appear there are many of the new Nortons on the road http://www.howmanyleft.co.uk/combined/norton_commando_961#!newreg

    • Ex Norton Manager says:

      Thats because they are registered under the individual model (Cafe Racer, SE, Sport) as well as the generic 961.

      Still makes very grim reading even if you factor this in, as I can confirm, very little to show for a good few million pounds and a whole lot of upset!

  62. Andy Watts says:

    Why bother? As long as silly people are willing to part with large sums of money before getting the bike this foolishness is fuelling the problem further and the story drags on. If you really want a norton and you have the cash why not agree to intrust the full amount though a solicitor to draw up a contract of purchase like a £500 deposit and the rest when you collect the bike, The solicitor has your money not norton. Andy

  63. craig milne says:

    I was like many others on this post a very frustrated customer. I waited almost two years & nothing, that was back at the start. I have now taken delivery of my 961 cafe racer & have to say what a fantastic bike, after over twenty years on two wheels this thing is epic in every way. If you want one, get on the phone. Things are on the up in the Norton factory.

  64. Brian Marshall says:

    I have just read through this website, and it makes for grim reading ! I’m immediately struck by the similarities with the all the hype and eventual demise of two other British automotive ventures, namely the Silk motorcycle, and the DeLorean car. It will all end in tears…….

  65. David c says:

    It’s all a game to Stuart, we took them to court where judgement was registered for £14,778 plus my costs. Despite supporting his business from day 1 with good guys like Bob Holt etc we had to draw a line in the sand. No payments for nearly 10 months left us with little option to take legal action. Garners knows the game very well, and plays its better than anyone I’ve come across in 25 years of business. One day it will come home to roost !!!

  66. simon fuller says:

    I’m writing from Germany, do not own a Norton and do not have an axe to grind with regard to the company or Stuart Garner personally. I think the new bikes are real ‘lookers’ however their quality control and customer service are appalling. Let me divulge. A very good friend of mine owns one but this year he had what can only be descibed as a massive problem with the gearbox (I don’t know whether this is an ongoing problem). Half of the box wouldn’t engage. My friend rang the factory and he was told to take the bike (at his cost) to one of the Norton dealers in northern Germany (not the importer in Munich)which he did. It then sat there for 6 weeks by all accounts because he was told that they were waiting for spares from Norton, however it then transpired that the problem was that the mechanics at the dealer were not qualified to work on the bike and had in fact recieved no training. After many, many calls to the factory the bike was eventually collected (I believe at Norton UK’s cost)and returned to the UK where the complete gearbox internals were replaced. The bike was returned to my friend crated, serviced and with everything working and with an extended guarantee to cover the time the bike had been off the road (which was something like 4 months all told). The only other problem my friend has had was the rectifier which stopped working. He replaced that with a Suzuki item at little cost and whilst he was at it, fitted a heat sink to help dissapate heat (not a stock item with Norton). My mate initially was pulling his hair out. Like many other he put his deposit down and delivery times came and went and only when he got to speak to Garner at the TT did he actually recieve anything like a delivery deadline. HIs emails were ignored and when he rang the factory could not get a satisfactory answer on what was happening. We ride together and he’s now extremely happy with his 961. Let’s hope it continues! Note to mediator. I am more than happy to supply all contact details including the owners who has given permission to me to write to you. Best regards

  67. Anna J Dixon IE.Bs.Eng says:

    Norton owners club expensive dinner in 2009 – I met Mr Garner and Brain Crichton. Brian was talking sense about the NVR588 that was the way to go, but underdeveloped. Brian had done all the development work him self. The 961: from a engineering point of view its a step back the 1970s commandos. This engine should of been killed off when Bracebridge street works closed, I do agree with George Cohen. Future motorcycles need more advanced technology to go in them. The Norton 961 is getting long in the tooth, and a new machine is needed now – not later. The Norton Team would have problems achieving this and as an engineer I personally would not work for them. Even Peter Williams did not hang around to long, so this should tell you something .

  68. Ninja600 says:

    I was not going to comment on this until i saw this comment.

    David Smith “After several factory tours I can say so many of the problems have been down to previous staff and mis-management which are now being sorted”

    Blaming previous staff is pitiful.

    High staff turnover was only down to one thing – the way we were all treated! Nothing to do with capability.

    Mis-management from the top perhaps?

  69. Tony says:

    Hey Nick, Just wanted to lay praise on a great series of articles about Norton / SG. Thanks to you I seemed to have lost most of my Sunday morning, first reading the articles and then going off on all the different tangents people have posted to give myself an unbiased view of the state of play. Now I am starting to read the rest of your site. There goes the afternoon.

    Keep it up

  70. Jay says:

    I only regret that I did not read this article before we started our relationship with Norton and Stuart, what a way to desecrate a famous brand like Norton, this company and service is a joke. We have been in business for over 60 years in the motorcycle industry but have never been screwed so hard as Norton has done to us. Once our legal dispute has been settled with them I will post a full article. Thanks for the great write up, people need to know this guy is a con.

  71. Kev says:

    I love the café racer,but boy this has dragged on a bit.hope they get sorted,if you have one whats the bike like?

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