Buell goes bust. Again!

Erik Buell with Pawan Munjal (MD and CEO, Hero Motocorp) in happier times

According to a report on the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, Erik Buell Racing (EBR) has shut shop and has filed for receivership. EBR, which has US$20 million in outstanding liabilities, and 126 employees who are now out of work, is currently seeking court protection from creditors.

Erik Buell, a brilliant motorcycle engineer and designer, used to earlier head the Harley-owned Buell Motorcycle Co. After Harley chose to shut Buell down back in 2009, Erik went on set up EBR and the company’s motorcycle line-up included the EBR 1190RS, 1190RX and the 1190SX Superfighter. Expensive and unconventional, the bikes never sold well and could not take on comparable machines from Japan and Europe.

EBR had tied up with one of the world’s biggest motorcycle manufacturers, Hero Motocorp, back in 2012. The latter had invested US$25 million and picked up a 49% stake in EBR, but that was sadly not sufficient to save EBR. “The turn we recently took, after we thought we were moving forward, was unexpected. We thought we had secured funding, but in the end, we were not able to get the funding in place. Therefore we need to do the best we can under the circumstances for all parties in interest,” says Erik Buell. “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,” he adds.

EBR is now seeking protection under a state statute that is similar to US federal bankruptcy law. Individuals and companies will be able to bid for EBR and its assets, with the winning bid to be determined by a state court. However, given his proven tenacity and engineering brilliance, we’re sure Erik Buell will be back sometime soon. What will it be this time? Maybe a high-tech battery-powered all-electric superbike? Whatever it is, we’re sure Buell will continue to innovate and we certainly hope he sticks with the motorcycle industry. We wish EB all the best.

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