Three days ago we broke the story that Erik Buell Racing had been bought here. Over the weekend, our Asbury Park correspondent sat down with its new owner for this exclusive interview.

To know where Bruce Belfer is coming from, you have to know where he is actually from. I do, ’cause it’s where, and when, I’m from. That would be the greater Asbury Park area of the Jersey Shore. Jack Nicholson is from here. So is Danny DeVito. Throw in Springsteen, and I would take a night on the town with these locals versus virtually anyone else on the planet.

In the ’70s and early ’80s, as The Boss wrote in “Born to Run,” Hemi- powered drones screamed down the boulevard. Asbury was American Graffiti writ large, and ‘The Circuit’ was the epicenter, with a beach, boardwalk, bikes, hot cars, hotter chicks, and rowdy bars with some of the greatest bands and musicians ever concentrated in one square mile. I was there almost every night, and so was a young Bruce Belfer (there’s a somewhat dated history of The Circuit here).

Asbury Park

Tramps like us, Asbury Park, NJ, circa 1980.

Belfer cut his teeth as a security guard at the infamous Mrs. Jay’s bar, the Asbury Park biker hangout pictured above. (Correction from Bruce: “Mrs. Jay’s was a short term gig for me. I’m better known at the Stone Pony and the Fast Lane. Already catching shit from the local Asbury Music Mafia.”) He embodies a certain Jersey archetype; no-BS, loyal, guarded, probably much stronger and smarter than you, and with a mischievous sense of humor. He is a successful businessman, an accomplished engineer, an ex-bouncer, and a dedicated biker. He’s still around his hometown. And he’s about to own an iconic American motorcycle brand. We managed to squeeze ourselves in for a quick talk over the weekend about the future of Erik Buell Racing.

Andrew Capone for MO: So, Bruce, how about a little background? You grew up in Jersey, what else?

Bruce Belfer: Mine’s the typical Jersey shore background; there’s the beach, there’s music, there’s motorcycles, there’s life.

MO: And you’ve been in the security business, you’re an engineer.

BB: I am a mechanical engineer.

MO: And you’ve been in that field a long time, as well as being a motorcycle guy. Being an enthusiast is one thing, but really getting into the business, the actual manufacturing, marketing and distribution of motorcycles is a big step. Tell us about the pathway to EBR.

BB: The long version of that story is I’ve been making metal into money since 1979. As a manufacturer of [commercial lighting] products, there are some common threads that run through that business that are similar. Once you’ve mastered manufacturing, there are a lot of common elements. My road to here is a lifetime passion for motorcycling, and a lifetime passion for manufacturing.

I originally tried to reach out to Erik Buell when the Harley situation came apart for him, and was unable to reach him. Being a lifetime fan I think is the right word, of him and his innovative ingenuity as applied to motorcycles and particularly chassis dynamics… I’m just a reader and follower of what’s he’s done and how he does it.

When this came up I reached out and got him the day after the announcement was made that EBR was shutting down, and shortly thereafter got in contact with the receiver’s representatives. Those gentlemen steered me through the process of what the nature of EBR was prior to the close, and what the structure would be, or could be, after the close. Then I spent four months of some very heavy due diligence, to wrap my mind around what was available to be bought.

And what I saw was a highly competent, technical company with an immense and very deep talent pool, which had been distracted from its primary business of manufacturing motorcycles, and had become a consulting arm to a company, in my opinion, that did not focus its energies well. So what was missing from the equation was service to the customer base, in the form of parts and warranty service and new models. At base, the core business was being ignored at the direction of the big-money parent company.

Bruce Belfer

Bruce Belfer has been making money out of metal since 1979. He doesn’t expect that to change with his acquisition of EBR.

MO: You’re talking Hero?

BB: That’s correct. I’ve got nothing bad to say about Hero, they did what they did and frankly, they dropped this opportunity in my lap. As long as we part on amicable terms, I have no issue with them.

MO: The fork in the road is that Hero goes back, does what they’re doing. You’re going to take EBR in the direction you want to take it in, with whatever assets come along. So there’s EB and there’s R. You’ve got a very strong presence in Erik Buell and everything he means to this industry and company, the fact that they’ve made some very interesting race bikes in addition to that mantle of American sporting performance. How do you see all that working out moving forward?

BB: As I said, EBR has a super-deep talent pool and a very rich community of exceptional engineers. I’m not one for speaking in hyperbole, but this is a fact: These guys are core. They’re not fooling around, they ride what they build. And that particular talent pool understands chassis dynamics probably better than anyone else in the business. Even when the components they’ve had to work with weren’t the best, and even when they didn’t have the most horsepower, they’ve always built the best-handling, easiest bikes to ride fast. To me, you can’t really separate the EB from the R. They’ve cut their teeth in racing. Having said that, applying those skill sets to a broader range of products makes a lot of sense to me.

