Erik Buell’s Hero

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“EBR is delighted to partner with a company as iconic as Hero MotoCorp. Both HMCL and EBR share the common commitment to manufacturing world-class two-wheelers with technology of the future,” stated Erik Buell this morning when it was announced that EBR is entering into a technology and design partnership with India’s Hero MotoCorp. Hero is, by volume, the largest manufacturer of powered two-wheelers in India and the deal will see Erik Buell Racing help evolve their products into the future while providing a much-needed injection of capital into the fledgling American company. The EBR 1190RS will now compete in AMA Pro Racing under “Team Hero” colors.

“It gives me immense pleasure to welcome Erik Buell to the exciting world of Hero MotoCorp,” says Hero MD and CEO Pawan Munjal, pictured up top with Erik. “This is in keeping with my objective of quickly scaling up our own in-house R&D capabilities to a global two-wheeler technology power-house by leveraging a network of strategic international alliances. Erik and his team have been working closely with our engineers and designers to develop our next-generation range of products with cutting-edge technology and first-of-its-kind features.”

Hero currently manufactures bikes like this 125 Super Splendor, sold under the tagline, “All New Simply Super.” Bikes like these sell in massive volume in Southeast Asia.

“We look forward to designing technology solutions which are in line with contemporary global standards and also futuristic in their appeal and utility,” continues Erik.

“The Indian two-wheeler industry is set to evolve, and it is only natural that as the market leader, we are driving this change,” explains Munjal. “As a part of this plan, Erik is going to play an integral role in giving shape to some of my dream two-wheelers for the discerning youth of today. So my R&D team and Erik’s team together have made some definitive progress in this direction, and we will hopefully be putting a few scorchers on the roads soon.”

Hero will also provide title sponsorship for Danny Eslick — competing under the “Team Hero” name — and Geoff May, for “AMSOIL Hero.”

“This is also a key part of our alliance with EBR,” continues Munjal, announcing the first time an Indian company will ever sponsor an AMA race team. “Both Erik and I felt that we should carry forward our partnership into the race track. As a company, we have always supported and nurtured sports and sporting talent in India. It is indeed a pleasure to sponsor two EBR teams at the AMA Championships and we are delighted to be taking an Indian brand to a highly-competitive and highly-popular international motorcycle race arena. We look forward to superlative performances from both Danny and Geoff.”

“I deeply appreciate the support provided by Pawan and Hero MotoCorp to our two teams and this will only make Danny and Geoff perform better this season,” concludes Erik. “As I kept meeting Pawan over the past several months, I realised his keen interest in moto-racing and the ‘Team Hero’ at AMA Championships is really a natural extension of our strategic collaboration. Top-class motorcycle racing is a very popular sport in the US, and the presence of the ‘Hero’ brand name is going to lend a lot of stature and excitement to all EBR fans out there.”

The first product of the Hero/EBR collab? This Leap gasoline/electric hybrid scooter recently shown at the Indian Auto Expo.

  • Holden and Annette

    Technology and design are transferred to Hero in exchange for dollars? Is that pretty much it? This doesn’t affect where bikes are manufactured?

    I wonder what Hero will do with this technology and design. Are they making sportbikes now? Will they make them in future?

  • nick2ny

    They didn’t buy EBR, right? If he’s just contracting out his expertise, I think that’s a good thing… EBR90RS coming right up :) Note, I’m at work right now and can only read 5 works from any given article.

    • Wes Siler

      I’m assuming you’re just being lazy and that this isn’t a technical issue. In the first para, it states that this is “a technology and design partnership” EBR is a vendor to Hero, in return, Hero is writing EBR checks and sponsoring its race team.

  • John

    What’s the relationship with Honda? Can’t tell for sure, but it looks like it says “Hero Honda” on the red bike.

    Ok, just did a little checking… Wiki says the joint venture with Honda recently ended.

  • lidewij

    I admire EB a lot for his engineering qualities but not his design work. Buells never were a thing of beauty although they were decent and good bikes. I am very curious what EB will bring ( the scooter looks terrible) to this indian company. I want to congratulate him with his new sponsor. and I do hope he wins some races…

  • michael uhlarik

    Answers to the above three comments :

    1. Hero, the company & Honda Motor Co.

    Hero, recently divorced from Honda was a joint venture that the Japanese giant set up in India decades ago when it was not possible to gain access to the Indian market (second largest in the world) without domestic involvement. In classic technology/knowledge offset, Hero and the Indians learned everything there is to learn about modern motorcycle industrial production from the number one company in the business. In return, Honda enjoyed number one sales position in that giant market.

    Today, the two brands are “divorced” (amicably) and compete on an (almost) even basis in India. Honda has built two MASSIVE plants there and is expanding rapidly. Hero, now independent, is pursuing World Domination, in particular with electric bikes, which it leads in India.

    2. EBR

    This is news to me, but as much as I LOVE Erik and his off-beat way of doing things, there isn’t much in the way of technology or expertise that EBR is able to provide Hero.

    I know it is hard for many North Americans to imagine, but India is not some technical backwater that desperately needs our help. They could teach Erik a lot about how to mass produce high quality, reliable and economically viable products. And that whole performance thing is not hard to learn. Today, high performance is just an option, not a goal. Hero has the money and resources to make whatever they want.

    3. My best guess

    I suspect that they tied into EBR as a way to market the Hero brand in advance of a MASSIVE US and European market push. Evidence: note that they pasted the Hero brand on the EBR, and named it Team Hero.

    Its just marketing folks. Hero is using Buell because it gets more recognition that campaigning say, a GSX-R like Zongshen did in the World Endurance Championship a few years back.

