In May, 2021, Norton Motorcycles interim CEO John Russell notified V4 SS owners—who, if you’ll recall, had purchased their bikes under the previous administration—that there were serious problems with that model. A total of 35 defects were identified, with 20 of those being what Norton considers critical items. It issued a “stop-ride” advisory, urging owners to not ride their V4 SS bikes until and unless those issues were addressed.
On 28 June 2021, new Norton CEO Robert Hentschel sent out an update to all V4 SS owners in the form of a letter. While the earlier letter from interim CEO Russell said that Norton was examining ways to help repair the faulty V4 SS bikes—and also repeatedly stating that it was under no legal obligation to do so—Hentschel's new letter says that Norton no longer finds that action feasible. This, he says, is because Norton is “unable to reliably source all the parts needed from NMUL [the previous administration’s present legal name for these proceedings] suppliers.”
Instead, Hentschel’s letter says, Norton Motorcycles is currently re-engineering its own take on a V4 SS model, which it plans to sell in due course. He stressed that it will not be a continuation of the previous V4 SS. Once NMUL’s liquidation is complete, Hentschel said that Norton plans to offer the owners of the defective old V4 SS bikes a brand new, re-engineered Norton V4 SS “at a special price.”
When will the new Norton’s new V4 go into production? Hentschel addressed that question as well, saying that due to various circumstances, they can’t offer an exact start date. However, the current estimate is that it will happen sometime in Q4 of 2021.
Furthermore, Hentschel advised that all legal responsibility for the defects with the old V4s remains with NMUL. He further stated that owners should be in touch with the liquidators of NMUL regarding settlement of their claims.
The letter reads, in part,
“As we have mentioned in our previous letters, from the moment we found evidence of the problems with the NMUL V4-SS, we have been searching for the best way to support you with a solution that is practical and safe. I hope you will understand that our view of the likely best solution has changed over time as more material defects were identified. The legal responsibility for the defects remains with NMUL which is now in liquidation. You should have received a claim form from the liquidators of NMUL regarding this matter. Therefore, you may please be in touch with the liquidators of NMUL for settlement of your claims.”
“Following the completion of the liquidation, we will offer you a new Norton V4 motorcycle as a gesture of goodwill, at a special price and it will come with a 2-year warranty that starts from the date of handover. With regard to your NMUL V4-SS, as explained in previous letters, it should not be used or ridden on the road due to the number and severity of the defects. We have thought long and hard about the feasibility and safety of repairing the existing motorcycles. We have decided to not offer to repair the NMUL V4-SS motorcycles because we are unable to reliably source all the parts needed from NMUL suppliers.”
“I would also like to inform you about the current situation regarding our new V4 motorcycle. We are still working through what must be done to bring the new motorcycle up to the standard of safety and reliability we all expect from Norton. I should stress that the new V4 will be a re-engineered motorcycle and not a continuation of the NMUL V4-SS.
We are committed to taking the time that is needed to validate the motorcycle’s safety and reliability which means that we cannot yet confirm a Start of Production date. Our current estimate is that we may be able to start production in Q4 2021, but you will appreciate that it will be very difficult for us to commit a very specific date at this point of time.”
Hentschel’s letter concluded with the following statement:
“I will remain closely involved with this process, although I cannot personally respond to you on an individual basis. I should also add that, while we are and always have been committed to maintaining honest and transparent communication with you, we think it is fair to communicate with all owners at the same time and in the same way. For that reason, it is inappropriate to respond to individual enquiries. My team and I remain committed to support the liquidators and owners as much as possible, despite these difficult circumstances.”
How do NMUL V4 SS owners feel about this situation? If you are one, feel free to reach out to us. We’d guess the “special price” on the new V4 may affect those feelings down the road, depending on how special it is. This entire situation has no doubt left a bad taste in the mouths of those owners affected, but that’s also likely been the case ever since reports of stripped bikes surfaced. Here’s hoping those owners do find some type of satisfaction going forward, because it shouldn’t be this hard for anyone to get the bike they want.