‘If I ruled the world I’d bin mo­tor­way speed lim­its’

Nor­ton de­sign chief and Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Si­mon Skin­ner has a lively bik­ing life

MCN - - This Week In MCN -

Q1 What are you rid­ing?

I have Domiracer #50, but that doesn’t get used much, it’s a bit of a spe­cial so I nor­mally use one of our test bikes. If I do miles I tend to use a Com­mando for the com­fier rid­ing po­si­tion. If it’s a quick blast it’s a Dom­i­na­tor, so cool.

Q2 Which liv­ing mo­tor­cy­clist do you most ad­mire?

It’s a toss-up be­tween Valentino and Michael Dun­lop. Rossi has so much skill and con­sis­tency and Dun­lop has com­mit­ment be­yond be­lief. Both guys play the psy­cho­log­i­cal game hard but re­main grounded. If I had to pick, it would be Michael. You can tell both guys love bikes, that’s the main thing.

Q3 What’s your worst rid­ing habit?

Poor over­tak­ing es­pe­cially when you have a bit of speed on and are in the zone. I think I could be bet­ter at check­ing be­hind me just in case some­one is over­tak­ing me at the same time!

Q4 If you could have one bik­ing su­per­power, what would it be?

To see into the fu­ture. Even if it’s 10 min­utes, I would never crash again.

Q5 What’s the fastest you’ve ever rid­den?

Flat out on a Tri­umph 675 pro­to­type test bike, what­ever that is, maybe 160mph. I won’t say where it was, but it wasn’t a test track.

Q6 When was the last time you were scared?

The last time I stood on the pit wall at the TT and Davo [John­son – Nor­ton TT rider] came past at 180mph. Maybe next time I won’t lean over as far.

Q 7 How many miles have you done in the last year?

Not enough, I’m too busy do­ing my bit to grow Nor­ton. Prob­a­bly un­der 1000.

Q8 What’s the high­est mileage you’ve done in a day?

Just over 600 miles, I was much younger then. A quick Sun­day morn­ing blast with a bunch of friends tuned into some­thing much big­ger, I can still re­mem­ber the pain in my knees.

Q9 What ir­ri­tates you most when you’re out rid­ing?

Sat-navs in cars po­si­tioned right next to the mir­ror. It must block half the view. Oi Mr Driver: ‘Can you see me com­ing out of a junc­tion?’

Q10 You’ve got two weeks off what would you do?

Spend it with my fam­ily, go to the beach, try to un­wind. We all work too hard and those mo­ments are spe­cial. When the wife has had enough of me be­ing un­der her feet I will dis­ap­pear into the garage and get my hands dirty on one of my many un­fin­ished projects.

Q 11 What wis­dom would you pass on to new rid­ers?

If it rains, ride like a wimp and get home safe.

Q12 Ever fallen off in a car park, or some­where equally em­bar­rass­ing?

Yes! When at Tri­umph I wanted to try the then new Day­tona 600 and the only one avail­able was a press bike that was due to go out the next day to a mag­a­zine. It was start­ing to rain and I hate the rain so turned around in the car park, put my foot down on a wet man­hole cover and dropped the bike. Some­how I man­aged to oblit­er­ate one whole side at 5mph. I’m still grate­ful to the work­shop man­ager for cov­er­ing that one up.

Q13 Do you have one in­dis­pens­able item, of kit?

My hel­met. It’s so im­por­tant it fits right – you only have one head.

Q14 Which four peo­ple would you in­vite on a Sun­day blast?

My dad. He sadly passed away be­fore I passed my bike test. He was a big BSA fan in his youth, I would have loved to ride on a pair of new Nor­tons with him, es­pe­cially one I’d de­signed, it would make him proud. Other than that Mick Grant for the straight talk­ing, Steve Plater for the gig­gles and any­one from Nor­ton as they’re a right good bunch!

Q15 Do you have a tool that you couldn’t re­ally live with­out?

My Swiss army knife. Of­ten im­i­tated never bet­tered, it has got me out of so many pick­les.

Q16 Do you ad­just your suspension?

Yes, I’m an en­gi­neer so love fiddling. I can at­tribute at least one crash to mas­sively in­cor­rect suspension set­tings, a low-side at Cad­well when I ran out of travel and then skill!

Q17 If you could have one of your bikes back, what would it be?

My old Kawasaki ZX-7R, my first proper fast bike, I only bought it be­cause I was a closet Chris Walker fan (don’t tell him!) but it was ace. S o many fond mem­o­ries, I’d buy it back to­mor­row.

Q18 What kind of bike would you never buy?

I ap­pre­ci­ate ev­ery kind of bike has its place but a cruiser just isn’t for me. No Har­leys in the Skin­ner house.

Q19 Which road (or track) would you build on your desert is­land?

Easy, the TT course, it has ev­ery­thing. Plus, can you imag­ine the size of my is­land?

Q20 If you ruled the world, what new law would you pass?

Re­move speed lim­its on the mo­tor­way, I’d get around so much quicker.

‘I went flat out on a Tri­umph 675 pro­to­type, maybe 160mph’

Skin­ner has been be­hind some of the great­est Bri­tish bikes around Skin­ner worked on some top Tri­umphs (but don’t let him out in the wet)

Skin­ner has Domiracer #50… the lucky devil

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