Erik Buell: Life After Harley-Davidson

Erik BuellCourtesy Amsoil

Erik Buell hasn't been sitting still much since he broke with Harley-Davidson back in 2009.

He's set up a new company, Erik Buell Racing, got back to racing, signed an exclusive distribution deal with Hero Motorcorp of India and recently unleashed his company's newest model, the 1190SX.

By this time next year he will be distributing a range of Hero motorcycles in the United States.

These are the fruits of a $25 million investment in EBR back in 2011 by Hero, the world's largest motorcycle manufacturer. Hero owns 49% of Buell's operation.

It was that infusion of cash that helped EBR with its new 70K-square-foot manufacturing facility and base of operations in East Troy, WI.

The next step in this partnership puts EBR in the lead of American sales and distribution of several entry-level Hero machines, including a scooter, a lightweight sport bike and a range of motorcycles designed for urban environments.

EBR 1190RX
Courtesy Erik Buell Racing

Being from India, Hero knows about urban environments. Cities there are among the most crowded in the world. So if Hero decides to come to America, it’s serious about it.

For his part, Buell obviously knows quite a bit about engineering and has been praised for his innovations; Hero has been benefitting from that.

An EBR racer doing what it does best, going fast.Courtesy Erik Buell Racing

Motorcycle sales figures coming out of India are stratospheric compared to everywhere else. As of March of this year, deliveries had increased a little over seven percent from last year and totaled 14.8 million units.

Compare that to total motorcycle sales in the US that hover somewhere between 400K and 500K units a year, depending on who you ask.

It’s no accident that Buell’s former business partner, Harley-Davidson, is having its two new entry-level machines — the Street 500 and 750 — built in India. They will be sold there, and here.

Motorcycle manufacturers in general are banking on expected growth in the light to mid-weight motorcycle category as younger people take up riding. The traditional user base is shrinking as it ages.