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Erik Buell Racing Closes Doors and Heads for Receivership, According to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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Shocking news just in (thanks to the heads-up from reader Todd), as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel posted a story describing the closing of Erik Buell Racing, and the “filing for court protection from creditors.” The article states EBR is “closed for now” and offers the following statement from founder Erik Buell:

The turn we recently took, after we thought we were moving forward, was unexpected. We thought we had secured funding, but in the end, we were not able to get the funding in place. Therefore we need to do the best we can under the circumstances for all parties in interest …

To say this setback is a disappointment does not begin to express what I feel right now. I am personally grateful for the support of our outstanding workers, customers and vendors. While this is a sad ending, I personally hope for a new and better beginning.

EBR has not only ramped up production (you can see our test of the impressive EBR 1190RX), it is fielding a two-man team in WSB. The news is particularly shocking in light of the apparent support of, and partnership with, the massive Indian motorcycle manufacturer Hero MotoCorp. More details after we receive them.

 

158 Comments

  1. Mon says:

    Very similar..

  2. Gordon Haight says:

    The way to make a small fortune in the motorcycle manufacturing business is to start with a large one.

  3. azi says:

    Hmm, what if EBR had adopted a strategy of building premium models in the USA, but licenced the commodity models to Indian (Eastern) factories? It’s a strategy that’s working for KTM, Benelli, Honda, BMW, Triumph, Specialized & Trek bicycles, Fender & Gibson guitars… perhaps the story might have been different.

    EBR otherwise appears to be following Bimota’s strategic footsteps in single-mindedly following the passion.

    • Gary says:

      Ummm… that appears to be exactly what may have been happening. Hero (Indian manufacturer) was to use EBR designs and input for some of Hero’s models (not to mention investing money). Then more than likely, these were to find their way to the US in either EBR or Hero models. It appears something may have happened to Hero financing with EBR- or maybe something completely different. Maybe, someday we’ll all know.

  4. mechanicuss says:

    nothing odd about this. he built what he wanted, not what anyone else would want or buy in big enough numbers to support a business case. well there it is.

  5. http://www.webbikeworld.com/motorcycle-news/statistics/motorcycle-sales-statistics.htm For all you guys talking about pricey European motorcycle sales being up, 9000 Ducatis/year, 14,000 BMWs/year in the U.S. isn’t all that great, sure numbers are up, but if Ducati sells 900 more bikes, that is a 10% increase. Meanwhile HA/DA cranks out 1/4 million every year and spends almost nothing on racing. Royal Enfield kicks out 270,000 bikes a year, but how many do you see in this country. Aging customers and young folks with little expendable income do not make the future look very bright.

  6. Mike says:

    And here we have it ……….many posts critical of Eric Buell from a group that even on a combined basis could not design, build and market a Zuma duplicate intended for third world markets.

    Expects each one of us…. at typing the negative after the fact ….and seldom if ever having the skill, knowledge or insight to predict or comment before.

    The following ole sports saying is totally appropriate on this topic ….none of us ….or all of us together here….could not carry Eric Buells “jockstrap” …. even one day.

    • mickey says:

      That’s right. THERE IS NO ROOM FOR OPINIONS OR DISCUSSION ON THIS WEBSITE!

      Seriously? First time on the internet?

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “and seldom if ever having the skill, knowledge or insight to predict or comment before.”

      correct, only Norm G has consistently been able to do this for over a decade.

    • Mike says:

      This is not about free speech to say what, where and when you want to say it ……this is about the total lack of fairness, balance and perspective on Eric Buell and his accomplishments in the posts!

      Posting here day after day on every topic is way toooo and obviously easy for all of us…….and thankfully not the path Eric Buell took in just typing about motorcycles vs dedication his life to designing, making and marketing them …..and we are all better for it.

      Stating ONLY the negative about Eric Buell …fine.. but this does not reflect the reality and truth about this man and his accomplishments which btw have an equal right to be stated here…..accomplishments I have provided in a link below for everyone.

      Maybe this will result in a few positive posts, I am hoping for a big surprise, but far more important is Eric Buell deserves noting less than a balanced and fair commentary….plus our respect! The wait is on!!!

      >>>>>> http://www.motorcyclemuseum.org/halloffame/detail.aspx?RacerID=327 <<<<<<

      • Dale says:

        Mike, I am a Buell owner. Bought one brand new, and still have it in the garage. I put my money out, and never regretted it. Living about 45 minutes from East Troy for many years, I’ve been in the old plant a half a dozen times, and I know the loyalty and enthusiasm of the folks that worked there. I think what is frustrating to some of us is that the story just doesn’t seem to add up in some areas. As a business person, how did they get to 126 employees in just a few short years, and what did these people do? Why did they ever go racing? What happened to the $25MM from Hero? How was the new company ever valued at $50MM in the first place? Were they really selling 100 bikes per month, and if so, could they have made a profit if they had hired just 30 people to do this? Did they pick the wrong niche market?

        I don’t think anyone doubts Erik Buell’s enthusiasm, they are just wondering what really happened here.

        Now, looking back, one has to also wonder if H-D truly was the bad guy back in 2009? Maybe if the original Buell division was run a little tighter, and a little more profitable, it would still exist? Was it really the dealers fault? I have held a grudge against H-D all these years, vowing never to buy another one of their products, but now I wonder if we are seeing what they were seeing when they closed everything down. At least when H-D shut his doors, they paid every supplier off – no bad debt, no money owed.

        Risk and return go hand in hand. Something was wrong with the plan.

        • ROXX says:

          Very well said sir.

        • Motorico says:

          I agree. I tried to analyze and offer possible non-Hero conspiracy based possibilities on a Buell group. Pointing out things like numbers in the H-D closeout and postulating that to me it seems the extra money was contingent on performance was not well received.

          The possibility that Erik was less than motorcycle Jesus seemed to be heresy.

        • Mike says:

          Dale….everyone

          The business management aspects related to Eric Buell was not the subject of my posts.

