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The One and Only Magnificent Nelk

By General Posts

The Only Motorcycle Company to be Destroyed by a Natural Disaster

by Bandit with Photos from the Master Markus Cuff

In early motorcycle industry, one of the most magnificent startups was unfortunately unable to survive, because of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

Rumor has it Carl N. Nelk pushed this motorcycle out in front of his brick building for a photo-shoot when the earthquake hit. The blast destroyed his operation behind him. One bike survived and this is it. More than 3,000 San Franciscans died, and over 80 percent of the city was destroyed.

In the early era, ome motorcycle companies grew behind not-so-reliable machines. Others including the Nelk, of Palo Alto, California, with its outside polished flywheel was way ahead of its time from a styling and performance standpoint.

Unfortunately, the smooth art-deco styling never made it to the mass-manufacturing stage.

CLICK HERE To Read about the Performance Specs, reliability and other significant features which makes it memorable beyond its looks. ONLY IN Bandit’s Cantina – Exclusive Photos of the only surviving Nelk !!!

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adidas Originals and Past, Present, & Future of Kawasaki ZX

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adidas Originals and Kawasaki Celebrate the Past, Present, and Future of ZX with Two Collaborative Sneakers

Herzogenaurach, 11th April 2022 – Born out of a shared passion for forward thinking design and unrelenting innovation, this season, adidas Originals and Kawasaki join forces to celebrate the history and future of ZX with two unique takes on the ZX8000 and ZX 5K BOOST silhouettes.

An icon that needs no introduction, Kawasaki has been at the forefront of the motorcycle manufacturing industry for decades. Known for its inimitable aesthetic approach, the brand’s signature sportbike brand – ZX™ – served as the inspiration for the adidas design team when they first introduced the original ZX500 sneaker in 1984.

Taking cues from Kawasaki’s instantly recognizable design philosophy of motorcycle and color palette, the collaborative ZX8000 sneaker features a White kangaroo leather upper, with Kawasaki Green leather overlays, blue map suede accents, and a Kawasaki Ninja® graphic on the lateral. Meanwhile, the ZX 5K BOOST boasts a Black TPU overlay and eye stays, Kawasaki green accents, a semi-transparent Black ripstop vamp, and a Kawasaki Ninja® logo on the toe-box.

Both sneakers are capped off with electroplated lace tips, shoe jewelry and heel pieces, as well as co-branded sock liners. Each pair then comes packaged in a custom box with a printed graphic of the latest Kawasaki Ninja® ZX™-10R, filled with tissue paper bearing a printed Kawasaki motorcycle sketch.

The launch of the adidas Originals and Kawasaki collaborative partnership is accompanied by an evocative campaign film which pays homage to Japanese motorbike culture by taking the viewer on an unexpected journey through the city’s streets.

Arriving on 14th April 2022, the collaborative ZX8000 and ZX 5K BOOST Kawasaki sneakers are available globally (excl. China) through adidas stores, adidas.com, Confirmed, and select retailers.

Additionally, the ZX 5K BOOST will also be available directly from Kawasaki*.

* In Japan, EU, USA, Canada, Australia, Thailand

About adidas Originals:
Inspired by the rich sporting heritage of adidas – one of the world’s leading sports brands and a global designer and developer of athletic footwear and apparel – adidas Originals is a lifestyle brand founded in 2001. Visit Website at http://adidas.com/

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Mustang Seats Acquired by Veteran-founded Investment Firm

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Mustang Seats Acquired by Veteran-founded Investment Firm LDR Growth Partners

New Growth-Oriented Owners Will Invest in Company’s Factory Operations, Marketing Programs and Presence with Customers

Three Rivers, Massachusetts – April 4, 2022 – LDR Growth Partners today announced the acquisition of Mustang Motorcycle Products LLC, maker of Mustang Seats and related motorcycle accessories, in a private transaction closed last Friday. Mustang, known for high-quality, handmade motorcycle seats, was founded in 1980 near Three Rivers, MA, where the company maintains factory operations. Mustang was purchased out of Motorsport Aftermarket Group, owned by a group of investors, led by Monomoy Capital Partners.

