Riders the world over were ecstatic when news broke that Buell Motorcycles has resurfaced. But despite that company’s pioneering ploys for the future, it will go forth without its founder, Erik Buell. Buell Motorcycle’s story is surely a wild ride. The company was created in the early 1980s by former road-racer Erik Buell. The machines bearing his name boasted advanced chassis built from Erik’s racing experience, and air-cooled engines manufactured by Harley-Davidson. In spite of the brand’s initial success, it struggled after 2009. The company, becoming a division of Harley-Davidson in 1993, was closed down by the (non-riding) CEO of Harley-Davidson during the Great Recession. The same man who publicly wondered why people ride sports bikes shut down one of the most innovative lines of sporting motorcycles seen in decades. Michigan-based Liquid Asset Partners (LAP), a specialist in dismantling and selling off corporate properties, was hired to liquidate Buell’s assets.

Erik Buell, a perfect example of an American maverick, has been making waves in the motorcycle industry for 40 years. [Fuell]
Despite this tremendous blow, Erik was not deterred, and founded Erik Buell Racing (EBR) in late 2009. “I ran a small company called EBR which designed a lot of innovative product concepts for HERO, and also evolved the Buell 1125 motor into an 1190 version, of which we made a few thousand. The EBRs were exciting; however, I found it more interesting creating radical concepts for HERO. Although these were concepts and most did not get to production, after so many years doing more conventional products, I found real inspiration in being able to stretch into new areas, like the HERO Leap, iOn, RnT and SimplEcity,” Erik stated. But history repeats itself, and just as it had done with Buell Motorcycles, Liquid Asset Partners liquidated EBR in 2015, after HERO was unable to pay its bills. This time, LAP decided to keep the EBR brand, and carried on producing EBR bikes in limited quantities.

Erik Buell’s original hybrid, the 1982 Buell RW7501: a chassis of his own design housing a Barton racing two-stroke engine.  Erik quit his job at Harley-Davidson to develop a limited number of these racers, before they were rendered obsolete by rule changes at the AMA.   His next engine?  A cache of 50 unused Harley-Davidson XR1000 motors left at the factory after the model was dropped, for his RR1000 model of 1987. [Buell]
Now it seems that the original Buell Motorcycles brand is back from the dead, with a stream of future models in the pipeline, according to press releases.  Buell Motorcycles is on target to release 10 performance-based models by 2024, including touring, dual-sport, dirt, and cruiser bikes.  But Erik Buell isn’t involved with either the Buell or EBR brands. Instead, he has turned his attention to the EV market, co-founding FUELL in 2018. “I co-founded FUELL because there was clearly a great need for new products and innovations in the electric motorcycle/bicycle world. That is where I have been for the last three-plus years, and it is very exciting to be free to design radical stuff,” Erik explained.

The Fuell Fllow eBike bears much of the original thinking behind Erik Buell’s work. It’s intended as a light urban commuter. [Fuell]
Erik believes that the future is electric. He sees the EV market growing, especially in urban areas that allow for short-distance trips. “The growth will be mostly urban short distance as the energy density of batteries is far less than that of gasoline. Thus, long range between re-fueling stops is simply not a technical possibility on a two-wheeled vehicle. To get extra range, much more weight must be carried than for equivalent range using fossil fuel. In a four-wheeler, that weight is not noticed. In a two-wheeler it is unmanageable. However, in shorter, lower speed trips, electric makes a lot of sense, and will also be forced by urban governments. Years down the road higher-energy-density batteries will come, and of course more recharging stations and more rapid recharging speeds as well. But that is way out, and the urban/suburban use and need will drive the market for some time,” he explained.

The Fuell Fllow electric-assist bicycle is on the market now. [Fuell]
Diehard Buell Motorcycle fans are guaranteed to love FUELL’s bikes. “The bikes are fun, nimble and very quick-accelerating. So they have a number of attributes Buell riders enjoy. They also bristle with innovation, which appeals to these riders,” Erik said.  The Buell Motorcycles name may be back and making sports motorcycles, but Erik, in his usual maverick way, has set his sights on the future, via electric-powered motorcycles and bicycles.  Our Publisher, Paul d’Orléans, even managed a test ride on the electric-assist Fuell Flluid bicycle in New York City three years ago, courtesy Fuell CEO François-Xavier Terny, whom he met via Terny’s other motorcycle projects in the past (Confederate, Vanguard, Veldt helmets, etc)

Our publisher Paul d’Orléans checking out the Fuell Fllow at their pop-up store in NYC in the Fall of 2019. [Francois-Xavier Terny]
…and Paul d’Orléans road testing the Fuell Flluid in NYC’s Chinatown in 2019. “It was a blast, so to speak, and made a zippy ride through urban streets super easy and fun.” [Francois-Xavier Terny]
Buells are Cool. The amazing Ronin ‘Oishi Yoshio’ Pikes Peak racer, a feature of our Custom Revolution exhibit at the Petersen Museum. [Ronin Motorworks]


Stephanie Weaver is a Philadelphia-based freelance writer. When she’s not locked to her laptop, she can be found riding horses and motorcycles.
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