Photograph by Greg Ruffing for Bloomberg Businessweek

U.S. Motorcycle Maker Takes an Indian Detour

  1. American-Made


    Earlier this year, motorcycle maker Erik Buell Racing introduced two new models produced at its 70,000-square-foot factory in East Troy, Wis. The bikes start at about $17,000 and come with innovative design features, like a fuel reservoir built into their aluminum frames. In other words, they're powerful toys for people who like to move fast.

    Photograph by Greg Ruffing for Bloomberg Businessweek
  2. An Indian Partner

    An Indian Partner

    To help get the bikes into production, founder Erik Buell sold a 49 percent stake in the company to Hero MotoCorp, India's largest motorcycle maker, for $25 million. While EBR waits for its new bikes to catch on with consumers, the company is billing its engineers out on consulting jobs, where they often collaborate with Hero's own engineers. Recent projects include work on concepts for electric scooters and diesel work bikes intended for the Indian market.

    Photograph by Greg Ruffing for Bloomberg Businessweek
  3. A Motorcycle Icon

    A Motorcycle Icon

    Buell built his reputation competing on the American Motorcycle Association racing circuit in the 1970s. He was later inducted into the AMA Hall of Fame.

    Courtesy Erik Buell
  4. Harley-Davidson Buys In

    Harley-Davidson Buys In

    His first company, Buell Motorcycle, was known for inventive engineering ideas. Harley-Davidson took note, buying a stake in the company in 1993, and taking a 98 percent share in 2003.

    Courtesy Erik Buell
  5. Mass Market

    Mass Market

    EBR's new partner, Hero, is the biggest player in the world's second-largest motorcycle market after China. The Indian company sells 17,000 motorcycles and scooters a day.

    Photograph by Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg
  6. Final Assembly

    Final Assembly

    At Hero's factory in Gurgaon, India, workers test Hero Ignitor motorcycles after final assembly.

    Photograph by Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg
  7. