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EBR Changes Hands, Yet Again, But What Does It Mean? (Opinion)

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The insolvency proceedings of Erik Buell Racing began a roller-coaster ride for Buell owners and fans. A liquidation sale of the brand and its assets to one buyer has now fallen through, and a new buyer (Liquid Asset Partners) now apparently controls the fate of EBR.

Although LAP has announced plans to make parts available, and even begin production of new motorcycles by the middle of March, we are skeptical that EBR is truly on the road to viability as a motorcycle brand. In part, this is because LAP appears to be a specialist in liquidating assets, not manufacturing motorcycles for an incredibly competitive market. Indeed, LAP appears focused on bringing the motorcycle brand to a point where it can find a new investor to purchase EBR or finance its full recovery. In other words, EBR has a long way to go.

We certainly wish them the best of luck, not only because of our respect for founder Erik Buell, but because we truly believe there is a market for high performance motorcycles offered by a U.S. manufacturer. When we tested the EBR 1190RX at Indy, we were thoroughly impressed. Despite this, the realities of competing in today’s motorcycle market are stark, and daunting.


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98 Comments

  1. Ron says:

    YAWN.

    EBR is done. Time for everyone to accept it.

  2. daveA says:

    It’s interesting…I’ve always admired Buell and his efforts, and I’ve always enjoyed reading about the various innovations, interesting models, racing efforts etc. All of that said, something just now occurred to me that I’ve never thought about before, and that is for all the coolness, innovation, dedication, and general coolness, Buell hasn’t ever produced a motorcycle that I actually want to own. Am I alone on this?

    Maybe it is time to move on…?

    • motorico says:

      I actually like the looks of the XB line. It was purposeful and didn’t have to manage radiators.

      I also grew to appreciate the look of the 1125 models. My main complaint about the pods being the pointed front. I wish it had flowed better.

    • Bart says:

      He once made a coffee table that could work for me.

  3. Fast Eddie says:

    “What does it mean” I can remember some guy on YouTube saying that when he saw a double rainbow. Stare at it for a moment and walk away. The horse is dead, beating is isn’t going help. Erik Buell,great guy, innovative bikes. Call it a day, go riding, spend time with family. “And” if Erik really wants to continue building bikes, set up a nice garage, build away and have fun.

  4. Vic Hedges says:

    My guess is that Buell turned up his nose at the VR-1000 engine that later appeared in the V-Rod and Harley management stepped on him for that ill considered move. HD put a lot of money into that project which was never intended for use in a cruiser and as originally envisioned was a pure sport bike project.
    Mr. Buell shot himself through the head on that one and was dumped at the side of the road as a result. The XL engines while fun in a way for heavy wrenchers 😉 could only have been an interim solution until the VR-1000 was ready. The basic design appeared in 1957 and there was not anyone who did not then or does not now understand that it is and can only be a vintage effort.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      Actually, the V-Rod engine was originally intended for the next gen Buells. Harley hijacked the project and essentially added too much weight and girth to the engine in the name of aesthetics making the engine unworkable in a sport bike platform. Below is Buell responding to an interview question on the matter:

      We asked: It seemed like the 1125 platform was just breaking through. Do you regret not making the switch to a liquid-cooled motor sooner?

      “Absolutely. And we tried, and couldn’t pull it off. I built the prototype of the 1125 in 1988, so it took me 20 years to get it to market. And then we had another run at it, we were actually supposed to have a water-cooled bike out by 1998, but that became the motor, Harley Davidson decided to take the motor and changed it into a cruiser motor and that became the V-Rod. But it actually started out as our engine. We were trying to get a water-cooled bike. It was actually scheduled to launch, it was ready to launch in Europe in ’98.

      • Blackcayman says:

        Unlike Lotus, HD added heaviness

      • mickey says:

        Cant imagine the Vrod motor being used in a sportbike, not because of its performance charachteristics but due to it’s length front to back. Holy cow what a wheelbase it would have to have a sportbike.

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          Exactly. That is why Buell couldn’t use it. H-D brass decided mid-project to share the engine between Buell and Harley to benefit from scale, but H-D had to make it “look right” for a cruiser the result of which made the engine unusable for Buell.

        • daveA says:

          What Erik was saying wasn’t literally that this was the exact motor. What he was saying was that a) he had a design for many years and b) when the time came to put effort into making a liquid cooled motor from Harley a reality, it was originally going to be developed for Buell. Then priorities shifted, and the V-Rod motor was created instead, for use in the V-Rod. It wasn’t that the V-Rod motor was actually the exact motor that was going to power Buell bikes.

  5. Ken House says:

    I own an EBR 1190SX. The EBR bikes are amazing. If the strength of the brand depends on the quality of it’s products, then EBR is certain to return to the marketplace. The current owners want that to happen, Erik is working with them, and it’s currently an all-American operation. EBR has a lot to offer, and LAP provides a solid foundation. More power to them. Never quit!

