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Erik Buell Racing goes to auction

There is hope yet that innovative motorcycle maker Erik Buell’s bankrupted company Erik Buell Racing (EBR) will be bought by a single buyer at an upcoming auction.

The company’s assets are going to auction and initial bids are being accepted on July 21. Prospective buyers will find out the status of those bids on July 23. Big ticket items will include unsold motorcycles, intellectual property and the company name.

However, that does not necessarily mean the business is being broken up and sold off.

Some say Polaris Industries, manufacturer of Victory and Indian motorcycles, could be a potential buyer so they have a sports-oriented bike. That could be so. Victory seems to be already heading that way with its Project 156 racing prototype,  a joint project with Roland Sands Design that they raced at last month’s Pikes Peak International Hillclimb.

Erik says on his Facebook page: “To be clear, this sale is not a selling off of individual pieces, but as it states in the court documents, it is selling off in large blocks as an ongoing concern sale.”

“The assets have to be broken into segments like this by law, but it is a going concern auction and a number of bidders are coming with the intention to buy all the lots necessary to move the company forward again. The outcome is of course unknown, but it actually looks very good to us.”

So there is still hope that a big-money buyer will come along and buy the full company and continue to make radical out-of-the-box motorcycles.

There is still 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.

The last we heard from them was this statement in April: “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.”

Erik Buell racing
EBR 1190 RX in the World Superbikes at Sepang

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 has been an 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.

But with accumulated debts of more than $20 million, Erik 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.