All along the way with Harley management it had been, "We don't want to do a hyperbike, we don't want to do the full fairing, we don't want to go head-to-head with the Japanese, we don't want to make a left turn and go hard-on sportbike. We want to do a gentleman's superbike, so in best Buell tradition it'll show the engine off, we'll sit the rider high and upright, and the bodywork should sort of protect him, all those kinds of things. Oh, and it needs to have a heritage legacy to the old Buells, so we need to keep some of the styling looking the same." The whole situation at H-D got pretty frustrating. I mean, I'd throw out concepts and try things, but the bottom line was always that they made the decisions as to what got built and what didn't; and I guess I was part of that, since I was part of the company. But I'm really convinced we'd have been much more successful had we come out with a genuine ground-breaking superbike with striking looks like the B2 (a fully faired twin-cylinder prototype much different than the 1125R that was on the verge of being launched when H-D killed the Buell brand), not something that basically tried to not offend too many people. That would have been the first real product with an 1125R-type motor, and we would've raced it, just as Geoff May is racing our 1190RR in AMA Superbike this year, and doing pretty good. Once again people at Harley would say, "racing is just Erik's hobby" - but I really am much more of a businessman than they think I am. You race because it's very important for the credibility of your designs and your products to have them prove their worth in competition with their rivals, probably more so when you're doing different things that other people aren't doing.
AC: The Buell 1125R has a perfectly valid engine that's not being used to power anything right now. Have you had discussions with Bombardier as Erik Buell Racing about making a future streetbike using that engine?
EB: We've had discussions with them about whether we could get parts, or if we'd be able to get engines from them in the future if we moved ahead. It's a great company by the way, both Bombardier and its Rotax division. Bombardier has some really fine people. I love working with them. They're a very innovative company.
AC: Have you discussed having them as the investor producing a Can-Am motorcycle to your design?
Buell with just one of his...
Buell with just one of his many innovations: an 1125R frame that also doubles as the fuel tank.
I can't talk about that.
AC: What exactly does Erik Buell Racing do at present, and what are you selling?
EB: Harley was going to throw away the racing stuff. I wanted to continue to help the dealers, start a race business to keep the enthusiasm up, keep the remaining dealers and the owners excited, keep the spirit alive. I also wanted to keep as many people employed as possible. Right now, we're at ten full-time and two part-time employees, almost all from the old Buell group. We build track-day bikes, where we leave the belt drive on them; some of them are built up from demonstrators that came back, and they start as low as $7500. The Daytona SportBike is a replica of the bike Danny Eslick won the AMA championship on last year, but it's not too exotic and it costs $15,900. The motor's stock, but it has a race exhaust, a tuned ECU, a chain-drive conversion, racing brakes, a suspension kit, the fairing's lighter, and it's set up for a different radiator mount. Then we make two versions of the RR, where we blueprint the motors, and there's a lot of hours in doing that. The ASB is the 1125R in American Superbike spec, and that costs $41,900, and the 1190RR is $44,900. We can also build any existing customer bike up to any of those specs.