By on April 21, 2015

Erik Buell Racing

Erik Buell Racing filed for receivership last week, but Buell himself has vowed to reorganize and give it another try (if he can).

After failing to secure the necessary funding to keep the East Troy, Wisconsin motorcycle firm afloat, Erik Buell Racing has filed for Chapter 128 receivership “with the winning bid to be determined by a state court,” reports the Milwauee Wisconsin Journal Sentinal.

According to a Facebook post on the EBR page, Buell will try to “best maximize the value from EBR to benefit all.”

Thank you for the supportive posts, texts, and e-mails since the announcement that EBR has ceased operations. This is a difficult time, and your comments mean a great deal to me personally and also to the EBR team that has done such amazing work over the past few, intense years.

No doubt, it was an incredible ride, feeling like the longest qualifying lap ever. And, then, just when we knew we were about to set an all-time record, we tossed it in the last corner…

Keeping with racing analogies, now we need to get back on the track and look ahead remembering all the things we were doing right around so many turns.

Unfortunately, in the end, we tried to do too much with too little funding, but it doesn’t diminish the accomplishments. We introduced the world class American super bikes of 1190RS, 1190RX and 1190SX, while at the same time doing revolutionary work for Hero on the HX250R, Leap, SimplEcity, iON, RnT and many others, plus concepts never publicly seen. It was great EBR innovation and design, and introduced new technology to Hero and its suppliers to provide a real kick start for them. But in the end all of this simply overwhelmed us, and for that we are sorry and saddened.

I want you to know that looking ahead my focus is 100% on helping the receiver best maximize the value from EBR to benefit all, and I will make every possible effort to get the new organization to where it can support the dealers and customers first, and then help find investment to get back to full throttle.

Thank you for your support, it means a great deal. Please stay tuned – I cannot predict the future, but always believe the best is yet to come.

Erik

EBR’s move into receivership leaves 126 former employees without jobs and the company’s website offline for the time being.

[Editor’s note: I know this isn’t car news and may not be up TTAC’s alley. But, there’s a big reason why I wrote about this today.

Erik is one of the good guys. Firstly, he’s probably one of the most talented and innovative motorcycle engineers in America, if not the world. He truly cares about his employees and, I’m certain, if there was anything he could do to stop this, he would.

But, most importantly, even during the days when H-D owned the first motorcycle company bearing his name, he would go out of his way to make himself personally available to customers. I own a Buell. I have Erik on Facebook. In the past, I have asked him questions about my bike and he’s always answered. Who else does that? Nobody. That’s what makes Erik and his creations so great.]

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19 Comments on “Erik Buell’s Second Chance, Erik Buell Racing, Files For Receivership...”


  • avatar

    Always thought that Erik Buell left a huge void: between Harley’s cruiser-type bikes and his SWB hardcore street fighters. Buell caferacer-type motorcycles would have been great IMO.

    • 0 avatar

      They did make a CR very much in the fashion of Buell based on the 1125R.

      • 0 avatar
        redliner

        I have a low mile, final production year, XB12s Lightning. The very idea of putting a heavy (but torque-rich) Harley-esq lump of a motor into a world class ultra lightweight frame with otherworldly handling capabilities is the very reason I purchased a Buell and not another generic sports bike.

        It shakes at idle (and everywhere else) it rides like a car with chopped springs, it has no fuel gauge, and it’s only mission, other than being a motorcycle, is to turn your right leg into one of those rotisserie turkey drumsticks people get at county fairs. …but out of all the bikes I have owned, this is my favorite, and it is a keeper bike, not for sale.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    He deserves to win. I find some of the design elements of his bikes to be…. less than great aesthetically. But I value his courage and conviction to think and act outside of the box. The 1190R series are some damn good bikes too. A real shame

  • avatar
    hubcap

    Liked the RX but it’s a tough sell when it’s more expensive than the S1000RR, R1, RSV-4 and just about on par with the Panigale. Same goes for the SX; there are just better choices available for less money.

    Add to that a very small dealer network and the questions of service and parts support and you’re asking customers to put a lot of trust in you.

    An adventure type bike and something akin to a Monster, that wasn’t priced above the premium brands, would’ve done more to establish a toe hold on the market and create cash flow which would lead to more resources for the super bikes. I know Mr. Buell is all about racing but it takes time and/or money to establish a presence and EBR ran out of both.

    Motus might be in a similar situation with the exception that their bike is a sport tourer so there’s no pressure to win on Sunday to sell on Monday (with the subsequent resource allocation devoted to racing) and they’re selling the V4 as a crate engine but the bike is still overpriced to the point that you could just about purchase two premium motorcycles for the price on one Motus. I understand the appeal, and if I had unlimited funds I’d seriously consider one but once those who truly want one buy one, what’s next?

