WHO IS ERIK BUELL?
A racer, an innovative motorcycle engineer, a designer, a businessman running a motorcycle firm and a motorcyclist at heart, all rolled into one. In his early-20s, Erik Buell was a part-time road racer who worked as a mechanic by day and as an engineering student by night, after which he landed a job at Harley-Davidson (H-D). During this period, Buell started building and improving upon his own prototypes and that eventually led to the launch of the Buell RR1000 in the market, the first Buell streetbike. Buell’s bikes were so innovative and impressive that H-D picked up a majority stake in the firm by 1998 and Buell Motorcycles went mainstream.
WHAT’S ERIK BUELL RACING THEN?
After a good run with some really good motorcycles like the XB Firebolt, the Lightning and the Ulysses, by 2008, parent company Harley-Davidson was in deep waters financially and the pen pushers at H-D went ahead with the controversial decision of shutting down Buell Motorcycles. Despite the setback, Erik Buell founded Erik Buell Racing, to continue making motorcycles the way he wanted to.
WHAT DOES ERIK BUELL RACING’S INPUT MEAN TO HERO MOTOCORP?
Erik Buell has always been fiercely innovative in motorcycle engineering and design. He pioneered underslung exhausts on motorcycles, frames that carried fuel, techniques to significantly centralise mass for better handling, rim-mounted ‘Zero Torsional Load’ disc brakes and a swingarm that carried engine oil. Though Buell has always concentrated on the larger cubic-capacity motorcycles, these engineering techniques can be deployed to great effect on a wide range of motorcycles. As Hero starts to aim higher up the motorcycle food chain, Buell’s inputs will be critical in coming up with a new generation of Hero products with a unique identity.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM THIS COLLABORATION?
A whole range of two-wheelers. Those who do know Buell will have visions of stubby V-Twin engined streetfighters in their heads but realistically, the products will be pretty varied. Like the first product of this collaboration is the hybrid Leap scooter that Hero displayed at this Auto Expo. Of course, a crisp 200-300cc streetfighter with classic Buell engineering will be just right for our market. We can’t wait for the first proper motorcycle! And since the Americans are involved, they’ll have way cooler names too!