Erik Buell, the man behind such motorcycles as the Buell Ulysses adventure bike and the XB9 streetfighter, is back in business. Now, he’s working with electric motorcycles
Erik Buell’s been kicking around the motorcycle industry for decades, rising to prominence with intriguing homebrewed privateer racing efforts in the early 1980s. He gained even more notoriety when he started building performance bikes powered by Harley-Davidson engines towards the end of the decade. In the 1990s, Harley-Davidson worked with him to operate a subsidiary that built made-in-America naked bikes and sportbikes, but by the late 2000s, the money had dried up and the MoCo axed its Buell lineup in 2009. Undaunted, he then founded Erik Buell Racing (EBR), eventually announcing a partnership with Indian moto-manufacturing giant Hero. EBR continued to manufacture sportbikes until 2015, when EBR declared bankruptcy.
At that time, the EBR lineup had sport bikes based around Rotax-built engines, as well as a naked bike, and there were constant rumours (possibly unfounded) of an adventure bike in the works. EBR was also briefly involved in World Superbike racing, but budgetary constraints held the team back. Since the 2015 bankruptcy, the disposal of EBR’s assets has dragged on and passed into the realm of silliness; originally, the assets were described as a “turn key” motorcycle manufacturing operation, but at this point, it seems EBR will never be back in business.
But as for Mr. Buell himself, he’s certainly back in business, working out a deal with Sauber Motorsports, a Swiss outfit best known for its efforts in Formula One. Buell’s teamed up with Sauber to launch a line of electric two-wheelers, sold under the Fuell brand name. Right now, Fuell has an e-bike in the lineup (quick-swap battery, sold in two versions limited to either 20 mph or 28 mph, d$3,295 US MSRP). More interestingly, there’s also an electric motorcycle, called the Flow, which is going to be available in 15 hp and 47 hp versions. It’s powered by a hub motor in the rear wheel … and that’s about all we know. Fuell hasn’t released an MSRP or range specs yet.
Well, at least this answers the question, what’s Erik Buell going to do next? The next question is, will consumers be eager to once again line up for his products? There’s long been a demand for made-in-America performance bikes, but after years of disappointing waits and letdowns, some buyers may be jaded for life. Others loved their Buell-built machines, though, so the new Fuell company is likely going to attract interest, especially with its futuristic design.