As I look over the future and what potentially is a good market for EBR, we have to hold onto the Erik Buell Racing definition of EBR, and we have to expand it to Engineered By Riders; that’s what this company produces, and we have to make more of them available to people who ride.

MO: The “consulting” word is in there. It’s interesting, I’m a fan of Lotus cars and have been forever. There’s always been an angle with companies with that kind of engineering expertise that also consult; Porsche does it, Lotus does it… in the British Midlands there’re dozens of companies, Cosworth, et cetera. Do you see an angle there? Will you focus intensely on the brand EBR and what that means to American enthusiasts, or are there opportunities given the engineering talent to insert yourself on a wider level?

“America needs another cruiser manufacturer
like it needs a hole in its head.”

BB: The short answer is we’re going to focus on riders and bikes for riders. This is still a small company, there are challenges ahead for us, and the one thing we can’t afford to do is lose focus. The focus we need to maintain is on our customer base, the rider base, the dealer base… the people who rely on EBR for their favorite pleasure, for their, uh, for their rush. That’s your core. First things first, you need to step up and be there for your core. And you have to introduce products that are relevant to the core, and expand the core to people in the next zip code.

I’ve already been asked a million times, `Hey, are you gonna build cruisers? Choppers?’ Uh, no. America needs another cruiser manufacturer like it needs a hole in its head. You’ve got Harley-Davidson, which rightfully owns that business and does it better than anybody else on the planet, you got Victory, Indian… those guys, that’s where they live. So, no, we’re not going to go that route. We’re going to stick to what we do best in the markets where we do best with the clients who love us best, and we’re going to do right by them. That’s the focus. If we can get that done, everything else will fall into place behind it.

MO: Have you had any feedback from dealers? How will you manage, or maybe repair, the dealer relationship?

BB: The dealer base is rightly upset about the situation. Here you are committed to a brand and the brand has to close its doors. That’s a very jarring and in some cases frightening situation for a dealer to be in. Our first order of business at EBR is to reconnect with our dealerships to figure out who’s still on board; there may be some attrition, it wouldn’t surprise me — but I’m hoping it will be minimal, and that the best players stay in the game. I can’t speak for them.

I can speak to what we’re going to do, and we’re going to do right by our dealers. And we’re going to do right by our clients. The first thing we have to do is step up.

Top Ten Erik Buell Ups & Downs So Far…

MO: You’ve come to this from a very different angle. You’ve got a strong personality, you’re entering into all sorts of partnerships, it’s a global business, an American brand… you’ve got dealers, suppliers, now the press to deal with. Have you thought about how it’s all going to work, an organization, do you have those human assets in place? Will that come from EBR, or will you build a Jersey coalition?

BB: The short answer to that is I’m going to deal with them the way I’m dealing with you: I’m going to be me, I’m going to say what I mean and mean what I say, and I’m going to do what I said I was going to do. That’s the first order of business for anything I’m involved with. Building an organization is a lot easier when you already have some of the players on the team. EBR is not without some of those human resources, although some of those resources have found other work. We’ll need to rebuild some of it, and I’ll be the first to admit I’m not used to being this much of a, I hesitate to say “public figure,” but I was also not used to buying a company out of Chapter 128 in Wisconsin — but I’m a quick learner and I’ll figure it out, just like I figured that out.

MO: Is EBR going to stay where it is? Will you bring some of it to New Jersey? Can you do it yourself? Will you need to bring in other people for financial partnerships?

BB: You’re sitting in this building. It’s 100,000 square feet on 27 acres; if you think I did this all by myself, you’re crazy. I have been surrounded, and surrounded myself with, people who make me look like a genius since I got started in business. And although I’m the one that generally is responsible for everything good and bad, that’s just being the boss. My job here is to assemble the best people so they can make good decisions and execute those decisions. If I make a bad decision, it’ll punch me in the mouth fast enough for me to change the decision. But you‘ve got to make decisions, and you’ve got to take action. If you don’t do those two things, it doesn’t matter what else you do.

MO: What’s your take on the product? Aside from that you’re a fan of EBR motorcycles and their really interesting niche and all the attributes we talked about. Do you have plans for the current range of models? Are you germinating ideas now about what’s next as far as improving them, supplementing, replacing?

BB: Yes. I know exactly what I want to do. I know I have a team of people who know how to do exactly what I want to do. I also know, and have been overwhelmed by the response of the ridership; they know what they want. So our job here is to find the intersection between what we want to do and what our customers want from us. Find that intersection and deliver there.

“I will not sacrifice the core business for a racing program.”