          My point clearly related to his individual accomplishments related to design, manufacturing and marketing motorcycles

          To prove my point, I would like names of individual Americans that have accomplished more in motorcycle design, manufacturing and marketing than Eric Buell over the past 50 years……..lets start there…..

          >>>>>

          My original post..and I stand by it

          “And here we have it ……….many posts critical of Eric Buell from a group that even on a combined basis could not design, build and market a Zuma duplicate intended for third world markets.

          Experts each one of us…. at typing the negative after the fact ….and seldom if ever having the skill, knowledge or insight to predict or comment before.”

      • mickey says:

        Mike said “Stating ONLY the negative about Eric Buell …fine..”

        Absolutely not true. Read through the posts and you will see words like brilliant designer and engineer, built great fun and innovative machines, he was a visionary and risk taker, his designs were perfectly designed and executed, many posts were by owners and former owners who loved their bikes, and that many wished he had succeeded.

        methinks you ONLY want to read the negative for there is plenty of positives about the man, and his motorcycles written in the posts below.

        • Mike says:

          Mickey: methinks there were some positive posts about Erik Buell, but not from you until your reply above on with these comments from others. April 19 11:54am.

          Yet you posted hundreds of words on Motus……so what do “you” have to say about his individual accomplishments related to design, manufacturing and marketing motorcycles >>>>> you know the points I made in my post

          • mickey says:

            Hey I thought I was the only one that says methinks lol. Mike, I admire the heck out of men like Erik Buell and Lee Conn and Brian Case of Motus. Men who have visions and dreams, and then go forward and make those visions and dream come true. These are men with extraordinary vision. Most of the time though, especially when it comes to making ordinary men understand, men with extraordinary visionary fail.

            I cannot speak directly to Erik’s qualifications as an engineer, as I have never ridden a Buell so I can’t state whether his designs work (for me) or not. I believe he has been largely credited with the underslung exhaust which may be a good idea, since other companies also use that design, but as a consumer,I prefer regular mufflers one on each side, which both of my current motorcycles have. His perimeter brake design always seemed kind of gimmicky to me, and I haven’t seen any other manufacturers copy that. Triumph and BSA used to carry fluid in frame and Honda has run coolant thru the frame for decades so I’m not sure he gets credit for fluid in frame designs. I have never cared for V twin motors, although I have had 6 of them, and the motor vibe just doesn’t make me happy. I prefer Inline 4’s. So his motor of choice is not my favorite. However it doesn’t matter what I think of him as a designer or as an engineer, or a machinist or as a businessman, because he has had no impact on my life other than providing some occasional material for reading in my monthly motorcycle magazine. I don’t think any of the 29 street bikes I have owned in the last 50 years incorporated any of his designs.I have neither seen in person, personally ridden, nor heard a Buell motorcycle run, nor visited a dealership that carried the brand. I am sorry to see him fail, as I am sorry to see ANYONE fail in making their dreams come true.

            I WAS a business man before I retired and I know, even if you have a better idea, you have to give people what they want if you hope to stay in business, and not what you think they want. Even the mighty Honda has a tough time learning this lesson which is why perfectly good motorcycles like the GB 500, the VFR 1200, the VFR 800 with Vtec, the DN-01 or any street bikes with DCT’s, languish on the sales floor destined to become collectibles 30 years from now. Luckily for Honda they make enough models that people do want, to lessen the financial burden of designing, and manufacturing the dogs in their line up (and by dogs I mean sales flops). Erik Buell did not have that advantage and in the end that’s likely what did him in, not his talent as a designer or engineer. It’s also what is likely going to do Motus in as well.

            Motorcycling itself is a pretty niche market. In reality, comparatively speaking, there aren’t many of us riding around on two wheels in this world. Anytime you design a product that is not going to appeal to many, be it because of design, features, looks, performance or price, you are really limiting yourself and your potential sales and income.. and in the end, sales and income, is what keeps the doors open.

            Even the best mousetrap in the world wouldn’t sell very well, if people weren’t having a rodent problem.

          • Mike says:

            Mickey…..ref your post of April 25, 2015 at 1:36 pm

            Paragraphs not addressing the actual content of my posts were not necessary ….this all comes down to the you or anyone providing a list of the names of individual Americans that have accomplished more in motorcycle design, manufacturing and marketing than Erik Buell over the past 50 years.

            Yes….this list is posted = I will admit my posts were incorrect, based on the names on the list of course …..and please no (re-re-re:”NormG”) on your list

            No……you/anyone does not have a list = my posts stand

          • mickey says:

            Soichiro Honda for one, the Davidson Brothers, J A Prestwick, Edward Turner? I don’t know..

            I don’t know what you want from me Mike or why you are singling me out among the many posters here but I’m done playing your game, and I don’t know why your posts wouldn’t stand other than the fact that you said all anybody could say about Erik Buell was negative and that was patently false. You are obviously an Erik Buell fan boy and that’s fine, but the fact remains he didn’t do a good enough job with either design, engineering, manufacturing, building, pricing ….something, to stay in business (not one, but twice). I can’t help that, it’s not my fault.

            This is making my head hurt. Have a great day, I’m going riding.

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            Mike, really, what are these great accomplishments that Erik Buell accomplished that people at Harley-Davidson, Victory or Indian haven’t? Last I checked, those companies were still in business. I’m sorry, but I don’t see anything materially significant in the article you linked that places Buell on a pedestal above others who engineer, design and market motorcycles. And why are you so interested in a list of Americans? Why ignore all of the accomplishments of everyone else around the world?

            Erik Buell finally built the sportbike he always wanted to build, and it was a pretty good one by most accounts. Could I do it? No. So what? Do you think H-D or Polaris couldn’t if they decided to chase that market?

            Buell was a bright guy who went for it and didn’t quite make it. That is a common story in all industries. He’ll probably try for it again in the future.

