Pierre Terblanche quits Norton

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Just six months after joining the company, Pierre Terblanche has exclusively confirmed to Hell For Leather that he has quit the new Norton. “Norton, with the right finance and management, could do very well,” the designer told us this morning as he packed up his apartment. Acquiring Terblanche — designer of the Ducati Supermono, 999 and many other iconic motorcycles — from mega-manufacturer Piaggio was quite the coup for Norton, the reborn brand has only been operating since 2008.

Norton, located in the UK, currently sells a range of high-end motorcycles based around an all-new Commando platform and has said it’s developing a 1,000cc V4 racing motorcycle. In November, it was announced that the company would begin importing bikes to America, an operation that was to be headed by former Ducati North America CEO Dan Van Epps. Since that time, bikes have not arrived at dealers on schedule. Neither Dan nor Norton Motorcycles CEO Stuart Garner was immediately available for comment this morning.

Terblanche is both famous and controversial for bringing ambitious design to a notoriously conservative world. He’s probably most well-known for his time at Ducati, which saw public opinion favor work like that Supermono and the SportClassic range, while the 999 was famously ahead of its time. Recently, he penned a range of concepts for Moto Guzzi, marking a path into the future for a brand that’s spent too long stuck in the past.

“I’ve got another project already,” Terblanche told us, without divulging details. “I’m working on a new motorcycle.”

If you’ve placed a deposit on a Norton, we’d be interested in speaking with you. Contact us here

  • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben Incarnate

    That’s a bit ominous.

  • John

    They sure snowed him. Seriously, does this really surprise anyone?

    • Thom

      Not really .

  • http://www.xenophya.com Xenophya

    If you were sold an exclusive you may want to check last tuesdays MCN. This is already wrapping chips across the land.

    • Thom

      Funny…. I just looked all over the MCN site and not a mention of Terblanche leaving Norton

      What was there today , if you can believe this , was an article stating Norton had confirmed its participation at the 2012 Isle of Man TT dated 6/10/011

      Looks like the ” Spin Doctors ” are in full swing today !

    • http://www.twitter.com/wessilerfanclub sean (the roommate)


      • http://www.brammofan.com Brammofan

        He might mean the dead-tree version. MCN still does that.

        • http://www.twitter.com/wessilerfanclub sean (the roommate)

          does it come out every day? “ast tuesday’s” seems to imply that. plus, MCN just did an article on a cool new design that Terblanche was doing for Norton.


          • http://www.xenophya.com Xenophya

            Indeed Brammofan, it was in the print version. Not every day, comes out every Tuesday and the last one had an article on Pierre leaving Norton.

            They do occasionally have stories not posted online, I guess they need to do something to keep people buying. This appears to be one of the few occasions I read something in the paper that I haven’t seen before!

            • Thom

              So ……. we seem to have Pierre Terblanche ( or his press agent ) spinning Wes that he got an exclusive ( although technically this might be considered a US Exclusive )

              As well as Norton spinning MCN that not only is all well and good with the company , but they’re intending on racing in 2012 as well .

              I’ll hold my ground . The Spin Doctors ARE Spinning Hot & Heavy today in the world of Motorcycles .

              • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

                Obviously I can’t attest to anything MCN’s put in print since I don’t live in the UK anymore, but HFL is not being spun anything.

      • Thom
        • http://www.twitter.com/wessilerfanclub sean (the roommate)

          i meant a link saying that the guy was leaving.

  • jason

    Looks like Norton will bite the dust AGAIN. I wonder if Indian is heading the same way?

    • Thom

      My gut says probably so

  • Miles Prower

    “while the 999 was famously ahead of its time.”

    Ahead of what time? A post-apocalypse future when we’ll have to settle for cobbling together whatever parts are lying around to build our own, butt-ugly (but perhaps functional) motorbikes?