MO: How about the R side, the racing side? I got to know Mark Miller and Brandon Cretu last year, two riders with the best sounding bikes on the Isle of Man TT course. Huge positive vibe for American riders and American bikes there, even post-bankruptcy, Splitlath and some of the other folks are still supporting EBR. Will that get back up to speed quickly?

BB: Splitlath has been in contact with me on a number of occasions since the announcement was made. That looks like a tremendous organization, very well-oiled, and I look forward to meeting them personally and continuing with them. I can tell you this: A racing program is one of the most expensive things a company can undertake, and I will not sacrifice the core business for a racing program. What I will do is support racing programs until such time as it makes economic sense and does not cost my riders, my core customers, any aspect of their relationship with EBR.

MO: The road to hell is paved with companies who overreached by racing, but it’s a huge part of EBR’s brand.

BB: It is a huge part of the brand. But for me it has to be about business. For EBR and its employees, it has to be about business. If you spend all your time at the track, and you can’t pay the rent… first order of business is to pay the rent and service the core, the riders. To reward the faithful, that’s what’s got to happen first.

MO: Do you have a timeline to cycle back in? You’ve got the AIMExpo in October, EICMA. Will you try to cycle up for the 2016 season?

BB: We will accelerate into that timeframe based upon what we can deliver. We’re not going to promise what we can’t deliver or put prototypes out for display without the ability for people to buy them. The fastest way to make business for your competition is to put a good idea out there and not be able to deliver it. We’ll be providing a glimpse into the future, but we will not make promises we can’t keep.

MO: So you have some breathing room. You feel confident moving into this business and this industry?

BB: Confident? I’m the most confident motherfucker you ever met in your life.

“The only way for this country to return to its glory
is to make things.”

MO: What else for your fans?

BB: To the extent that the readers of are aware of what’s at least going on here in the U.S., I’m a huge proponent of American manufacturing, and I feel very strongly that the only way for this country to return to its glory is to make things. Making things allows a country and a society all the luxuries and benefits it wants. That’s how countries, nations, build value. And if you want to see a country building value, take a look at Shanghai 10 years ago and Shanghai today. They did that with American money, because we keep buying stuff from them.

The only way for the U.S. to get back on its feet – and you can listen to politicians till you’re blue in the face – the only way it’s going to happen is by being productive. And EBR is a way for me to continue to be productive. It’s also an opportunity for the employees of EBR to continue being productive, and for the vendors of EBR. And that, to me, is the best possible use of my time. That’s what I love to do: to think about something, to develop something, and to make that something. Here’s my chance.

Eric Buell

The last point I’d like to make is about Erik Buell the man. It’s one thing to know a person from their work and from what’s written about them, the interviews they give. It’s another thing entirely to meet and spend time with them, and to begin to understand that person. What needs to be said about Erik Buell is, here’s a man who is so immensely talented as an engineer and as a rider — with an intuitive sense of what’s necessary to make a phenomenal machine work.

He’s never had anybody watching his back. Harley-Davidson owned him. Hero owned him. I’m not the man who owns him. Erik Buell owns Erik Buell, and I’m here to watch his back so that he can do what he does best, which is to design the best motorcycles on this planet. I’m here to make sure he can do that without having to worry about all the ins and outs of business; that’s what I’m here for. And I think that’s going to make for a very powerful partnership going forward.

AC: Greetings from Asbury Park, folks. This is going to be fun.

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  • DickRuble

    Easily the most interesting article in MO since the article on Michael Czysz. If EBR doesn’t succeed with this guy at the helm, it will never succeed. Provided he can secure funding…and drops the stupid perimeter brake.

  • Sean

    Great article. Bruce sounds like a smart man; excited to see what they come up with

  • Jrod

    Best of luck Bruce

  • ADB

    Wishing everybody luck, but this is going to be a long, uphill slog. First you have build what the customers want (most of us don’t go racing every weekend), then sell to the dealers at a profit, then hope the dealers make a profit, then pay the bills to stay in business to sell more motorcycles. Maybe H-D did know what they were doing (outside of the H-D Financial debacle through the recession).

  • Old MOron

    Great exclusive, MO. While some publications are focusing on cool hair and trendy riding kit, you MOrons are at the heart of the matter. Good luck to BB and EB.

  • icemilkcoffee

    The first order of business should be to hire a stylist. The XB line was great looking, but most of the bikes that came after that were not.

    • Bruce Wayne

      Put it down….the crack pipe

    • El Apestoso

      I wouldn’t call them good looking per se. Not like a Ducati Monster of the era, for example. But there was a certain vibe they gave off that was just flat out fun.

