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Buell: Are the Worst of Times Also the Best of Times?

 

Do you remember that job you lost?  That girl who broke your heart? That great tragedy in your life that turned out to be a blessing?  Sometimes, being forced to change direction is the best thing that ever happens to us, no matter how painful it seems at the time.

When Buell was summarily dropped by Harley-Davidson, many of us were shocked, disappointed, and even angry.  The great icon of American motorcycle manufacturing — our modern Henry Ford — was finished . . . or so it seemed.

An independent Erik Buell, free from the corporate bureaucracy that is Harley-Davidson, is ready to introduce a new superbike.  Undoubtedly, this bike was in development long before H-D terminated Buell.  The development process is just too long to think otherwise.

Nevertheless, the teaser photo shown above that was posted on Erik Buell Racing’s Facebook  page a few days ago, together with Erik’s statement that he “may have a surprise or two to announce” when he speaks at the Motorcycle Hall of Fame fundraiser in Daytona on March 11, points to a vibrant Buell with a plan to develop and introduce American superbikes independent of its former corporate parent.  We have other sources who confirm that the release of an exciting new Buell superbike is imminent.  Stay tuned.

64 Comments

  1. Norm G. says:

    gotta say, i love the fact that EBR is wisely retaining design elements that make his bikes unique (perhaps uniquely american). ie. the fueled frame, perimeter rotor, etc. business-wise, these can be considered USP’s. he’s also embracing the use of american suppliers for components where applicable… this is good… for we still have considerable elements of high-tech manufacturing here in the U.S. (carbon fiber, forging, CNC). here’s pics of the bike via cycleworld. hope this link embeds properly…

    [url]http://www.cycleworld.com/motorcycle_news/first_looks_articles/11q1/erik_buell_racing_ebr_1190rs_-_first_look[/url]

  2. jeff says:

    It’s true, Erik is back, check todays article in the Milwaukee Journal. http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/business/harley.html

    Way to go Erik!

  3. Harry Farquhar says:

    By junk do you mean the styling or function was not to your taste? Because to imply that Buells’ were (and continue to be) built to anything less then the highest possible industry standards is a complete misrepresentation of the facts on the ground. I don’t find any of there machines particularly suitable for my needs but they are without question a well made product.

  4. Ken says:

    We have had as many as 6 Buells in the family at one time. Having owned S 2 s to 1125rs
    every model is a riders bike. Its easy to tell who is a rider in the comments and who is a magazine reader wanna be. Riders love great bikes no matter who builds them! Show me the old rider on his 3rd air cooled Kawi Concours and I ll show you a rider. S

  5. Roseclipt says:

    Buell lives – yay!!!! I am nearly 60, have ridden for over 40 years, and ride my old 1999 S3T every day. I would not even consider a purchase of anything but a Buell – and am very happy that there may be another new one for me before I up and kark it. Godspeed, Erik.

  6. LSBldr says:

    I test rode a Buell and found it to be a vibey, poorly made substitute for all the great bikes out there. Buell failed because people
    would not buy their bikes… period. Why is the media that fixated on what Eric Buell is doing? Who really cares?

    • Harry Farquhar says:

      Actually Harley didn’t turn Buell out because of sales numbers and the bikes were as well made as anything you can buy. If you rode a Sporster powered bike and were surprised that it vibrated then someone failed to correctly set yuor expectations.

  7. BRIAN says:

    I certainly hope Buell makes street bikes again. Not everyone is interested in hyperbikes. The main reason I bought the two Buells I’ve had is because there were so rider friendly. My first bike was an XB9SX, total blast to ride but absolutely no storage. Moved up to an XB12XT after many good reviews and love it. The vibrations at idle are annoying but after that I’m good. I can ride the bike all day. Before the shutdown, I was really holding out for an 1125 powered XT. That would have been a good S/T bike. Perhaps in the future.

  8. BoxerFanatic says:

    This looks interesting, in as much as you can see of it.

    I really like stacked headlights… it just makes sense in order to keep frontal area of a fairing down to a pointy minimum.

    I’ve always liked the way the Benelli Tornado Tre swept the headlight into the windscreen… but I think this could be even nicer looking, based only on what I can see of it.

