Breaking News. Erik Buell Racing Closed Its Doors With $20 Million In Outstanding Liabilities

EBR1Erik Buell Racing closed its business this Wednesday April 15, 2015 and filed for protection from its creditors  in Walworth County Circuit Court, Wisconsin. With outstanding bills of more than $20 million and unable to pay them Erik Buell Racing had no other choice than to close the doors of its facility in East Troy. All the EBR’s 126 employees have been laid off. “We thought we had secured funding, but in the end, we were not able to get that funding in place. Therefore, we need to do the best we can under the circumstances for all parties in interest” said Erik Buell.

EBR2Erik Buell Racing was created in 2009 when Harley-Davidson decided to drop the brand to focus on its own motorcycles and to reorganize the company. He invested his own money and later received financing from Hero MotoCorp, the largest motorcycle manufacturer in India. A  judge will establish the final tally of assets and liabilities and place the company in receivership, trying to find a buyer for the company or selling assets to pay all or part of the creditors. The total amount of EBR’s assets is unknown at this time. Sad day for the motorcycle industry.

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40 Responses to “Breaking News. Erik Buell Racing Closed Its Doors With $20 Million In Outstanding Liabilities”


  1. 1 Sharkey Apr 15th, 2015 at 5:48 pm

    An innovator for sure, but competing in a very tight niche. He’ll be back, I’m sure

  2. 2 Brian Apr 15th, 2015 at 6:00 pm

    Can’t wait to see what he’s got up his sleeve next! Hopefully he catches a break next time. I’ve got a FXR and a XB9R in my stable, he’s made riding American and prideful experience. Brian

  3. 3 Blackmax Apr 15th, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    that’s a damn shame
    H-D did him wrong, but he bounced back
    An innovator & a sheer genius when it comes to motorcycles
    He’ll bounce back again, mark my words
    He’s too good not to !!!!

  4. 4 Boomer Apr 15th, 2015 at 6:33 pm

    A sad day for the industry for sure. I wonder if Polaris, who has been buying up small niche companies, might have an interest in building this type of bike and hiring Mr. Buell along with buying his assets.

    It would put them on the street racing track where no other American company is right now (to my knowledge).

  5. 5 Drake Apr 15th, 2015 at 6:36 pm

    The not funny thing would be for Harley to buy EBR for peanuts!

  6. 6 pj98rider Apr 15th, 2015 at 7:19 pm

    Sad day indeed. Erik Buell is a class act.

  7. 7 New York myke Apr 15th, 2015 at 7:30 pm

    Sad day for sure and I hope that Eriks talents do land someplace where his engineering skills can bring another greatAmerican motorcycle to our streets. I could never find out why the Buell never had the Harley-Davidson marque prominently displayed on the tank and Erik and I had at least one good ( and loud ) confrontation over my efforts to make that happen. It was a great motorcycle and I was proud to sell them for many years but the marketing of a second and not very well known brand was costly. It was ironic and sad that Bruce Rossmeyer finally had the success he did then he died and HD finally decided they couldn’t keep loosing millions every year! Talent and innovation needs the business acumen and creativity of people like Bruce and I hope Erik can somehow put that together! I think we’re all looking forward to Eriks comeback!

  8. 8 Rodent Apr 15th, 2015 at 7:30 pm

    Why did the Indian company who was backing EBR throw him under the bus?

  9. 9 Iron Horse Apr 15th, 2015 at 7:58 pm

    Damn shame. I’ve got one of Erik’s bikes and really love it. Hope he comes back even bigger and better.

    I also worked for a company that was “backed” by Hero Global. After they stripped off the assets they wanted, it was into the dumpster for the us. Hero’s a large conglomerate, but karma can be a real bitch…hopefully sooner rather than later.

  10. 10 J Apr 15th, 2015 at 8:06 pm

    Yep, good example of why you don’t get into bed with some companies- Erik had a vision, Hero had a balance sheet mentality- tough for those to mesh well.

  11. 11 LarryC Apr 15th, 2015 at 8:13 pm

    Doesn’t smell right. The Indian comapny was the money and backing with a return for some V Twin engine technology. Did they get what they wanted then back out? Was the deal not done in the first place? All the best to Eric, but there must be more going on here.

  12. 12 Tussuck Apr 15th, 2015 at 8:25 pm

    I would like to see him hook up with Ducati!

    Now there would be a match made in heaven!

  13. 13 Scott Robert Apr 15th, 2015 at 9:02 pm

    Erik, build bikes with a soul born from conviction. I’d buy that any day over sleek lines and fancy specs.

