The reason: Stripped V4SS bikes.
Under its new TVS leadership, the Norton Motorcycles brand is eager to look to the future. However, the organisation had to have known going in that there would be a significant amount of baggage to deal with from the Garner era, which is now legally called NMUL Realisations Limited since early in 2020.
It’s a long, hard slog, as can clearly be seen with the ongoing V4SS safety debacle. Now, the current Norton administration plans on releasing a second-generation V4SS which it says will be based on an entirely new design. In a July 2021, interview with John Hogan at SuperBike Magazine, current Norton CEO Robert Hentschel said that the company plans to unveil the Gen2 V4SS at the Motorcycle Live show in the UK in late 2021.
That’s far from all Hentschel had to say about the past, present, and future of the company, though. As is usually the case with a SuperBike interview, the entire thing is well worth your time to read, and you’ll find the link in our Sources if you wish to do so. However, we’d like to draw your attention to one thing in specific that Hogan dug up and it’s to do with the NMUL V4SS stripped bikes scandal.
For those unfamiliar, NMUL delivered precious few of its hotly anticipated V4SS motorcycles prior to its demise. Those that were delivered have since been found to be dangerous and unsafe, a fact that both NMUL’s administrator of record, BDO, and the current Norton Motorcycles brass are working to sort through.
However, in the dying days of the NMUL administration, some V4SS owners shared horror stories of having brought their bikes to the Donington factory for warranty service, only to have them returned to them stripped of parts. At the time, those owners alleged that NMUL had stripped those parts from their bikes in order to put them on other V4SS bikes, which were then sold as new.
According to the UK Insolvency Service Disqualified Director Directory (which, I’m not joking, is a very real thing), former NMUL director Simon Skinner was officially disqualified from being a director of any private company for the next five years, as of 22 June 2021. It’s worth noting that in addition to being one of the NMUL directors, Skinner was also head of design and the project lead for the Gen1 V4SS, in particular.
The reason for his directorial disqualification reads as follows: “Between 09 September 2019 and 12 November 2019 Simon Peter Skinner caused and/or allowed NMUL Realisations Limited to remove parts off of at least six customers’ fully paid for and owned motorcycles which had been returned under warranty (“warranty customers”) with values totaling at least £123,000, for use on other customers’ motorcycles resulting in the motorcycles of the warranty customers remaining incomplete as at the date of Administration.“
It’s worth mentioning here that the current Norton Motorcycles administration has retained Skinner as an employee in a design function going forward. Additionally, both current CEO Robert Hentschel and interim CEO John Russell, when asked directly about Skinner, have vigorously defended him in interviews prior to the Insolvency Service’s report. We don’t yet know what this information may mean going forward, but what is painfully clear is that the Norton rollercoaster isn’t quite stopped at the station just yet.