    Conclusion :

    Bring it on! I love India and doing business with Indian entrepreneurs. They are serious, fair and speak English. Their country is a stable, secular democracy with millions of smart people and they make some kick-ass motorcycles. Better Hero than another Chinese brand.


    • James Dean Meyer

      “Their country is a stable, secular democracy with millions of smart people and they make some kick-ass motorcycles.”

      I look forward to the day when we can say the same about the America again!

      • Wes Siler

        Hell, I’d settle for being able to say any one of those things about the US.

        • BigRooster

          Please. I know that comment is snark, but all those things are true about the US.

          The economy is stable (not problem free, but the benchmark set was ‘stable’)

          The US is a secular democracy, by law, and has always been since founding. Sure, there are lots and lots of religious nuts trying to affect policy (with success), but that does not make the government any less secular. If you are talking the religiousity of the general pop, I would guess India to be less secular than the US – but that’s not the point being made. The original point, I think, was why India is such a great place for business, not why its a better place than the US.

          The US has millions of smart people (also millions of dumb people as is the case with most places).

          The US makes some (as in a few) kick ass motorcycles (one is pictured above).

    • Holden and Annette

      Imagine Hero marketing 150cc to 500cc street bikes in the States, at low prices. That would be nice. Sponsoring race teams might not be the way to reach that urban commuter market, though.

      • je

        Wouldnt sell unless it became a trend.. An economy driven by trend, thats what we have become.

        • Holden and Annette

          So true. I hold out hope that the economy will drive trends instead of the other way around.

        • Mark D [EX500]

          I love small displacement motorcycles as much as the next guy, but if Americans suddenly start buying a lot of 100cc scooters, something will have radically changed in the American economy.

          Or, mass abandonment of suburbs and exurbs. Which I can get behind.

      • Ryan

        Sponsoring the race team will reach enthusiasts, and they’re the first group that needs to be reached.

    • Ryan

      “Hero has the money and resources to make whatever they want.”

      They have the money and resources to make whatever EBR wants. :) We knew EBR was going to have to partner with someone if they wanted to make something other then $40,000 lust objects, and evidence suggests they want to. (I look at the current bike as a giant FU to H-D, and now with that out of their system, they can move on to more mass market stuff.)

      R&D is about giving people with odd-ball ideas the resources to build crazy stuff. I’m keying on “This is in keeping with my objective of quickly scaling up our own in-house R&D capabilities…”, and I read it as, “We wanted to hire Erik as a research fellow, but he’s happy where he’s at with EBR. After the whole H-D thing, we don’t blame him. So, we’re going to hire him as a R&D/market consultant.”

      Erik is on a short list of people with racing experience, manufacturing experience, performance/engineering cred, and odd-ball ideas about motorcycles, so I can see why they would be interested in hiring him if they want a powerhouse R&D department.

      I read this the same way. The only questions left are when and with what. Erik has been in the the American market for a while, and he will help Hero Americanize their stuff.

      On top of that, Erik has credibility and visibility in the American motorcycling community, so that’s not a bad way to introduce the brand. It’s a little bit like a celebrity endorsement.

  • je

    I heart you EBR.. Get all the money you can so hopefully in the near future we can see a sub 17k street legal bike from you. I prefer my bikes like my HFL staff, naked.

    • Sean Smith

      Careful what you wish for…

  • bluemilew

    The guy needs money and who else was he gonna partner with, harley?

    • Scott-jay

      H-D doubtlessly enhanced his financial situation.

  • Xenophya

    Micheal is right this is just marketing. Hero is the largest manufacture of motorcycles in the world they know what they are doing. In 3 factories they produce 350,000 bikes per month that’s an unbelievable 19’000 per day, one every 2 seconds. They make more in a week than Triumph, KTM, BMW or Ducati produce in a year. That totally changes the game. When you are talking those volumes the design thinking changes. For a business like KTM, Ducati, BMW or Triumph amortising tooling cost over the production volume is crucial to the business plan. When you turn out 350’000 bikes per month your tooling is amortised almost instantly. For companies like Hero (there are others in India producing similar volumes, TVS Bajaj MM)the issues is part cost and assembly time. You need to be able to assemble parts on the production line as quickly as possible.

    I hope it means Buell gets some funding though, Hero’s back pocket loose change could transform his business.

    • michael uhlarik

      Exactly Right.

      Indian brands are coming, and they will be a lot more mature and appealing to the Western market when they do. The Japanese will get hurt, but the European brands will get clobbered. It will be 1965 all over again.

      The biggest difference between India and China is that Indians like hard bikes, proper motorcycles and performance, plus all the same cultural pull that make motorcycling cool for us. In China, motorcycles are viewed as just cheap; better than walking or taking the bus, but just a stepping stone to getting a car.

      • Xenophya

        The trick is designing bikes that appeal both in India and in the West! What brand could do that? ;)

        • michael uhlarik

          No one is in a better position to know than you.

          Make ‘em mean, just don’t forget to, (ahem) scale them, for Western sized people.

  • Racetrack Style

    Good luck Danny & Geoff…no pressure.

    Congratulations EBR! looking forward to the podiums

  • ike6116

    So does this mean that EBR is going to tone down the whole “AMERICA: FUCK YEAH!” tone of their own (non)marketing?

  • lidewij

    to michael uhlarik…

    I have never seen any kick ass bikes from india and I do not know any Chinese brands. I do know of some run of the mill bikes from India and Chinese manufacturing facilities. Zongshen manufacturers 80% of all Vespa’s, Piaggio’s and the lot actually…

    I do agree the indians are a much better breed to do business with than the Chinese.