    Ken

  6. BrianInWisco says:

    Perhaps going to the source is a better idea than bench racing and speculation. Interesting quote from SBP

    http://www.jsonline.com/business/erik-buell-racing-hopes-to-restart-motorcycle-production-in-march-b99662505z1-367281991.html

    • Bob says:

      From the article: “The goal is to produce 2016 model-year motorcycles while, at the same time, Liquid Asset Partners seeks a buyer or investors for Erik Buell Racing.”

      The question is, how long will they be willing to bleed red until they find a buyer/investor?

      Bob

    • Michael Haz says:

      My take away is that LAP is putting a little money into the deal, turning on the lights in the engineering department, and then looking for someone else to show up with the money. I hope this works, but we’ve seen this play out before with EBR.

      • Jorge says:

        Exactly. But it won’t work.

        Eric is Ernest Shackleton not Steve Jobs, he could never accomplish his goal but could always convince investors and people to join him in trying.

        Reminds me of the brain dead Motorcyclist Magazine journos that kept repeating that the 999 Ducati didn’t have to be beautiful. Here’s a group of guys that shop at Walmart for clothes. They could not begin to understand the buyer or the market for that kind of machine. The 999 arrived at a time when luxury spending was at an all time high and thus only kept the sales target of the previous model. Low foreheads think that defines it as a success but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Looking at market share and growth of other motorcycle companies, Ducati realized it had to be redesigned and quickly because a huge market opportunity was being lost. When the 1098 was released their superbike sales doubled that year. Too bad the next year the economy went to…

        Point of this bedtime story is engineers aren’t designers. They have bad taste in clothes, like Eric in that article picture. Bob Lutz even went so far to say that in the auto world designers should even get paid more than the CEO. He’s probably right.

        • azi says:

          I prefer the 999’s styling over the 1098. I think it’s aged quite well.

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            I didn’t care for the 999 when it came out. Now, it is one of my favorite sport bike designs.

          • Scott says:

            I still don’t like the ’03 version, but in ’05 they made some subtle changes that made the bike much better looking. I especially like the ’05 and up ‘S’ and ‘R’ models…

            They’re still horrible street bikes, but they are magnificent on the track. They feel like they’re on rails going around corners… 👍

  7. Neil says:

    I sat on one and the clutch was so stiff as to be almost useless. Perhaps better once running. BMW 1KRR the same tho a bit better. Like anything else, they need some of these bikes on the roads showing people that they can take everyday riding without breaking. Sell an affordable version to get the name out there. I had the M2 briefly back in the day and it shook too much in traffic. I think today the big news is the return on the SUZ SV650. I have a CB500F after many larger bikes and most of the time, it is plenty of motor. 17 tooth front sprocket for a little more highway legs. Penske rear shock. Rock n Roll.

  8. Tom R says:

    This is a bruised and bloodied brand. It should be allowed to die.

    • Gary says:

      Many said that about Indian too, and now look where it’s at.

      • Blackcayman says:

        Because Polaris bought them.

        That’s why so many slavishly cling to them buying EBR, but it ain’t happening.

        The Indian name & history had VALUE.

        • motorico says:

          I also don’t see the value associated with the EBR brand. The “racing” part of the name didn’t ever produce outstanding success.

          The Indian brand had a long, storied past which had emotional and therefore monetary value. The EBR brand is quite obscure in comparison.

          The IP bound up in EBR is of questionable market value. If there were great benefit to the technology, others would have licensed it from them. Granted, they may be waiting out the patents like BMW did with the Duolever front end.

          Everything I have read seems to indicate that the perimeter brake never performed as well as a comparable set of twin rotored brakes. I understand why the choice was made, but the actual benefit seems to not have mattered in racing. I have read that the fuel boils in the frame on some bikes. I can’t say I have experienced that, but it seems to indicate a potential issue. I do know that massive slab of aluminum gets quite warm on my XB.

          I am not a hater of EBR. I just question the viability of the company. The “race” market for bikes is not large and it is extremely competitive. Instead of producing great street bikes, like the XBs, they went after the checkered flag. Thing is, only the winner gets the spoils in racing.

  9. Michael Haz says:

    Anyone buying the EBR bones will need to bring about $100 million to the table in order to get bikes into production and onto dealers’ showroom floors.

    That’s a very tall order, and there are few buyers chasing Buell that have that capital. This version won’t end well, either.

  10. azi says:

    Buell’s journey reminds me of several UK auto makers in the 20th century, such as William Lyons’ tight control of Jaguar and Alexander Hesketh’s v-twin enterprise. A lot of power riding with one person who could make or break the direction of the business.