    I am interested to see and read more about this bike soon.

  9. jimbo says:

    I’m first in line for the following Buell model: An injected 400-500cc twin (best-functioning is the ONLY engine architecture qualifier), optional fuel tank capacities, self-adjusting hydraulic valve lash clearance (or solenoid operated valves, whatever is state of the art), optional featherweight ABS, offered in two to three configurations:

    Adventure/dual sport
    Superbike (spec-race classes from amateur to pro)
    Universal/naked (OEM options: fly-screen to light-touring fairing, bags, cafe/Super-moto options, etc.)

    If possible, the ability to completely change one model into any other model (can just see “swap parts” classifieds)

    The Superbike version being something that sucks 600cc to open class Superbikes off the pavement except for those ridden by expert class riders.

  10. Stinky says:

    One mans junk, another mans treasure. Could be jealousy, most likely bad maintenance or poor skills. Have 2, nothing better on a tight twisty road. Simple, light, low maintenance, priced right. Yep, just JUNK!

    • Trpldog says:

      Most people who slam the XB Buell series are usually the ones who never ever rode one. Both my XB’s were great bikes – despite having to work around the clunky HD trans and the low rpm limit. I’ve ridden since 1974 and wish I could have kept my 2006 XB12R. Absolute stump puller torque with outstanding handling once set up correctly. No valve adjustments, no chain to lube and adjust… Press on Erik, arm-chair prophets and doomsayers are a dime a dozen.

  11. JW says:

    The great American bounce back – an admirable trait – but that Rotax motor is so tuned it is sprouting massive water and oil coolers that destroy its narrow frontal aspect (and hence dodgy styling)… with gas prices likely to go crazy can someone take Mr Buell aside and point him in the direction of a detuned motor giving leading edge mpg but still combined with his excellent chassis design and street ergos.

  12. MikeD says:

    I wouldn’t say it was JUNK but rather One or Two did look like JUNK (1125R comes to mind right away) with that upper fairing that looks like the head of Black Manta from the AquaMan Cartoons.

    The Yellow Barracuda that never came out was like day and night, a much much better looking piece of machinery.

    Im still HATING on the single sided flying saucer diameter DISC…superb performance, benefits and all, i just can’t get pass it, it’s like looking at a chick with an awesome body but missing an arm.

  13. MacinSteve says:

    “Austin ZZR 1200 says:
    Can’t keep a genius down. Reminds me of Steve Jobs, just has more vision and resolve than the rest of us…”

    Great minds think alike. I have often thought that the two men had similar minds and careers. Now look at Apple Computer after Steve Jobs was ousted and came back. Wouldn’t it be great if EB’s new company would have a turnaround like that. We can then all laugh at HD about “what might have been”.

    • kpaul says:

      Yep unlike Bill Gates, Jobs and Buell are true innovators. It took Microsoft 20 years to catch up to Apple and they finally did it with Windows 7. Never had a Mac crash like the Windows machines I was forced to use at work. My iPod and iPhone s are the same way unlike the Blackberry I am forced to use for work. Both have the same easy to use interface and the hardware is tough and reliable. No system crashes or screen freezes like I have with my Blackberry. Buell’s innovative mass centralization was copied by the Japanese manufactures recently with the move to put the exhaust systems low. His fuel in the frame is an ingenious solution. Even his Buell Blast was a great bike with its beginner friendly low end torque and great handling characteristics. It was ideal bike for MSF classes.

  14. denny says:

    Shoot…. I read the comments and respect people’s views… but there already IS american superbike http://www.roehrmotorcycles.com/

    Eric is no doubt good and capable guy but in my view he should direct his energies to produce a bike for common man for 10, not 25 grand.

    Have fun discussing, i hope he’s reading it!

  15. kpaul says:

    “The mule possesses the sobriety, patience, endurance and sure-footedness of the donkey, and the vigour, strength and courage of the horse. Mules are highly intelligent. They tend to be curious by nature. A mule generally will not let the rider put it in harm’s way.” from Wikipedia As a horse rider and lover I think I would say to Erik that he should take your words as a complement :) My grandfather, a farmer, switched to mules during the Great Depression because of the characteristics listed above and their hardiness and resistance to disease.

