Remember that American firm Buell Motorcycles, formed by ex-Harley Davidson engineer Erik Buell? Probably not, but its history is an interesting one, formerly Harley Davidson owned, and ran as a subsidiary from HD, and with good sales numbers. 2006 saw Buell hit the 100,000th motorcycle sold, but 2009 saw HD drop the line in an effort to put more focus on their own products, with final sales numbers of Buells at 136,923.
Buell’s origins started in 1983, making solely racing machinery after boss Erik was a privateer road racer. After success in racing machinery, Erik looked to making street machinery using Harley Davidson engines. Ten years later Harley invested $500,000 into Buell in exchange for 49%. Harley added Buell to their Skunkworks program, which aimed to produce radical new models. 1998 saw Harley purchase a controlling stake in Buell, taking them on as a subsidiary company.
Buells have always used Harley Davidson engines, mainly from the Sportster, and Vrods often in a much higher state of tune than the standard HD version. Buell themselves have also come up with some revolutionary technologies. Their ZTL Zero Torsional Load floating brake system featured an inside out brake caliper. This allowed the suspension to function better and reduced unsprung weight on the front.
Fast forward to 2021, and Buell are back, motorcycles are in production at their Grand Rapids, MI site. There are new models, the Hammerhead 1190RX, the 1190SX Carbon Fibre, Super Touring 1190 and the 1190HCR.
“We are excited to bring Buell back with this awesome assortment of superbikes and performance motorcycles. We start with the fastest American production motorcycles, hand built in the USA, so that’s a nice start! We’re building out those platforms for more touring & adventure models, then we’re expanding our displacements to be competitive with other global brands. The passionate Buell Nation can grow and thrive again.”Bill Melvin, CEO Buell Motorcycles
The firm is aiming to make models in all areas of motorcycling from dirt, adventure, touring and cruisers (and hopefully sports!) with a range of engines from small to large displacement. Buell is also planning an electric model offering and is working in collaboration with electronic tech firms. At current they are making models based on the 1190 platform, which pioneered the fuel in frame, and ZTL technologies giving what Buell claims as exceptional handling and high horsepower.
“Buell is known as the American brand for high performance, innovation, & adventure. Fast is fun again on a Buell. We will continue and expand on that. We have already launched a dirt bike with Cipala Racing that won an AMA Championship and Buell will be dominating at NHRA this year. The future will be fast and fun on a Buell.”Bill Melvin, CEO Buell Motorcycles
Hopefully this news means Buell can get back to doing what they do best and building innovative motorcycles. Whether we will see them back over here we wait to find out but hopefully we will!
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