    “Committee management” might sound unsexy, but you have to admit that it can be a good safety net when implemented wisely – it can prevent the rise and fall of a business from depending entirely on one personality.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      Committee management is what Buell had at Harley Davidson. The wrong committee can be just as hazardous as the wrong person.

      • azi says:

        The Harley Davidson decision remains enigmatic to me. HD sold off MV Agusta brand equity at a loss, but treated it as a trading asset. In contrast they handled Buell like scorched earth – “no one can have the brand, ever.” What *really* happened during that period between HD management and Erik Buell that resulted in the brand’s cremation? Perhaps the whole story will never be revealed in candid form.

        • Michael Haz says:

          HD was outta cash; Buell was absorbing cash. HD had an imperative to cut costs. It bailed on Buell, it bailed on MV Agusta, heck, it even shuttered a Milwaukee manufacturing facility which now has become a U-Haul location. It re-negotiated its union contracts.

          It was a difficult time in the economy, and many HD customers got put out of work.

          • azi says:

            Steve Anderson’s Cycle World article from 2011, the one most often cited by commenters, doesn’t provide the full story. HD’s fear of a competing motorcycle in HD dealerships doesn’t seem a good enough reason to wipe the Buell brand off the face of the earth during their fire sale. All they had to do was sell the brand equity to another interest, and come to an agreement not to allow Buell on HD dealer floors. As far as I know, no one is currently allowed access to the Buell trademark.

            Coming back to committee management: Jeremy I think it was the right committee for HD’s financial interests, but not for Buell. EB trusted the directors too much by assuming Buell was a core interest of HD, when it fact it was just a sideshow being toyed with.

          • cw says:

            So was there no attempt to sell Buell or no buyer?

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            There was no attempt to sell.

          • The Spaceman says:

            Which is itself utterly bizzare when you consider that at the time of the Bush economic crash, HD was coming off over a decade of customers waiting in line to buy every motorcycle they could produce. They even “forced” buyers to purchase Buells in order to get in queue for a big-twin model.

            The executives and board at HD should have been thrown out of the company by the stockholders. HD…lining up at the government cheese truck for a bailout courtesy of the taxpayers. Even AMF was better than that.

        • dino says:

          Buell was using HD motors and more, so it was more complicated to separate. I assume there was probably some words said on both sides that made it a very messy divorce.

          MV Agusta was nothing more than an investment for HD, like a baseball card they thought they could make money with. Maybe thought it would get them some street cred also?

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          No details are available, so I don’t know anything about H-D’s decision to fold Buell vs. sell the brand other than what they’ve stated pubicly. But I’ve been involved with enough similar decisions in other companies to know that the reason they presented publicly for dropping the hammer just doesn’t make sense. BMC was a viable, standalone business with a loyal customer base and well known brand. A phased transition to pull Buell out of H-D dealerships could have easily been planned and a condition of the sale. H-D could have also continued providing the XB engines and parts to the new owner thus maintaining a revenue stream assuming it made sense to keep the manufacturing line going.

          I’m just speculating here, but I suspect the reason for closing Buell had to do with egos and the fallout that might occur at the upper echelons of H-D management should Buell become truly successful under new ownership.

  11. chris says:

    I am the proud owner of both a 2009 Buell XB 12 Firebolt and a 2014 E.B.R. 1190 I have owned B.M.W.s and several Ducati’s and the bikes that continue to hold up and put a smile on my face and handle like no others are the Buell and E.B.R. and they have both been as reliable as any thing out there, give Mr. Buell and his core crew proper support and backing, (something both H.D. and Hero) did not do (read the stories they are out there) and you will see some truly phenomenal bikes.

  12. Tim says:

    If you’re looking for a great deal on a sport bike, some of the EBR models are going for under $10,000. Parts may be an issue in the future, but you can ride the wheels off of it wear it out at that price.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      That is a lot of motorcycle for that kind of money for sure, but for $10K I think one would be much better off buying a used liter bike from a company still in business if the intent is to ride the wheels off of it.

      • My2Cents says:

        Although tempting as it might be I agree several other under 10k options are out there. I cant remember the release msrp on that motorcycle but I’m thinking it was 30k for the high zoot version.

  13. Hewlett Hermit says:

    In the previous comments I see a common thread that I’ve seen over the years in relation to discussions of Buell (and EBR) motorcycles. That is, most of those with negative comments about these bikes have never owned one. At the moment I own several motorcycles including a 2006 Buell XB9R. If I had to sell off my bike fleet , the XB9R would be the last to leave. I bought it new and it’s been trouble free and is always fun to ride on the twisty mountain roads we have here in VA.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      Buell/EBR conversations certainly do seem to attract very polarizing views ranging from unfounded vitriol to euphoric delusion with not too much in between. I don’t know why that is, but the discussion here has remained pretty calm and level-headed. So far.

