Erik Buell Racing Considering 250cc Learner Bike

10/03/2011 @ 11:26 am, by Jensen Beeler29 COMMENTS

Several sources have now confirmed that Erik Buell Racing is considering making a 250cc learner-style motorcycle to compliment its EBR 1190RS race/sport bike. Presumably filling the niche left behind by the crushed Buell Blast, the 250cc bike would be geared towards new and first-time riders, and would likely be MSF RiderCourse friendly. With bikes like the Kawaaski Ninja 250R / EX250 topping the sales charts as the best selling sport bike in the US, the folks at Erik Buell Racing are surely eyeing the market potential of a smaller, lightweight sport bike for the company’s growing product line.

With fuel prices only expected to get higher, the entry-level/around-town market for motorcycles is also expected to increase, especially as consumers rethink their personal urban transportation. Likely realizing the company needs to be more than just a sport bike brand, a similar concept Ducati realized several years back, a 250cc learner would round out EBR’s product line-up, and add some needed volume to the company’s production figures.

The road block for Erik Buell Racing going forward with this plan though is the fact that the small Wisconsin company doesn’t have the resources to develop a 250cc motor in house, and the options for building off an existing motor, like how the Erik Buell Racing 1190RS uses a modified Rotax lump, are extremely limited to the company. Of course if there’s one thing Buell & Co. have shown over the past couple of years, where there’s a will, there’s a way. More info as we get it.

Source: Bothan Spies

  • AK

    Real question is …….. Will it be cheaper then Kawa & Honda ??

  • fazer6

    Undoubtedly no. But will it be better?

  • Shaitan

    Love the idea, but I think 350-400cc is a better “middle ground” for learning these days, so people still get light weight and good fuel econ, but have enough grunt — especially if they’re larger people — to want to keep their bike longer than a 250cc can provide. The jump from 250cc to 600cc + is pretty dramatic IMHO. Also, since it’s not a race class in the U.S., displacement parity with other manufacturers isn’t vital and they could carve their own nitch!

  • johnrdupree

    Forget MSF friendly, how about making it Moto3 friendly?

    I know, I know, learner bike and all that, but it would be a great sales tool to have a Moto3 bike and a silhouette replica street bike.

  • Matt

    I’m down with Erik and most of his machines, but I’m not sure that our market needs a $11,000 “learner” right now. Just sayin’… EBR isnt really positioning itself as a bargain brand here or anything.

  • Skadamo

    Talk to Hyosung. They are always up for selling motors. Air cooled twin, back to roots.

  • BikePilot

    HD is already in cahoots with ATK to sell small crappy Korean bikes, maybe they decided to get back together and sell them with Buell stickers?

    EBR may be eyeing institutional buyers, perhaps governmental-ish ones restricted by some sort of buy-America policy. I know that some riding schools have fleets of blasts, even now. I doubt its because they are less expensive or cheaper to maintain than the EX250, CBR250 or WR250 and power is similar.

    I agree with Shaitan that a 350+cc bike would be more useful. That way it could have a broader power curve and be less highly tuned — could be no heavier I suspect and considerably easier to ride. It might also give it just enough oomph so its not roadkill or buzzing its brains out on the freeway. Fuel economy at speed would be improved too due to not having to totally flog the little thing.

    I’d really rather he make an 1190-power Ulysses-like thing. I love my Uly, but I don’t know that I could say no to liquid cooling and twice the power :)

  • MikeD


  • Kevin

    The Blast was such a crappy bike. I’d love to see another 250, or a modern 400, but for fcks sake not another Blast.

  • BBQdog

    Why not be more ambitious and make it a nimble 250cc sports bike ?

    At least they have some work to do at the overal looks because it looks
    like any far-east 250cc commuter on the picture above.

  • Pingback: MissAdventuring()

  • Pingback: Kelly Rogers()

  • Tom

    Kevin, the Blast was awesome for what it was. Used, as a city commuter, there really was now better bike for the money.

  • AK

    I never saw blast on street… but did use one in MSF class, really uncomfortable but functional bike car equivalent Hyundai Accent.

  • Dave

    I for once am really excited about this. I love the Buell Blast( as a tinkerer and mad scientist), granted is a bit uncomfortable but is still an awesome bike, specially if you love modifying and fabricating stuff. I can’t wait to see what EBR dishes out, this time they have free range of design and control over the whole project, I can only expect the best for this bike. Glad to see the 250s are getting more love here in America, as a 250 rider and enthusiast, this news could not have come in a better time.

  • RJ

    A 250cc GP-style sportbike would be awesome. But what Eric & Co. are prob looking for is a bike which could bring in some serious dough through volume sales. That way, they can keep the ball rolling on this little “American Motorcycle Company” adventure. Though we all love the idea of a 250cc GP replica, how many would dish out the money for one? Honda and Kawasaki market theirs at around $4,000 which is peanuts for a brand new product in the transportation universe. Heck, Vespa want over $8,000 for a trendy scooter?!! The chance of Eric meeting eye to eye price-wise with the big Japanese OEM’s is a hard ask. But if it was around $6,000 maybe it would be viable if equipped with top shelf components. I’m thinking his powertrain answer could come from Korea. Hyosung’s little air/oil-cooled 250 twin is a lot more advanced than people think.

