EBR Motorcycles closing again

Poor interest from dealers and challenging conditions forces EBR into another shut down

Simon Greenacre's picture
Submitted by Simon Greenacre on Mon, 06/02/2017 - 11:14

EBR motorcycles

ERIK Buell Racing Motorcycles has this week begun winding down its operations following a recent announcement that the beleaguered US manufacturer is shutting down once again.

EBR says it will continue to honour warranties and provide technical and parts support to dealers and riders but will be reviewing ‘strategic alternatives with interested investors regarding production operations.’

A press release from EBR and owners Liquid Asset Partners (LAP) revealed little about the reasons behind EBR’s most recent shut down but says that the ‘tough decision’ has come after difficulties in signing the new dealers it needs to achieve its plan for growth.

EBR also alluded to Polaris's recent announcement that it was shutting down Victory, saying that ‘the combination of slow sales and industry announcements of other major OEM brands closing or cutting production only magnified the challenges faced by EBR.’

The past two years have been tumultuous for EBR: it folded in April 2015 after getting in to financial difficulty, got bought by liquidators Liquid Asset Partners in February 2016, then announced to the world that a plan was in place for its revival and resumed production in March last year.


This guy got way too much credit and support from the US media.

Victory and EBR both refused to manufacture motorcycles people wanted. They both had some crazy vision of designs at the extreme ends of the spectrum.

This comes as no shock. I predicted it a year ago, writing:

"Liquid Asset Partners is a liquidator. I can find no evidence that they have ever partnered with anyone to revive any business whose assets they bought at auction. Ever. They sell the physical property, patents, and trademarks and then move on. Hoping for them to revive EBR is like hoping that a vulture circling over a dying man will fly away to summon help."

Under LAP's ownership, EBR offered nothing new -- no sport touring bike, adventure bike, middleweight bike, or electric bike. LAP slashed the MSRP of the 1190RX and 1190SX to the point where there was no hope of profitable production with new parts (as opposed to what LAP acquired in the auction). The announced-but-never-sold "Black Lighting" was priced the same way.

The problem was the EBR made sport bikes for knowledgeable, experienced street riders rather than for kids and posers fantasizing about standing atop World Superbike podiums. That's too small a market. But it's why so many members of the motorcycling press, who spend as much time in motorcycle saddles as Internet EBR detractors spend in swivel office chairs, were enamored with EBRs.

Kawasaki, BMW, Yamaha, Honda, Suzuki, Ducati have no problem selling sport bikes for knowledgeable, experienced street riders. Buell has always designed flimsy crap that confused innovation with just different. When EBR first released these bikes, they fell apart in press track days and they were a symptom of American industry's obsession with second-rate engineering. The problem is that there are many great liter sport bikes to choose from all over the world and Buell was too little, too late and a lifelong victim of half-assed support from Harley, despite the massive Harley profits relative to other companies that do real R&D.

Sportsbikes are a dead end at the moment. I was cheered by the efforts of EBR at WSB level, as it showed a commitment to improve. But competing for sales with Ducati (it's most obvious alternative in the market) was a losing tactic.
That the bikes looked so odd, and not in a good way like Buells of old, was always going to count againt them.
Look at a Monster or 1098/1199 against their range and see where the people walk towards.
Too bad, as their intentions were good. Perhaps their business and technology base will be bought by a Chinese or Indian manufacturer? There's alot of development under the tanks of those bikes.

EBR had nothing to do with Harley and it was formed long after Harley shut down the Buell Motorcycle Company.

EBR bikes were not "flimsy crap...[that] fell apart in press track days." They didn't "fall apart" when tested by Cycle World, Road Racing World, The Telegrah (UK), Road Racing World, Motorcycle Consumer News, Top Gear magazine, Cycle News, CNET Magazine, and many others. So much for your "alternative facts."

You claim that "Kawasaki, BMW, Yamaha, Honda, Suzuki, Ducati have no problem selling sport bikes for knowledgeable, experienced street riders." Outside of Ducati, they don't even market to that segment. Take Kawasaki for example. They advertise that "[d]own to the finest details, everything that goes into the Ninja ZX-10R has the sole purpose of making it the fastest bike on the track." That's not how you design a bike for, or market a bike to, knowledgeable, experienced street riders. It's how you make a bike that's poorly suited to street use but that will sell to the Walter Mitty riders who imagine themselves riding the Laguna Seca corkscrew as they descend into the parking garage at the office where they work.

Cut and paste error. Second "Road Racing World" should have been "motorcycle.com," but I must have fat-fingered the cut and missed that when I pasted.

"That's not how you design a bike for, or market a bike to, knowledgeable, experienced street riders. "
LOL. Since when has a ZX10R been marketed towards lazy street riders? The Supersport and SBK class bikes were always designed for the 70% track and 30% road bias owners in mind who can take their powerful bikes to the local race track and stretch its legs.

If you're so knowledgeable and experienced maybe you shouldn't be confusing a street bike(see FZ10, MT09, MT07, CB650F, Monster series, SV650) etc for an RR which literally stands for Race Replicas and are built to be fast on a race track.

What next? You're going to complain about sport tourers like Ninja 1000, VFR1200F not being marketed towards the KTM 1090/Africa Twin type ADVs?

Also, when EBR-Hero deal fell apart, I asked an EBR rep via a journalist as to why they aren't catering to the entry level sport market where cheap sport bikes in the 300-500 class are in good demand these days. The EBR rep's response was that for some weird reason relating to emission laws in the US, they cannot meet the demands of the EPA to build smaller bikes than those expensive P.O.S they sell right now in a non existent market.

It happened to the Italian manufacturers when the Japanese landed in Europe and basically took over everything from big names like Benelli who like EBR had a good local reputation but not the reliability, affordability and maintenance schedule anybody wanted to live with, let alone the dismal service network coverage for their time.

MV Agusta are also in the same boat and I suspect they will be filing for bankruptcy in the next few years.

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