  16. ben says:

    hopefully the new bike will not be styled by the same person who did the bodywork on the hideous, out of proportion 1125R

    • RPG76 says:

      It was hideous!! When I first in person I couldn’t believe it, looked like a bloated TLR. I know EB was getting a raw deal from Harley but he would have had to signed off on that design.

      • kpaul says:

        “bloated TLR” LOL good description RPG :)

        • Mark says:

          I wasn’t a fan of the 1125 styling either, but that styling can be traced to an HD design constraint handed down to Buell that the bike not be full faired. There was an article in Cycleworld last year that documented this.

      • ben says:

        Dont drag the TLR into this, the TLR is a Ducati 916 next to that ugly deformed duckling, the 1125R

  17. brinskee says:

    Ehhhh, not really. He had motor limitations handed down to him, sometimes questionable styling (which was often the result of putting function before form), but it was never, ever junk. I would love to purchase an American superbike. Best of luck, Erik!

  18. kpaul says:

    The year is 2020. Harley Davidson is in bankruptcy. Years of declining market share due to an ever declining customer base have taken a toll. The average customer age for Harley is now over 60. Used Harleys glut the used bike market. Widows of deceased boomer riders desperately try to sell Harleys. Meanwhile,ironically, Buell motorcycles now dominate the domestic market. Buell’s complete line of sport bikes, naked street fighters, adventure bikes, electric bikes, edirtbikes and sport tourers are the most popular bikes for Generation Y and Gen Z. Gen Yers are now becoming more successful and affluent having plenty of disposable income. Gen Z the children of Gen X are entering the work force. Buells advanced engineering and production techniques allow Buell to quickly design build and market new product. Buells recent initial public offering of common stock was a major success. Buell sportbikes are the weapon of choice for AMA and World Superbike racers. Erik hard a work designing a MotoGP gasoline bike and an ebike. Buell now sells more motorcycles outside of the U.S. than domestically. Ever increasing gasoline prices, now over $6.00 per gallon, are moving motorcycles into the forefront of personal transportation.

    • Mickey says:

      ERIK, ERIK, wake up, you fell asleep at your desk again.

    • mikedard says:

      Right on man! You may have the motorcycle manufacture name wrong, the baby boomers the last of us will be over 60. That was simple math. HD going out of business is easy because that’s going to happen when the Government money stops flowing. $6.00 a gallon for gas is what they all ready pay in EU. That’ll happen here as the dollars declines and is no longer the world’s currency. Oh wait because of the dollar failure Gen. X,Y, & Z won’t have any disposable income. You’ll be riding old retro pieced together out of the scrap heaps motorcycles. Oh wait that what’s already happening. No you’re not a prophet, you’re a dreamer.

      • steve says:

        H-D has been around for 100+ years & like them or not, they will most likely still be in business for a long time to come.

        It’s kinda funny & pathetic that some posters always have to bring whatever the subject is around to Harley & how they despise the company, the bikes & the riders…. the story could be a about marshmellows & somehow they’ll twist it around to try & shine a negative light on Harley. & like the same e-bike posters, they don’t & never have owned one but feel totally free to comment on all sorts of things about them….

        imagination does not equal experience or knowledge.

        I think they made a big mistake with EB… mainly because I love watching Superbike racing & the 1125RR with Danny Eslick was freakin awesome! Of course, it was racing agaainst 600’s….

        EB was definitley held back by H-D but that’s water under the bridge now. Same with H-D selling MV Agusta… many of us were hoping these 2 entities would have an impact on the H-D braintrust but….

        say what you will about H-D but they are not stupid. They will continue to make a product that many people all over the world buy &/or want to buy. & if their bikes fit your style, by all means go look at them. If not, go elsewhere & please leave your bias out of these discussions.

    • MarxMyth says:

      LOL. Fantastic post! I hope it does come true, but I’ll wait until the new Buells come out before passing judgment. I liked some of their bikes but there were enough small things I didn’t like to keep me from buying one. Hopefully they do start a run of new bikes here and I’ll have more to pick from.