          • Mike says:

            Mickey and Jeremy….

            Lets start with reading comprehension…..I stated this:

            My point clearly related to his individual accomplishments related to design, manufacturing and marketing motorcycles

            To prove my point, I would like names of individual Americans that have accomplished more in motorcycle design, manufacturing and marketing than Eric Buell over the past 50 years……..lets start there…..

            >>>>>>

            ERIK BUELL = An individual = started by one person = an American = his accomplishments related to design, manufacturing and marketing motorcycles.

            DOES NOT = Harley-Davidson, Victory or Indian which are established companies……get it yet!

            So in the end…. neither of you have even one individual American name that has accomplished more in motorcycle design, manufacturing and marketing than Eric Buell over the past 50 years.

            Thank you from proving the point I have been making all along

          • mickey says:

            michael czysz

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            David Robb, Craig Vetter, Tim Prentice, Ed Jacobs, Richard Cristoph, Willie G?

            “DOES NOT = Harley-Davidson, Victory or Indian which are established companies……get it yet!”

            No, I don’t get it… so only people from unestablished American companies whose first names are Erik spelled with a “k” qualify for your list? Erik Buell hadn’t accomplished anything more that any of the hundreds of guys who build their own bikes in their garage until Harley-Davidson’s “established” money made him something. Get it, yet? Before Buell Motor Company essentially became part of Harley-Davidson, the company was no different than Fischer, BRD, Confederate, the “new” Norton, take your pick.

            None of that means that Erik Buell isn’t a brilliant, enthusiastic guy, a great asset to the motorcycle world and, by all accounts, a terrific human being. It does mean that there are other people out there that can “carry his jockstrap”. Feel free to have the last word as I’m done commenting on this. We’ll just have to agree to disagree.

          • Mike says:

            Mikey/Jeremy

            First you compared Erik Buell with Harley-Davidson, Victory or Indian. Now you come back with michael czysz,David Robb, Craig Vetter, Tim Prentice, Ed Jacobs, Richard Cristoph, Willie G

            My Reply: Add all the individuals together from and on a combined basis did not design, manufacture and market more motorcycles than Erik Buell. You knew that….come on!!!

            Sure we can end this before John Deere and Henry Ford are included in your next responses, but to simply things from now on, please just reply to statements I actually made in my posts!

            Thanks

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        Mike, the only negative comments have been with respect to Erik Buell’s potential as a businessman. We are all in the dark here and all looking at it in hindsight – it is just discussion and conjecture. That doesn’t mean that some of the opinions and hypotheses about what may have ultimately gone down are invalid. There are plenty of positive comments here that perhaps you just choose to ignore. But negative comments are to be expected: we are ultimately trying to analyze with very limited information a very negative event in the industry we all love, and the positive attributes of Erik Buell don’t explain that.

      • JacksonV says:

        Hey Mike. If you wanna show respect, stop misspelling his name. It’s rude.
        His name is Erik Buell not Eric Buell.

    • SausageCreature says:

      You don’t have to be a five star French chef to know when something tastes bad.

    • Chuck Chrome says:

      Not sure many were critical of Buell based on his ability to design or build a motorcycle. The point is he failed to build a motorcycle people wanted in sufficient numbers to keep a business afloat. So you are right, most of us don’t have the talent to design or build motorcycles. Buell didn’t have the talent to understand the market and keep his business alive. One doesn’t need a MBA to be qualified to make that determination. He isn’t the first and certainly not the last to go down that road. It isn’t a personal attack, just the reality of the situation. While I had no interest in his product it doesn’t make me feel good that it failed.

    • Gordon Haight says:

      EBR was on shaky ground from the start. It didn’t take a prophet to predict how this venture would end up. Erik offered wonky bikes for those that were tired of the standard offerings and are willing to pay a premium price to fill that desire. In the end, they received a bike with great performance (not the best) with yet to be proven quality with no dealer network to address issues when they did arise. That is a very small group of perspective buyers, indeed. I hope Erik’s direction for his next attempt is more down to earth and successful so he can then build upon his successes. Aiming for the top seems to be his only desire and the riskiest approach by far.

  7. Dixit says:

    I was thinking that twice before going belly up, Erik Bell made disastrous commercials:
    The first one was when they crushed a few Buells Blast because “They no longer belong to the Buell line”. The message to the customers was ” We sold you crap”. This time Erik put up a commercial basically stating that his bikes don’t brake down only because they have the best oil “It was the oil” Too bad, my XB12 was a fun bike despite the flaws

    • Chuck Chrome says:

      Yeah, I felt the exact same way about the Amsoil commercial. Despite that issue probably never manifesting to a street rider it does plant the seed that things aren’t as good as they should be.

  8. HS1-RD-CX100-VFR says:

    Erik appears to have a history of being inflexible. There were some important advancements in motorcycle technology since the Buell 1125R was introduced in 2007. Very few of these were included on the EBR’s as it seemed like time froze in this guy’s head for several years. Buells always had interesting engineering features, but they also lacked in quality in some very important details. Controls, switchgear, some of the materials, and fit and finish were not up to the standards of the market. This was pretty obvious in a casual look-over in the showroom. This quality gap seemed to hold them back the first time. Erik just didn’t seem to be interested in these more mundane parts of designing and building motorcycles. This mistake wasn’t learned and tangibly corrected in try number two.

  9. Austin ZZR1200 says:

    In my experience a minority of talented engineers are also good business people. I do not think Erik is in that group (I respect the hell out of him as an engineer)

  10. Deckard says:

    Time for Polaris to buy EBR, and rebadge the bikes as Indian. It would be awesome for the Indian marque to pay tribute to its racing past, and start selling sport bikes, rather than just be an upscale cruiser company.

    • Chuck Chrome says:

      Won’t happen as long as Indian management is interested in making money instead of losing it. Their economy of scale might be able to get the price down a little but Buell is already a two time loser as a manufacturer and they don’t have Harley to blame this time. I woudn’t want to have to market a product with that stink attached to it.

