‘Why doesn’t America make cool bikes?’

Dailies -



Erik Buell is a patriot. One of the most talented motorcycle engineers in the world, he could have taken his talent to the big four for big bucks. Instead, he went to Harley. When they ditched him, did he flee to a foreign brand? Nope, he stayed in East Troy, Wisconsin, employing as many American workers as he can afford. It’s going to be small-scale innovators like him, not neolithic corporations, that pull us out of our current economic doldrums.

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  • Peter88

    So true. I saw the Motus a couple of weeks and it was a cool bike. Our custom guys can take a Sportster or V-rod and make it very cool. And don’t forget the electric bike makers!

    • Peter88

      Sorry, “I saw the Motus a couple of weeks ago…”

  • Thom

    Couldn’t agree more !

    Have a look see at what Harley could be making if they’d pull their collective heads out of their _ _ _ _ _


    All the power to Buell , Motus etc. Victory and H-D sure won’t be getting us out of these doldrums !

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Those are meaningless flights of fancy. Erik is doing it for real.

      • Thom

        Damn Wes , the point wasn’t a challenge to Eric’s hard work and great bikes , but an example of what the Brain Dead morons at the Motor Company could be doing with their power plants , in this case the V-Rods .

        Flight of Fancy ? Hell No . More like an easy possibility should H-D wake up and enter the 21st Century . You had a look at this guys credentials ? His designs are completely doable .

        Damn !

        Ya just can’t please some folks !

    • je

      Damn it you beat me to it..

      Fancy or not Wes it would be very little work on HD’s part to produce that minimalist bike that is currently the in thing. Lets just hope another shop will at least produce the frame swing arm so people can do their own DIY cafes off the VRod engine.

      • Thom

        @ je

        If its any consolation , I’ve been waiting three days to let lose with that link . Almost sent it in to HFL but figured what the Hell ! It’d be more fun posting it myself .

        • je

          So should we go in together to find a shop to fab the frame and swing arm? Not only would we get bikes we want but also possibly make a little money on the side. How else am I going to afford buying the pegasus typhon kit for the 1125r.

          • Thom

            You’re on ! A couple of banged up V-Rods w/motor intact shouldn’t be too hard to find . The shop though ? That might prove more difficult .

            Either that or wait for Eric to let loose with his upcoming ” budget ” model which may prove less expensive in the end .

            Oh but that damn Bimota V-Rod ! Hell I’m even in love with the paint/decal scheme . Running across that link has been my downfall for the last three days .

            • JonB

              What is this budget Buell talk. Tell me more.

              • Thom

                Rumor has it , according to another website , who’s name I will not mention , Mr Buell has it in the works to produce a lesser expensive , slightly more pedestrian version of his current M/C . This might just be a rumor , or lousy investigation on the part of that ” other ” website , but thats the rumor floating about .

                Perhaps the HFL staff would care to elaborate on this unconfirmed rumor ?

                • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

                  Yeah, EBR will obviously sell other models at lower price points. He’s under-funded and just scraping by right now though. Don’t look for any truly affordable mass-production bikes at any point in the near future.

                • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

                  Oh, and please feel free to reference other websites, just please understand that we pour an awful lot of hard work, fact checking, skill, passion and professional journalism into HFL. Can’t necessarily say that elsewhere. Nothing you read here is rumor.

                • je

                  Wes I think this should become a HFL community “crowdsourced” project..

                • Dan

                  hover over “motorcycles” in the upper left. There is a heading “future models”. 3 listed. No details given but it’s no rumor either.

                • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

                  Yep, and that’s all the info anyone has. I speak to Erik regularly, if there’s news, you’ll read it here.

              • http://rider49er.blogspot.com Mark D

                1125r’s can be had on CL for cheap…

  • je

    Man, I heart Erik! I so close to saying F*%k it and taking a loan to buy 1190 just to support a belief.

    thekneeslider has an article on the Bimota V-Rod HDB2 Roadster that is at the opp of scale as the buell but another prime example where I think american companies are not fully taking advantage of their resources and the market. Screw HD but if the made the HDB2 roadster I would probably buy from them again.

  • Johndo

    And no big american flags all over the place. Nice video, nicely done, awesome looking bike. I wish them great success!

