Buell Motorcycles is back in production, and the new ownership says there are big plans for coming years.
After Harley-Davidson shut down its Buell subsidiary in 2009, moto designer Erik Buell forged out on his own, founding Erik Buell Racing (EBR). EBR built high-end sportbikes using Rotax engines and Buell’s advanced chassis designs. The company went out of business in 2015. After much back-and-forth over the company’s assets, investor Bill Melvin eventually bought the remnants of EBR.
Since then, EBR has been building low-numbers production runs of its 1190-series naked bikes and sportbikes. Now, it’s looking to branch out into dirt bikes and adventure bikes, and it’s bringing back the old Buell Motorcycles name that Harley-Davidson canned in 2009.
Melvin actually bought the Buell brand in early 2020, and says his company plans 10 new bikes by 2024, wearing the Buell badge (however, Erik Buell himself will not be involved with the new company).
It might sound like a very ambitious move, but we’re already seeing the first steps. The company put together its first dirt bike last year, a specialized machine built for hillclimb races. Buell actually won an AMA #1 plate with this bike—see more here.
From here on, Melvin says his company is planning to build large-capacity and small-capacity bikes, presumably in cooperation with other manufacturers to source the engines (just like it’s currently doing with Rotax). Buell is also looking at teaming up with an EV manufacturer to sell an electric motorcycle. Above, you can see a render for the proposed adventure bike, called the Super Touring (read more about it here).
It all sounds pretty bold, and it’s a lot to accomplish in three or four years. It’s going to be an uphill battle for Melvin to accomplish where Erik Buell failed. However, that’s not saying it can’t happen.
Ultimately, Melvin says the plan is “to keep the iconic brand in production with specialized and performance builds,” and “keep it boutique and high performance-driven, ala Bugatti, Koenigsegg, or Lotus.” That does seem somewhat at odds with the idea of building small-capacity bikes, but then, Janus is doing exactly that in Indiana, and it’s still in business. Maybe Buell can do it too? And as for the big-bore, high-power nakeds, sportbikes, and adventure bikes, there’s always going to be interest in those machines from American buyers, at least.
Buell says there’s more information coming in the near future, as the company unveils further plan in the days around Daytona Bike Week. It shall be very interesting to see exactly where this all leads.