      I really don’t see much in this comment section expressing negativity about the bikes themselves; the negativity seems to be focused more on BMC and EBR as business entities. And frankly, an opinion on business viability is not inherently negative or positive any more than an umpire calling a ball or strike is negative or positive. I don’t see how owning one of the bikes should change a person’s opinion on that.

    • Provologna says:

      I owned about 70+ bikes. Of all of them, the worst, by infinite margin, was my Buell Ulysses. I would be embarrassed to show my face if I designed and sold that bike. I sold it within a few weeks (really, less than a month). An absolutely miserable POC. First freeway speed (not “excessive” by mc standards, estimate 75mph), N. on California 101 between Novato and Petaluma, the god-forsaken windshield flies off the cowl, hits the top of my helmet, breaks earth’s gravitational field, and flies off to Alpha Centauri. It takes me about an hour to find it. We all know how much fun is it to search for stuff on the freeway as your friends and neighbors speed by. Eric presumed rubber grommets were appropriate fasteners, which BTW, is absolute fail. Really? A mushroom stem in a rubber grommet?

      The Ulysses exhibits felonious vibration at idle. Yes, if it’s not illegal it should be. By comparison, a vintage Norton 750, well tuned by Monroe Motors when our beloved Pat roamed the halls, is a Wankel motor (I rode a Norton and also drove my buddy’s Mazda RX-8).

      Front fork dive is beyond comprehension. Yes, I’m heavier than average, but still this exceeds any other OEM bike real or imagined.

      In case you are curious about the single front 14″ rotor, the braking system is dog meat. I hated it. It sucks.

      My ’74 Suzuki GT550 triple 2-stroke was supremely better overall than the Ulysses. Loved that mid range air-intake howl, even if it was a little extreme in magnitude.

      So there’s your long-sought after first hand hate report. Hope you enjoyed it.

      Eric’s bikes can rot in hell.

      • stinkywheels says:

        I wish I could’ve picked up your Uly cheap. In the Big Horns or Black Hills (where I live) it sure keeps up with pure sport bikes and does our dirt roads without shaking anything off. I like only having one set of brake lines/pads per wheel, especially at fluid change time. Great seat, low maintenance engine (rough idle, annoying fan though),too small tank, great Hepco Becker luggage, low maintenance belt drive. See ya in hell riding his bikes.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        Haha. The windshield on my Ulysses did the same thing. Deflected right off my helmet.

      • Bart says:

        Provo, I owned about half as many bikes. Does that mean I have twice as much experience on ’em?!!

        I totally agree with ‘ya on the U-bike; it’s one of the worst bikes I ever rode this century. My neighbor used to carry them at his HD dealership. He brought one down to baja once, said I could ride it as much as I want. I told him I’d see if I could set it up for him (many years experience doing this sort of thing, road/race/dirt/etc.)

        I turned screws, adjusted this and that, tried everything. It was just the weirdest bike ever. And totally useless on loose dirt rancho roads or over any kind of bumps/rocks. Bottomed out/ wants to go wide/twitchy off/onto the gas. Having the handlebars fwd of the stem is just wrong. Front brake totally sucked, no feel on loose surfaces at all. And that fan! Totally annoying! After a few days I gave it back, told him there wasn’t much I could do for it, and don’t take it near the dirt!

        Riding my KTM 950A never felt so good after that experience!

    • Joe Bogusheimer says:

      Unfortunately, it’s hard to keep a business solvent selling bikes to a small group of brand enthusiasts. Buell’s failure was in ever convincing a sufficient number of people to give them a try.

      A lot of people experienced a lot of problems with the earlier Buell models, many related to the intense vibration from the air-cooled Sportster 1200 derived engine. And I know for myself, and a lot of others, there was just no interest in a bike with a Sportster-derived engine in it.

      The most recent models were more enticing from a mechanical point of view, but expensive and weirdly styled, and didn’t really offer much that considerably cheaper Japanese bikes offered, and without the cachet that goes with a “premium” brand like Ducati or BMW.

      Overall, a tough row to hoe.

  14. rg500g says:

    This is ridiculous. Don’t blame the backers, blame the company that did not produce enough profit to interest the backers. Had Buell created products that captured enough market share and generated enough margin he’d be in business today. I know every company starts in the red and the viable ones get out of it and make a profit, and his backers knew that too. His slope from red to black was too shallow and his market segment prospects just were not there.

    Until he got into the Rotax engine he brought knives to a gun fight in the sport bike segment, and even when he got the Rotax he had (to be expected) teething problems and his product even once tuned up was a nose to a neck behind his competition and he had no marked price offset with which to compete. It just didn’t add up and emotions don’t pay the bills.