    • Ruefus says:

      Pipe….Dream

    • Harry Farquhar says:

      Yeah that will be funny as hell for the thousands of hard working, unionized American workers that will be out of a job.

  19. Rich says:

    Best of luck to Erik. I was interested in more than one Buell but 2 things always kept me from buying. The motor and the fact I had to go to a Harley dealer that really didn’t want to have the bikes there. Test rode the Ulysses and really liked it other than the paint can shaker at stop.

    • Stinky says:

      I had the opposite problem. We have a great Harley dealer and crappy dealers otherwise. I always wanted to buy a bike from Deluxe Harley but don’t care for Harleys. The owner/dealer was a REAL biker and liked trials, flattrack, MX,street and owned most of them. I bought a Buell before he could get a dealership, but still he took great care of my bike (luckily it never needed much). Wanted one of the last generation but wanted a bigger fuel capacity. Harley lit the fuse and I had to buy another now or forever hold my,,,,um,,,,peace.

    • Tom Shields says:

      My sentiments exactly. I never did quite understand EB’s insistence on using a Harley mill in his bikes. It will be interesting to see what he has to offer.

  20. Gary says:

    Can you imagine being in one of those early H-D planning meetings?

    Now Erik, we want you to build the best sportbike in the world. It must be fast, light, reliable and handle like it’s on rails.

    And oh, by the way … it must have a Sportster motor.

    Gah!!!!

  21. tony says:

    For those of us that know Erik has has been held back over the years, we are very excited to see what he is really capable of doing. He’s brilliant,creative and driven to put together the best american motorcyle made. The best is yet to come.
    Go Erik Go!

  22. Scott says:

    Go Erik! Go EBR! I can’t wait to see an American Superbike, competitive with the best in the world . . . FINALLY, for the first time in my 45 years.

    Let’s show the world that we’re more than just cruisers.

  23. Scott says:

    Go Erik! Go EBR! I can’t wait to see a competitive American Superbike . . . FINALLY, for the first time in my 45 years.

  24. Trpldog says:

    As a former Buell XB9R and XB12 owner, I have to say, and I have found it to be usually true – once a Buell guy, always a Buell guy. Unlike any other of the 15 motorcycles I’ve owned and ridden, I somehow felt a real connection and likemindedness to the owner and designer of Bueldog, my last Buell XB. If I could have afforded it, I would have certainly kept Bueldog, and in addition, bought my current ride, Trpldog, a Triumph Speed Triple. The absolute passion that Erik has is exactly what would continue to draw me back to Buell ownership one day, in one degree or another. The XB12 was RED, loud, vibrated like a paint-shaker at idle, clunked horrendously when shifted – but as you rode it, you felt very proud to be part of a company run by such a talented passionate rider as Erik. Weird, but true. Bueldog had arm wrenching torque, in your face styling, and once set up correctly, handled unbelievably precise. Even with all it’s HD engine limitations, and the bike’s quirkiness, I sure miss riding Bueldog in a big way. Go Erik. The best is yet to come.

  25. PrincipalDiesel says:

    Love my Buell Ullysses! Glade to traded my HD!!! Proud to part of a the Buell movement! Erik Buell represents America to the core: visionary, independent, guts!

  26. Gazza says:

    I’ve watched Buell progress with much interest since the first street-legal bikes became available and have become much more reliable and less narrowly focused. I was hoping to unload my ZX6-R and purchase a made in America 1125R because after a long test ride I was pleased to discover that it was an all-around better bike for my needs. Unfortunately I needed another year to get the funds together and missed out. I was afraid that I’d always regret not making the purchase, but maybe there’s hope…. I can’t wait to see what’s coming!!!

  27. Norm G. says:

    EBR and America… 2 things worthy of going above and beyond to support.

  28. Tom says:

    It’s got that cool perimeter brake rotor, I can see that much. And two stacked headlights. V-Twin or V-4?

  29. MikeD says:

    GOD SPEED to him and his group…but don’t forget to build us again standards(XB), adventure tourers(Ulysses) and maybe the occasional affordable good handling sport bike(XB12R).

