This one is truly a hidden gem as it’s not for public display, tucked away in the museum’s massive warehouse. However, its significance is no less important. When Buell was forced to close its doors after parent company Harley-Davidson shut down operations, it liquidated everything from office chairs to factory machinery. The company also had to figure out what to do with its existing prototypes and mockups. Enter the Barber Museum.
The museum acquired some of Buell’s remaining motorcycle inventory, including this clay model of a motocross bike the company was rumored to be bringing to market in 2009. Those plans were eventually scrapped to focus on the 1125R, but the MX-er was more than just design sketches on Buell’s patent, as this early prototype shows.
In typical Buell style, the frame would serve double duty and store fuel, with the bulk of it resting low in the frame, behind the engine. The forward portion of the frame would house the airbox as well, with the filter located under the seat. As it did with the 1125R, Buell turned to Rotax for a 449cc Single to compete with the top dogs in the class.
Alas, Buell Motor Company is no more, but as we now know, Erik Buell Racing has taken its place. Without the shackles of The Motor Company tying him down, it’s plausible that Erik Buell’s MX aspirations may one day see the light of day after all.
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