“Mustang Seats presents a tremendous opportunity for us at LDR,” said William Brame, partner at LDR and co-head of its acquisition business. “Our unique approach is in providing growing companies the resources they need to continue to expand while identifying areas for new value creation. We’ll invest in people, technology, and the machinery the company needs to help deliver the iconic Mustang Seats to motorcycle riders looking for our products domestically and internationally.”

Mustang employs 85 people in a historic facility in Three Rivers. The company was founded by Al Simmons and named after the legendary P51 military aircraft from World War II. Mustang designs and manufactures a variety of styles of seats, with fitments for all major brands of motorcycles. The company also offers rider and passenger backrests and seating-related products.

LDR Growth Partners is a private investment firm focused on acquiring and growing unique, cash flow generating businesses in the manufacturing, industrial products, and transportation sectors. The company currently owns and operates Whitman Controls, a 50-year manufacturer of process automation controls with large, multinational customers across a range of industries. LDR, founded in 2011 by three US Army officers, is also the owner of LDR Advisory Partners and LDR Leadership, firms which focus on improving company, employee and leadership performance.

LDR intends to keep Mustang’s operations in its current primary location as it adds manufacturing technology, production capacity and marketing capabilities to the organization. The company has added nearly 20 additional employees since September of 2021 and the new owners anticipate hiring additional resources in the coming months to accomplish their goals.

“We believe in Mustang’s product, in its people and in the strength of the motorcycle accessory market,” continued Brame. “Our leadership is excited about entrenching ourselves in this company and in the riding community. We look forward to meeting our loyal customers and partners at rallies and events this year.”

“The leadership and employees here at Mustang couldn’t be happier about the news,” said Mustang GM Mike Cornelius. “The additional investment from LDR will help us take the next step forward. Our orders show that riders want Mustang Seats and our team is excited to continue to deliver them to our loyal dealers and customers.”

About Mustang Motorcycle Products
Mustang Seats are handcrafted in the USA to give riders the style they want and the comfort they deserve. Mustang is known worldwide as the highest quality motorcycle seats for virtually all brands of motorcycles. Based in Three Rivers, Massachusetts, the company sells seats and accessories through its network of premier powersports dealers and direct to consumers through www.mustangseats.com

About LDR Growth Partners
LDR Growth Partners supports growth-oriented businesses, management teams, and entrepreneurs with equity capital and precision support to scale operations and maximize returns under a spirit of market leadership, creativity, and innovation. LDR is led by a five-person cross-functional leadership team, and was founded in 2011 by U.S. Army Officers, with a common vision for business leadership and the power of building, supporting, and growing exceptional teams. The company has offices in Stamford, CT, Houston, TX, and Washington DC.
Visit their Website at http://www.ldrgp.com/

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Norton Motorcycles unveils new Café Racer bike

By General Posts

from https://www.coventrytelegraph.net/ by Enda Mullen

The V4CR, a derivative of the company’s V4SV superbike, will go on show at Motorcycle Live

Legendary manufacturer Norton Motorcycles has revealed a prototype of a new motorcycle. The V4CR, is a Café Racer derivative of the company’s V4SV superbike.

It is the first prototype to be designed, engineered and built at the company’s recently opened global headquarters in Solihull.

It shares the same engineering DNA as the superbike, including its 185bhp 1200cc V4 engine as well as some engineering advancements.

Norton said the new V4CR’s stripped-back appearance showcases the craftsmanship and quality behind one of the most powerful British café racers out there.

Fitted with a carbon fibre fuel tank and body panels, polished billet aluminium swingarm and frame, the V4CR also features compact framework and a shorter rear frame for an aggressive and commanding stance.

Norton Motorcycles’ CEO Dr Robert Hentschel said: “The prototype VC4R is the next step in Norton’s strategic growth plan on its journey to becoming the world-leader in luxury hand-crafted motorcycles.”

The V4CR prototype is Norton’s latest project to use the marque’s refined V4 platform, revised over the last 16 months by a team of 30 engineers and subject to tens of thousands of road and track miles, as part of Norton’s development process.

The V4CR reintroduces fans to Norton’s iconic café racer heritage.

Norton’s V4CR prototype will make its public debut at Motorcycle Live, taking place at the NEC in Solihull from December 4-12.

Norton formally opened its Solihull headquarters in November this year.

