Erik Buell Racing in World Superbike for 2014?

10/23/2013 @ 4:47 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS


While debuting its EBR 1190RX street bike last week at the AIMExpo, Erik Buell Racing announced its intent to begin racing in the World Superbike Championship. At the time, details were light on that intent, though while talking to Greg White, Geoff May let it slip that he and another rider would be forming an American team entry into WSBK for next season.

Using the EBR 1190RX as its racing platform, Erik Buell Racing would be the first American marques to compete in WSBK since the series’ inception in 1988. However one of the big unanswered questions for Erik Buell Racing is how the company plans on meeting homologation requirements.

The relevant 2013 FIM regulation is Technical Regulations Appendix § 1.2.1:

A manufacturer that requests homologation for a motorcycle for Superbike, Supersport or Superstock, must observe the following rules:

  • The manufacturer must have produced at least a quantity of 125 motorcycles prior to the homologation inspection (this number may be adjusted upwards in 2013, for 2014 models). The motorcycle must be on sale to the public at that time. 
  • The minimum quantity of 500 units must be reached by the 30th June of the current year. 
  • The minimum quantity of 1000 units must be reached by the 31st of December of the current year. 
  • The minimum quantity of 2000 units must be reached by the 31st of December of the following year.

In relation to Erik Buell Racing, the FIM’s rules effectively mean that before Erik Buell Racing can even begin the homologation process, 125 units of the EBR 1190RX need to be built first (the rules above are for the 2013 season, so the provision of adjusting the pre-requisite higher applies to 2015 model year bikes being homologated for the 2014 season).

Once those 125 models have been deemed to meet homologation requirements for the 2014 season, Erik Buell Racing has several more production milestones it must reach in order to stay homologated for the season. The first is a June 30th deadline, where 500 “for sale” EBR 1190RX street bikes must be ready for sale to consumers. EBR must also meet  similar hurdles by December 31st 2014 (1,000 total units), and by December 31st 2015 (2,000 total units).

World Superbike provisions do not factor in actual sales, which should help the American brand, as it has had trouble moving its $40,000+ EBR 1190RS superbikes, but the road ahead isn’t an easy one for Erik Buell Racing if it wants to be racing in WSBK for 2014.

The biggest hurdle will be making the initial 125 unit provision for homologation inspection. Erik Buell Racing is still a small company, and has been hand-building its 1190RS machines to-date. With the first WSBK test at Jerez already done, the company is losing valuable time in developing its racing platform for the 2014 season.

With just four months until the start of the 2014 World Superbike Championship season, Erik Buell Racing will have to produce close to one motorcycle a day to meet a race day deadline, a tall order for a small company. To make matters worse, that pace will have to increase almost three-fold in order to meet the FIM’s second and third volume levels in order to maintain homologation. The short of it is, the biggest key to EBR’s racing future is the company’s ability to build an effective production line in a short timespan.

Surely with Erik Buell Racing’s AIMExpo announcement, the volume requirements, and what goes into those volume figures, has already been assessed and planned for in EBR’s future growth. Luckily, Erik Buell Racing will have the backing of minority shareholder Hero MotoCorp, which will be the World Superbike team’s main racing sponsor, as it was in AMA Pro Racing.

It’s not clear at this time if Erik Buell Racing will be racing under WSBK’s new EVO class rules. If so, it would be an easier path for the American company’s quest to be competitive on the world racing stage, not to mention a smarter move development-wise as WSBK will be use only the EVO class rules from 2015 and onward.

For Geoff May and his yet unnamed teammate, the hurdles will be centered around developing a new race bike, though thankfully May has experience on the EBR 1190RS, which should be sufficiently similar to the EBR 1190RX to be a quick-study. May will also have to contend with learning the World Superbike circuits, a not-so-simple task in its own right. As for May’s teammate, we can only speculate on whom it will be. Though, it will be interesting to see if Erik Buell Racing chooses to go with an all-American rider lineup.

One thing is for certain though, if EBR can make the jump through all of the FIM’s hoops, it will be great to see an American presence in the World Superbike series. Interest for WSBK in the United States will surely benefit from Erik Buell Racing’s presence…now if we could just do something about its availability on TV.