  • GT

    We must be stuck in some type of time warp. Harley builds bikes that looks like they were made in 1950 and US auto makers make cars to replicate autos they made in the 1970′s.

    • Gene

      That’s probably because the ’70s cars look a hell of a lot better than today’s econoboxes.

      Harley builds the same bikes because their buyers haven’t changed. They’re still stuck in the ’60s 1%-er counterculture vibe.

      I wish I could afford a Motus. Hell, I can’t even afford a Honda these days.

  • Triman023

    If you want American, may I suggest the 95-96 Buell S2T?
    Its the first of the Buell/HD bikes, hand made tube frame, muffler and shock underneath + luggage. Corners great and has enough power to be a great touring bike.
    Easy to fix and they can be found selling for under $3K

    • John

      Very true. The bikes are blast to ride and you can buy them all day for a song. Buy now why they are still cheap! I foresee these bikes becoming a very desirable classic in the near future.

      • Triman023

        I love mine, #30, its like having an exotic hand made bike for cheap. Also I can actually fix it, no high tech, carbed. There is also a lot of hop up stuff for Sportster engines that can be done.

        I never have seen another one around here, I feel so exclusive…

        • JonB


    • contender

      I just bought a Ulysses in Seattle and spent a week riding it home to L.A. by myself. One of the greatest times of my life to date.

      The more I read about Erik the more I wanted to have something he had a hand in, and I am nowhere near ready to spend $40k on a bike. I love it so far.

  • tom

    Don’t forget about Fischer Motors, their bikes are pretty sweet as well.

    • Roman

      Are they still up and running? The website doesn’t look it’s been updated in 2 years. Promising concept, but you just never hear about these guys anymore.

      Edit: Found their facebook page. Sounds like they’re still alive and kicking. Maybe a ride down to the factory would confirm their existence once and for all…

      • tom

        Yeah, they really need to update their website, but at least they give a phone number now. The only way to contact them used to be through email and they never got back to you. Strangely enough, people complained about it on their facebook page and they answered it there.

  • Zach

    You know, I’ll never be able to afford a 40k race bike, or likely even some 20k second model. But I feel like I can swing $18 for a nice EBR ballcap in support of American innovation, dammit.

  • MV



    Don’t know too much about the “Norley” operation other than I believe it’s out of the Santiago Choppers shop in FL (of “Cafe Racers” TV show). As for Ecosse, haven’t spoken to Don (owner) in a while, but believe they’ve scaled back. Tough times to try to sell such high dollar toys.

  • Ganesh

    Met Eric at Laguna Seca few weeks back.. very inspired and kudos to him for sticking it out. But all previous buells were not desirable – not sure that was all harley’s fault.. The new bike looks very promising – hope they make it out of special edition to regular competitive price compared to other superbikes.

    The Motus guys on the hand, impressed me more.. better basic structure out of the gate – solid design except for ugly front fairing..

  • dux

    I think the music in these videos gets progressively worse!

  • jason McCrash

    If you guys can get info, I’d like to see a story on the EBR wheels. From what I read it looks like the “spokes” of the wheels themselves for the axle hub, instead of there being a regular hub in the center creating more mass. Could be a new market…….

    I give E.B. props. I’ll never be able to afford or fit on one of those new bikes, but the guy has the American spirit in spades.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Good idea, I’ll ask him about it.

      • jason McCrash

        Thanks Wes!

      • MotoRandom

        Wes, while you’re at it could you ask if the new wheels will be sold separately on the EBR website and if they will retrofit to the old Buells with ZTL disks? Because that would really rule. Every XB and 1125 have the same wheels. A little variety would be nice.

        • noone1569

          I spoke with Tony at the Craftsman experience, and one of my questions was whether or not the awesomesauce wheel would fit on my XB. He said that it would with a bit of work, and it is a possiblity that a kit would be sold.

    • noone1569

      These are a thing of beauty. I had the please of holding one at the Craftsman Experience in Chicago when EBR did their show.

      First Tony handed me the lightest race wheel you can buy, dual rotors . . I was impressed.

      Then he handed me the new EBR wheel and I was speechless. It was incredibly light and looked amazing.

  • BuellDoc

    Found in an old FUELL mag this quote,”Buell was founded in 1983 to provide superior bikes for privateers to win the Daytona 200″-Erik Buell,2006 Maybe the 1190 in 2012?

  • Ken D

    Erik Buell is brilliant and this is a great, great bike, but the whole “yeah America, we can do it” thing is just sad. You guys are the largest industrialised power in the world. Why can’t the people who got to the moon manage what the Italians do in their sleep?

    America should be deeply embarrassed it’s taken so long to do produce a cutting edge sportsbike, and that it needed an incredibly stubborn guy like Erik to do it. Maybe the problem is that Geoff May’s idea of a “badass” car is a Camaro. Maybe it’s the godawful music on that video. National myopia and misbegotten ideas about “American exceptionalism” have created a complacent environment where the live axle and the ladder chassis go unchallenged.

    Hell I’d buy one of these things in a heartbeat, not because of the fact it’s American but IN SPITE of it. I come from the same country as John Britten, but his genius had nothing to with anything in the water down here. He was, like Erik, just a really brilliant guy.

    The rest of the world doesn’t want an insular and self-referencing America. Sell that bike Eric because it’s awesome. We’re all motorcyclists.

    • Roman

      Well said sir… Though I must say, with the mood of the country these days, any little shred of sunshine helps.

    • Peter88

      Unfortunately our resources go to ever more efficient killing machines. It’s difficult in this country to manufacture anything unless it’s weapons of war. That’s why all these small motorcycle manufacturers are so awesome. And yes, I will take any ray of sunshine concerning the creativeness and engineering ability of the U.S. And the Camaro/Mustang/Charger are awesome cars. Not to mention a nice used Crown Vic Police Interceptor!

  • robotribe

    “…to not waiting for someone to take care of you.”

    “We’re finally free.”

    Either Eric’s speaking on broad terms as to how the American spirit is coursing through his new company’s proverbial lifeblood…

    …or he’s finally getting his meaningful window of opportunity to say,”F*** YOU, H.D. YOU’RE NOT MY REAL DADDY!!!”

    In all seriousness, I wish him the best. If there’s ever a naked from his outfit that fits my budget and likewise turns my fancy, I’d give it serious consideration on principal alone (and, no, I’m no flag-waver).

    • gofaster

      x2 on that. According to other sources it cost HD as much to shutter Buell as they’d invested in its 26 year history!
      Will be great to see what EBR continues to accomplish. Hopefully they’ll be able to have a price point near other current sportbikes in the future. Rumors are that a model will be available around $20,000. Last year Beemer sold over 10,000 S1000RR’s hope – eventually EBR can match that volume or more!

  • Tony

    Hell yeah! Erik is the man! It seems like sometimes we spend so much time nit-picking and saying: “This bike should be more this or that.” that we lose sight of the big picture.

    We’ve gotten to a point that I think many of us feel sort of like naive, starry eyed dreamers for believing that, in today’s world, it was still possible to really make a difference with not much more than hard work and a dream, but Erik Buell is showing that it is.

    I still feel a little bitter about what HD did to him and the 100′s of hard-working people who just wanted to make bikes, but his success is quickly healing that wound. And while I still would like to see Harley do well, I think 5 years from now, it will be clear that Erik Buell stands for what Harley pretends to stand for mauch more than the HD brand does itself.

    Maybe Harley will actually look at Erik Buell and start to recognize how they’ve lost something along the way. I think that would be the best possible outcome for all involved.

  • zato1414

    You can kick us when we are down, you can hate us, you can lie about us everyday, but the USA will always prevail… it is our spirit it is in our soul! Eric Buell has got it.

    • slowtire

      +1. Hopefully his success will inspire other American talent.

  • oldblue

    Good old Erik.

    Hope that bloke doesn’t fall off the perch in a hurry, because when he does, you guys will lose the U.S equivalent of John Britten.
    Well … almost.
    I hope EB lives for 120 years and shows the dinosaurs how it’s done.

  • Raubert Van Harris

    Too bad the massive corporations spend huge amounts to keep competitors (especially innovators) out of business. Then when the corporations encounter problems, the taxpayers are forced to bail them out. It’s a slap in the face! Why not give handouts to innovative start ups instead of corporate dinosaurs?