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.)

  • john burns

    If you don’t like it I will give you $4k for it. Cash. After my tax refund gets here.

    Wow $9k out the door? Bargain of the century for that kind of bike you are going to love it. And if you don’t, I will give you $3500 for it. Cash… in like March.

    • $3000! And that’s my final offer!

      • john burns

        third party check okay? for the down payment i mean..

        • Do u still have books of blue-chip stamps? I’ll take those and Mason jars filled with screws.

          • john burns

            wow takes me back my mom saved S&H green stamps and my dad kept the coupons in back of Raleigh filters. I think he had to smoke like 8000 packs and finally got a rod and reel.

          • They made Raleigh filters? Were they for communists?

        • Old MOron

          Buzz hasn’t been around lately, so it’s up to me:

          Hey JB, I’ll give you five cartons of smokes for it.
          I know you like OPB, so I’ll choose for you.

  • spiff

    Dude, you need to ride the wheels off of it. Hope EBR can find it’s natural fighting weight and get on with it.

    • You know, I’m a little worried that I may actually be able to ride the wheels off this bike. Wheels fall off. It happens.

      • Born to Ride

        One of my buddies I see all the time at one of our riding spots said he was allowed to take one of the early production bikes home for a week. He chose the SX and rode the crap out of it and had a blast. When he brought it back they offered him the RX and he gladly took it too. On the second day he was coming down a hill into tight hairpin, the nut came off the swing arm pivot bolt and walked itself back thru the frame, allowing the rear wheel to step out about 6 inches off center. Evidently it was no small miracle that he didn’t end up plowing the guardrail and plummeting off a precipice. He didn’t end up buying the bike. But he still thought about it even after that. It must be one hell of a ride.

  • Brian Clasby

    Good choice.

  • Ross Phelan Daigle
    • john burns

      ouch what happened to the exhaust? I like it. Is it loud like bombs?

      • Ross Phelan Daigle

        It’s an APH twin exit stainless exhaust built by Alan Hawkes in England. And since it’s a CAT delete on a V-twin with 13.4:1 compression, yes it does sound like bombs lol. Makes a Harley with drag pipes sound like a toy.

        • Gabriel Owens

          You people with your loud pipes and your make out parties!!!

          • Ross Phelan Daigle


      • Ross Phelan Daigle

        The APH exhaust, Twisted Designs carbon fiber tail tidy, and passenger peg removal IMO are the biggest changes aesthetically that really cleaned up the look of the bike. I mailed these and the IDS programmable ECM, 50dro axle and T-rex case sliders, and RX brake scoop to my buddy’s place in Janesville so I could install them after break-in mileage before I started the journey home to Colorado, which actually ended up to be 1200 miles, not 1100. I only managed 350 miles in Wisconsin before running out of time, so I did my first service at 350 miles, installed the goods, left WI, and followed break-in riding procedure until I hit 600 miles. After that, HOLY COW what a monster. Bike had 6.8 miles when I got it and just over 1550 when I pulled up into my driveway. The other mods that I’ve done since the trip are Knight Design 1″ drop billet footpegs, Acerbis handguards, Motion Pro Rev2 throttle, Buell traction grips, and Rizoma mirrors. The most popular mod for these is a 44t rear sprocket (stock is 41), but I haven’t bothered because I’m actually developing a belt drive conversion kit instead.

  • Born to Ride

    God dammit now I want one. $9k OTD? Jesus…

    • Gabriel Owens

      Lol. Me too. We could start a club.

  • Jeremy Narcavage

    I’ll admit the pricing was way to high when they first came out.
    I bought mine in June of 14. I’ve had all the normal EBR issues mentioned except for the dash issue.
    But people don’t have a clue how absolutely amazing these bikes are.
    Many talk about the lack of electronics
    but those people also just don’t know what EBR is all about.
    Most of us EBR riders don’t even use the traction control on the bike as it is and
    don’t want the riding experience to be adulterated by all that technology.
    For people that just want to get on a bike and feel an extremely powerful machine and awesome experience with superb handling, those are the people this bike was made for. For everyone else, there are more than enough cookie cutter bikes out there so they can surf the web,
    Make coffee, have the bike shift gears for them and probably even call thier mom to check in all while riding those electronically controlled machines.
    I’ll keep my EBR and actually enjoy riding a motorcycle 🏍

    • Ross Phelan Daigle

      Exactly. I turned traction control off as soon as I picked up the bike! 😂😂😂.

  • Prakasit

    Good choice of bike. BTW, nice move, getting the bike first and then doing the research. That’s how I would have done it as well :). Long live the lizzard brain.

  • kenneth_moore

    Are there reallly only a thousand or so EBR riders around the world? That would make the brand pretty rare. Who knows, maybe someday Dale Walksler’s great-grandkid will drag a dusty 1190 out of a dank, dingy basement and sell it for millions.

    Which, if we stretch the logic just a bit further, makes cashing ten grand out of the old 401k for one of these bikes a sensible, no, responsible thing to do. “Honey, its not a toy, it’s an investment in our financial future!”

    • If you can justify this, you can justify spending some money on strippers and fireworks as well.

      • kenneth_moore

        I assumed those were included with the bike.

    • Ross Phelan Daigle

      Between the 3 street models they built (1190RS, 1190RX, 1190SX), there were 1300 bikes built in 5 years. Puts things in a very different light. Hand built boutique machines ready to wow the masses in your trendy little neighborhood 😉 .

      • Andy Jameson

        there is one guy from NZ who has 2 of them, both race bikes, one set up for wet and one for dry days….

  • StripleStrom

    If every motorcycle purchase has to be rational, you’re missing the point. Sounds like a blast! No, not that Blast… I mean a maniacal good time.

  • Dutch

    I think this is the first Buell/EBR article I’ve ever seen where not a single negative thing was said in the comments. Kinda late for people to finally start appreciating the brand. I love my EBR. I bought mine shortly after the financial issues in 2015. I had just got a new job and was looking for a bike in the 10k price range. I own 2 XB’s and when I saw the RX at my local dealer for 9.9k I called them and went that weekend to get it. I haven’t regretted my decision one bit.