  • Alexander Pityuk

    I have mixed feelings about this man. He speaks well, he looks tough, and his thoughts are sound. But his business model for EBR and his whole concept of America’s economy seems a bit dated. You know: buy a shed, pay the rent, take the hammer and make something. It’s not bad, but it may be not enough. Switzerland doesn’t make anything, but Zurich is the most expensive city in the world to live in. Germany produces quite a lot, but overwhelming majority of the money comes from selling engineering and from producing abroad. But i wish them all the luck in the world.

    • Hughlysses

      Well, think about it: what got EBR in this situation in the first place was following the currently accepted business model and making themselves (mostly) an information company. When their customer thought they had a lock on the information they needed, they jerked the rug out from under EBR and EBR was screwed. The problem with that model is that everybody can’t just sell information; SOMEBODY has to build stuff. An excellent book on the subject is “Shop Class as Soulcraft” by Matthew B. Crawford.

      • Jason

        NO. EBR got into this situation because Erik took the money he got consulting for Hero and threw it away trying to race in World Superbikes and sell an ultra premium sportbike. The market doesn’t need another overpriced sportbike and the market spoke loud and clear.

        I have read the book and agree that someone needs to make things. However, you can’t just make anything, you have to make what people want to buy at a price they can afford.

        • Hughlysses

          Hero funded the WSBK effort completely independently of EBR’s consulting earnings. Erik stated in a Cycle World interview they were working on less expensive, more mainstream motorcycles. Hopefully we’ll see those in the near future.

          • Jason

            Which pocket the money came out of is irrelevant. EBR did spend money on WSBK, money they couldn’t afford to spend.

          • Hughlysses

            Of course it’s relevant- Hero didn’t give EBR cash and say “spend it however you want”. They said “we want world wide advertising for the Hero brand so we’ll sponsor a WSBK team if you run it.” The WSBK money was completely separate from the money EBR earned consulting for Hero.

          • Jason

            EBR spent a huge amount of money developing and tooling up a motorcycle line that was a sales disaster. EBR didn’t rack up millions in debt doing uncompensated contact work for Hero. EBR racked up huge amounts of debt because the revenue from selling motorcycles didn’t cover the cost.

          • Buildercher


  • Buildercher

    This whole EBR saga is getting bit old, time to put the old dog down for good.

    • mackja

      That is just the attitude needed!! No wonder the USA is in the ditch,If you only knew how many successful companies and individuals failed multiple times, heard NO a bunch, but what made them succeed is putting their head down and kept moving forward. Ducati, MV Agusta, Moto Guzzi, Benellii, Cagiva,Triumph, Norton, Indian just to name the motorcycle manufacturers who failed multiple times before finding success. I give Bruce a big thumbs up, and will be rooting for EBR and look forward to see what they have up there sleeves!

      • Bruce Steever

        Triumph is definitely a success story with few errors. But Ducati needed to be rescued a few times, MV Agusta is still lost in space, Moto Guzzi is an also-ran, and the rest are jokes. Norton is a success?! Really?

        Rosiest of rose-tinted goggles, Mackja.

        • Ducati Kid


          The TRIUMPH saga is rife with sales success of late but reported Corporate financials don’t reflect this.

          Where are the associated profits as TRIUMPH has reported dire financial results since 2013?

          • Arf

            “Hello, McFly!…” Err.. John Bloor is no schmuck. Reported profit = Corporate Tax bill. He’s been working HMRC for years. If they’re so short of money, how do they keep launching new platforms all the time (with the impending 1100cc Bonnie being just the most recent)?

          • Ducati Kid


            Indeed correct, Mr. John Bloor runs Bloor Holding a successful Housing Business and also Nick Bloor’s (Son) cash strapped TRIUMPH Motorcycle.


            The successful Housing Business funds an unsuccessful motorcycle division until an acquirer is found.

            Been that way since 2012!

          • Arf

            Well the Bloor family don’t seem to be in a tearing hurry to sell, they’ve owned Triumph for the last 32 years. They must be making some serious moola from houses to carry that lame duck!😋

          • Ducati Kid


            Recall they have been losing money since 2012 leaving decades of profits from TRIUMPH.

            Interesting that under John’s regime TRIUMPH profited.

            Enough income derived for Three (3) Thailand factories permitting sufficient Bonneville production to account for 61% of total TRIUMPH sales.

            No wonder revised Bonnie’s are scurrying about Europe …

            My Take?

            A TRIUMPH ‘Speed Twin’ comprised of influences from Three (3) Bonneville’s.

            Enjoy …


          • ADB
        • mackja

          Norton is doing well, we just don’t know much about them in the usa. MV is on the move the F3 platform is a huge success, and they are expanding the dealer network in the USA. Guzzi is not my brand but Paggio group has done a good job with all there products. My glass is always half full!!!!

