You aren’t sure if you’re making the right decision – about anything, ever. 

—Joan Didion

I just saw my friend Mush on the Sunday morning ride. He’s still riding his single-carb Norton Interstate, the same one he’s been riding since 1977. Seriously! It’s surprisingly fast, his speed on bumpy, twisty backroads only limited by the increase in good decision-making capability that comes with age. At least in most people.

I am not one of those people. Last month, I laid out some prospective choices for my next motorcycle, and just last week I bought one. Was it the logical choice, the fun-yet-frugal FZ-07? Or the official bike of crazytown, a streetfighter 2006 GSX-R1000? Perhaps I just decided to be rational and kept my frayed-yet-fine SV650? No! That would be boring!

At least I can blame my choice on MO. I saw John Burns’ nicely done don’t-you-dare-call-it-clickbait article about best motorcycles around $10,000 and slowly clicked my way through the choices. Street Twin? I’m no beard-o. GSX-S1000? Just not… zesty enough. NC700X DCT? I have a problem with late-afternoon narcolepsy, so that’s a clear safety hazard. Guzzi Bobber? Ducati Monster? Life is too short for European motorcycles, I’ve decided. Wee-Strom? I rarely go more than 100 miles when I ride. Versys 650? I already have one! Indian Scout 60? The picture of JB riding it looked so uncomfortable I couldn’t click the arrow for the next slide fast enough. Z900? I am a grown-ass man. It looks like an adult novelty.

Skidmarks: Choices, Part II

Burns! This is all your fault.

And then… slide 10. Goddamn you, Burns! The EBR 1190SX. Well, “F-ck yeah said lizard brain, to which frontal lobe responded, “You idiot! EBR is bankrupt and you can’t even buy them anymore! Why do you need a 160-hp streetfighter, anyway?” to which lizard brain cleverly retorted, “Porn and food!” After a quick break I was on Cycle Trader, where I saw a score of brand-new 1190SXs at drastically reduced prices. I rode the 1190RX at Indy when it came out, and I found it to be everything I wanted a liter-bike to be. Fast as you’d ever seriously want to go, but comfy (at least on the track) and easy to ride, too. Under 10 grand? Sign me up.

After a day of web surfing and a night of troubled sleep, I was on the phone with a mellow-sounding salesdude at Escondido Cycle Center. Eleven-five was what they wanted. C’mon, said I, you can let it go for nine out the door. “Um, let me check with Mike.” Mike Peetz, sales manager, came on the line and said nine plus tax and fees. I repeated nine out the door, and he said… fine? Uh oh. Mike, you were supposed to be firm – it’s the only thing my lizard brain understands.

I take possession of my SX in a couple of weeks, but in the meantime I need to validate my decision. Doing a little research, I found that EBR isn’t dead. Sure, it’s a bare-bones operation, but Liquid Assets Partners, which bought the company in 2016, doesn’t want to kill it the way H-D dispatched Buell behind the woodshed. I talked to Bill Melvin, Jr., CFO of EBR, for almost half an hour, and felt a lot better about buying my bike.

“We’ve got almost every part [and we’re] restocking parts that are getting low,” he told me, and the five-person operation is honoring warranties on the 2016 and 2017 models. EBR is keeping a small office in East Troy, just moved into a parts warehouse in Michigan, and still has enough parts and equipment to resume production – just not in the volume of the Hero-ownership era. More than 90% of the tooling is with parts suppliers, so it’s not impossible that EBR could rise yet again from the ashes, and it’s clear LAP wants to keep EBR as a turnkey operation. Bill, Jr. told me he EBR is looking for a buyer. “They can call me for a price.”

A renewed EBR is the hope of the thousand-plus EBR owners around the world. They love their bikes, and like Excelsior-Henderson riders, ride them – many are still racing – and hope to pile on the miles. Ross Daigle, a self-employed machinist and mechanic has been passionate about Buells since he bought his first one at 23.

Skidmarks: Choices, Part II

Ross Daigle with his first Buell.

His first bike was a Harley. “I bought a Sportster Sport, I rode the wheels off it,” but other riders told him he should consider a Buell to ride the backroads near Amarillo, Texas, where he grew up. He rode to Colorado to meet up with some guys from a V-Twin performance shop who let him ride a Buell and he said, “Wow, I gotta get one of these!” His Sportster blew up on the way home, prompting his first Buell purchase. Ten years later, he was passionate enough about Erik Buell’s engineering to fly to East Troy, meet some of the folks at EBR, and ride a screaming yellow SX 1,100 miles back to Colorado (catching pneumonia on the way), that he’d bought brand new.

As an experienced mechanic and machinist, Ross assuaged my fears of the 1190SX blowing up before I can pay off the loan. There are some first-year teething issues, but EBR has fixes and they’re not huge things anyway: The instrument cluster needs an update, the starter-motor seal leaks, and the coolant reservoir can crack and leak. But he’s in touch with a lot of EBR owners and says there are many in daily use. He saw one being parted out with 44,000 miles. No, he doesn’t know why it was parted out. I’m guessing it was violence, not illness.

In any case, the money is snug and warm in Escondido Cycle Center’s checking account, and I will soon have a new headache in my life. I don’t ride my personal bike much these days, so this will be my trophy, maybe my last opportunity to own an unbridled liter-sized sportbike. If I enjoy it for two or three years and sell it at a loss, I’ll be ahead. Good choice? Bad choice? Doesn’t matter now.

Gabe Ets-Hokin is out of the office and will not be checking messages. Sell the house. Sell the car. Sell the kids. Find someone else. Forget it. I’m never coming back. Forget it. (I’m not really quitting, I just needed to quote Apocalypse Now.)