Those who know me a bit are familiar with my fondness for iconic British motorcycle brands.
In spite of being an avid Triumph rider for many years many friends will also recognize my catchphrase:
“I may be married to Triumph, but Norton is my mistress”.
Until now my life has been too straight in this sense, and I have never had the pleasure of actually owning a Norton. When the brand was resurrected a little more than a decade ago, the burning desire deep within me caught fire again.
I have had the pleasure of establishing a good relationship with those behind the brand at the time. Unfortunately for all parties involved, things spiralled South early 2020 and the company filed for bankruptcy amidst a tornado of media attention. As there are more than enough media channels reporting on that particular subject, I prefer to look ahead. And the future for the brand looks pretty bright at the time of writing. Norton Motorcycles is now part of TVS Motor Company and can rely on sufficient funds to really revive this icon once again.
In recent months there was only the odd little news bit that trickled out here and there, but it is now clear they have been working very hard in the eye of the storm.
A new dawn
This week Norton Motorcycles has announced the completion of its new global headquarters. The all-new facility houses state-of-the-art manufacturing capability and the company’s new global design and R&D hub. It forms a key part of Norton’s strategic growth plan on its journey to becoming the world-leader in luxury hand-crafted motorcycles.The new HQ is a clear display of significant commitment by TVS Motor Company in its prosperous partnership with Norton Motorcycles. Within just 18 months of acquiring the iconic British marque, TVS Motor has overseen the creation of its world-class facility in Solihull, West Midlands, UK paving the way to design and produce an exciting new generation of motorcycles built with world-leading manufacturing standards.
Says Sudarshan Venu, Joint Managing Director, TVS Motor Company “The opening of the new headquarters represents a significant step forward for Norton Motorcycles and is a proud moment for everyone. We are creating the foundations for a sustainable long-term future for the Norton marque.
“We are setting out to create a bold future for the company, our employees, our customers and our partners that lives up to the highest expectations, enabling Norton to once again become the real global force its legacy deserves.”
Robert Hentschel, CEO, Norton Motorcycles comments: “The new Norton Motorcycles headquarters is a true embodiment of this iconic British marque. The facility is home to design, engineering, purchasing, sales, marketing, and support departments, as well as the highly skilled production team overseeing the build of our new generation of motorcycles. It is the perfect platform to re-energise our business as we lead the Norton brand to onward success where it will play a key role in the future of mobility.
“This investment demonstrates our unwavering commitment to the motorcycles we build. We will not compromise on quality, and we continue to work alongside every supplier to ensure that our high standards are always met. With this new HQ opening, Norton is now fit for the future – creating an innovative and sustainable business model which will see us producing world-class motorcycles that are true to the unrivalled legacy of Norton.”
Scrutinizing the operation
The new Norton leadership, together with TVS Motor Company, has conducted a wide-ranging review of Norton Motorcycles operations, resulting in new appointments and processes, specifically in engineering, design and manufacturing to ensure that the highest quality standards are met. The headquarters is creating over a hundred of new high-skilled jobs (and more in upcoming years) and will be able to build around 8,000 motorcycles a year.
Even though there are many new appointments, the BikeBrewers team are very happy to see a very familiar face in the crowd! Simon Skinner, affectionately called ‘Skinner’, was a key figure in the team that set out to re-create the brand. He was instrumental in designing the Norton V4SV. An exciting bike the world is waiting for, but will unfortunately be affordable to only a few of us.
Says Skinner: “I joined Norton Motorcycles over twelve years ago in 2009 and was one of the employees carried over to be part of the new company under TVS ownership. My role as Head of Design is incredibly varied, from supporting engineering to helping marketing with historical or brand knowledge, I work closely with all departments of the business. However, I am fundamentally responsible for delivering the design element of new products that are true to the core brand principles of Norton. This means spending time on product definition, sketch work, 3D CAD and visualisation, and working to improve integration of design with concept engineering.
Over the last decade, I have been responsible for the design of all Norton motorcycles and their derivatives, including the Commando 961 Classic, the Superlight, and our new V4 motorcycle, plus a series of racing bikes. One of the best parts of my job though is seeing people grow and develop, such as when a graduate becomes a senior member of the team – it’s very satisfying to be a part of that.
My goal within Norton is simply to develop my team to create the best motorcycles in the world and return Norton to its former glory.
Top notch quality
According to Norton Motorcycles the new manufacturing process, every single component of every new Norton motorcycle will be evaluated in a new quality-testing laboratory to ensure the highest build quality. Within the laboratory are inspection rooms, testing areas including destruction testing and a rolling road. A customer reception and showroom, service workshop, and office are also housed at the new Headquarters.
Continuing, ‘the Norton manufacturing facility has been engineered to be highly sustainable and to minimise waste. The result is an intelligently engineered solution using flexible components that mean that Norton Motorcycles can expand and evolve, within the new space. The build used numerous sustainable and rapid build techniques on the project, the components of which are
At BikeBrewers we can’t wait to see all this exciting work in progress in real life with our own eyes
For those not yet familiar with the brand:
Norton Motorcycles was founded in 1898 as a manufacturer of fittings and parts to the two-wheel trade.
Norton Motorcycles went on to become one of the most iconic British motorcycle brands, manufacturing famous models such as the 650SS, Atlas, Commando, Dominator, Manx, Navigator and more – constantly innovating in motorcycle technology, with features advantageous for lightness and strength in motorcycle racing. Norton Motorcycles has an unrivalled history in motorsport and the brand name is synonymous with Isle of Man TT racing.