The motorcycle maker has a long and illustrious history, though fell on hard times before being revived.

It became one of the most iconic British motorcycle brands, manufacturing famous models such as the 650SS, Atlas, Commando, Dominator, Manx, Navigator and many more.

It gained a reputation as an innovator in motorcycle technology, with features combining lightness and strength in motorcycle racing.

Norton Motorcycles has a rich history in motorsport and the brand name is synonymous with the famous Isle of Man TT.

The new headquarters in Solar Park, Shirley, is home to design, engineering, purchasing, sales, marketing, and support teams – as well as the skilled production team that is resuming the manufacture of motorcycles.

Norton Motorcycles’ revival and relocation from Castle Donington comes after it was acquired by TVS Motor Company, India’s third-largest motorcycle manufacturer in April 2020.

Concept Motorcycle for the Moon: global debut at ADV Overland exhibition

By General Posts

by Otilia Drăgan from https://www.autoevolution.com

This Spectacular Moon Concept Motorcycle Opens the Door to a New Space Experience

Since the “billionaire space race” has been accelerating, you might have imagined cosmonauts doing a lot of things, but we bet you didn’t picture them riding motorcycles on the moon. Yet, that’s what’s coming, because somebody just built an actual moon motorcycle, one of the most insane concept two-wheelers you’ll ever come across.

Last year, a Russian designer imagined what a “NASA motorcycle” would look like. Just one year later, that concept turned into reality and is about to make its world debut in California. The folks who made this happen are a small team from a German company called Hookie, which specializes in custom moto design and parts. Inspired by Andrew Fabishevskiy’s fantasy motorcycle, they were determined to bring it to life.

This is how Tardigrade, presented as the world’s first moon concept motorcycle, was born. You might wonder why it got the name of an apparently primitive creature, but these nearly-microscopic beings are incredibly resilient and able to adapt to any kind of environment, including outer space. Despite its otherworldly look, the Tardigrade motorcycle was also meant to be resilient and completely functional, “as close as possible to an original concept of a NASA moon rover.”

This futuristic-looking electric motorcycle blends a lightweight frame with single-sided swing arms, balloon tires, and drive-by-wire steering. With a length of 8.5 feet (2.6 meters), and almost 3-foot (0.9 meters) tall, Tardigrade has a battery range of up to 68 miles (110 km). Its maximum speed of 9 mph (15 kph) is comparable to that of the Moon Buggy. Plus, it’s designed to also carry equipment.

Incorporating 3D-printed parts, in house-developed wheels, plus a Cake drivetrain and sustainable lubricants from Puraglobe, this one-of-a-kind concept is innovative from start to finish. The folks at Hookie have shared glimpses from the building process along their journey, and are now proud to present their creation to the world.

Tardigrade, the moon motorcycle, will make its global debut at the ADV:Overland exhibition, held at the Petersen Automotive Museum in California, in mid-October.

BMW Vision AMBY showcases excellence against H-D Serial 1 e-bikes

By General Posts

SOURCE: https://www.autoevolution.com/

SOURCE: https://www.financialexpress.com/

BMW unveils Vision AMBY electric bikes: 300+ km range, 60 km/h top speed!
BMW Motorrad Vision AMBY Breaks the Norm With Striking Design and Advanced Tech

Of BMW’s 2021 IAA display, a very interesting one is the BMW i Vision AMBY, a peddle electric bicycle that boasts three speed ratings – 25 km/h for cycle tracks, 45 km/h for the city and 60 km/h for multi-lane roads (although, higher speeds would require a licence as well).

The i Vision AMBY also gets the rest of fancy EV features like geofencing which can be used for automatically adjusting its speed. It is one of five different concept vehicles with which the BMW Group is presenting at the IAA Mobility event.

While users of the BMW i Vision AMBY have to constantly pedal in order to benefit from the assistance of the electric drive system, BMW Motorrad Vision AMBY accelerates via a throttle grip

One of the five concept vehicles showcased by BMW at IAA Mobility 2021 is truly innovative – neither a bike or a motorcycle, the BMW Motorrad Vision AMBY blends the best of each category with advanced connectivity and geofencing technology.