  14. 14 nicker Apr 15th, 2015 at 9:26 pm

    Well, its all about “the market.”
    So it really doesn’t matter how good your mouse-trap is.
    What maters is the world beating a path to your door.
    And not just to look, “ooooo & ahhh,” …. but also to buy.

    It is what it is.

    -nicker-

  15. 15 Jezza Apr 15th, 2015 at 9:42 pm

    I agree with Boomer, it would make perfect sense for Polaris to add Buell to their portfolio. There is already huge brand equity in the Buell name. Contrast the comments about Buell going under with the comments about Big Bear Choppers when they went under. People love Buell. Step up to the plate Polaris!

  16. 16 domino Apr 15th, 2015 at 10:36 pm

    Thankyou for my FXR Erik … I am sure you will be fine…

    Dave

  17. 17 B.A.J. Apr 15th, 2015 at 11:15 pm

    Everybody here feels sorry for Eric, but I notice no body here gives a crap about the people he owes the $20 million too. His employees left out in the cold. I notice also he declared he was broke at tax time, how much does he owe our country in back taxes? or is that in the $20 mil already owed. Yes he can build a technically superior Sportster than a stock one, but a bike that cost half will blow it off the road. No I’m not sorry for him – I’m sorry for us…

  18. 18 hk Apr 15th, 2015 at 11:34 pm

    I’m with B.A.J on this one ,enough with the erik buell story already ,its been going on forever .The same thing gets said when his last ventures tanked “he will come back ” ,”innovator” ,”asset to the industry ” etc etc .Ive watched the same story since seeing that trash bin full of buells and an empty warehouse when harley bailed on him .Come on already ,no more feeling sorry for him ,no more of his bikes with engines from whatever ,and backing from whoever and race attempts that rarely go anywhere (save for the run of the 1300cc bike against the 600cc bikes a few years back ….its got its on asterisk on that scene) .Seriously put down the bat and let the horse go into the sunset ,its over ,he tried ..several times .Im a supporter of his efforts since the xb9r and right up to his race bike efforts but seeing it tank one more time im not off the “erik buell is a great guy and chases his passion” but I am well off the bandwagon his “next version of the same premise with a different song and the same ending ” .Fully Over BUELL ,I wouldn’t care if he made a flying motorcycle that ran on water and teleported at light speed. end rant

  19. 19 curly Apr 16th, 2015 at 2:43 am

    Yep all the little guys suffer, you are absolutely correct B.A.J.

  20. 20 Jetzer Apr 16th, 2015 at 4:55 am

    Erik Buell. Excellent engineer. Very lousy businessman. Bikers love the story of the genius/dreamy bike engineer misunderstood/exploited by corporations. Well, maybe Erik Buell does something very wrong over and over. Like thinking that there is a huge market for his street sport bikes and that he can spend others money to chase his impossible dream. Harley lost money with Buell. MotoCorp too, I guess. What if it was your money that Erik Buell just lost again?

  21. 21 Alfy Apr 16th, 2015 at 7:42 am

    Too bad. he is a real American innovator.

    I have one of his bikes in my garage (XB12R). This is a quirky very likable little bike (one of the only long stroke air cooled modern sport bikes), but just too weird for stunters and crotch rockets era.

    When HD threw him under the bus, Buell was selling 10,000 bikes a year, by no means insignificant, but peanuts for the Wall Street looters.

    Hey Polaris, you are pretty progressive company with great products and no sport bike in your line! How about hiring Erik?

  22. 22 Reyn Mansson Apr 16th, 2015 at 7:45 am

    Remember the stocking dealers all across America. I know of a GM who lost his job yesterday over his confidence in the brand [he had invested in a racing program for an EBR rider and his former store now has 20 units in stock].

    Most dealers I know have sold only 1 or 2 units, there’s going to be no support for the engine in terms of parts or if the bikes are closed out to retail customers, any warranty support. I know the Buell 1125 from the last closeout sale went really cheaply and it had an effect on the Buell-Sportster’s resale value too.
    The $18,995 bikes were already down to $14,995, I expect we’ll see them at $9995 shortly. Might be worth owning in 50 years as a collectible from the early 21st Century….

    Performance bikes was a hard category to try to grab market share in anyway, competing with the technology BMW, Ducati, Yamaha and all the big players have isn’t feasible for a small company.

    I don’t think we’ll see dealers ready to try a Buell-lead brand again anytime soon and if you can’t set up a dealer network, you can’t sell bikes.

