Buell the bike name, not the figurehead, is said to be back in business.
Since the company was abruptly shut down by Harley a decade ago during the global financial crisis, boss Erik Buell has been involved in a few ventures
that seem to have foundered just when things were getting interesting. Will this be different?
Perhaps not, for the plan is, on the face of it, extremely ambitious, with up to 10 new motorcycles scheduled before 2024. This includes dirt, cruiser
and touring/ADV machinery, in small, medium and large engine displacements. Production will be based out of Grand Rapids, Michigan.
The brains behind the new business is Bill Melvin, the head of Liquid Asset Partners. This is the firm that bought out EBR after it went into liquidation,
and the company has merged with Erik Buell Racing which had a couple of (ambitiously expensive) race bikes well advanced when it filed for bankruptcy
a few years ago. The new company has purchased the rights to the Buell name from Harley-Davidson, which itself is in the throes of reinvention.
Three production models will kick things off, two of which are very familiar, these bearing a close resemblance to the EBR 1190RX sportbike (to be known
as the Hammerhead; image above of an earlier iteration) and the 1190SX super-naked (Black Mamba; below). The third, the 1190AX, is a modern day ADV,
aimed at the sport tourer and to be known as Super Touring.
All will have an 1190cc 72-degree V-twin, delivering 185bhp at 10,600rpm, but the bikes will weigh in at under 200kg if all goes to plan. They each carry
fuel within the aluminium frame, a Buell signature design feature, and have a single 386mm ZTL perimeter disc brake up front, another Buell innovation.
The 1190AX represents the first entry into the dual purpose sector for Buell. The timing of the announcement is clearly aimed to be a thorn in the side
of former owner, Harley-Davidson, which recently released details of its first-ever adventure bike, the Pan America.
This machine looks to be a development of the 1190AX that EBR was working on, and will share the same mechanicals but will run twin round headlights, have
dual purpose rubber and feature panniers. The Super Touring is due for release in 2023, but a modified 1190SX with an ADV accessory pack should be available
much earlier if you just cannot wait for the real thing.
Don’t be surprised if one of the future models features electric power because Erik Buell was working on a range of hummers for an outside partner in the
recent past. Indeed, the company hints at a performance electric model, possibly co-developed with an outside agency.
Meantime, Melvin suggests ‘the future will be fast and fun on a Buell’. Given what’s happened over the past 10 years, let’s hope the plan actually comes
to fruition. Stateside commentators are suggesting not to get too excited.