Erik Buell Today.

On October 15, 2009 Harley-Davidson announced that production of Buell motorcycles were immediately discontinued. The economy started to tank in 2008 and in 2009 sales of new motorcycles crashed. At the time, Harley-Davidson CEO Keith Wandell statement to the media was “The fact is, we must focus both our effort and our investment on the Harley-Davidson brand, as we believe this provides an optimal path to sustained, meaningful, long-term growth”. In a press conference a couple of hours later, a very emotional Erik Buell confirmed the sad news he received from Harley-Davidson. What was not disclosed at the time and that only Erik knew was that he  had lost it all, even the rights to the Buell Motorcycle name. A musician, Erik turned to his guitar for therapy, then decided to start a new independent venture called Erik Buell Racing (EBR)

From the liquidation sale of Buell Motorcycles Company, Erik kept a small building in East Troy, a 40-minute drive from Milwaukee. Erik Buell Racing is financed by his own money and other small private investments. To help cash flow, some income comes from design consulting jobs for other companies. Erik is now looking for a $20 million investment to finance development and production The goal with Erik Buell Racing is to focus on being an American manufacturer of race bikes and parts to challenge foreign manufacturers with invention and intellectual property. To go beyond by doing radical things that the rest of the racing world has never done. Last summer at the Superbike series in Lexington, Ohio, Buell debuted a pro racing version of the 1190RS, the first offering from his new company. The rider finished a respectable 10th. Later, at the German Superbike Championship, an early customer entered with an EBR bike and won, beating out established competitors on Ducatis, BMWs and KTMs…

Buell’s innovation include: Zero Torsional Load (ZTL) brake, which lightens wheel weight by eliminating the need for hubs, the underslung mufflers placed under the engine to limit noise and maintain a lower center of gravity, a fuel tank integrated within the bike frame with optional carbon fiber version which reduces vibrations and shaves off even more weight from the frame. Tthe 175 HP 389-pound EBR 1190RS is a full 50 pounds lighter than some competing bikes. The bike has been a hit in motorcycle shows here and abroad with Erik Buell signing 1 and 3-year sponsorship agreements for two riders to race in the American Superbike Championship. EBR is currently building out an international dealer network, and at the end of year 2012 the company plans to reach a production level of about 850 bikes with 50% expected to be exported. The 1190RS will be racing in Daytona in 3 weeks (March 15-17) at the 2012 Superbike Championship. “We found an additional 10 mph in the post season, and the bike can reach 213 mph in race trim,” Buell says. It would make the 1190RS the fastest motorcycle manufactured in the U.S…

Yesterday evening Feb. 22, 2012, Erik Buell Racing announced that it has partnered with Hero MotoCorp. The deal sees Hero becoming the title sponsor for two teams in the AMA Pro Racing National Guard Superbikes Championship — Team Hero and AMSOIL Hero, while Erik Buell Racing will give Hero design and technology inputs for bikes destined for the Indian market.

Barnett Harley-Davidson

29 Responses to “Erik Buell Today.”


  1. 1 burnout Feb 23rd, 2012 at 10:20 am

    Freakin Sweet! I LOVE my M2 Cyclone. Can’t imagine my 250 lbs on that 1190RS but man would I like to try it out! Good on you Erik. peace

  2. 2 BadMonkeyMW Feb 23rd, 2012 at 10:32 am

    Congrats to Erik for never giving up and continuing to make his passion a reality. Whether you like Buell motorcycles or not, you’ve got to respect him his imagination and for not being afraid to do things differently from anyone else in the industry. Good luck in the future.

  3. 3 CafeSportyTC Feb 23rd, 2012 at 11:19 am

    Its nice to see that Eric is not a person who gives up, it must be his competitive spirit that drives him to keep going in the face of disaster. Good luck Eric!

  4. 4 fuji Feb 23rd, 2012 at 11:34 am

    My understanding is that EBR has partnered with Hero of India to go racing.

    Hero was, a couple years back partnered wiht Honda in India mass producing small displacement motorcycles.

    This could be Eric Buells key to mass producing his bikes. $$$$

  5. 5 Hoyt Feb 23rd, 2012 at 11:36 am

    nice article…

    ” ….the underslung mufflers placed under the engine to limit noise and maintain a lower center of gravity,…”

    The placement of the under slung muffler is to centralize mass, not lower the center of gravity. Compare the more common placement of the mufflers out the side of the REAR wheel. A significant difference when talking pounds of a stock muffler at the ass-end instead of below the motor

  6. 6 fuji Feb 23rd, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    In the past I was critical of Eric for carrying to much of Harley’s DNA in his mind and attitude.

    Time has erased some of that.