          • ADB

            I just bought a brand spanking new Norge (after Mr. Siahaan’s review and Mr. Burns great “sidebar” video comments. Fabulous motorcycle with comfort in spades. The only thing that would have been nicer is if I could have spent my money on an EBR Sport Touring bike, – but that will never happen with the current mindset at EBR.

      • DickRuble

        Talk is cheap. Are you going to buy a Buell bike? There are a few super deals to be had. Until they sell the backlog, they won’t be assembling many new ones.

        • mackja

          I bought number 116, 1190rx in red, awesome machine!!!!

          • DickRuble

            Post a pic, and so that we know it is your bike and it’s a recent pic, place a boot next to the front wheel.

          • mackja

   Good lord, I have never been asked to prove such things but here you go!

          • DickRuble

            Awesome!! You’re the man. Congrats.. How many miles so far? Does it live up to the reviews?

          • mackja

            Just turned 5,000 miles, the bike is awesome, laser handling, easy to ride and a TON of power, and as sportbikes go it is real comfortable,. I have not put it on the track yet, but soon. I use my Buell 1125r for track duty, so while it is familiar to me, it is much improved. Twins are my thing, and I love my EBR, it really is a great bike. Feels like a 600 with the power a 1000. If your even thinking about it, get one while the prices are low. I could go on, but then my bias will show! lol

          • john burns

            place your fingerprint on the odometer next to the 5000, photograph it, and post here with your birth certificate.

          • ADB

            Go Johnny go…!

          • DickRuble

            What happened to the front brake plastic fins contraption?

          • mackja

            Brake cooling ducts are not needed on the street, contrary to popular belief the brakes work great. Since I have not put the 1190 on the track, I mounted the cooling ducts in my Buell 1125r track bike.

          • Paul M Edwards

            Love my 2008 Buell 1125R! Very comfortable, great handling, good power to weight ratio. I even love the looks. I did a 4,000 mile trip down & back up the West coast in 10 days without any discomfort. I’ve put over 63,000 miles on mine since buying it new and I’m looking forward to another 63,000 miles…

  • Chris Cope

    Belfer’s consistent deference to “the core” is straight out of the Harley-Davidson playbook. Cycle World had a 3-part interview with Matt Levatitch not too long ago in which he refers to the importance of “the core” 14 times. The strategy seems to be working for Harley, so I think Belfer is definitely saying (thinking) the right things. And certainly I could not agree more that America doesn’t need another cruiser company.

    Indeed, from my own standpoint, I like pretty much everything I’m hearing from Belfer. Yet I find it so difficult to be optimistic. Maybe that’s my problem; maybe I’ve become too cynical and no longer believe in the American Dream. It seems Belfer still does. And, Lord, I hope he’s the one who’s right.

  • allworld

    “Erik Buell owns Erik Buell, and I’m here to watch his back so that he
    can do what he does best, which is to design the best motorcycles on
    this planet. I’m here to make sure he can do that without having to
    worry about all the ins and outs of business; that’s what I’m here for.
    And I think that’s going to make for a very powerful partnership going

    This sounds like the right guy.

    • Jason

      Time will tell. Belfer does own EBR and the real test will be when Erik wants to do something that Belfer doesn’t agree with. My gut is the owner get’s the final say.

      • DickRuble

        Possibly, but can EBR exist without EB?

        • Jason

          Sure it can. Lots of companies continue after their founder is forced out or dies.

      • ADB

        Like go racing again, and again, and again until all the money is gone again. Erik Buell Racing… maybe it should have been Erik Buell Motorcycles and none of this would have happened… Mr. Belfer, please take some control, and force him to build a sport touring bike and a standard (he’ll tell you they won’t sell and the market is small, but is that really the case? Look at BMW today with over 100,000 units sold annually, with higher priced labor to boot).

        • Dean Stanley

          yes, a new Ulysses would be good. SOme of us Buell owners are getting too old for the hard edged sportbike thing…

          • El Apestoso

            And a Lightning too!

        • john burns

          Stop Saying That. From Milwaukee Sentinel-Journal story we linked to:

          Business grew too fast

          In hindsight, Buell said, it would have been better to run the business at a more measured pace.

          “It demanded more cash than we had access to. We thought that we had the cash to cover the gap, but when it fell through at the last minute, there was nothing we could do,” he said.

          Competing in world-class racing was expensive, but Hero and other sponsors covered those costs, so they didn’t cut deeply into Erik Buell Racing’s revenue, according to Buell.

          “It was good promotion for us, but it wasn’t anything that came out of our marketing budget,” he said.

          • Buildercher

            Very good “promotion” indeed with the amount of DNFs and back row starts – thumbs up. Going “racing” in the WSB paddock showcased some major fundamental flaws with the bike and company structure as documented.