  11. mg3 says:

    Yes, the market is ‘cruel’, but the market is also ‘true’. He built bikes for connoisseurs, and there just are not enough of them around. Sad.

  12. John says:

    One wonders if Hero isn’t playing a game. They have a lot to gain from the arrangement, and a 500cc EBR would give them a good leg up in the growing middle class marker. Perhaps they want to weaken EBR, then come in and pick up the bones because it is cheaper to buy a dead company than one you are propping up. Maybe they wanted to buy more of the company and Erik resisted or wanted too much. Or something. Or maybe Erik built in too much of a parachute option for Hero, and wasn’t in a position to handle it if they stopped putting money in. Odd to me that they seemed to be, supposedly, spending a lot of R&D time for Hero on upcoming projects. Supposedly. Not sure why they’d want to lose that, with KTM and many others wanting to take away from their slice of the pie. I would certainly be less inclined to buy a Hero anything now.

  13. skybullet says:

    I got in on a Cycle World/Harley promotion at MotoGP. Smoozing with a couple of the Harley factory people, I mentioned I was disappointed they dumped Buell when I thought it has so much potential as an American designed and built alternative to imports. The Harley folks said the dealers did not know how to sell Buell and the styling put a lot of people off. Too bad a company with the financial resources of Harley bailed out before they found a profitable combination but I guess it made the stockholders happy. The Hero people must have had the same sensation.

  14. PatrickD says:

    Very sad news, obviously first and foremost for those whose livelihood is connected with EBR.
    The timing for them to pursue sportsbikes was unfortunate for them. The new R1 is the first serious litre-bike development for more than four years, which tells you about the mass-market and Japanese assessment of this category. The niche side looks quite crowded, with BMW straddling genres and Ducati & Aprilia really pushing bike development and features. There seems to be little room for even KTM, who have otherwise been quite astute in their targeting, so EBR really had the odds stacked against them.
    I tip my hat to them for entering WSB, where there are no hiding places, and have shown good progress this year. (Call out to KTM, here).
    If Hero end up taking the lot, lock-stock-and-barrel, you only have to look to HD for their treatment of EB for the reason that the american motorcycle industry is rooted in the 50s and meagrely complies with emissions regulations as a sop to the concept of development.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      “There seems to be little room for even KTM”

      I hear they are actually pulling out of the street-legal liter-bike market (or liter+ in KTM’s case). As I understand it, KTM will still make a track-only bike that will cost somewhere north of $100,000. The CEO gave some kind of lame story as to how he wants to play nanny to sportbike fans because 200hp bikes have no place on the streets in the hands of us mortals. A 180hp naked bike is apparently just fine, though.

  15. Spider Watts says:

    No surprise. HD finally pulled the plug after Buell continually failed to come through despite all his promises. He always displayed a poor attitude and promised champagne but delivered draft beer.
    I feel sorry for all the Buell customers. A lot of motorcycle enthusiasts rooted for Buell but his record remains the same.
    Hero pulled the plug and made the right decision.

  16. jim says:

    Hero will move it all to India and sell them for 5k.

  17. Tom R says:

    And next to bite the dust….Motus?

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      I’m surprised they have lasted this long. I got to see one up close at COTA last weekend. It looked very unpolished.

      • TimC says:

        Really…it’s interesting how reports in comments here note both Buell and now Motus as being rougher than they should be…how do these remarks stay out of road tests?

        Yes that’s rhetorical….

  18. Jose says:

    My local dealer offered great discounts 4K++ and 0 interest up to 60 months…no a single bike sold…He still trying to sale them at a greater discount…I may jump and get one…

  19. Chris says:

    Jeremy in TX you should know your audience before you talk about wonky expensive E.B.R. products, I own an 1190SX and out of 25 bikes I have owned it is by far the best,and as far as uncompetitive 4 podiums in A.M.A. super bike, winners of the pan Asian superbike series and podium’s in Australian superbike is pretty competitive Oh and if you are interested me and my Buell and EBR riding pals would love to show you just how competitive they are.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      Chris, I don’t think anyone tunes into Motorcycle Daily to read comments from the the great Jeremy in TX. Therefore, I don’t have an audience that needs knowing, but I am sure there are more than just Buell fanatics on this site.

      I only follow top-tier racing (WSBK and MotoGP), so I don’t know much about EBRs racing accomplishments elsewhere. In WSBK, the EBRs were easy to spot as they were the bikes that most resembled paperweights. Regardless, racing finishes, top-tier or otherwise, aren’t the type of “uncompetitive” I was referring too.

      As far as wonky and expensive, I stand by that. EBRs, and Buells before them, have often missed the design mark a bit and have typically been priced a little bit out of or at the higher end of their class. Yes, that is my opinion, but I think the market has ruled in favor of that opinion, now. Twice.

      To your invitation to have you and your EBR/Buell riding pals show me how competitive their bikes are, no need. As the owner of an XB, I already know how competitive they aren’t. But if you ever want to go for a ride just for the joy of it, I’m all game. I’ll even bring the Buell if it makes you happy.

      • Fred M. says:

        Jeremy, I own a Buell XB12Ss and an Buell 1125CR. The XB is a fun, laid-back, fine handling bike, but it’s not intended to be a competitive bike. It’s not in the same league as the 1125CR. The 1125CR is a great street sport bike (as opposed to a race bike with lights — which usually works pretty poorly for street riding).

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          The “uncompetitive” I was referring to was market competitiveness. Chris just assumed I was talking about performance metrics and racing, and I confess I couldn’t help but chum the waters a little bit after reading his post.

          And in all due respect, Buell always marketed the XB line as serious sporting machinery, not fun laid-back bikes. I wouldn’t compare the XB’s to a liter bike or even a 600: apples and oranges. But a Speed Triple, Tuono, FZ1 or Z1000? Those were all in the price range and functional category of the XB’s and are all pretty serious weapons… or fun laid-back bikes if you wanted them to be.

