Buell History

  • There is a lot of good information about Buell history on the web. Check out my links to find more. I liked the following summary well but cannot recall where I got that from....Erik Buell rode his first motorcycle at the age of twelve and was instantly hooked. Later, when he took a job at a local motorcycle dealership to pay for night school classes, he rapidly worked his way up from trainee mechanic to service manager. During that time, he started road racing at amateur level and his dedication and talent soon took him to the highest level of professional racing in the States. In 1978, he recorded the fastest newcomer qualifying time for the Daytona 200 race. Erik attained his degree in engineering with one intention – he wanted to continue to work with motorcycles. After graduating, he went to work for Harley-Davidson as a chassis engineer. Through his time with Harley he holds several motorcycle-related component patents. Erik left Harley-Davidson in 1982 to pursue the dream of creating his own race bike. He developed the square-four, two-stroke RW750 to compete in the AMA Formula 1 road race series. A rule change rendered the RW750 ineligible for the class so Erik turned his talents to creating an American sportbike for the street. Harley-Davidson supplied Erik with engines for a series of innovative models between 1987 and 1993, each of which incorporated unprecedented features. For example, Buell was the first manufacturer to use upside down front forks and braided steel brake hoses on a production motorcycle. By 1993, Harley-Davidson had decided to expand its business by attracting new customers in new market segments. Harley had been keeping a close eye on Erik’s work and naturally turned to him at this time. In February 1994 the new Buell Motorcycle Company was born, 49% owned by Harley-Davidson. Four years later, Harley purchased a further 49% of the company to become the majority investor, with Erik retaining a 2% share and a long term employment contract to ensure continuity of line in terms of innovation, engineering and styling. The Buell Motorcycle Company was now a subsidiary of Harley-Davidson, Inc. With the full support and backing of Harley Since 1993, Buell has introduced a series of mould-breaking, provocative sport and standard motorcycles for the street. The 2003 model year featured the first XB-series bike, the XB9R with which Buell should even further expand and gain market share. The current 2008 model year still features bikes from the XB platform along with a new Buell coup: The 1125R which I think will again boost Buell sales and guarantee a bright future with exciting iterations of the 1125R concept. The focus of my involvement with Buell motorycles concentrates however on the times from the late 80s until 2002, when the tube frame Buells evolved and represented radically different bikes built by a company which advertised being “different in every sense”.

  • I created a little timetable for the early years, up until 2002, when Buell had manufactured approx. 33,500 motorcycles within 19 years.

  • Buell history