    He has done a brilliant job of producing a bike that should reach the forefront.

    Just so its understood ” Eric did not invent the first fuel in frame motorcycle ” I don’t know why this issue keeps being pushed as his invention.

    Another old idea [ older models ] that never made sence was oil in the swing arm . Extra suspended weight in the suspension restricting optimum performance.

    It was a place to carry oil [ limited space ] for a hot running engine that should never have been placed in a sports frame to begine with.

  7. 7 Jason Hallman Feb 23rd, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    This is the kind of motorcycle company that someone needs to step in and help out. Erik is a class act, an awesome designer and obviously committed. I hope he gets the backing he needs.

  8. 8 Marc Frantz Feb 23rd, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    God bless Erik Buell for his perseverance!

    The new bike looks awesome, and I hope he and Hero Moto Corp do well this season.

    You can’t keep a good man down!!

  9. 9 Richard Feb 23rd, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    I visited the Buell factory in Wisconsin. Not “huge”, but having spent a lot of years in manufacturing it looked up-to-date and effective. The people I met there seemed to really like working for Eric. Good luck to EBR…I have a feeling they will do very well without the baggage that accompanies being run by a relatively “large” company.

  10. 10 .357 Magnum Feb 23rd, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    I still have a bit of bitterness for Buell because his best-selling designs, like the Blast, Ulysses, and CityX, were the practical ones… the ones real riders in the real world appreciated most. Yet, Buell ran ads that pissed off his own most devoted audience, the people who actually HAD money to spend, and focused instead on race bikes that were only appreciated by loud-mouth redlight-to-redlight racer kids with no money to back up their opinions.

    Then he discontinued the Blast in a publicity campaign that was spectacularly disrespectful to his customers.

    Then he just about cried on the video when he made it sound like it was Harley’s fault they were shutting him down, instead of his own fault for being deeply unprofitable.

    Though it would be kind of cool to see him do well in racing, I really can’t bring myself to care about him. If Harley revives the Ulysses and Blast models, that would be cool… we need more non-chain-driven adventure bikes and sub-600cc starter bikes in this world! But whether Buell succeeds or fails, he’s going to get exactly what he campaigned so hard for, before HD pulled his plug:

    No more of my money.

  11. 11 Hoyt Feb 24th, 2012 at 3:02 am

    .357 Magnum…

    Your first comment included the CityX and Ulyses in with the Blast. This is a misrepresentation. The Blast was the only bike crushed in the ad.

    If you know anything about the Buell brand, including the Blast, you would know those bikes never were given their due respect from Harley, not Buell! Get it straight

  12. 12 Oldude Feb 24th, 2012 at 7:36 am

    Thumbs up Erik. Loved the Buell of the past and the rebirth sounds great! Congratulations for not giving up!!!

  13. 13 MotorcycleMarc Feb 24th, 2012 at 7:39 am

    Wishing Eric and his team all the best. He needs to come to Bonneville with his bike this year. Let’s see that race bike over 200 mph on every run.

    Motorcycle Marc

  14. 14 EvoJoe Feb 24th, 2012 at 7:49 am

    I have heard and experienced the technical advances Erik Buell brought to the table on my ’92 FXR. I appreciate what Erik Buell did for American made motorcycles. His engineering skills have helped me cruise the “open road” and those with the ‘need for speed”. Thank You Erik Buell for building the American economy , one motorcycle at a time.

  15. 15 Knuckleheadmotor Feb 24th, 2012 at 10:49 am

    Go git em Eric, now I have a reason to watch Daytona.

  16. 16 .357 Magnum Feb 24th, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    Hoyt, I DID NOT say that the CityX and Ulysses were also crushed into cubes; I said Buell ran ads that pissed off those riders. They said things like “sitting is not a sport” and that if you were waving at other riders, you weren’t their target audience because you weren’t a devoted enough racer.

    I’m not making that up; those ads actually ran inside the front cover of Cycle World and some of the other wide-circulation ricer mags.

    You write, “those bikes never were given their due respect from Harley,” but it wasn’t Harley executives cheering the demise of the Blast in that video; it was Erik Buell. HD was scrambling to find a way to keep that model alive for their Riders Edge program! (I last heard they’re even STILL using the Blast, but that was a year ago. Have they replace them yet?)

    When buell.com featured that video of Erik giving his near-tears message to his customers about the company’s demise, what was hanging on the wall behind him? Yeah, a Blast fuel-tank cover, bearing signatures of the Blast design team. Oh the irony! I got a good chuckle out of that. Too bad so sad, Erik… I didn’t miss the symbolism there: the Blast is still alive while your company gets crushed into a cube!