      • Hot Dog says:

        Run Jeremy, RUN!!! Don’t worry about me, just save yourself, I’ll hold them off as long as I can.

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          Lord, what have I done?!

          • mickey says:

            You made the classic mistake of criticizing something American.. Erik Buelll, Motus, Nicky Hayden. Only Harley is allowed to be criticized cause they make bikes nobody wants. Don’t worry I make that mistake quite frequently.

          • Hot Dog says:

            You have spoken the truth, so it is written and so shall it be.

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            Well, the “uncompetitive” I was referring to was market competitiveness. Chris just assumed I was talking about performance metrics and racing, and I confess I couldn’t help but chum the waters a little bit after reading his post.

          • Curly says:

            M’mm and tasty chum it was! Throw in some more.

          • Tom K. says:

            We’re gonna need a bigger boat….

      • John says:

        Perhaps, since the engines were crap. But man, i loved how the Lightning felt underneath me. Just would never buy one for the engine. Prices werent’ bad at all either. But the EBRs, while holding great promise, were just obviously too expensive for the market. And with all of the more solid companies doing real naked superbikes, I’m not sure how you beat that.

  20. James says:

    Polaris should pony up the dough.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      I think Polaris’s dough would be better spent developing their own machines. Why buy, even at discounted rates, the rights to a line of uncompetitive, wonky sportbikes that have very limited market appeal?

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      You know, I think the most likely buyer is Hero. I recall reading in another article (very recently) that Hero’s chief said he would buy 100% of EBR if he had the opportunity. He might just be giving himself the opportunity.

  21. Jeremy in TX says:

    Like many here, I find this to be no surprise. The first market entered is the most fiercely competitive in all of the motorcycle industry – a segment where manufacturers take the thinnest of margins because these halo models are also part of their brand image – and the bikes are barely competitive and cost more than their competition.

    EBR likely missed the goals by a pretty wide margin that Hero tied to the deal. Hero saw the writing on the wall and pulled the plug on the rest of their commitment.

    • azi says:

      Premium-priced motorcycles need to be mind-blowing in concept and execution – and not just ‘mildly interesting’. Opportunity cost plays a big part in it: what will the potential buyer be sacrificing in order to purchase your offering?

    • Kagato says:

      I think the Japanese will lose money on bikes and still keep development going–matter of pride for them. Especially the little piano company.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        It is a matter of their brand image as well. This category is part of their marketing program.

  22. Vrooom says:

    I have to think that EBR’s total failure to be competitive in WSB, while pricing their bikes with the most expensive sport bikes made this a difficult proposition. A fuller lineup, with standards and sport tourers, a marketing agreement with someone who has a presence nationwide, and pricing that only had a small premium over the competition is the only way for them to be successful. If you’re going to spend $22K on a bike, and can buy the BMW S1000R, Yamaha R1, Ducati Panigale, Aprilia RSV, you’re going to have a difficult time justifying the Buell. The American made icon is worth something, just not $8-10K.

    • Jeckyll says:

      Yup. The fact that they saved a second+ per lap once that took that silly front brake off and when with a regular setup doesn’t say much for the engineering either.

      • Fred M. says:

        That says nothing about which brake works better for street riders. Having 40+ years of riding has taught me that things that work great on the track are often lacking for street use and vice-versa. The under-30 crowd thinks that they want a race bikes with lights, but I know just how disappointing and frustrating such a bike would be for street use.

        The reason for the ZTL Buell brakes is not to make a better brake, but rather to reduce unsprung weight to improve suspension performance. On a smooth WSBK circuit, that may not be as valuable as it is on the typical streets on which most of us ride, complete with potholes, sloppy paving, expansion joints, etc.

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          Fred, I own a Buell, too and am a street rider. A quality dual disk setup is worlds better than the perimeter on my XB. I will say the ZTL2 that came on the 1125s and later XB12s seemed to work really well, though I never got to push them as it wasn’t my bike.

          And I disagree with you… the low mass wheel assembly offers much more of an advantage on the track with the much faster rotational speeds and the more dynamic high-speed damping requirements. A typical street rider will never tell the difference.

          Everything Erik Buell has done was done to make a better track bike. Some of that may coincidentally make for a better street bike as well, but that was never the intent. It was Harley Davidson that really forced him to build street bikes. The 1190s are evidence of what he really wanted to build: uncompromising track tools.

          • Fred M. says:

            You’re conflating rotational inertia with unsprung weight (mass). Unsprung weight is the weight that moves up and down that the suspension must damp and control. How fast the wheel is spinning has no bearing on the mass — and the brake caliber(s), lower fork legs, and axle all factor into the unsprung weight.

            The 1190s are designed as street sport bikes. That’s why they did not adopt the short-stroke, high-RPM approach that Ducati did with the Panigale. And that’s why the 1190 EBR has significantly more torque in the range where it is most useful to a street rider. Conversely, it can’t achieve the horsepower numbers that the Ducati Panigale can. Compared to the Ducati, the EBR’s seat is wider, flatter, and more comfortable. The handlebars are higher and set at a less steep angle. The fairing is wider and taller, giving better wind protection on the road, sacrificing top speed on the track due to a larger frontal area.

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            “You’re conflating rotational inertia with unsprung weight (mass). ”

            No Fred, I’m not. The low unsprung mass is important for the up-down of the suspension as you said. The mass of the rotating assembly becomes important with respect to its rotational inertia as you again elude to: resistance to change direction, i.e. better turn-in and transitions. Two completely different benefits that a low-mass wheel assembly could yield.

            I am not claiming there is no benefit to lower unsprung mass – there clearly is. All I am saying is , from my experience, that modern forks can more than adequately damp the weight of of a traditional wheel set to the point that the benefits of the ZTL setup aren’t noticed, at least certainly not by an average street rider like myself. A good rider on a race track might be able to tell, though I can’t at the track either. All I can tell is that the ZTL on my Buell pales in comparison to a decent dual-disc setup. (From my short jaunt on a ZTL2-equipped 1125CR, that unit felt worlds better than the ZTL1 on my bike, but I don’t have enough experience with it to comment further.)