BMW unveiled two electric vehicles with two wheels under the “Adaptive Mobility” (AMBY) concept. Both of them come with three speed levels for different types of road, and require an adequate driving license, insurance license plates, and a helmet for riding at maximum speed. Compared to the BMW i Vision AMBY that requires constant pedaling, the Motorrad Vision uses the throttle grip and features footrests instead of pedals, like a motorcycle.

According to BMW, while it resembles a bicycle, the new Motorrad Vision flaunts the features of a powerful motorbike, including an 830 mm-tall (32.6”) seat, a large bicycle fork, a small headlight with the U-shaped BMW Motorrad light signature, and the fact that it’s accelerated from the handlebars. However, at 65 kg (143 lbs), it’s lighter than typical motorbikes, which makes it more agile and manageable.

Instead of manually selecting the riding mode – 25 kph (15.5 mph) on cycle paths, 45 kph on inner-city roads (27.9 mph), 60 kph (37.2 mph) on multi-lane roads and out of town, geofencing technology and the HERE map service could be enough for automatically adjusting speed levels.

This way, the vehicle could determine the type of road and adjust the speed accordingly, without any intervention. Plus, the license plate would act as an innovative display, where the operating mode would be visible for the other road users.

The problem is that, at the moment, there’s no legal basis for this “modular speed concept”. This is where the Motorrad AMBY becomes a true pioneer, because it’s precisely intended to help bring out the legislation that will regulate this concept in the near future.

No future driving or riding experience can be envisioned without connectivity, and the BMW specially developed app allows the rider to activate the motorbike, while providing access to basic functions and status data.

While additional features such as an optimized ABS system or a tire pressure monitoring system could make the BMW Motorrad Vision AMBY even safer and more efficient, this concept motorbike already reflects a truly innovative spirit that redefines the boundaries between bikes and motorcycles.

PRESS RELEASE: 6 SEPTEMBER 2021

As a completely new concept between bicycle and motorbike, the BMW Motorrad Vision AMBY taps into fresh possibilities for the innovative, urban mobility of the future. It is one of five different concept vehicles that the BMW Group will use at the IAA Mobility 2021 in Munich to showcase its vision of individual mobility in and around the urban setting.

Under the common umbrella of electric mobility, digitalisation and sustainability, these five pioneering concepts form a versatile and sustainably conceived mobility mix on two and four wheels that comprehensively addresses a highly diverse range of mobility needs.

BMW Motorrad Vision AMBY and BMW i Vision AMBY.

AMBY stands for “Adaptive Mobility”. The BMW Motorrad Vision AMBY and the BMW i Vision AMBY (see BMW i Vision AMBY press release) interpret the fundamental idea of adaptive urban mobility on two wheels based on differing facets. Both vehicles are electrically powered with three speed levels for different types of road. The drive allows up to 25 km/h on cycle paths, up to 45 km/h on inner-city roads and up to a top speed of 60 km/h on multi-lane roads and out of town. A helmet, insurance licence plates and the relevant driving licence are required to be able to travel at higher speeds, however. While the BMW i Vision AMBY as a high-speed pedelec requires constant pedalling in order to gain assistance from the electric drive, the BMW Motorrad Vision AMBY is accelerated using the throttle grip and has footrests instead of pedals, as is typical of a motorcycle.

The modes available to the rider are stored in the app on the smartphone that connects to the respective AMBY vision vehicle.

Manual selection of the speed level is conceivable, as is detection of the road by means of geofencing technology, thereby allowing automatic adjustment of the top speed. As there is currently no legal basis for such a vehicle with a modular speed concept, the idea behind the AMBY vision vehicles is to prompt legislation that will enable this kind of set-up. In this way, the BMW Group is demonstrating that it will continue to be involved in providing mobility options in big cities in the future and offers innovative solutions.

New stimuli for emotional mobility on two wheels.

“The BMW Motorrad Vision AMBY takes us into new territory. For us, the focus is on user behaviour – the question is: how will customers want to get around in the future? What will they expect their vehicle to be capable of? This was precisely the starting point of our deliberations. Our aim was to develop an extremely emotional vehicle for smart mobility in and around the city that offered maximum freedom. The BMW Motorrad Vision AMBY really does enable our customers to experience urban life in a whole new way, cover distances more flexibly and “break free” of the city from time to time, too. At the same time, BMW Motorrad is consistently pursuing its electromobility strategy for urban conurbations. It’s a fascinating introduction to the world of BMW Motorrad that also promises maximum riding pleasure,” explains Edgar Heinrich, Head of Design BMW Motorrad.