  23. 23 TJ Martin Apr 16th, 2015 at 8:21 am

    Sadly this was pretty much inevitable from its inception … which anyone with ‘ Eyes Wide Open ‘ saw coming from miles away .

    Why … is simple … Eric Buell is one of the most innovative designer/engineers in the business …. but .. unfortunately … Business is not [ and never has been ] one of Eric Buell’s fortes . Neither is the sense to hand over the running of the business side of things over to someone qualified . Sigh …. what will become of Mr Buell now ? One can only hope some manufacture takes him under their wing … with hopefully Mr Buell placing his ego aside so he can get on with what he does best . Engineering and Design !

  24. 24 P. Hamilton Apr 16th, 2015 at 8:30 am

    The Buell brand equity just fell to zero.

  25. 25 JohnyLetGo Apr 16th, 2015 at 8:33 am

    No more excuses for Erik Buell to fail again. Should sell his engineering skills as an employee of a bike manufacturer. Just give him a good paycheck. He deserves it. But no responsibility in a corporation.

  26. 26 Paul Hamsley Apr 16th, 2015 at 8:36 am

    Like all big financing agreements, you can bet that the contract with MotoCorp had many clauses with many “ifs”, many “exits” out, etc. Guess Buell didn’t meet the terms, Buell didn’t find other source of financing. Kaput.

  27. 27 Industry observer Apr 16th, 2015 at 9:08 am

    To be sure Mr. Buell is a great engineer and innovator but…….. there has been a failure of leadership here. It is one thing to have great ideas and quite another to produce a viable product and manage a company. The track record at Buell is miserable in this regard,

    I feel terrible for the 126 people who left other jobs counting on Buell to manage the company into success and are now left holding the bag.

  28. 28 The Supreme Team Apr 16th, 2015 at 10:40 am

    Ironhorse all over again?

    BBC had a nice run too, and I don’t think they left that kind of dent in financial debt, nor released employees.
    Obviously HD saw the writing on the wall. It is a niche market…PERIOD.
    95% of the guys riding sport bikes are kids who drive a 15 year old Ford Ranger so they can afford their $7.5K sport bike. They don’t invest a dime other than some stickers and some frame sliders, so can anybody NOT see why his theoretic demographic fails him?

    Sad day just the same, but I can’t feel sorry for the situation when so many folks are affected by the failed effort.

  29. 29 Mike Morrison Apr 16th, 2015 at 11:00 am

    Sad,

    HD killed off a off road program with Buells name attached to it a few years back, I’d say 08ish. That program would have done damn good things for the brand and the emergence in a different market, they had key people from the motocross development side of things working there, I mean big industry players. With the introduction of the 500 and 750 , both platforms would make bad ass little tracker bikes which would hav boosted sales for HD. Erik is an innovator he will not stop, that is guaranteed.

  30. 30 TK4 Apr 16th, 2015 at 11:25 am

    Buell kept making the same mistakes over and over again – perimeter brakes, fuel in the frame ?
    Not enough people were willing to pay the price (steep) for his quirky designs.
    Let’s talk World Superbike – did they ever really did and sell enough machines to truly qualify for the program or was it just a way to fill up the grids ?
    As has been mentioned, if he found a place to go to work for, and was kept on a tight leash, maybe the marque could come back, but he’s had more horses shot out from underneath him than Custer…

  31. 31 Bigalyts Apr 16th, 2015 at 12:01 pm

    I would not loose 1 nights worth of sleep for Old Eric Buell. Harley Davidson paid him an enormous amount when they brought Buell into to their Portfolio. Their Stock prices increased and they built Bikes that never sold well. In the beginning there were some Issues, but they were soon resolved. The real Problem was that the Traditionalist HD Riders and Buyers were not buying a Buell as their 2nd Bike. This was the oversight by HD. They thought the Traditionalist would move to a Thrill Style Bike and Riding. Well I did, but not enough other HD Riders jumped on the American Crotch Rocket. They had many specials in pricing and that is when their Sales moved a little. They always had a Year and Two year old leftover that had Great Interest Rates and $2,000 and $3,000 Rebates. While HD had the Funds they would keep funding Eric and the Buell Line of Bikes. They came out with some very unique Bikes, but still not much activity from the traditionalists so their focus went to the New bees and the Crotch Rocket Buyers to try Buells handling characteristics and their amazing Torque. Well still not enough Buyers, so they did a Joint Venture with Rotax of Austria and producing one of the greatest Motors made anywhere the 1125 Rotax. These were the Bike that sealed the Deal with many Non HD Riders, that this was “The Do All Machine”! Boy oh’ boy was this a great Bike, but by then HD was also a victim of the 2006 Recession. Now lets sell the Leftover 1125’s with a $5,000 Discount and they sold out and I believe they GAVE Eric anything that had anything to do with the Buell line of Motorcycles. Eric also signed over or traded his Input into the V-Rod Project also. I really Believe that when Eric started his Company back up that the lack of variety and the $20,000 Tag on a basically same Bike that HD was dumping for $6,000. They either took too long to Build Bikes and produce different models or they were without a Distribution Plan. Motorcycles that are sold Factory Direct don’t seem to ever get off the ground. The Bottom line is Eric is probably ready to Cruise…..! Good Luck, Eric and stay well. As Capt. Al sees it.