          • john burns

            but racing’s not what bankrupted them. And it did produce the best American performance motorcycles ever by a long shot.

          • Jason

            It is not hard to come in first when you are the only one in the race. The EBR seems to be a nice bike but didn’t find enough buyers at the price offered.

          • john burns

            ya think? I don’t think that’s all the fault of the bikes, I think a lot of it is herd mentality. A lot of inertia to overcome.

          • Jason

            Herd mentality? No. Price, lack of a dealership network, and a history of going bankrupt. That is a lot to overcome and will continue to be a challenge with the new owner.

            The bike by all accounts were nice, just overpriced.

          • john burns

            well, they used to be sold in Harley dealerships before Buell had ever gone bust. They have a pretty big network.

          • Jason

            The dealer network from the Harley days did not carry over to EBR. I believe at last count EBR only had about 60 dealers and some states didn’t have any.

          • john burns

            But Buell then Buell/H-D was around for many years, EBR only for the last couple. Why didn’t people buy them then?

          • Jason

            The motorcycles. The sportster engine they were using as a base was completely unsuited for the task. When Buell finally got a decent engine the styling was horrible (and the economy and motorcycle sales collapsed) If Harley had allowed Buell to use the watercooled engine sooner and Buell used a traditional fairing they may have had a chance.

            I also think if Buell would have taken the sportster engine and made a more traditional styled street tracker or scrambler they could have done a lot better and found buyers in Harley Davidson dealerships. Triumph was selling Bonnevilles hand over fist in the 2000s.

          • john burns

            Sigh… the XB9-S was and is a far superior motorcycle to any current Bonneville. If people had ridden both, well…

            Herd mentality.


          • Jason

            Maybe, maybe not. I’ve ridden both and the Buell is great for solo riding but I could never ride two-up on one.The fact remains one was a huge success and the other a failure.

            Buell has a long history of trying to tell the market what it should want instead of building what it actually wants.

          • john burns

            How much is down to one being completely unique and the other being a copy of a thing from the `60s? Buell was much nicer better motorcycle.

          • Jason

            Most people don’t want something completely unique. Call it herd mentality if you want but it is a basic fact. In the 00s baby boomers wanted a modern copy of the bikes of their youth. The bike Buell made in the 2000s was not what most buyers wanted. Period.

            You are also leaving out something that was as true then as it is today. Even then Buells cost more than the competition. The 2003 Buell you linked was $10k back when a Bonneville was $7. You even commented in the article that the Buell cost as much as a R1 and with your own money you would have purchased the R1.

          • john burns

            Now I’d rather have an XB9S in my garage than the R1 that’s there. Whatever. They didn’t fail because they were subpar motorcycles like so many seem to think.

          • Jason

            I didn’t say they were subpar. I said that Buell didn’t’ make the motorcycle the market wanted at the time and they cost more than the competition.

          • john burns

            you said this: “The sportster engine they were using as a base was completely unsuited for the task.”
            Wrong. Buell got way more power from the totally re-engineered Sportster than any Bonneville ever made, the Buells weighed a lot less, and were a helluva lot more fun to ride. If they were a few bucks more, well… what the market wants is sometimes not very bright. And I’m very glad every manufacturers isn’t in it to cater to the lowest common denominator.

          • Jason

            Buell marketed their motorcycles as sportbikes. The sportster based engines were completely unsuited for the task of powering a sportbike. Buell tried to sell a bike that cost as much as a literbike but made the power of a 600cc. This in an atmosphere where the motorcycle press went gaga over a 600 that made 1 hp more than the rest. It didn’t help that the motorcycle press didn’t know what to do with Buells because they didn’t fit any defined category.

            IF Buell had targeted a different market like the retro market then the sportster based engine would have been fine. It would have had class leading power instead of bringing up the rear. They compared favorably to Ducati Monsters too. Again, it comes down to the target audience, marketing and styling.

            This discussion got me interested in Buells again and a quick look at Ebay shows XB Lightnings from the mid-00’s going for about $4K with less than 10K miles. Very tempting. Like I said, they are nice bikes.

          • pennswoodsed

            “Clutch like a rusty garage door spring” ,and many other.niggles. Did you ever walk into a HD store as Joe Average ? They hated the product and people interested in it . 1st person anecdote. It might have done better sold in Cabelas .
            Was I interested , yes.Did I want to deal with HD ,shit no.

          • Kevin Duke

            Yeah, if the 1125R looked like the RX, things could’ve turned out differently.