The design – the DNA of BMW Motorrad.

The BMW Motorrad Vision AMBY defies all existing categories: visually akin to the world of bicycles, it is a motorbike at heart. Its slender proportions promise ruggedness and adventure, while its design suggests clear echoes of the expressive style and layout of an BMW Enduro motorbike. With chunky treads on both the 26-inch front wheel, which has a thinner tyre, and the 24-inch rear wheel with its more rounded tyre, the BMW Motorrad Vision AMBY clearly shows that it is both willing and able to go anywhere. The firmly integrated seat with a height of 830 mm is just as typical a motorbike feature as the fixed footrests.

The seat also acts as a design element over the flat, rising upper frame section, creating a striking flyline. This produces a completely new, fresh look for BMW Motorrad – a link between the e-bike and motorbike world.
The large energy storage unit and drive unit form a dark graphic block at the centre of the frame.

The large-dimensioned bicycle fork on the front wheel features protectors and gives the entire front section a more massive, powerful look. A small headlight with the U-shaped BMW Motorrad light signature is a clear reference to the roots of the concept, as is the double LED element as a tail light. Another BMW Motorrad feature is that the BMW Motorrad Vision AMBY is accelerated from the handlebars, as is customary on a motorbike.
With a total weight of just 65 kg, the BMW Motorrad Vision AMBY is significantly lighter than other motorbikes, ensuring it offers excellent manoeuvrability and agility.

Colour and material concept featuring depth and unexpected details.

As compared to a conventional combustion engine, the concept of the electric drive in the BMW Motorrad Vision AMBY means there is little in the way of visible mechanics.
For this reason, its technical heart is deliberately disguised and showcased in a striking machine-like style. This accentuates the highly elaborated colour and material concept, which goes well beyond the traditional dark underlying colour scheme and use of white highlights.

In its use of materials, the BMW Motorrad Vision AMBY cross-references two other concept vehicles that will also see their world premiere at the IAA Mobility 2021: The BMW i Vision Circular and the BMW i Vision AMBY. The trim material used on the energy storage unit – known as “floating grey polymers” – is also used in the bumper of the BMW i Vision Circular. It consists of recycled plastic and can itself be fed back into the material cycle at the end of the product lifecycle. Meanwhile the material used for the seat is also to be found in the saddle of the BMW i Vision AMBY and in the tyres of the BMW i Vision Circular. Based on recycled plastic granulate and sporting a fascinating terrazzo look, it demonstrates how several materials can be given a second life with a new form and function.

Asymmetrical design of the sides of the vehicle.

In keeping with the unexpected, self-assured character of the BMW Motorrad Vision AMBY, its two sides have deliberately been designed distinctively. On both sides, the white “AMBY” lettering catches the eye above the light-coloured drive unit, making a striking statement as a stylised graphic on the trim of the energy storage unit. While the lettering on the left gains additional visual depth from a colourfully shimmering, iridescent drop shadow, the inscription on the right appears deliberately without a drop shadow. Below the energy storage unit there are two iridescent elements that add a further accentuation.

On the right-hand side of the vehicle, three small turquoise blue tubes visibly emerge from the silhouette, clearly alluding to the electric heart of the BMW Motorrad Vision AMBY. Next to this is a quote by Markus Schramm, Head of BMW Motorrad: „Electro-mobility will be very significant for the future of motorcycling. We foresee a slew of upcoming products with a focus on electric propulsion, particularly in the field of urban mobility. And I’m not only thinking of classic scooters here, but also of alternative modern, emotional products. Electro-mobility on two wheels needs to be really fun and adventurous and BMW is committed to developing corresponding products.”

