Erik Buell Racing Is Back! (Yes, Again)

Illustration for article titled Erik Buell Racing Is Back! (Yes, Again)

Erik Buell Racing is back once again, with production starting in their Wisconsin factory earlier this week. What’s even better is that EBR’s new owner Liquid Asset Partners, despite their ominous name, claim to have a multi-year plan and the money to pull it off. If only this was the first time we’d heard that.

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I really wish this was the first time I’ve written those words. Erik Buell is a genius and has made some truly impressive motorcycles, and the idea of an “American sportbike” is incredibly appealing, but given the company’s history I feel like we’re going to need to see a lot more before we put much trust in their claims.

Liquid Asset Partners claims they have a five to 10-year vision, financial stability, and a plan for profitability. They also claim they’ll be releasing more news soon about pricing, warranty info, and racing—which will hopefully learn from their past mistakes.

Initially the East Troy, Wisconsin plant will start producing the EBR 1190RX and EBR 1190SX models, although they admit that they’re still working on finding dealerships to sell them through.

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If you live near their plant, EBR is hosting a launch party on March 18th with food, tours of the plant, and a chance to meet and talk to the staff including Buell himself, who remains on the team as the Chief Technical Officer.

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The 1190RX is a really easy bike to get excited about. From the fuel-in-frame design to that weird brake rotor to the 20-level traction control system, it’s both a lovely bike and something we can be proud of calling an American design. Just watch this 2014 episode of On Two Wheels to get an idea of how special and fun this bike could be.

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The real question here is how EBR will be able to coax buyers into putting their faith back into the brand and their motorcycles, and that can’t even happen until they can convince dealers to put them on showroom floors. As you can see from the links embed throughout the article, news surrounding this company has been pretty shaky—although the optimist in me hopes it’s all positive from here out.

Contact the author at sean.macdonald@jalopnik.com. Follow Lanesplitter onFacebook and Twitter.

DISCUSSION

meeeeper
Other Barry

The biggest problem I see is a combination of his business model and fever- dream engineering.

His business model sucks. Why would you start a company with a halo bike with all this goofy shit technology for the sake of being different, when you could start out with something conventional, built well, and sized and priced in a manner that attracts new AND experienced riders. Think SV650, ER650, EX500, ect. Not only are you bringing in the old guard to put their stamp of approval on it, but you’re attracting new people to the sport, thus broadening your customer base. Most importantly, you’re building a bike the masses can afford. Also, look at what Honda is doing- they’re building multiple bikes with different purposes on the same platform. You don’t see this too often in the bike world (unlike cars), and I’m surprised this took as long as it did for someone to try it. That’s what Buell should do. Design cores to build on. A 300, a 550, a 700, and a 1000. Make ‘em singles, twins, triples or fours; I don’t care. Hell, let the 300 and 550 share the same rolling chassis with the main difference being the engine, and likewise with the 700 and 1000. From there, you can add different forks, swing arms and wheels to make them street and dual sport bikes. Two frames, four engines, four different forks and swing arms, and four different wheel sets. You now have eight unique bikes that serve eight different purposes. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy; it just has to work.

The fever- dream technology is bad. I won’t get into the what and the why because some people like to boil their gas or increase their unsprung weight by storing engine oil in the swing arm, but hey... who am I to judge? Thing is, while this stuff *works*, it’s not better. Look at the worlds most cutting edge bikes in existence- the ones that are built for the singular express purpose of being the fastest in the world- and you won’t find inside out brakes or wet frames and swing arms. The old adage of, “if it’s good enough for racing, it’s good enough for me” rings true here. I get it that Buell wants to be the Saturn of bikes, and that’s great. But Saturn didn’t start out with their version of the Corvette. Saturn didn’t try to reinvent the wheel for the sake of reinventing it. If Buell wants some wacky halo bike with all sorts of weird crap on it and sell it for $20K, that’s fine. Bimota does something similar with their Tessi, but 1) it’s not their only bike and 2) they have a long history and heritage to back it up.

I’d love to own a Buell. I’d love to own an American bike that isn’t an overpriced rehashed piece of 1970's technology. I’d love to own an American bike that is simple, reliable, gets the job done and is affordable.

Erik, stop trying to answer questions nobody’s asking and get your shit together.