  30. Austin ZZR 1200 says:

    Can’t keep a genius down. Reminds me of Steve Jobs, just has more vision and resolve than the rest of us…

  31. denny says:

    What? Superbike again? What for… there are way too many already. What market needs is a Common(sense) bike. Simple, purposeful, cheap basic fun.

    • BRIAN says:

      I HAVE TO AGREE… HE SHOULD FOCUS ON WHAT MIKE SAYS..
      MikeD says:
      February 11, 2011 at 6:19 pmGOD SPEED to him and his group…but don’t forget to build us again standards(XB), adventure tourers(Ulysses) and maybe the occasional affordable good handling sport bike(XB12R).

      BUILDING UP SOME MODELS IS WHAT WILL PAY FOR RACING ENGINEERING… YOU DON’T RACE TO FUND THE BUILDING OF OTHER STYLES OF MOTORCYCLES, YOU BUILD THOSE GREAT MOTORCYCLES TO FUND THE RACING/R&D… I HOPE “HE” HAS ALOT OF SURPRISES COMING………

  32. kpaul says:

    I am a big fan of Erik. I thought he was about to have that break through bike with the 1190 RR. I really lusted for it. You know bigger isn’t necessary better or a limitation. There is still plenty of room for a sport bike that has good ergos and user friendly V-twin power. I crashed my good ergo 01 Ninja and then bought a new 07 Ninja which had racer ergos. I miss my old bike. I lo. Would love to have a sportbike with good ergos and a nice torque curve. Always loved the sound of the new Buell and Ducati V-Twins too. Telsa is building electric cars and they are startup so it’s not impossible. Also Buell is intelligent and experienced.

  33. Mickey says:

    No doubt Mr Buell got the weinie from Harley, but it may have been a blessing in disguise. Now shed of the Motor Company’s corporate oversite (I would call it out from under their oil stained half finger leather clad thumb) he is free to produce some of the incredible motorcycles he is no doubt capable of producing, plus he got a lot of advertising for a few years in the interim and earned a bit of a reputation. His only problem now will be a lack of dealer network in which to showcase his products. Buying motorcycles with no dealer backing is a iffy thing for some of us. It’s the main reason I won’t buy a BMW, Moto Guzzi, Ducati, KTM, MV, Aprilia etc, even though they produce some incredible motorcycles No where around here to buy one or get any parts or service work done.

  34. John A. Kuzmenko says:

    I am curious to see what engine is used.
    Rotax?

    • Norm G. says:

      yup, a 1200cc version (1190) of the 72 degree twin i believe. caught geoff may testing it last year during wera @ VIR the week before AMA (the weekend of the gette fatality). driving down the straight (north) with the front hovering a few inches off the ground, it looked like he was shot out of cannon. :) mind, this was with bboz and clark on the R1’s giving chase. iirc may caught a holeshot and held off the field for several laps. ben eventually ran him down (as he did to everybody else), but it was by no means a cakewalk. i returned to my hotel that nite mucho impressed and dare i say i don’t impress easily.

    • Falcodoug says:

      We can hope so.

  35. Marc says:

    Erik without HD should make for some exciting bikes!Best part will be no HD engines. I always wanted a Firebolt with a real engine in it.

  36. Old town hick says:

    It would be great to see Buell succeed, even if only as a “boutique” brand. Their past bikes have shown very interesting ideas even while under the thumb of H-D.

    Seven or eight years ago my dining party and I sat at a table with Eric Buell in a crowded restuarant in Monterey, CA during the races at Laguna Seca. He sensed that there was no where else for us to sit and invited us to share his table. We did not know who he was as he only introduced himself with his first name. It was not until the next day that I figured out why I had recognized his face. He was a modest and gracious gentleman, offering occassional intelligent comments during the dinner conversation (which was of course about mostly racing and our groups’ morning ride up from the LA area). He never let on just which “Eric” he actually was.

  37. Matt says:

    Superbike is fine I guess, I understand that is what sells, but please have a Ulysses version with that sweet Helicon motor not to far in the future too.. please please pretty please..

  38. j says:

    I’m thrilled Buell is still alive. I almost bought a Ulysess instead of a GS for my last bike. I’d love to have my next bike be American made:)