On closer inspection, the interplay between the technoid pixel font with the classic serif font reflects a great attention to detail at several points: together these bridge the gap between the past and the future – just like the vision vehicle itself. The coordinates on the right are a reference to the BMW Motorrad Design Studio in Munich, where the BMW Motorrad Vision AMBY came into being. On the opposite side, the letters “AMBY” also appear in Morse code, but with dashes visualising the dots. In their perfect interplay, all these carefully conceived details create a unique graphic and a highly contemporary sense of style.

The smartphone as the key.

The specially developed app enables the user to activate the BMW Motorrad Vision AMBY for riding, read in their stored driving licence classes and make use of the appropriate insurance cover on an on-demand basis as required. In this way, the app performs the classic key function while also making use of the customary identification options provided by the smartphone such as Face ID. Basic functions and status queries (e.g. current charge status) are available as in the BMW App. Further developments and adjustments to the software can be provided to customers at any time via over-the-air updates.
The smartphone shown in the vision vehicle charges inductively on the magnetic holder in the rider’s lower field of vision. These connectivity options would also allow anti-theft protection and the freely programmable immobiliser to be offered as basic functions.
And the answer to the question “Where is my BMW Motorrad Vision AMBY?” would be just a click away on the smartphone, too.

Geofencing as a key technology.

Instead of choosing the riding mode yourself, geofencing technology combined with the detailed HERE map service could provide the required parameters for automatically adjusting speed levels (25/45/60 km/h) and the matching insurance cover. This technology enables the vehicle to detect the type of road, cycle path or slow-traffic area currently being used so that the maximum permitted speed can be automatically adjusted. In this way, the BMW Motorrad Vision AMBY would transform from a vehicle similar to an S-pedelec to something that is more motorcycle-inspired. The user cannot override the mode. The required licence plate takes the form of an innovative display surface, so the mode selected at any given time can be easily recognised and read by other road users.

Additional technological innovations are conceivable for the BMW Motorrad Vision AMBY, too: an optimised ABS system could further increase safety, as could an automatic high beam or brake light assistant, as well as daytime running lights. A tyre pressure monitoring system such as the one already available as an optional extra in BMW Group motorcycles is also conceivable. Finally, potential safety features could also include a distance radar with a range of up to 140 m to provide a visual and acoustic warning in the app when there is a vehicle approaching from behind.

The BMW Motorrad Vision AMBY shows one possible manifestation of what the modern, urban mobility of tomorrow might look like. It is intended as a blueprint to drive forward conversations about future-oriented travel in cities.

Figures of the BMW Motorrad Vision AMBY.

Battery: not specified

Output: not specified

Vmod1: up to 25 km/h

Vmod2: up to 45 km/h

Vmodmax: up to 60 km/h

Range: approx. 110 km (combined according to WMTC)

Wheels: Studded spoke wheels with 26-inch front and 24-inch rear

Seat height: 830 mm

Unladen weight: approx. 65 kg

Charles Metz DeDion-Bouton Motor Tricycle

By General Posts

The unique Orient “Autogo;” One Part Runabout— One Part Tricycle.

Charles Metz was bullish on the potential of his DeDion-Bouton motor tricycle to transfer motor power from the track to the street. In 1899 he took his conviction a step further with the development of the unique Orient “Autogo;” one part runabout— one part tricycle.

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BMW Motorrad & legendary music brand Marshall enter strategic partnership

By General Posts

from Press Release at BMWgroup.com and from http://www.tradearabia.com/

BMW Motorrad has agreed a long-term partnership with world-renowned British company Marshall Amplification, to raise the innovation and quality of BMW Motorrad sound systems.

The legendary Marshall spirit and the development power of BMW Motorrad will in future be reflected in new innovative products for motorcycles and music, especially in the BMW Motorrad Heritage segment.

For 60 years, Marshall, originally from Hanwell, London, now based in Bletchley, Milton Keynes (UK), have produced legendary guitar amplifiers used by the world’s best musicians. Since 2012 it has expanded their audio quality into award winning headphones and active speakers designed for music lovers.

PRESS RELEASE:
Innovation and premium quality for future BMW Motorrad sound systems.

Munich. Riding a motorcycle while listening to music – both fit well together, as they promise deep emotional experiences and intense pleasure on two wheels. It is not for nothing that generations of artists have dedicated their songs to the experience of motorcycling. “Born to be Wild” is a notable example.