  32. 32 cafesportytc Apr 16th, 2015 at 12:24 pm

    Sad to hear. But it doesn’t surprise me…

  33. 33 Tom Ryan Apr 16th, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    It was a surprise to see EBR close shop. If Eric was to make a comeback I was wondering how he would do if he were to outsource any motors from Triumph, Norton, or even Ducati (as mentioned above) to create his own styles of steel frames, gas tanks, bars, nice paint, exhausts and wheels etc. made exclusively for the younger crowd who are short on cash. This would mean getting away from the hi-tech fuel in frames, perimeter brakes etc. as mentioned by TK4. I guess this would kinda’ make it a low weight, low dollar production custom bike somewhat, just made for street cruising. The paint, bars, exhausts and wheels etc. may also consist of optional buy items.

  34. 34 fuji Apr 16th, 2015 at 2:38 pm

    Bigalyst,

    Well put and to the point.

    I’ am not a Mo Co person but they did Eric good. He charted his destiny with HD and should have left knowing that he had a good career.

    Trying to build a competitive V Twin in today’s atmosphere is very difficult to do and expensive if not next to impossible.

    I feel for those who believed in him and lost monetarily. How would you feel ?

    Poor Eric not I.

  35. 35 steve risdal Apr 16th, 2015 at 3:41 pm

    Harley threw him under the bus? They lost $650 million on Buell….kept it way too long…good product but nobody wanted it.

  36. 36 Pete Apr 16th, 2015 at 7:41 pm

    Buell bikes with a HD motor never interested me. And his new adventure with non-HD motors even less. Apart from being a legend what else did he have? There was nothing to show in any international racing series. The prices were too high when others sell bikes for 1/2 the price to young riders. The history is littered with people who had brilliant ideas, big dreams but lacked the business sense to make it work. There won’t be anything for all the unsecured creditors so a domino effect will hit small suppliers sadly.

  37. 37 James just another Crazy Kiwi Apr 16th, 2015 at 7:45 pm

    Sports bikes are becoming a smaller market it appears.
    Dinosaurs are slow moving.
    When you see Ducati which is “The” sports bike company building scramblers and cruisers you know they are doing it for a reason.
    HD corporate saw it coming but handled the situation like true corporate mobsters.
    Badly !!!

  38. 38 fuji Apr 16th, 2015 at 8:35 pm

    James just another Crazy Kiwi.: Sports bikes are becoming a smaller market it appears.

    What facts do you base this information ?

    Had a 250 scrambler way back in 68-69. They also if you will non sport bikes over time. Need to chk the history. Just saying.

  39. 39 BobS Apr 16th, 2015 at 8:48 pm

    Regarding the comments that Polaris either pick up EBR or buy and fold it into the Victory or Indian line…I would be flabbergasted if that happened. Polaris likes to buy companies that are not 20 million in debt. Companies that are good but weak where Polaris is strong equals a recipe for success. Buying something that’s already going down in flames and trying to put out the fire? Nah, let it burn to the ground. Erik Buell is awesome and I really like some of the bikes with his name on them. Apparently he should be working inside the Industrial Design department of Polaris, not running his own company. Something I suspect Erik is not interested in doing. But then speaking of that, think about what Polaris is strongest at, high powered lightweight small displacement engines. If there is a company out there who could build a kick ass sport bike if they wanted to…Polaris already has all the engineering talent they need. I guess there’s a reason they put so much into heavy weight cruisers and nothing into sport bikes.

  40. 40 Tony Apr 17th, 2015 at 3:13 am

    Too bad. Obviously HD bean counters knew 6 years ago, It’s a rough deal to sell V-Twins to the speed market.
    As state of the art is his chassis, it didn’t seem to matter to the buying public. Why? Recognition. It’s all about trends and whats popular. In other words, SHEEP.

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