            As far as I am concerned, an 1190RX is no more a “street sport” bike than your typical literbike, all of which are noticeably more comfortable to ride than a Panigale. They all have ample amounts of torque for street riding, and all probably pumping out close to 50 ft-lbs a short stretch from idle.

        • JacksonV says:

          I agree that ZTL is sufficient for street use. However I’ve never heard of any sportbike suffering from excessive unsprung weight.
          Common problem with ZTL brakes is that the disc tends to wear at the mount points which leads to brake shudder.
          Typical cure is periodic disc replacement which isn’t a biggie as replacing the discs are kinda dirt cheap.
          Floating mount would’ve solved this issue but, it was never adopted because it’ll add “unsprung weight” and slightly reduced disc diameter.
          So much for superior engineering. I admire Erik for trying to be different but, hey it just wasn’t better.

          • Fred M. says:

            You wrote: “However I’ve never heard of any sportbike suffering from excessive unsprung weight.”

            So you’ve never heard any complaints about ride quality, front end feel, or suspension performance over rough road surfaces? Because all of those things are negatively affected by unsprung weight.

            The “Sportbike Performance Handbook” by Kevin Cameron has this to say:

            “Wheels, tires, and brakes constitute most of your machine’s unsprung weight — the part of the bike that is not isolated from bumps by springs. Unsprung weight is an important handling variable, and the lighter it is, the better.”

            It’s a continuous spectrum. Heavy is bad. Light is good. Lighter is better. There is not some point at which the bike handling just transitions from good to poor by the addition of an extra pound of unsprung weight.

          • JacksonV says:

            Hey Fred. Yeah, lighter is better but, the keyword here is “EXCESSIVE”.
            Can you name any sportbike adversly affected by having excessive unsprung weight? I certainly can’t.
            Let me state the obvious: unsprung weight is not the sole variable that determines handling/ride characteristics.

  23. Hot Dog says:

    Won’t ride em’
    if you can’t afford em’
    can’t build em’
    if you don’t buy em’.

  24. Seth says:

    IPO? Can’t believe the EB bikes weren’t found fun enough in the state of California to keep company from apparent downturn.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      “Can’t believe the EB bikes weren’t found fun enough”

      I think they were found too expensive for what they were.

      • Seth says:

        I said CA because of its excess wealth and interest in exotica. Of course we like sportsbikes in Brooklyn, but here its 3 year old ninjas, etc.

  25. GKS says:

    I wonder if there are any Harley-Davidson restrictions still in effect? If not, perhaps Bonbardier is still interested. After all, the current EBR engine is basically an improved version of the original Rotax 1125, now assembled in-house.

  26. roadrash1 says:

    I had 5 Buell motorcycles over an 11 year span. They were great, fun, innovative machines.
    During the early years, it was a sign of Spring, when they’d have all those fun bits of swag at demo rides. T-shirts, backpacks, cable locks. I still have it all.
    After HD killed them off, I moved on. For me, Triumph provides a similar fun vibe, and they make excellent sport bikes! The Street Triple is my fav.
    I wish Erik and the elves all the best, and hope they all land on their feet!

  27. Norm G. says:

    re: “We thought we had secured funding, but in the end, we were not able to get the funding in place.”

    wait, what…?

    • James says:

      Right! It sounds like the deal with Hero fell through.

    • Gary says:

      Fairly sure the funding was contingent on some sales success … and that they belly flopped from the very beginning. Your only hope in the car and motorcycle business is a blockbuster as a first offering.

  28. Eric says:

    I wonder if ‘Fiercely Independent’ has anything to do with Mr. Buell’s business problems. Don’t get me wrong, the man is an awesome engineer and has created some truly innovative bikes, but having worked with product designers and engineers for years I can tell you that the best ones can be very difficult to work with. The very traits that make them great – perfectionist, idealist, uncompromising – can doom them as business owners. First Harley, now Hero – just say’n…

  29. azi says:

    Running a premium boutique motorcycle brand must be like tap dancing on thin ice, especially when unsupported financially by bread-and-butter commodities. How could secured funding from Hero, one of the biggest commodity motorcycle producers, end up being unsecured? What happened in the board rooms?

    I also wonder when (not if) the new Norton will implode, given their astronomical pricing and delivery delays.

  30. Provologna says:

    Yawn.

  31. Jorge says:

    It looked like a $10k motorcycle that sold for $20k. I’m in shock. Wait…no not really.

  32. Trpldog says:

    Gotta be tough. I guess the only profitable businesses now days are are security cameras and apple watches.

    • Provologna says:

      You forgot war and banking. Where you find one, you find the other. Few nations fight wars with cash. It’s usually funded with debt.

  33. Mr.Mike says:

    It is a shame this deal fell through. Maybe the numbers just didn’t add up for the investors. Still – I follow a lot of tech news and am frequently shocked at the kind of trivial stuff that gets big $$ funding.

    • HS1-RD-CX100-VFR says:

      Pure conjecture, but you have to wonder if struggles over creative control or personality conflicts had anything to do with this. It’s hard to imagine that much else could come to light if Hero did do deligince in looking at the books before anoncing a tying of the knot.

  34. HS1-RD-CX100-VFR says:

    I remember someone predicting on this forum about three months ago that EBR would soon dominate all makes because their bikes were so far superior and that God was on their side. Who was that? What do they have to say now about their status as a prophet?

    • xLaYN says:

      lol, NG ask the prophet to tell the truth: if he was 11, was the last thing we knew about him.

    • Trpldog says:

      That’s non-profit.

    • JacksonV says:

      They were likely participants of an Online Reputaion Management Service.
      The aim is to dilute negative opinions, by means of forum manipulation.