To ensure that beats and basses perfectly complement the ear while riding, BMW Motorrad has long been engaged in intensive development work on its sound systems. With its now agreed long-term partnership with world-renowned British company Marshall Amplification, the innovation and quality of BMW Motorrad sound systems are set to reach new heights.

For 60 years, Marshall, originally from Hanwell, London, now based in Bletchley, Milton Keynes (UK), have produced legendary guitar amplifiers used by the world’s best musicians. Since 2012 they have expanded their audio quality into award winning headphones and active speakers designed for music lovers.

The legendary Marshall spirit and the development power of BMW Motorrad will in future be reflected in new innovative products for motorcycles and music, especially in the BMW Motorrad Heritage segment.

BMW Motorrad will present the first new products resulting from this strategic partnership very soon. Stay tuned to find out more about this on 29 July 2021.

Norton Motorcycles Head Of Design Takes Aim At Ducati

By General Posts

by Bryan Campbell from https://www.forbes.com

Norton Motorcycles Head of Design Simon Skinner thinks the British brand has what it takes to go head-to-head with Ducati.

Admittedly, Norton taking aim at Ducati is a very, very bold aspiration. Considering the Norton name is just as synonymous with bankruptcy and financial turbulence as it is with beautiful motorcycles, you’d be forgiven for taking the current brand revival with a handful of salt. I spoke with a refreshingly candid Norton Motorcycles Head of Design Simon Skinner via video call, who said this time will be different. While there is an incredible amount of bias in that claim, this time around there’s evidence elsewhere to back it up.

Back in January 2020, Norton entered the UK equivalent of Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The following April, the British brand was purchased by the third-largest Indian motorcycle manufacturer, TVS Motors. Now Norton has a new temporary factory in Birmingham, UK, is on a hiring spree and as Skinner puts it, ”the shackles have come off, in terms of design and innovation.” If this sounds at all familiar, there are similar plotlines going on at Jaguar Land Rover with Tata and Volvo and Lotus via Geely. Success isn’t guaranteed, but having a potent resource like TVS certainly helps.

Speaking with Skinner, I wanted to hear just how Norton plans to not just take on Ducati and become its British equal.

Bryan Campbell: Is Norton looking to follow Ducati’s lead on creating an accessible entry point with a Scrambler-esque model paired with top-tier sportbikes?

Simon Skinner: Absolutely. We’ve already designed the 650cc parallel-twin range of motorcycles — the Atlas Nomad and the Ranger — and they are comparable to the Ducati Scrambler. Ours is probably a bit more modern, a bit more capable in terms of the geometry and weight of the bike. We have a slightly smaller engine with the 650cc compared to the 800cc of the Ducati, but it’s got the same power.

The bikes in the “lifestyle” class tend to be more lifestyle-ly than capable. Where the Ducatis are a little bit of both, with the Desert Sled leaning to the more capable end of the spectrum. The Norton Ranger is very similar to the Desert Sled in that way.

Campbell: Traditionally, Norton has been a small volume manufacturer. Is the focus of the new facility meant to buck that trend?

Skinner: Yes. I’m not allowed to get into the numbers, but TVS has already invested large sums in the business and the new facility in Birmingham, in the UK, is a temporary facility. It’s 75,000 square feet, but it’s still only temporary for 3-5 years while we find a more permanent home in the local area. TVS very much have volume aspirations not far off from the production numbers of Ducati. However, the current temporary facility can handle up to 7,000 bikes per year.

Campbell: In the past year, especially in the United States, ADV motorcycles and dual sports have taken off and part of that is due to what those bikes can offer at their price points. The bang-for-buck value is undeniable. If Norton is looking to capitalize on that rising tide, where will the brand’s bar for entry be?

Skinner: An Atlas Nomad is just under £10,000 and that’s our entry-level model. If we come down from that, only time will tell, but it’s usually depending on the volume we can achieve. Our volume will never be at the level of say, Honda, but to get the combination of luxury and volume we’re chasing, it’ll be somewhere near Ducati pricing. And I can’t see us dropping below that, at least not while we’re building the brand back up.

Campbell: Stepping away from the cold hard numbers for a bit. In terms of design, where is Norton pulling inspiration from?

