Great American Sportbike

Whatever happened to Buell/Hero projects? Well …

Remember those designs Erik Buell was developing for Hero? The word on the street in India is that we still might see some of that work come to light.

When Erik Buell Racing announced its bankruptcy last year, there was lots of anger from the Buell fanboys towards Hero, the Indian manufacturing giant that was partnered with EBR. The Buell Faithful blamed Hero for all EBR’s problems, and were pretty concerned about the future of EBR’s superbikes, but not so much about the projects that EBR was developing for Hero (we’re talking about the same people who loved Buell’s XB9 and other naked bikes developed while working for Harley-Davidson, but hated the entry-level Buell Blast …).

So now EBR is back in business, but what about those bikes Buell was developing for Hero? After Hero bought those designs, post-bankruptcy, what happened? After all, there was a very interesting 250 cc model, and also an electric bike in the mix, and it would have been interesting to see Erik Buell’s take on those ideas.

We hadn’t heard a peep about those machines until this week, when this Indian site reported Hero and Pawan Munjal, chief executive and managing director, are still working on the designs. As they put it: “EBR had committed 17 products to Hero. It delivered 12 – bikes which required minor technology upgrades. But there were also five new products. Hero acquired these projects for $2.8 million. The HX250R, a 250-cc sports bike, and Leap, the electric scooter, were nearing completion, and Munjal is now reviewing them.”

So, don’t expect to see these machines bearing the Hero badge in your local showroom floors anytime soon (Hero is also trying to figure out how it will handle their distribution in North America, now that the deal with EBR is bust). But, it’s good to see Erik Buell’s handiwork may become a reality someday yet. His previous entry-level attempt, the Blast, met with a lot of antipathy from established riders, and was probably held back by its parts bin origins. It could be very interesting to see what Buell designed when he had a clean slate to work with.

8 thoughts on “Whatever happened to Buell/Hero projects? Well …”

  1. Seems like Eric Buell has always had way more talent and ambition than funds to see things through in best possible manner ….from early on he was always stuck using someone else’s engines for example ….SO ambitious and so talented! I can not help wondering what he might have created if he had carteblanche money

  2. I have a friend whos brother bought a blast because it was really cheap and he thought it would be a fun bike to putt around on the back roads. He only paid a few hundred dollars for it certified but even that was too much.

    Apparently it is an absolute pile of crap and isn’t even any good for casually putting around.

    I remember their advertisement of a blast crushed into a cube. When a model is that unloved by its manufacturer it’s a loud and clear warning to stay far away.

  3. “His previous entry-level attempt, the Blast, met with a lot of antipathy from established riders, and was probably held back by its parts bin origins.”
    That project was a deal with the devil – an underpowered, overweight, hideously handling, rolling pile. Antipathy is being generous…

    1. The Blast fascinates me, because it was the last made-in-America motorcycle that was A) Affordable and B) Not powered by a Harley-sourced V-twin (although it may as well have been).

      1. The Blast was half-a-Sportster 883 motor in a Buell chassis. 34 HP, crappy gearbox, expensive (at the time) – an answer to a question nobody asked.
        They tried a few at RTI, a learn-to-ride school, and just about everyone was intimidated by the size, weight, and abrupt clutch engagement.
        Not to mention that they threw off hideous amounts of engine heat and broke with embarrassing frequency.

        1. I was aware of the Blast’s engine pedigree. I wouldn’t call it an answer to a question nobody asked — the MoCo needed a beginner bike in the lineup, and this was their answer. It was an interesting idea but obviously poorly executed, although I never personally had the chance to ride one — it’s just what people tell me.

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