The big news this week is the Erik Buell Racing’s assets were bought, as a going concern, by Atlantic Metals Group LLC. Heading that purchase effort is Bruce Belfer, who will takeover as CEO of Erik Buell Racing, while the big news is that Erik Buell will remain as the company’s president.
Talking in an interview with the Milwaukee Business Journal, Belfer explained that he intends to restart EBR’s core business of making motorcycles, saying that “In [his] opinion, what was a viable manufacturing operation had become distracted by a single-customer consulting operation.”
This statement is of course refers to EBR’s work for Hero MotoCorp, which the Indian company bought during the receivership process for $2.8 million. Belfer’s comment, along with others made to the Milwaukee Business Journal, are a telling of his view on EBR’s prospects as a stand-alone motorcycle brand.
Of course, it was EBR’s consulting work with Hero MotoCorp (along with the company’s equity purchase and race team sponsorship) that fueled EBR’s operations.
With only a handful of dealers, and bikes slow to move out of dealership showrooms, one could argue that it was instead Erik Buell Racing’s motorcycle production business that did the company in, despite conspiracy theories from Buellistas about Hero MotoCorp.
Keeping Erik Buell on at EBR is perhaps a double-edged sword. The Buell name is invariably linked to EBR, and much of the brand’s following stems from Erik Buell himself.
On the other hand though, Buell’s involvement can also be seen as more of the same from Erik Buell Racing, with this third incarnation of the Erik Buell’s dream seemingly just as doomed as its predecessors.
Success for Belfer, Buell, and EBR will likely rely on strong access to capital, the ability to re-instill faith in dealers and find new ones, and being able to produce a motorcycle to consumers that competes in price, performance, and quality.
As always, time will tell.