A 'COMPLICATED' BACK STORY...
At last years' Motorcycle Live I stopped at one of the more minimalist stands to admire the bikes they were displaying. The stand and motorcycles were badged EBR, the letters initialled Eric Buell Racing - the actual Buell name could not be displayed because of a situation with naming rights involving the Harley Davidson company that Buell was part of until they parted company in 2008.
On April 15th EBR filed for Chapter 128 insolvency protection in the US, and sacked the 126 staff producing bikes at its factory in Troy Wisconsin. As ever in these situations there's a complicated back story.
In 1984 Eric Buell, a motorcycle racer and employee of Harley Davidson launched Buell Motorcycles. In 1989 Harley bought a stake in the company, they continued as a minority share holder until 2003 when they became the outright owner, re-launched the company, and Eric Buell became an HD employee once again, but in control of design and engineering. Buell bikes were sold through HD dealers.
In 2008 facing huge financial problems HD closed the Buell division, but in 2009 Eric Buell set up Eric Buell Racing (EBR) using his own money and presumably raising more from the financial markets. Then in 2013 the large Indian corporation Hero 'bought the store' for $25 million, anticipating big sales of Buell bikes by 2017 and using Eric Buell's expertise to develop Hero products. Now the EBR company is closed. In time the Hero decision and circumstances will become clearer.
To many Eric Buell is the type of adventurous entrepreneur motorcycling needs. In the beginning as they say, the bikes using Harley engines with rubber mounting, tuned pipes, and decent suspension and brakes were a revelation as to what could be done with the rumbling agricultural V-twins that pushed Harleys along at the time. The final EBR model, the 1190RX, was a handsome motorcycle. A liquid cooled V-twin it churned out 185bhp, weighed just 419lbs and sold in the UK at a competitive £14K.
Buell is sixty five years old now. After being feted as a racer, engineer, and carrying the considerable weight of company development and survival down the years, he may decide to quit or involve himself in a less stressful aspect of motorcycles and their future.
As always we welcome your input - email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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