          • Jason

            Maybe. I think by then it was too late. I think Buell’s fate was sealed when Harley decided to do the V-Rod instead of developing a proper sportbike twin for Buell. The Harley VR1000 should have been a Buell and should have lead to a street legal version. Buell could have been mixing it up with Ducati’s, Honda VTR / RC51, Suzuki TLS/TLR, instead of selling a sportster powered bike that didn’t fit any established class.

      • Phil Klosterman

        Thats inevitable, it’s how they come together with their disagreements. Pat Bowlen had a very similar philosophy, I hope it works out just as well for EBR.

    • Buildercher

      “Best motorcycles on the planet”, which planet?.

  • Ducati Kid


    I join others wishing you the Best Of Luck!

    YOUR new motorcycles?

    DROP that Front ‘Z.T.L’ Brake or accept condolences from a Tech ‘Guru’ who has proved it’s folly under stress – Overheating that Single Rotor is not happenstance!

    New Product?

    Immediately suggest a BREMBO – Ohlin’s Twin Disk retrofit kit for existing BUELL titled motorcycles.

    You know what needs fixing …

    • DickRuble

      and don’t forget to put a seat on that thing..

    • Bruce Wayne

      As if Ducati’s don’t need fixing? Just look at the ECM the wrong way on a Panigale and it shorts out.

      • Ducati Kid


        As I have stated to DUCATISTA regarding the ‘Panigale’ Series –

        Question – How much did it cost Bologna to develop the ‘Panigale’?

        Answer – The Company!

        Informed Bologna recently to install a governed Circular Fan inside the Rear Cylinder Exhaust Coil outputting Engine Heated Air downward – AWAY – from the rider!

    • Ducati Kid


      After analysis – DROP the direct EBR association as it’s legacy will prove fatal while aiding YOUR existing Global customers – devotees and remaining dealers – with prompt replacement and intriguing future wares.

      As one former Northeastern cyclist and Sheetmetal worker to another –

      Let me review today’s ‘appearance and styling’ arena as it will determine –

      1) Whether Global passerby’s appreciate at YOUR product, it’s desirability …

      2) Product Manufacturability and Cost – ‘Made In U.S.A.’ can sell done right!

      3) ‘Worthwhile for Motorcycling’ product as Global cyclists view it!

      • throwedoff

        DK, why does nothing you say make sense? Your sentences hurt my head.

        • Ducati Kid


          Apologies for hurting your head once again ….

        • Chris Cope

          It helps if you imagine him speaking like the voice over guy in the old Batman TV series:

      • Ducati Kid
        • john burns

          already built that and it’s awesome, tho not quite as unattractive as yours.

          • Ducati Kid


            I can assure you that no motorcycle available anywhere, from anyone, exists employing novel technologies as contained within this cycle.

            This Concept depiction fails to present the true beauty such a motorcycle would present to ALL!


            A polished Main Star and dividing line for the Gloss Black painted Swingarm.

            John, you have been around long enough to appreciate it’s REAL advantage – a RIDER friendly motorcycle by intent!

            Today’s Electronics are a wonderful thing …

          • Ducati Kid

            To all,

            A Motorcycle History Lesson –

            Erik introduced our Globe to a ‘Belly’ located Exhaust – Done!

            This after listening to a well known and respected Motorcycle Tech ‘Guru’ about the moderate size of existing pipes and Muffler compared to visually larger Header Pipes.

  • Paul Lucas

    I hope he can turn EBR around, if he had a rum and coke in his hand I would swear this guy was Julian from Trailer Park Boys.

  • DRE

    Mr. Belfer, you are my new hero! (pun not intended). As a small Wisconsin based supplier for several years to EBR, we delighted in the bikes and designs coming out of this team. We wish you all the success in the world, and hope to participate in the future growth of the new company!

    • AKO

      The financialization of the American economy

      American De-Industrialization
      Continues Unabated

      American real economy collapse

      America’s economic elite has long argued that the country does not need an industrial base. The economies in states such as California and Michigan that have lost their industrial base, however, belie that claim. Without an industrial base, an increase in consumer spending, which pulled the country out of past recessions, will not put Americans back to work. Without an industrial base, the nation’s trade deficit will continue to grow. Without an industrial base, stranded in low-paying service-sector jobs. Without an industrial base, the United States will be increasingly dependent on foreign manufacturers.

  • Randy Darino

    im impressed with Mr. belfers words.Maybe we can get some affordable american alternatives for sport touring and standard riders now.

    • SteveSweetz

      I don’t think they have the facilities or resources to realistically compete with huge, established manufacturers in the realm of more mundane motorcycles that most of us actually want to ride. They’ll just go back to making boutique supersports because that’s all they *can* do at the moment…and that didn’t work the last time.

      • Phil Klosterman

        They need you on their Team

    • AKO

      The financialization of the American economy.