    I’ll call Buell the Tucker or Delorean of the bike business, or maybe Bricklin. Visionary bikes are the realm of the bespoke or 500 unit boutique marques like Motus. Had he stuck to the Motus model maybe he’d be here today. He wanted to become an industrial player and that’s a numbers game through and through. His stuff just was not engineered or packaged to survive in that market space. It needs to die and be left to the memories of those who have a hankering for lost causes, like Delorean lovers.

    OY, now there’s a hoot – buy a ‘new’ Delorean for well north of $100K. I think a bottom rank Corvette or Porsche Cayman would thrash the living daylights out of it in every respect (save the doors) for tens of thousands less. That’s the difference between emotion and business.

    • Blackcayman says:

      here here

    • My2Cents says:

      Very well said. Even the whole Motus aim seems odd. I high end sport touring motorcycle which I assume is intended for travel, and trapped to local road venues by the fact that’s parts will be rare beyond home base, and who to work on it? I applaud the mind of some of these custom builders but for everyday or distance use they become a hole you pour money into.

    • Jorge says:

      Tapping my knuckle on the table. Well said. My only add is at least Delorean understood the impact of design on the consumer. And Delorean did make quite the impact before he left GM to start his own car company. Neither can be said of EB. Poor ideas, poor execution, bad design, and folks wonder why he didn’t make it.

    • Fred_M says:

      You wrote: “Don’t blame the backers, blame the company that did not produce enough profit to interest the backers.”

      We should be blaming Hero MotoCorp, which stiffed EBR for about $20 million they owed. From RoadRacing World, April 29,2015:

      “Insiders say that Hero has not paid EBR about $20 million owed for engineering and design work EBR did on 13 new Hero models for the Indian market. EBR bore the expense of the engineering and design work, then ran out of operating capital while waiting to be paid for that work, those insiders said.”

      After driving EBR into receivership, Hero struck a deal with the court to buy the EBR consulting business for $2.8 million. That got them the rights to all of the R&D and design work that EBR did on the 13 Hero models for about 15% of the ~$20 million they owed EBR. Hero also contacted newly unemployed engineers from EBR and tried to hire them to work at Hero.

      Hero further clouded the transaction by insisting that they be given excessive time to lay claim to assets. That extended past when the first payment was owed by the purchaser of the remainder of EBR, a Mr. Bruce Belfer. The banks, being unable to know exactly what Hero would claim to be part of the consulting business they bought, backed out of providing the financing to Belfer.

      You wrote: “Until he got into the Rotax engine he brought knives to a gun fight in the sport bike segment, and even when he got the Rotax he had (to be expected) teething problems and his product even once tuned up was a nose to a neck behind his competition and he had no marked price offset with which to compete.”

      1. Erik Buell did not choose to exclusively use the HD-based powerplant. HD refused to let him source another engine until the end. Harley’s price for the air-cooled engine ballooned over the initial estimate, with Buell being forced to raise the price of its bikes to cover the increased cost.

      2. The engine was not a Rotax, but it was co-developed with Rotax. EBR later brought all R&D and production in-house, increasing displacement from 1125cc to 1190cc while making significant changes to the engine that increased horsepower by about 40. It was far more than just bore and/or stroke, resulting in an engine that shared a surprisingly small number of parts with its 1125cc predecessor.

      3. The engine was never designed to be a race engine, hence the unusual displacement of 1125cc. It was designed to have a flat torque “curve” from 3,500 to 10,500, giving up peak horsepower to increase the area under the torque curve. That lead to a sport bike that was faster on the street than most of the competition that beat it on the track.

      Erik Buell Racing should have been Erik Buell Motorcycles, avoiding racing altogether. They should have concentrated on their core audience; experienced sport bike riders who understand that a sport bike engineered to win on the track is poorly suited to riding on the street. As Cycle World wrote when comparing the EBR 1190RS to the Ducati 1199 Panigale: “The EBR’s seat is broader, flatter, and more comfortable. The bars are higher and set at a less steep angle, plus the fairing is wider and taller, giving better wind protection on the road… The EBR gets the nod on the road, though, even with its mechanically noisier, harsher engine and heavy clutch, primarily because it performs as well as the Duc but asks for less sacrifice from its enthusiastic rider.”

  15. Dino says:

    Buell should replace the Ness empire… Rather than ‘styling” the bikes for Victory, Buell could womp them up, and give them a chance at a sporty standard or proper sportbike..

    Use the EBR motor, or work some magic on the Scout motor. He did some good work on the Harley motors, even though it made them shake more than a Paint mixer with a few bolts loose!

  16. GKS says:

    Now that LAP apparently is the owner of the EBR brand and its assets, where does this leave Erik Buell? I don’t think that he has any connection with the current company, except that as a former company founder, president and investor whose investment is gone.
    Is he waiting to give it another try, thinking the 3rd time will be the one that makes it?