    Wish I could say the same thing about the Ulysses. What an awesome bike. Glad I didn’t buy one after all!

  17. 17 Jim C Feb 24th, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    as a Buell Owner (1992 M2 Cyclone), I can only hope for Erik and all of EBR to be hugely successful in the future. Whenever I see a Big Twin or a sporty motor mounted in rubber with flexible joints, I wonder if he’s getting royalties off the patents : )

  18. 18 fuji Feb 24th, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    Jim C

    What’s with the royalty comment. What is so ingenious about mounting a paint shaker in rubber, car engines, air conditioners, refrigerator pumps. auto body’s, etc. Old school

    First off Eric sold out to HD back when. He needed a strong backer, distribution, etc.

    The motor company promoted a Harley Davidson that was called a Buell so therefor Eric prospered.

    Eric worked for the Company and was paid accordingly by his choice.

    Eric could have walked at any time but he chose a career with HD and I would assume paid well for his time.

    To blame HD for all the pitfalls is misleading. Eric has a passion [ racing ] and to blame HD for it is misleading.

    I wish him well but Harley Davidson was used as a tool and the tool was not sharp enough to make it work

    Fuji

  19. 19 Dale Feb 25th, 2012 at 10:38 am

    Erik, keep driving forward; bringing new and innovative things to the m/c industry.

  20. 20 Night Train Feb 25th, 2012 at 10:48 am

    Erik, you give hope and personify all the old sayings about how good adversity can be for us. I trust a wise investor will see and grasp this hope for all of us and help you deliver. All the best. See you in Daytona.

  21. 21 Darin Maltsberger - Instructor @ MTI Feb 25th, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    Congrats Erik. Innovation and pushing the limits to find more performance have always driven the designs of the machines that you produced over the years. The students in my classes and I will be watching the race scene and following your bikes. Your designs and bikes are always a hit with the young minds here at MTI. As mentioned by MotorcycleMarc, we’d love to see you at Bonneville. My students and I will be at BUB, along with a large group of your fans who still run Buell motorcycles and set records.

    -Darin

  22. 22 Hoyt Feb 25th, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    @ .357 Magnum

    if you think the ads were disrespectful to City X & the Ulyses then that’s your problem.

    “…racebikes that were only appreciated by loud mouth red light to red light racer kids…” – that is not Buell’s majority customer by any stretch

  23. 23 .357 Magnum Feb 25th, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    That’s the whole point, Hoyt: it’s not my problem at all; HE’S the one that ended up going out of business!

    And I’m glad you’re beginning to understand the problem: since the loudmouth redlight-to-redlight racer kids were NOT his majority customers, he was rather foolish to focus his marketing solely on them to the detriment of his more practical and higher-mile customers.

  24. 24 hoyt Feb 26th, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    Does he look like he’s out of business to you? One of the biggest manufacturers on the planet just partnered with him… in case you let your overly sensitive grudge about the Blast ads keep you from reading the point of Cyril’s post above.

    You are wrong about the CityX and the Ulysses.

    You wrote:

    “…focused instead on race bikes that were only appreciated by loud-mouth redlight-to-redlight racer kids with no money to back up their opinions”

    “ONLY appreciated by” ?..You are wrong!

    Buell’s customers who bought the HD-inflicted ugliness of the 1125 sport bike were the same guys who bought the XB-series bikes and maybe even the same dudes who bought the steel-tubed bikes, which, if you haven’t noticed, are largely the same crowd of riders who are Not loud mouth “racer kids”.

    The Blast ads were not cool, but those bikes were junk. They could have been better if HD let Buell run his own show. Thankfully, he is out of the HD business and onto his own.

  25. 25 brumby Feb 26th, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    I saw a carbonfiber-clad 1190RS at the Minneapolis Show on February 4. It was fantastic to see how the design has evolved over the last three years. That bike is simply bloody beautiful.
    Stick with it Erik, we’re on your side mate…

  26. 26 Hark Feb 27th, 2012 at 8:38 am

    Cyril,

    Thank you so much for letting us know what Erik Buell has been up to…I have many friends that live accross the big pond that were very upset when the Motor Company pulled the Buell. They were looking for younger riders, Buell was the answer and in my opinion still is.

  27. 27 Stony Crane Feb 27th, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Good luck Erik. With Danny Eslick joining his team he might surprise some people. Geoff May is a good rider, but with two riders development will go even faster.

  28. 28 sasha Feb 29th, 2012 at 10:38 am

    Big LOVE! Erik Buell Go GO GO!

  29. 29 nicker Mar 2nd, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    The point is….
    To his core Eric is a dude who eats & sleeps sports bikes.
    But, at it’s core, apparently HD simply isn’t.

    -nicker-

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