      • Provologna says:

        Edward Snowden’s revelations included the fact that taxpayers fund covert operations such as moles who post in social forums to sway public opinions.

        • Colors says:

          Are you a plant? I mean not from the Government but one that grows leaves? Quite a stretch from Erik Buell to Snowden. Motorcycles man, we talk about motorcycles here.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: I remember someone predicting on this forum about three months ago that EBR would soon dominate all makes because their bikes were so far superior and that God was on their side.

      Q: Who was that?

      A: a 14 year old who referred to himself as DUDE iirc…

      http://tinyurl.com/nugyvnz

  35. Trpldog says:

    What a shock and bummer! I’ve owned three Buells and the third is currently my daily driver. All have been XB’s – 2 XB9’s and a XB12. I currently have almost 30,000 miles on the Lightning, and every XB has been absolutely stone reliable. It accelerates like a stone, but it rails corners like none of the 25+ bikes I’ve owned. I was really hoping EBR would take root and gain a solid foothold in the market. It appears to be too narrow of a niche to carry the brand. I guess I’ll mourn by firing up grandpa and eating a few more Ducs in the twisties. Sigh.

  36. Mike says:

    This is a shame, as I think the current bike is the culmination of all his design ideas, perfectly executed and truly unique in the market. I hope he finds a way to maintain service for the existing bikes that are out there. If EBR closes down, at least they went out on top of their game.

    Well done, Erik Buell.

  37. Tom R says:

    Narrowly-focused sport bikes seems sexy, but are apparently a bad business model.

  38. Chris says:

    I bought an E.B.R. 1190 SX last fall and it is by far the BEST bike I have owned! and I certainly hope the company can find the funding they need.

    • Gronde says:

      I certainly hope you can get parts for it if they do go belly up!

      • Tom H says:

        I own 2 1999 Excelsior Hendersons. Purchased them after they went belly up. I am still able to find parts for them. Pretty confident that Chris can enjoy his E.B.R. for quite a few more years without worries.

        I have a Buell Ulysses as well. It has over 60,000 miles with very few issues. Not worried about parts for it either.

        Hope Erik can find a way to put this together as well as the U.S. needs people like him.

  39. Blackcayman says:

    As much as I wanted Erik to succeed, If you were going to drop your 20 large on a Superbike which one would you buy?
    Aprilia RSV4 RR
    Ducati 1299 Panigale
    BMW S1000RR
    Yamaha R1

  40. Sanjay Sureassheet says:

    Getting into bed with Hero only put off the inevitable flea infestation for so long…

  41. xLaYN says:

    I wonder if the V2 configuration is the problem, not even almighty Honda could play that game (and Suz with the quasi encyclopedic TL), maybe a 3 in line/v3 or inline/v4 would have done the trick, remember the times from the 4 inline Triumph daytona?

    • Chris says:

      The V2 configuration doesn’t seem to be hurting Ducati at all.

      Lack of sales or slow sales are the problem. Hard to keep the doors open if you have more money going out than coming in.

      • xLaYN says:

        Indeed, I ate that part of my thought, Harley it’s another example but they are very well established brands (you don’t see any tourist comparison be won by HD).
        “Lack of sales or slow sales are the problem”
        Right, for any boutique brand a differentiating point is key, and as Blackcayman states above for that money I’ll prefer the Paningale.
        I would have like Erick to stay within HD wing and help develop and establish an all American sport breed of engines designed and built by them (I’m not sure if he is behind the revolution engine, if I’m not wrong that one was built by Rotax).

  42. Yoyodyne says:

    The economies of scale make it brutally difficult for EBR to compete price-wise with the likes of BMW, Ducati, Aprilia et al. The initial reviews I saw of the EBR 1190 sportbike were very favorable…

    • JacksonV says:

      Bigger mfgs can also afford more development/testing cost.
      And they have wealth of accumulated engineering knowledge and production techniques as well.
      IMO duking it out on the performance front was a huge mistake. The 1190 didn’t measure up to the competition.
      More and more people are working on lower wages for longer hours. Customers are more careful with their
      purchasing decisions these days. It is hard to imagine them choosing EBR over the more refined competition.
      A case of expensive product with insufficient demand. Relying on hype and patriotism was a mistake too.
      Quirky engineering gimmicks(different for the sake of it) and fugly looks didn’t help either.
      I hope Erik won’t repeat the same mistake on his next attempt.

  43. Michael H says:

    Just a guess here, but it sounds like the guy from India who was supposed to show up in East Troy with the briefcase full of money missed his flight.

    Buell is a brilliant designer and engineer. He isn’t quite as brilliant as a businessman. It’s very difficult to be good at both. Maybe this time, if Polaris calls Eric and offers him a really good job in the MC division, Eric won’t be as dismissive of that call.

    • Gronde says:

      Polaris is still on the Arlen Ness kick. Why would they want a talented Sportbike designer?

      • Mike Simmons says:

        Now that Polaris has Indian to satisfy the Harley/cruiser crowd they are going to have to do something with Victory. Who better than to lead Victory into a new market niche to compete with the Japs and the Euros than Erik Buell? Victory further diluting the cruiser niche just makes no sense. My .02

      • Michael H says:

        Polaris is winding down its relationship with Arlen Ness, There is only one Ness-branded Vic in the current line-up.

        Per the article, EBR has $20 million in payables. Polaris could buy the company at auction for that amount, or less, and have at least $10 million of engineering done on a line of sport bikes. Engineer out some costs, and there’s a new product line in a very short amount of time.

  44. Gary says:

    It is a pity. Eric Buell was a visionary and a risk taker. We need more like him. His undoing was a sudden and unexpected horsepower war triggered by electronic nannies. It is hard to compete against BMW, KTM, Ducati and the others with limited funding and a small, premium-priced product line.

    • Dave says:

      It’s even harder to compete against them without a dealer network. I had hoped Hero’s involvement would have helped them weather that storm.