      American De-Industrialization
      Continues Unabated

      American real economy collapse

      America’s economic elite has long argued that the country does not need an industrial base. The economies in states such as California and Michigan that have lost their industrial base, however, belie that claim. Without an industrial base, an increase in consumer spending, which pulled the country out of past recessions, will not put Americans back to work. Without an industrial base, the nation’s trade deficit will continue to grow. Without an industrial base, stranded in low-paying service-sector jobs. Without an industrial base, the United States will be increasingly dependent on foreign manufacturers.


    There is one thing about Eric. He likes to have his way. I believe that’s Eric’s downfall. Brilliant engineer, horrible with business.
    Tell him he has to lose the perimeter braking for example and he is going to lose his shit. Then the relationship become adversarial and then comes the next break up.

    • Buildercher

      couldn’t agree more, oddball wacky unconventional ideas, trying to reinvent the wheel,

  • Vrooom

    Hopefully a business man can make this business work. He sounds like he has the right philosophy regarding racing.

  • Daniel Chavez

    I definitely believe in Bruce’s philosophy about fixing America. We need to create more. Develop and fabricate more. I believe it is detrimental to the planet if we don’t. All of the resources wasted on shipping over a million crates of lightbulbs or cheap baubles which can easily be made in America is destroying the planet and our economy. Trade is important but should be used only for those objects that really can’t be made here or are of a much better quality than can be made locally. Has anyone walked into a Dollar store lately? All they sell is waste. Crap that will break and be tossed away faster than the cargo ship took to bring it here. I like the sound of this guy. I wish him the best of luck in this grand endevour.

  • Phil Klosterman

    They need to get the pricing Right. Easy to say, I know. They can’t instantly expect to charge a huge premium for their bikes. The pricing needs to be UNDER what the Europeans charge by at least 10%. If a new tuono lists for $14,500 Buell needs to come in under $13,000. If they can sell them around $12,500 and give a 2 yr warranty People will buy. I’ll buy one. Then after a number of years on the market, if demand dictates, they can increase the buy in. Good luck.

    • Chris Cope

      I can’t imagine there’s any way they can do that without going straight into bankruptcy again.

  • Vincent Troniec

    Great interview , no place to go but UP. Good luck !

  • kenneth_moore

    Bravo. It’s hard to imagine a better scenario or leadership to make EBR a real player in motorcycle manufacturing.

  • James Stewart

    Let me sum up what I want Buell and the Jersey Metal Man to make: “An American KTM” (minus the dirt bikes cause you don’t have the Austrian Socialist Government and the Red Bull Energy Drink Mega millionaire guy pumping millions of dollars into your bank account)
    Let me also remind Mr Jersey Shore that if he moves the Engineering team from Wisconsin to Jersey, he going to lose that engineering core that he just paid for. There’s a whole “engine engineering” core that exists in that area – started by a great IC engines program at UW-Madison and fed by all the motorcycle/ATV/Outboard motor/generator companies in that region. Try to move it and the Wisconsin engine boys won’t follow you to Ashbury Park. Otherwise – Good Luck. A big challenge ahead. Hire a good lobbyist and see if you can rake in some Obama job money.

    • Chris Cope

      Moving from Wisconsin would also probably create some additional challenges in terms of unions, who are stronger in the East Coast than in Scott Walker’s Wisconsin.

  • Edward Cinneide

    Build motorcycles that Real Americans CAN AFFORD!!! and you might have a chance!

    • AKO

      The financialization of the American economy

      American De-Industrialization
      Continues Unabated.

      American real economy collapse

      America’s economic elite has long argued that the country does not need an industrial base. The economies in states such as California and Michigan that have lost their industrial base, however, belie that claim. Without an industrial base, an increase in consumer spending, which pulled the country out of past recessions, will not put Americans back to work. Without an industrial base, the nation’s trade deficit will continue to grow. Without an industrial base, stranded in low-paying service-sector jobs. Without an industrial base, the United States will be increasingly dependent on foreign manufacturers.

  • Bruce Wayne

    So the question is, why is the guy who just paid several million for EBR’s assets working as a security guard at a country music festival in upstate NY? And yes, it’s the same guy.

  • AKO

    The financialization of the American economy

    American De-Industrialization
    Continues Unabated

    American real economy collapse.

    America’s economic elite has long argued that the country does not need an industrial base. The economies in states such as California and Michigan that have lost their industrial base, however, belie that claim. Without an industrial base, an increase in consumer spending, which pulled the country out of past recessions, will not put Americans back to work. Without an industrial base, the nation’s trade deficit will continue to grow. Without an industrial base, stranded in low-paying service-sector jobs. Without an industrial base, the United States will be increasingly dependent on foreign manufacturers.