Erik Buell is a genius, just ask him, he’ll let you know! The reverence for Erik among the Buell kool-aide drinkers make the Valentino worshipers pale in comparison. The Buell people have said for years that if you could just put a modern motor in one of his chassis that he’d dominate the world.
This year, before the AMA races at Road America, Erik had some of the press and his acolytes over to the original garage where he started his company and walked everyone through the history of Buell and his involvement with Harley, you can see that series of videos here: Two Wheel Tuesday Erik Buell. He talks about how the design for the 1125r chassis started back in the late 80’s and early 90’s his involvement in the VR1000 project and more. Draw your own conclusions from those videos.
Between his ideas of putting fuel in the frame, oil into the swing arm, his perimeter braking systems and more, Buell has some interesting concepts that certainly leave no one in the middle of the argument. You either believe the Gospel according to Erik or you don’t and think him a quack.
With the change in rules for the 250GP class to Moto2, Buell has a chance to show the world just how smart he is. Everyone will have the same motor (the Honda CBR600 based lump) with the same power (somewhere around 150HP) so the difference will be in chassis and the ability for the rider and team to get it set up.
While we can argue about if this change is good for the sport or not, one thing I think we can agree on is that for the first time in over 20 years we may begin to some innovation in chassis design as teams look for any advantage they can find. I’m sure we will see some crackpot ideas that won’t work out as well as some pretty conventional designs of those choosing it to play it safe.
It seems to me that this is the perfect environment for Erik Buell to play in. He wouldn’t need any special rules in engine displacement which he has needed in the past, there are no worries about the particular model being street legal (see the 1125RR) just build a chassis get a quality rider and have at it.
The only question you would have is do you call it a Harley, a Buell or an MV Agusta, which Harley now own.. All three could make sense. Harley because it’s a world brand and the XR1200 has sold quite well in Europe. Buell could work as it’s supposed to be the “Sport Bike” division of the company, and finally with MV Agusta and it’s history in Grand Prix Motorcycle racing not much needs to be said.
While some may think it’s crazy for H-D/Buell/MV to run in a series without one of their own motors, they shouldn’t, Aprilia has already committed to the series, and as Buell has never really had his own motor in any bike he’s build, RSW750, XR1000, 883/1200 Sportster based or now the Rotax 1125, it’s not all that mad. There is also money to be made here since teams will be looking for chassis companies with which to base there teams around and Buell considers himself a chassis guy anyway, tell me what’s not to like, to quote a line from a TV show, if the symmetry were any more perfect I think we should all break down and cry.
Current global economic unpleasantness or not, here is a chance for Erik Buell to prove on a world stage, at a relative low cost, that his vision of the world is valid, and that he’s just not a quack to be dismissed, it’s time for Erik to put up, or STFU.