Skinner: Norton, traditionally, is an innovative, cutting edge, modern company. Some people think Norton a classic company, but it’s not at all. The Norton Commando, when it was launched in 1968, was the fastest superbike in the world and the Manx chassis bikes dominated race tracks year after year. That’s all down to the technology and innovation that was used. That’s where Norton needs to be again.

So, from a design perspective, I’ve employed a diverse group of designers and created an environment where they can thrive. We take our inspiration from all over but we do look at the past — the design cues, the styling cues, the ethos behind the brand — where Norton’s tend to be low, sleek, have a strong character line down the bike and are really evocative.

But on the other hand, we need to be a modern company similar to the way Ducati is a modern company. They’ve accomplished so much in history, but that doesn’t mean they make every bike look like a 916. We need to go beyond that. To go back to the glory days of Norton, we need to be innovative and right at the bleeding edge of technology and design.

It’s also natural to look to the automotive industry because it’s so advanced and there are so many resources being put into it, in terms of technology and design. The big difference is a motorcycle is more of an integrated design and engineering project. A car is clad in metal and plastic and all the engineering happens underneath. Whereas on a motorcycle, it’s all on display, so there a very few components that aren’t both functional and aesthetic.

My goal is to create an environment and process within Norton that combines engineering and design. Now we have the resource in TVS and we can take that design and engineering ethos and give it some power. The shackles have come off.

Campbell: The comparisons and competition to Triumph will be inescapable. In terms of product focus, will Norton focus on vintage-styled bikes as well as modern sportbikes, similar to Triumph’s current strategy?

Skinner: For us, it will be the other way around. We are going to do modern bikes. That’s a given. The question is, are we going to classic bikes? If we remain completely true to the Norton ethos of innovation and modernity, then we don’t do classic bikes. But let’s be honest, there’s such a huge market for motorbikes like the Triumph Bonneville and it would be crazy to ignore it.

With that said, if we most certainly will be in the modern design space. If we do a sports tourer, an ADV, or a sportbike, they will all be modern bikes.

Campbell: Drawing comparisons from the automotive industry, it sounds like Norton is in the same position Volvo and Lotus were when Geely came in and provided funding and resources. Is that a fair assessment?

Skinner: It is. Obviously, we’ve got a new owner and new shareholders to answer to and everything we need to do needs to be commercially viable. But, at the same time, TVS recognizes we have some real talent within the Norton team who have never had the opportunity to be let loose. Also similar to when Tata took on Jaguar Land Rover, it allows us the freedom to operate and gives us knowledge and personnel, so the resources go beyond just putting money in the bank.

Campbell: You could argue financial distress is almost as synonymous with the Norton name as is beautiful, fast motorcycles. Having TVS as a resource is one way to help mitigate history repeating itself, but how does Norton plan to shake that reputation?

Skinner: It’s true Norton has been through the mill, so to speak and interestingly, as a brand, it has always come out the other side with a good reputation. Regardless of who’s owned Norton, they’ve always understood what the brand means and I think that’s the strength of the brand.

Norton has been up and down financially over the years and this is the most recent chapter. TVS see themselves as the guardian and custodian of the brand, not the owners and that’s a welcomed relief. They could have taken a meaningless 200cc motorcycle, slapped a Norton badge on it, and charged a few more dollars. What they actually want to do is give Norton structure and stability and have the mindset that they need to look after it for future generations.

The quality will filter down into the product because TVS won’t compromise their beliefs for Norton. They want to build a motorcycle that leads the world in innovation, technology, design and quality. It won’t happen overnight, but that’s the vision. It’s a challenge, for sure, but TVS have that desire and drive.

Campbell: What’s the production timeline look like with those goals in mind?

Skinner: We have about 18 months before the new product starts to filter through. But we need a bit of time to fully adopt the new engineering quality, procedures and processes. When we launch in May and start production, those bikes will be the highest quality Nortons ever built in over a decade, if not ever. We’re taking it step by step and it’s going to take a period of time to have the processes in place, the structure and get the right people on the team.

When we went into administration, we had 55 employees. We now have 125 and we’re still hiring and that’s without selling any motorcycles yet. That’s a statement of TVS’s intent and investment: they want to put the people in place to make this the best brand in the world and make the best motorcycles in the world.