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End of Erik Buell sportsbike era?

Innovative motorcycle maker Erik Buell has ceased operations of his company Erik Buell Racing (EBR), possibly ending an era of radical out-of-the-box motorcycles.

There is no word yet on the effect of the move on Australian owners and buyers of EBR bikes and we are waiting for comments on warranty, service and parts from Urban Moto Imports.

However, they issued this statement: “Whilst there are speculative news reports on EBR’s current situation, we cannot report to you any official notifications of any changes. So until such time it is business as usual for EBR in Australia & New Zealand. We will update you immediately once we have news from EBR head office in the USA.”

Meanwhile, Erik has posted the following thank-you note on Facebook:

“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 Buell Racing EBR 1190 SXErik Buell Racing EBR 1190 SX
Erik Buell Racing EBR 1190 SX

I met Erik Buell in 2008 when he came to Australia for the launch of his radical Buell 1150 with a peripheral disc front brake, oil in the swingarm and fuel in the frame.

Erik signed my helmet and told me he was confident in the future of sportsbikes so long as builders kept innovating.

Within a year, the GFC hit and Harley-Davidson, which had bought out its former employee’s Buell company, decided to shelve Buell and sell MV Agusta. In retrospect a very wise move, although sad for Erik.

He was a passionate racer and inventive designer who pushed the boundaries and created some amazing bikes.

Erik was so passionate, he invested his own money from the Harley payout to develop the esoteric EBR sportsbike company and go racing.

The company did well in American road racing, but struggled in the market at a time when sportsbike sales are declining due to hefty speeding fines and the proliferation of speed cameras.

EBR was 49% owned by the Indian Hero MotoCorp, but needed funding to continue. When funding fell through recently, the writing was on the wall.

Erik Buell EBR 1190RX world superbikes
EBR 1190RX

Now, with accumulated debts of more than $20 million, Erik has ceased production and is seeking protection under American law from bankruptcy and looking for a benevolent buyer.

“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,” Erik says.

He’s now hoping to keep his dreams alive and create a budget, albeit innovative, racer.