Is third time the charm for Buell’s resurrection?
Any brand that tries to claw its way back from the dead faces a massive challenge. Buell Motorcycles is no exception, though it’s more practiced than most brands at the art of resurrection. Could its third attempt prove the most successful? Bill Melvin thinks so.
Who is Bill Melvin, and why should you care what he thinks? Erik Buell might still share a name with the Grand Rapids, Michigan-based motorcycle producer, but that’s about it these days. Bill Melvin is the CEO who currently sits atop the Erik Buell brand, which acquired the Buell brand in early 2020. Buell was first brought to life in the 1984 and sold to Harley Davidson in the early 2000s, only to be axed by HD in 2009. Erik Buell quickly spun off Erik Buell Racing and continued producing motorcycles, though in lower numbers and with limited success.
Now, EBR Motorcycles wants to revive the Buell brand—and in a big way, too. It just announced its intent to offer 10 new motorcycles by the 2024 model year, all of which will be “performance models” ranging between dirt, dual-sport, touring, and cruiser variants. The selection will eventually include include medium- and small-displacement motors, as well.
“We are excited to bring Buell back with this awesome assortment of superbikes and performance motorcycles,” says Bill Melvin, CEO. “We start with the fastest American production motorcycles, hand built in the USA, so that’s a nice start! We’re building out those platforms for more touring and adventure models, then we’re expanding our displacements to be competitive with other global brands.”
Ramping up to compete with global brands in a short three years is ambitious, to say the least. A plan that includes designs in the ever-hotter adventure and dirt markets sounds promising, though the notion of a Buell cruiser is intriguing. With that particular model, Buell seems to be charting a collision course with Harley Davidson, the very brand that popularized Buell in the first place. HD is a cruiser-building juggernaut—can Buell challenge its former parent?
We’re still a bit skeptical, but we have high hopes, regardless, and would love to see this American brand come back to life stronger than ever.