    • http://www.faster-faster.com fasterfaster

      I actually think the 999 has aged tremendously well. I was not a fan early on. I now LOVE the design, and think it’s far superior aesthetically to the pleasing but highly derivative 1098/1198

      • je

        You need to take that pirates patch off your good eye.. Comparing the 999 to the 1098 is like comparing a cheerio to a brick of gold.

      • Trent

        I agree 100%. The 999 looks much better than the day it came out and the 1098 looks like a CBR with a single sided swingarm.

      • Patrick

        Always loved the looks of the 999 and I still think – now, after their 1098/1198, more than ever: it’s a tremendously good looking motorcycle. And YES – it has aged incredibly well. IMHO I believe we are looking at a highly sought after future classic here.

    • Jason999r

      As my moniker suggests, I am biased. Nevertheless, every time I am out for a ride on my 999r people pull along side and take pictures of the bike. Those that don’t already know are shocked when I say how old it is.

      I will agree that the 999 is very polarizing bike. You either love it with a passion or hate it. I love it.

      From a design standpoint, I appreciate Terblanche’s vision detailed in the book Ducati 999: Birth of a Legend by Alan Cathcart and Marc Cook. As the book states, he built a motorcycle from the inside out, with emphasis on improving (not perfecting) the ergonomics and reducing of the number of parts and weight when compared to the 916/996/998 series. Terblanche may not have been perfect, but he was not necessarily given an easy task of moving an icon brand forward.

    • 1

      The 999 is an amazing bike, Terblanche did incredible work on that machine. Not only did it thus dominate world superbike, but it was a authentic stab at being a true ducati.

      The 1098, is a perfectly beautiful bike, but it is a beautified evolution of the 916, via the step on Terblanche. The 1098 more than proves that the 999 is a work of art from function.

      I guess you have never ridden one… I’m correct non?

  • http://www.faster-faster.com fasterfaster

    Don’t forget the Hypermotard – probably the biggest commercial success in Terblanche’s catalog and arguably the most extreme of his designs to make it to market.

    • Wereweazle

      And definitely the one I’d buy in a heartbeat. A completely impractical and pointless motorcycle, but I want it sooooo badly.

      • Lacubrious

        And that’s why I have it and love it.

  • http://bloodfalcons.blogspot.com motoguru

    I’ll be surprised if they ever make it to our shore. I didn’t hear anything very positive about Norton when I was in England in April.

  • robotribe

    Norton. Terblanche.

    Two names that resonate with very few people (including me) and even less as time goes by.

    I’m no hater. I’d love a black & gold modern Norton or a Ducati 749 or 999, but that’s irrelevant. Triumph, Ducati and even, dare I say, Harley-Davidson, have what little left of the “throw-back” market firmly in their grasp.

    • Mattro

      don’t forget bmw

  • http://www.urbanrider.co.uk UrbanRider

    ‘Norton, with the right finance and management, could do very well’ = They’ve run out of cash and the boss doesn’t know what he’s doing.


    Personally I think the bike looks very forgettable. Anyone ridden one?

    • HammSammich

      “They’ve run out of cash and the boss doesn’t know what he’s doing.”

      That was exactly my interpretation.

      I haven’t even seen one of the new Norton’s in person. I like them in theory, but they’d have to outperform Triumph’s offerings by a significant margin to warrant the price (which they may well do?)

      • Thom

        The few M/C reporters that have ridden the pre production Nortons didn’t come away singing their praises . More like a laundry list of what needed improving before the Bikes hit production .

        And not the usual nit pick little things either .

  • Mule

    Maybe Polaris will buy Norton and they can bury it in the same grave as Indian. That would save money.

  • combat77

    The Norton Curse Lives On.

  • Chris

    I’d like to know if anyone who actually pre-ordered a Norton has received their bike yet. The French dealers are certainly having problems laying their hands on the bikes.

  • http://www.xenophya.com Xenophya

    The rumour I have heard is that they are not paying their bills, and haven’t been for some time now.

    I have spoken to a number of friends, design and service suppliers, who have allegedly (I don’t want to get into ant slander situation here this is all hear say) done significant work for them without payment.