20 questions with Norton CEO Stuart Garner

Published: 05 February 2017

‘I ended up in the gravel with all the Norton staff watching’ 

Stuart Garner has revitalised Norton since buying it in 2008 and is thrilled with the new V4.

Q1. What are you currently riding?
A Domiracer. We took it to Goodwood and rode it up the hill and you kind of develop a bond with it.

Q2. Which living motorcyclist do you most admire?
It’s difficult to think of anyone who’s been so good on short circuits and roads as Foggy. And we’re seeing a legend being made in Michael Dunlop. We’ll look back in the future and say he’s maybe even better than Joey.

Q3. What’s your worst habit? Probably poor mirror use and not look- ing behind enough.

Q4. If you could have one riding super skill, what would it be?
To be able to do those standing, 12 o’clock wheelies like Troy Corser.

Q5. What’s the fastest you’ve ever been on a bike?
180-odd mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats in 2009 (on the old Norton NRV588 racer). I think it was 181 top speed and 173 flying mile or something. It was a record for a rotary motorcycle at Bonneville. Still is, I think.

Q6. When were you last scared on a bike?
That’d be on the Salt Flats too – because the bloody stuff is slippery. At about 150 the bike sits up on the salt and starts to drift around. We took the brakes off for fear of forgetting what you’re doing and grabbing a handful, which would be an instant lock-up.

Q7. How many miles have you done in the last year?
Three or four hundred.

Q8. What’s the highest mileage you’ve covered in one day?
I spent some time at gamekeeping col- lege in Hampshire, so I was going there and back from the Midlands – 300 to 400 miles. That was on an LC, which I proceeded to throw up the road and spent the next three weeks pulling bits of denim out of my knee. 

Q9. What irritates you most? Other road users and just having to anticipate stupidity from everybody. It’s frustrating that you’re always thinking about everybody else rather than getting on with your own thing.

‘I spent three weeks pulling bits of denim out of my knee’

Q10. You’ve got two weeks off: where are you going? South Africa. I’ve got a game reserve there so I just go to chill out, spend time by the pool and on the reserve.

Q11. Got one pearl of wisdom for new riders?
Just add half-a-second to think about what’s in front of you and to anticipate what they’re going to do.

Q12. Ever fallen off somewhere embarrassing?
I was mucking about on a trackday at Donington and ended up in the gravel at Redgate with virtually all of the Norton staff watch- ing and cheering. I stayed upright but that was more embarrassing. If I’d had a big off it would have been pretty cool. 

Q13. Do you have one indispensable item of kit?
My boots. We’ve got some Norton branded ones made by Jeffery-West and if I haven’t got them on I don’t ride.

Q14. Which four people would you invite on a Sunday ride?
My girlfriend, Susie Lodge, plus all the boys from Norton. It would be unfair to pick anyone out, they’re a massive gang and they’ve become family.

Q15. Do you have a tool you couldn’t live without?
A little Allen key and a Swiss army knife with some tools on it, just in case.

Q16. Do you adjust your suspension?

Q17. You can have one of your old bikes back. Which one?
An RG500 in Pepsi colours. I sold it ’cos I was skint. £3750 and it still hurts.

Q18. What would you never buy? Any big cruiser. I just can’t see myself on one.

Q19. Which corner would you have built on your desert island? Craner Curves from Donington. There’s nothing like whizzing down there.

Q20. If you ruled the world, what new law would you pass?
I’d simplify the bike test. When I was a teenager everybody was doing their bike test, now it’s very much a minority. 

Quick-fire round

Fast, intermediate or novice group? Novice

Mud or tarmac? I’ve done a little bit of off-road and I quite enjoyed it but I’m more of a tarmac guy

 Four-stroke or two-stroke? Two-stroke. Back in the day I was an LC addict

Dark visor or clear? Tinted

 Gloves in or gloves out? Out

 Filter or queue? Filter

GPS or map? A map folded up in a pocket, old school

Dealer service or do it yourself? The boys at the factory! 


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