  17. George says:

    I admire Eric Buell and his innovations.

    Many of his ideas have been carried over in many other designs by other manufacturers. For example the mass centralization, which is the core of his designs, can be seen in many dirt bikes and street bikes.

    On the street bikes, the compact exhaust maintained underneath the engine instead of a muffler extending away from the engine is an example of mass centralization.

    There are many dirt bikes and street bikes that have the fuel in the area under the seat and the airbox up where the fuel tank usually is. This is another example of mass centralization.

    Some of his other ideas such as fuel in the frame and his parameter brake disc, are neat innovations on paper. However, they fail in practicality for various reasons.

    The fuel in the frame fails primarily because the quality of fuel we can buy at the local gas station is unstable crap and can’t stand being heated above ambient temperature. The typical pump gas has a very short storage life at ambient temperatures before it begins to degrade by volatilizes away and becomes practically unusable.

    As to the future of EBR, I don’t foresee them ever being a really successful brand.

    As for the discussion of Polaris buying EBR, personally, I’d like to see Polaris build a real sport bike. Not an EBR. But a Polaris sport bike.

    Buying EBR would give them a lot of information about how to design a sport bike and how not to design a sport bike. But only IF Polaris wanted to expand their line into it sport bikes.

    Polaris is teasing some new bike to be released later this month. Will it be a sport bike?

    • mickey says:

      I don’t think Eric Buell was even out of college yet when the Honda 1975 Goldwing came out with the fuel tank under the seat, and air intake and electronics up where the fuel tank used to be, lowering center of gravity and aiding mass centralization.

      I think also in 1975 Triumph ran oil thru their frames (not fuel though) that didn’t work out for them either

      no one has adapted his perimeter braking idea

      I might give him kudos on the muffler idea though (although to me they look funny)

      • Fred_M says:

        Fuel-in-frame worked out very well. The frame is very light, very stiff, and the bike doesn’t suffer handling woes from fuel slosh or a high Cg when the tank is full. Of course other manufacturers don’t do that: Erik Buell has patents on fuel-in-frame motorcycle designs.

        I’ve got two Buells, an XB12Ss and an 1125CR. Neither of themn has problems with the fuel. But I try keep fresh fuel in them, ride them long distances, and store them with fuel stabilizer in the ‘off-season’.

        The placement of the airbox where the tank normally resides gives advantages of a large airbox and a very straight shot into the carbs for better breathing.

        The perimeter brakes work very well with the right pads on them, but they are a little grabby with the factory pads. But the reason for the perimeter brakes is not to improve braking but, rather, to reduce unsprung weight for better handling — something Buell motorcycles are known for.

        Also, give Erik Buell credit for having the first “upside-down” forks on a production sport bike.

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          The fuel in my Buell boiled during the summer. Never seemed to cause any issues, though.

          Buell’s patent on the fuel frame expired in 1996, I think, so nothing is keeping anyone else from using it. I think aesthetics is probably the primary reason rather than some fundamental issue with the design, and the airbox placement it allows is really only beneficial to a V-twin layout. Fuel-in-frame motorcycles are nothing new having been around since the early 1900s, but Buell’s twin spar design is quite clever.

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          Also, I think credit for the first USD fork on a production sport bike goes to Suzuki, does it not?

          And I meant 2006, not 1996. However, I looked it up, and it looks like the fuel frame patent was granted in 1990 which means it would have expired in 2004.

        • Scott says:

          Mmmmm… Gonna go with the ’89 Ducati 851 on those USD forks… (And only in the “modern” style as we know them, at that).

  18. Grover says:

    Here we go again….

  19. My2Cents says:

    Wishing EBR would disappear like Buell. Watched Buell motorcycles piggyback on Harley for years with some truly awful results. Like the Indian had done years back when borrowing Harley engine design for a Indian motorcycle, completely foolish thinking. Polaris has done Indian right and perhaps they might purchase EBR but I think it would be an error, the EBR and Buell thinking is too narrowly focused for the market. You can give Mr. Buell credit for some cool designs but nobody is rushing to copy in frame fuel, swing arm oil tanks, of perimeter brake rotors.

    Motorcycle designs that made sense, had popular vocal support from customers fell flat on the showroom floor. All brands have suffered this “build it and we will buy” attitude that never panned out.

    Mr. Buell would be best employed by Victory in a design format. This way his mind and talent could still be useful and current.

    • Chrisgo says:

      FWIW I loved my XB12R. Amazing bike in the corners. I do not agree with the “truly awful results” statement. I miss that bike more than any of my Japanese sportbikes…

      • Sunshine says:

        I agree with Chrisgo. I really enjoy my Buell Blast. Wish it had a bigger gas tank, but it is a good ride, even alongside my other half’s Harley Classic.

