In sad but not completely surprising news to those in the industry, Wisconsin based motorcycle manufacturer Erik Buell Racing has ceased operations as of today. Even their website has been taken offline. The story has broken from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel which stated that the company has also filed for court protection from its creditors with attorney Michael S. Polsky acting as the receiver.
“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,” Buell said in a statement.
The company is closed for now, Buell said, and is seeking protection under a state statute which is similar to federal bankruptcy law. Bids will be solicited for the company as part of the Chapter 128 process, with the winning bid to be determined by the court.
“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,” Buell said.
Buell has had a colorful history in recent times. After being owned and then dropped by Harley-Davidson in 2009 (after over a decade of partnership), Buell came back with Erik Buell Racing which initially produced race-only motorcycles and parts based on the Buell 1125R production model, under license from Harley-Davidson. That was followed in 2013 with EBR’s first production model, the 1190RX (reviewed here) and later the naked 1190SX.
Things were actually looking positive for EBR, especially after an investment of $25 million by Indian motorcycle giant Hero Motocorp in 2013, which would see EBR help develop higher end motorcycles for Hero while distributing Hero motorcycles and scooters in North America.
Given that EBR has been unable to secure further funding, that relationship would appear to have ended, at least for now. Erik Buell Racing’s problems no doubt have stemmed from lack of sales. While the 1190RX and 1190SX are great bikes, they’re expensive in comparison to the competition, relying on jingoism and national pride to entice consumers to buy an American made sportsbike. Patriotism might work for Harley-Davidson but it hasn’t worked here.
Given their desire to expand into western markets, we wouldn’t be surprised if Hero Motocorp takes a serious look at buying the assets of EBR – whether Erik Buell has a future in the industry however remains to be seen.