    According to Wikipedia:

    “The Hyosung V-twin engine was designed in Hamamatsu Japan by a design team consisting of engineers who have previously worked in the research and development teams of Suzuki. Technical features include roller bearing camshafts, two-piece spring dampened bevel silent primary drive gears, dual squelsh combustion chambers; these features were previously confined to racing engines, and in the past have been uneconomical for manufacturers to incorporate into smaller capacity engines for street use. It utilizes a DOHC eight-valve engine configuration. Twin downdraft Mikuni carburetors were standard until 2008, when fuel injection became available.”

    Seems all it would need would be to not get stuck in a 500lbs+ cheap steel chassis, with even cheaper suspension components. If Mr. Buell could do what he does best (Chassis Tech) and utilized a slightly tuned version of this engine in a GP racer inspired street bike, then we might have a real winner here…

  • heineken

    Well, the problem I see with trying to compete with Honda and Kawi is that though they may sell a lot of the 250s, they aren’t making any money when they do. For the longest time, Kawasaki made the Ninja 250 simply to get a bit of brand loyalty with beginning riders. They made no money on it, but they figured it sold more of their bigger bikes when those riders moved up.

    If he’s looking to build some brand loyalty and get the name out there with beginners, sure. But if they want to make money off of the bikes, they’ll have to price them higher, which in turn will push beginners to the Japanese brands.

    No matter, I wish him the best. I’d love to see him put some of his know-how into a smaller cc bike — so long as it’s not another Blast. It may have some fans out there but I’m definitely not one of them.

  • MotoJoe

    I hope that they make a new american manufactured engine for it. Maybe they could talk to Cobra motorcycles or something. But please not another imported engine tagged as american made because it was put in a frame here in the states. I think many will agree that the engine needs to be american made to clasify the bike as american made.

  • MotoJoe, that would be nice but I believe an American made engine will take 3+ years to make happen. Motus has been hard at work for at least that long.

    I think it’s Hyosung or the highway. Kymco might be game too. Or SYM.

  • heineken

    Hmmm, well, Rotax does make a 450cc EFI motor hooked to a 5-speed…..

  • heineken

    Man, the more I think about it the more I think that would be the ticket (the 450). You’d be able to hit a price point above the 250’s but below the 600’s, and you’d most likely attract riders who ‘don’t want a measley 250!’ There are a ton of them…

    Some EBR bolt-ons to get it up to 50-55 hp and you’d have a bike that’s much more highway-friendly than the 250s and cheaper than a 600, all-the-while building the Buell name up and building a base of rider loyalty.

    And it wouldn’t be directly competing with anything currently on the market.


  • Jason

    yes yes yes… rotax 450 :)

  • fazer6

    Nearly none of the Buell is built in the USA–That’s the reality of the global economy.

    Look @ Fisher’s (lack of) success.

  • Looks like this is a big surprise to Erik Buell:!/MCNGuyProcter/status/122304140184530945/photo/1

  • RJ

    The best part of the above twitter post is it’s from Guy Procter who happens to write the most ridiculous false stories for the equivalent of the National Enquire of the motorcycle world, MCN.

    Have you guys put your deposits down for your brand new $5,000 zx10-r yet?

    Please… Plus though the story might not be true, Erik might be sandbagging too…

    Either way, MCN= Clown Shoes.

  • Bike Pilot,
    HD is not in any “cahoots” to sell rebranded Hyosungs- that is well-known to be a deal between one of their dealers and ATK. Whether you like the Hyosung product or not, they are pretty nice to ride, with performance and reliability similar to any Japanese engine- they assembled for Suzuki for years so have learned quite a bit. Their factory is actually in the same industrial area- and on the same road- as Kia, Samsung, and Hyundai, so calling them “crappy” probably just comes from your not being exposed to their products, and promotes a common misconception. They are reliable.
    It continues to amaze me that Buell gets one penny of investment funding. A small army of loyalists aside, Harley lost about a BILLION dollars on that brand to no end. Lesson learned?

  • No, I think the best part about that tweet is it shows how catty motorcycle journalists are about each other.

    The story is true, regardless of whatever MCN wants to insinuate, and what EBR wants to deflect. I think the hurdle is too high for us to see a 250 come to market from EBR (would like to be proven wrong), but the project exists in some for or another at East Troy.

  • One thing is, going over 279 cc puts you into a different, more expensive emissions class.

    Still, 279, and calling it a 280, would be a slight marketing advantage over the competition…

  • Andrew

    My alias,
    harely lost their money buying mv agusta and selling turds. Not from buell. They actually spent more to close shop than they had invested.