        • My2Cents says:

          Groundhog day, I have never heard anyone admit to owning a B-Last let alone giving a positive note to the ownership of one. All kidding aside your ride is your own choice and really I shouldn’t have discounted the ownership of Buell’s so to anger someone. But simple enough Buell is out of business and I did credit him for thinking beyond the average, and wish he was in with Victory so his talents could be used. Hey I rode a scooter once but didn’t let anyone take a picture. Sorry for the poor choice of words, so I’ll demote that to “questionable appearance”.

        • mickey says:

          Really? Heck EB himself said they were horrible and began crushing them into cubes and selling them as end tables.

      • Jdilpkle says:

        Yep. I’ve owned 3 big Buells, and my every day ride currently is an XB9SX. Best handling motorcycle I’ve ever owned or ridden – once set up correctly. I’ve owned over 25 bikes – everything from a H1 Kawasaki to a Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans to a Rickman-framed Honda 750 since 1974. Bummer things went the way they did for Erik. The EBR looked to be a pretty good one to have had. I agree, the XB would be certainly the last to go. The Drummer muffler sounds glorious and the Buell’s quick turn-in into a corner and its flick-ability make you laugh inside your helmet. I hope the Buell haters hate for a long time because it leaves more available for those who know what they are talking about.

    • Fred_M says:

      Since there are legal ramifications to copying patented technologies like fuel-in-frame or perimeter brakes, I’m not surprised that you don’t see many other brands employing them. You didn’t see many other brands copying the underslung exhaust until the patent expired.

      As an owner of a Buell XB12Ss and an 1125CR, I would not call his results “awful.” I love both of those bikes. He started with a Harley engine that was making about 60hp, coaxed about 100hp out of it, and managed to package it into a sport bike that was one of the lightest, and quickest handling, in the market.

      Buell motorcycles “fell flat on the showroom floor” because they were only sold in Harley showrooms. The salespeople at most of the Harley dealerships ranged from apathetic to openly hostile about Buell bikes and the customers who rode them. On top of that, most riders looking for sport bikes were about as likely to venture into a Harley dealership as they were to wear Hello Kitty riding gear.

      After the company was resurrected as EBR, many potential customers (including me) were waiting for EBR to gain more of a foothold in the market — to be clearly profitable and viable — before be bought one of their bikes. I feel bad about that, but I just could not justify $19K on a bike only to find myself with a worthless warranty and no source of parts.

  20. stinkywheels says:

    He only needs to piggyback with someone who has a dealership network. Make all the electronic gizmos optional.

  21. proheli says:

    Maybe if the last two bikes would have been selling there would be more excitement and interest. Personally, I think that with the price range of the EBR bikes you’re too close to the high end brands, like Ducati, which means your bike has to be very good looking or its not going to sell. There were no aesthetics to the EBR and it wasn’t going to move in big enough numbers to do anything. It needs an amazing designer, so we are all blown away by how incredible looking it is, then we would all be inspired to go out and purchase one. I think that is the reality of the 20K sport bike.

  22. Auphliam says:

    I think LAP’s strategy can be summed up pretty simply. If you want to sell a motorcycle, you’ll get more money for it if its in good running condition than you will a basket case. If you want to sell a motorcycle company, better for it to be up and producing product than sitting in crates in a warehouse. The more “turn key” the operation is, the better ROI for LAP.

  23. Jeremy in TX says:

    LAP is an asset flipper. Same as a house flipper, all they are doing right now is throwing on a little paint and trying to increase the curb appeal. They hope that some sucker is going to jump in and buy EBR intact for $3.5 million or so. If they come to the conclusion that it won’t happen, they’ll shutter it and sell off the pieces in a heartbeat. I’d like to be wrong, but I don’t think I am.

  24. todd says:

    I think the original success of Buell was due to them selling reasonably priced, middle market sport bikes. When they started to become premium and competing with the established leaders that’s when things started to collapse. There are probably many, many more people who are interested in an American Buell that comes in between a Ducati 696 and a Yamaha FZ-09 both in terms of performance and price than there are people clammering for an expensive Panigale alternative.

    • Auphliam says:

      To be fair, really the only thing that Buell has failed at is getting into business with the wrong benefactors. Both impromptu shutdowns of his business were directly caused by whomever was paying the bills stopping payment. HD pulled the plug on his production and his entire dealer network the first time around, and Hero propped him up with promises of piles of money and high expectations and then kicked the legs out from under the business.

    • stinkywheels says:

      It’s too bad Victory didn’t get into his company. They’ve got an engine (Indian) he could use.

    • motorico says:

      As a current owner of an XB9, you nailed it. I am curious about the XSR900 because it has similar torque to my current motorcycle but a higher top end. I love the juxtaposition of the Thunderstorm motor to the great chassis on the XB. I do wish it had more punch up top but that motor can’t deliver the higher HP because of the basic design. It is still great fun.

      I don’t need the abundant power of the 1190 motor. I understand why they needed that power to compete in racing. It is entirely overkill for the street. I was hoping for a more modest version to come to light but given the racing focus, I doubt that would ever happen.

      It is unfortunate that Buell did have the Ulysses yet missed the surge in the adventure market. It is a decent adventure motorcycle from what I read. However the pursuit of the elusive checkered flag delayed that model.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      I think that is right on the money. Buells were always priced towards the upper end of the spectrum and carried price tags comparable to the Ducati Monster and Speed Triple, but like those two bikes they were somewhat unique and offered a different experience than what was on offer by the mainstream. Going from that to the EBR philosophy of building a high dollar race replica that, while very capable, didn’t really offer much to differentiate it from its competitors. Even Ducati relies on the Monster (and now the Scrambler) to put it into the black each year. You need to build a foundation with bread winners before you try to reach for the sun.

    • Jorge says:

      “…the realities of competing in today’s motorcycle market are stark, and daunting”

      100% true if you produce an unsightly motorcycle no one wants.

  25. mickey says:

    “the realities of competing in today’s motorcycle market are stark, and daunting.”

    Roger that!

  26. TexinOhio says:

    So is EBR going to change hands a few more times before Polaris decides to pick them up?

    • Blackcayman says:

      The executives at Polaris rightly laugh-out-loud at such nonsense. They are fast approaching 2 BILLION in sales.

      They didn’t need a Harley Clone motor to relaunch Indian Motorcycles and they don’t need a Rotax motor should they want to expand into sportbikes. Buying the moldering bones of EBR even at pennies on the dollar isn’t good business to them.

      Buying Brammo saved them 10 years of development, BTW

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        Agreed. Polaris already knows how to make motorcycles from scratch. If they want to enter that market, they’ll do it themselves.

      • Auphliam says:

        Just picking nits, but its not a Rotax motor, its an EBR motor. They bought all the rights for it outright and it is the sole property of EBR.

        To that point, Polaris bought the Scout motor, and like you said, they bought the Brammo. I wouldn’t think buying another would be that big a sticking point if they thought they could make a dollar off it.

        • Bob says:

          Who’d they buy the Scout motor from?

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          The Scout, bike and engine, are an in-house job. In truth, they could probably buy the design for the EBR 1190 engine much cheaper than it would cost to develop new since it is essentially discounted so much. I can’t deny that engine would be a great platform to start from.

        • Blackcayman says:

          Bought the Scout Motor???

          Holy Cow…

          Too bad there is no delete button for that comment.

          • Auphliam says:

            Holy Cow, maybe you should look into Polaris’ relationship with Swiss Auto

          • Blackcayman says:

            News Flash! They wrote a check and bought them 5 or 6 years ago.

            Just like they bought all of Brammo, GEM, Aixam-Mega and a percentage of KTM Motorcycles.

            Where they see value they buy it.

            EBR is in Liquidation. Once they offer the EBR motor as a stand-alone asset, we’ll see who is a player for just that. The rest is intangible and practically worthless.

        • Dave says:

          Re: “Just picking nits, but its not a Rotax motor, its an EBR motor. They bought all the rights for it outright and it is the sole property of EBR. ”

          Rights or not, it’s a very similar engine to what is being used in the Can-Am Spyder. If another brand valued the configuration enough to build a bike around it, I bet they could get something “close enough” from Rotax today.

          Pondering Polaris buying EBR and making the EBR’s we’ve seen up until now is short sighted. If They were to acquire it, I imagine a compelling product would be something more advanced and refined than EBR were able to create with their resources.

        • Half Baked says:

          Regardless of who owns the sole rights to the power plant it is still manufactured by Rotax not EBR.

          • Jeff says:

            That’s not right. The motor was cast, machined, and parts sourced right here in the US, and assembled at the EBR factory. EBR bought the rights to the Rotax motor that Buell co-engineered with Rotax. EBR based the 1190 motor on that, but they share very few parts. Rotax has nothing to do with the 1190 motor.

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            The 1190 was never a Rotax engine. Rotax held the rights to the 1125, and that was the design purchased by Buell. The 1190 was a further development based off of the 1125 platform with no involvement from Rotax, and it was built entirely in-house at the EBR facility in Wisconsin. The transmission was the only component from the original 1125 that carried over to the 1190.

      • John says:

        Yet there is still the advantage of gaining customers for the name alone, good engineering people and good designs. It would be a good bargain for them, they are practically giving it away. Designing three new motorcycles would cost more than they want for the whole company.

        And Polaris has nothing at the moment to compete with these.