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Indians eye Erik Buell Racing

MotorBikeWriter rides the Buell 1125R Erik Buell EBR
MotorBikeWriter rides the Buell 1125R

Erik Buell Racing could become an Indian motorcycle company after Hero MotoCorp announced it was buying $2.8 million worth of the American muscle sports bike company’s “consulting assets”.

EBR was due to be sold at auction on July 21, but the auction was postponed to August 5 at the Milwaukee Athletic Club.

Now the Bombay Stock Exchange reports that the New Delhi company has entered a settlement agreement with the court-appointed receiver in the liquidation of Erik Buell Racing which shut down in April.

EBR is already 49% owned by Hero, formerly known as Hero Honda. The rest of the company is still expected to go to auction next week.

Erik Buell
Erik Buell

The sale of “consulting assets” to Hero provides hope that the innovative motorcycle maker may continue to be involved and make more radical out-of-the-box motorcycles.

There was talk that Polaris Industries, manufacturer of Victory and Indian motorcycles, could be a potential buyer so they have a sports-oriented bike. That could still be the case, but there is no official comment from Victory.

Erik was not available for comment but he 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.”

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 and MotorBikeWriter
Erik Buell and MotorBikeWriter

I met Erik Buell in 2008 when he came to Australia for the launch of his radical Buell 1125R 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.

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

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.