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      I have to agree. In my heart I will always love sport bikes, but they are too narrow-purpose to be mainstream for those of us who can only afford a single motorcycle. An adventure bike is a lot more practical and would probably have found a much wider market.

      The truth is that the motorcycle world is owned by cruisers and those of us who are not cruiser types are in the minority.

      Still, this is sad news. Buell accomplished quite a bit with very limited resources.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      It’s sad to see Buell go into receivership but current owners now have an instant classic, like an Ariel 4-square, or Royal Enfield, or Old Norton, or even a VanVeen Wankel, or some Ducati Desmo 500’s, or even some Laverda’s.

      Imagine all the old Indian motorcycles that are still putt-putting round the US – maybe not daily riders, but still in running condition.

  • avatar
    kosmo

    I agree with all those above saying that Erik is a guy that deserves to win.

    And the kind of guy you WANT to win.

    I read an in-depth article about his company in one of the MC buff books. When I was done, I wanted to move to the heartland and go to work for this guy!

  • avatar
    Syke

    A damned shame, but not unexpected. As bunkie mentioned above, cruisers are the predominant motorcycle (mainly because they’re easier and more forgiving to ride than other types), so going into the market with only knife-edged sportbikes is going to be a nasty set of twisties to run.

    And even if you’re bringing out a bike good enough for the price (from which I understand the EBR was), there’s still the 500lb gorilla of the high end sportbike market: Ducati. Which has status among the masses like BMW has in automobiles. And sell proportinately for the same reasons: show-off, show-off, did I mention show-off?

    And a few buyers with the talent to ride them. The years I worked for Ducati of Richmond, the majority of our new bike customers would have been better served by a Honda CBR300R.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I was almost that guy. One day walking home in Manhattan, I passed a Ducati dealer and came this close to impulse purchasing a 996 or a 748. The only thing that stopped me was the $4,500 price delta between the models seemed ridiculous when the bikes must have cost the same to build. I wanted the 996, but I wasn’t willing to pay $16K for it when they could sell the same thing with seven different part numbers for $11.5K. At the same time, I couldn’t convince myself that I’d be happy with a yellow motorcycle that wasn’t as fast a Japanese 600. At no point did I worry about not having ridden a street bike in half a dozen years, or the ridiculousness of riding in NYC.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      Syke – Harley V-twins are associated with cruisers and combining the word sport-bike with Harley just does not work.

      I’ve only encountered a few riders with the talent to ride any litre class sport bike to its potential and the same can be said for 750’s and 600’s.

      Buell had the balls to do something unique but a pushrod V-Twin has minimal market appeal to sportbikers.

      The Rotax 1125 was a more credible powerplant but it could never compete with Ducati. Even KTM who is new to the streetbike scene makes a better bike than Buell.

  • avatar
    CB1000R

    I was at Battley’s dealership last week and there wasn’t a used Buell in the place. Don’t know if they are still taking orders for Motus. First time I saw a Motus, I thought, “They are never going to make it. This is just another Czyz-like pipe dream.”

    Even thought I couldn’t tell you where an EBR dealer was, I thought Buell had it going, with he economy turning swell and Buell tie-up with India’s Hero to keep cash coming in on lower-end bikes. Ah well. Harley certainly won’t make anything like a Buell again, no new XR or XL-R models, in America anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      In my area, EBR bikes we’re sold by a BMW dealer who also sells Polaris and Ducati. The only reason I know that is from going to look at an S1000R and lo and behold there were the EBRs.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      CB1000R – Harley Davidson needs to find a way to appeal to younger buyers. I know a few young i.e. under 30 Harley riders (that aren’t wearing colours). The rest are 50 year olds with empty nest cash to spend on a toy.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Good bikes but they don’t hold their value well, there was a very clean example at one of our Harley dealers last fall, it was on the floor for ~$2,500 iirc. Possibly there’s a concern about part availability. Not my cup of tea but for the price it seemed like a steal.
    I’ll take the softtail slim myself.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      Hummer – I disagree. I got the chance once to ride 8 Buell’s at a Harley Demo ride. Everyone of them felt different. Brake feel felt different even ride quality and engine performance felt different.

  • avatar
    ellomdian

    I’ve always liked Buell and hope he recovers, (somehow?) but he’s a Niche player in a Niche market. It’s sad, because I think he’d be ‘successful’ as an ultra-low-volume manufacturer (like Confederate) but it wouldn’t support his goals for racing.

    He’s basically been building track-day bikes for years, and they are EXPENSIVE.

    Probably never a better time to pick up a Lightning though.

    • 0 avatar
      tbone33

      The track day bikes at a premium price comment is right. I wish EBR had made a bike with a more street friendly displacement and price. I’d love a strange middleweight not made by Ducati.

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