  45. Tommy D says:

    I guess I’ll take my Firebolt out for another Buell closing memorial ride today. It seems that the only sellers in the moto-stores these days are the bikes under the $9K price range.

  46. Joe Bogusheimer says:

    It’s too bad, but not surprising. Not easy to keep a company afloat that only makes marginally competitive race bikes and rather expensive street bikes for a discerning few. It’s a shame, but it’s also been a while coming.

  47. mickey says:

    Well this is confusing. What about all the money from Hero? Tough to make a living making motorcycles. Anybody contemplating buying a Motus?

    • Blackcayman says:

      both American made motorcycle companies – other than that its one of the biggest Apples to Oranges mentions ever.

      yes, if one of my biz’s take off, I’m a Motus buyer.

      • mickey says:

        “Tough to make a living making motorcycles”

        Did you miss this part? Not apples to oranges at all. Small niche motorcycle companies have a really rough time making a go of it. If you consider buying a motorcycle from someone without solid financials you take the risk of someday in the not so distant future owning a motorcycle without a company to support it.

        • Norm G. says:

          re: “Small niche motorcycle companies”

          is their another kind…? (Col. Nathan R. Jessep voice, Commanding Officer, Ground Forces, GITMO)

          re: “you take the risk of someday in the not so distant future owning a motorcycle without a company to support it.”

          and how…

          but if only devaluing consumers (and their devaluing mentalities) had the wherewithal to substitute the word “dealer” in place of the word “company”, they would see this problem exists at the franchise level WELLLLL before they ever get to the manufacturer level.

        • Blackcayman says:

          mickey

          Apples – Trying to compete in the most hotly contested market segment where the worlds most successful brands build Superbikes to win races and then sell a version to the public.

          Oranges – Making a one-of-a-kind SPORT-touring bike for a few HUNDRED wealthy motorcyclists

          • Blackcayman says:

            see? Not the same thing

          • mickey says:

            Blackcayman

            If you buy a Motus, and they don’t sell enough of them to keep the doors open, aren’t you in the same predicament as the guy that bought an 1190SX from EBR? An owner of a motorcycle with no company to support it?

            See? Same thing.(at least it seems the same to me)

          • Blackcayman says:

            If you’re one of the very few motorcyclists that buy a Motus, you’re an “Early Adopter” and you can afford to take a risk to buy a “unique” bike. Motus actually has a significant market advantage (compared to EBR) building a true one-of-a-kind bike.

            The problem facing potential EBR buyers is spending 20 large is a risk which they wouldn’t have to bare if they chose one of the many other better Superbikes.

        • mickey says:

          I would think Motus as a company, would be more of a risk than EBR was with first Harley’s backing and then Hero’s backing. The Motus is not exactly unique, it has many sport touring motorcycles it has to compete with. The only unique feature about it is that it’s American made and uses 1/2 a Chevy engine. It uses sourced suspension, wheels, luggage, seat etc that is available on or for many bikes. The V4 engine layout is the same as the Honda ST 1100/1300 which has been around since 2003. It doesn’t even have many of the amenities available on most sport tourers today. It’s $34K to $37K price tag will ensure not many will be sold. The initial group of rich guys that can afford to risk the investment will get one and then who is going to buy one? Expensive, no dealer network or support, and probably in the near future no company to support it. Yep, some rich guys are likely going to have a very collectible one of a kind, one year production bike some day, IF they ever go into production. I applaud guys like Motus that have a vision, a dream and then make the dream a reality, but truth is these days if you can’t sell a boat load of something, you are not going to be in business for very long. Lots of money must come in for lots of money to go out. There are many examples unique motorcycles failing especially in the motorcycle world. Excelsior, Indian (many times), Horex, probably Norton in the near future (again) etc. Heck Motus doesn’t even have a heritage name to fall back on. Risky indeed. Wish them well, think they are really cool, but I wouldn’t risk my money buying one.

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            I have to agree with you. They are trying to sell a $15000 bike for $35000 and without the benefits of a dealer network or the promise of staying power. That is a tough sell.

          • Blackcayman says:

            “The V4 engine layout is the same as the Honda ST 1100/1300 which has been around since 2003”.

            Who cares? that bike is an uninspiring pig.

            The closest thing to an MV4 is an MS1200 at 20K – it is a hideous monster (have a look-see).

            “IF” the Motus was mass produced in the US, I could see it at $20-25K

            But that’s the point…it isn’t mass produced

            The Motus isn’t for eveyone, of that I’m glad. They are looking for:

            300 sales a year

            Its a luxury item for a select few.

            I hope to be able to be one of those.

            By the way, It would really cost me a lot more than that… I’ll have to pay off the house before I could justify to myself dropping 30K on a motorcycle. So call it $330K

          • mickey says:

            ST 1300 na na na na na naaaa

            Seriously, what sport touring rider would want to listen to that for a 5000 mile trip? besides a Motus for the street would not sound like that fitted with legal approved for noise compliance mufflers.. guaranteed

            and an ST 1330 with 2 brothers racing pipes doesn’t sound half bad, ever heard one?

          • mickey says:

            here ya go listen at the 30 and 59 second marks.

            https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Honda+ST+1300+with+two+brothers+racing+exhaust

            BTW I run stock exhaust on mine, I’m not spending 12 hours on the road listening to a muffler drone.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      “What about all the money from Hero?”

      You’ll find it languishing at EBR and EBR dealers in the form of unsold bikes and parts. I don’t know the details of the Hero deal, but Hero likely committed to the investment in phases: such as we buy this much of the company now for $X, you deliver $Y results by this date, then we give you $Z for the rest of the equity we committed to. It could be that Hero didn’t like what they were seeing and chose to cut their losses.

      Even if Hero went all in with the $25 million, it wouldn’t take long to eat through it. Production and distribution planning and execution, an unproductive race program, minimum production run quantities to qualify to compete in the race series. It can go up in smoke fast.