Today is the day many EBR fans, including ourselves, have been waiting for: EBR motorcycles are back in production. After a lengthy (and complicated) period that saw EBR assets sold at auction to Bruce Belfer of Atlantic Metals Group LLC, then wrenched away and sold again to Liquid Asset Partners, it appears that stability has finally arrived.
The road to hell is paved with dead motorcycle companies, and littered with others that despite charismatic leadership, fine product, mergers, venture capital infusions, bankruptcies and other forms of financial (rather than mechanical) engineering, have ended up in the ditch. Some have been saved, some reborn, but when it comes to Erik Buell Racing, all of the above have contributed to a long, wild ride towards a destination and an outcome still unknown.
With the news of Erik Buell Racing closing its doors, this week’s Church feature pays homage to one of Erik Buell’s most popular models: the Buell Ulysses. In this particular case, it’s the 2008 Buell Ulysses XB12XT. Separating the XT from the standard X version of the Uly is its sport-oriented tires and slightly tweaked suspension to suit riders who prefer twisty pavement to dirt roads. Penning this story is MO’s Pete Brissette, who might have left the MO crew a fews years back, but is always welcome along these parts. Read along as he goes for a ride aboard the new, sportier Ulysses. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did, and Erik Buell, if you’re reading this, we hope to see you back on your feet soon. Lastly, be sure to check out our photo gallery for more pictures of the Ulysses XB12XT.
On display among the high-dollar, high-performance bikes in the Erik Buell Racing booth at the AIMExpo was this 250cc bike from Hero, the HX250R. Hero Motorcorp is a minority stakeholder in EBR, and the HX boasts design and development work from Erik Buell’s engineering group. The HX is built for the global market, and we expect it will eventually be imported to America after production commences in India.
In case you haven’t heard, we here at Motorcycle.com really like the KTM 1290 Super Duke R. I mean, we really like it. Its 1301cc V-Twin is beyond brutish, with a chassis more than capable of supporting that engine both in the canyons and the track. What’s more, its relatively upright ergos are plenty comfy for the daily commute to/from work, school, or a leisurely weekend cruise. So far, it has proved itself as king of the hill in the stacked Super Streetfighter category, as it beat out the BMW S1000R, Ducati Monster 1200S, Kawasaki Z1000 ABS and MV Agusta Brutale in part one of our Streetfighter Shootout. It backed its victory with another win, this time topping the S1000R (again) and nudging the Aprilia Tuono V4R APRC ABS off the top of the Streetfighter hill in part two of our Streetfighter Shootout. The bike’s so good, we named it our 2014 Motorcycle of the year.
The heavyweight Streetfighter category of motorcycles has exploded in popularity lately, with seemingly every manufacturer jumping on the bandwagon for a piece of the pie. Japan’s represented with the Kawasaki Z1000, Honda CB1000R, and even Suzuki is entering the ring in 2015 with the GSX-S1000. Italy’s three representatives include the MV Agusta Brutale 1090RR, Ducati Monster 1200 and Aprilia Tuono V4R. Germany, of course, gives us the BMW S1000R, and we can’t forget BMW’s Austrian neighbors and their contribution to the party: the all-conquering KTM 1290 Super Duke R, Motorcycle.com’s 2014 Motorcycle of the Year.
The hallmark of a good sporting motorcycle is one that instills supreme confidence in its rider to comfortably push their abilities. And if the motorcycle also is able to turn heads in the process, then all the better. Of all the new sportbikes we’ve ridden in the past year, none have felt as sure-footed and confidence-inspiring as the Ducati 899 Panigale, Motorcycle.com’s Sportbike of the Year. It doesn’t hurt that the 899 is a sexy object of desire, to boot.
From rags to riches and back to rags again, the formation of Erik Buell Racing, or EBR, is testament to Erik Buell’s unwavering belief in himself and his quest back toward the path of riches. Although he has experienced the full range of emotions during his career, if there’s one thing Buell is not, it’s a quitter, and the closure of Buell Motorcycle Company wasn’t going to stop him. In the spirit of the American dream, Buell uses setbacks as fuel for the immense fire burning inside him – one with a very clear and singular focus: to create the ultimate sportbike, and to create it in the U.S. of A.