Source: Erik Buell Racing

  • Wow i really hope it happens. Lovely looking bike and under evo rules i think this machine will be competitive for sure. Plus it would be nice to see more brands in WSBK :)

  • Tim M

    As someone that remembers Mert Lawill racing Harleys this is certainly great news, but considering that Ducati is struggling despite their years of experience in WSBK, Buell has got an enormous challenge ahead. Maybe they should start with AMA just to get some organizational and mechanical stuff working consistently, cause when you throw in the factor of stuff that happens when you travel internationally, it makes everything that much harder. But hats off to Buell for giving it a go and I hope they do well.

  • Anvil

    @Tim M, EBR has been racing the 1190RS in AMA superbike for a couple of years now with good results (Team Hero/Amsoil EBR). This season the riders were Geoff May and Aaron Yates. By all accounts, the team is pretty solid.

    @Jensen, I think you hit the nail on the head when you referenced the 1190RS. The RX is basically a less expensive version of the RS, so I think we’ll see something pretty similar to the RS in WBSK, which is being developed in the AMA. Lots more to do for the world series, but EBR won’t be starting from zero. And, yes, agreed, the EVO class is probably the way to go. If they indeed do this, 2014 will be a developmental year.

    Production for homologation? Good question. But three bikes per day isn’t all that much with some planning and a few more hands. I can’t imagine that they don’t already have that figured out given the RX is supposed to be more of a volume product.

  • Grey Matter

    I’m going out on a very long limb here and say that this will “end” with a Hero MotoGP team. I’m not talking next year or the year after. Maybe 5-10 years down the road. Hero has much intrest on becoming a absolute wolrd dominant bike company. I’m sure that Hero and EBR will do everything in their power to make sure that the RX is successful in WSBK. There are things happening behind the scenes at EBR that most don’t know about like the engine research and design they are doing for Hero or maybe the development of a hybrid scooter for them as well. The story goes WAY deeper here folks so I would not count the RX or Geoff May out just because of the infantile steps they have to take. Last time checked, steroids are injectable and so is funding. I also highly doubt Geoff May’s team mate will be an American unless they find a person like Scott Russell to man the helm of bike #2. The smart bet is to sign someone already there, who knows the tracks, the riders and the bikes. Sure, I would love to see Rossi or Stoner jump on an EBR in WSBK. EBR can’t afford either but Hero certainly can. I would just hate to see to see their careers end similar to what happened to Russell on the ill fated HD VR1000 bike so chances are, there’s no way someone of their skill set would jump on board.

  • Harb

    This is most likely wishful thinking, but…

    May/Spies 2014!

  • Doctor Jelly

    Ooooo! Perhaps a worst case scenario for Spies? If Hero was already willing to take the gamble with a down and out American bike company, maybe they’ll throw the dice again with a down and (potentially) out American WSBK champion!

    Be still my beating heart for the stars have not yet aligned!

  • glenn wilson

    The rules for homologation are only there if EBR starts winning races. And with the ever shrinking grid in WSBK they should be welcomed with open arms. Remember Troy Corser and Foggy Petronas bike and all the bikes they DIDN’T produce. While the Petronas bike was languishing back in 14 th place , no one really cared what the rules said.

  • Kev71

    I’m being optomistic and hoping this does happen. I can see Hero infusing massive amounts of $ into the EBR effort. Hero has deep pockets and probably wants to get into the American market down the road. I remember when japanese cars were “junk,” then Korean cars, now they are some of the highest rated. Don’t count out a huge company from India (2nd most populated country in the world and will probably overtake China). Hero can use EB’s technological insights to help develop bikes that would appeal to Americans. This is a very proactive move from a company that is looking well into the future. Thy have the $ and cheap labor on their side; not to mention they are loooking at what their rival Mahindra is doing and need to compete. Wonder who 2nd racer will be? Hopefully a WSBK veteran, NOT John Hopkins!

  • jet

    Really.W/ the price’s he’s charging for his bike’s i’m sure he’ll have enough to pay his team and rider or go broke again….

  • Halfie30

    I actually think, if healthy, John Hopkins would be a good fit. He knows many of the tracks, is used to the travel and could be a great spring owed to start from. Again if healthy.

  • Norm G.

    re: “May will also have to contend with learning the World Superbike circuits, a not-so-simple task in its own right.”

    just got a text from spies. he says… RUBBISH…!!!

  • ghead

    GO EBR!!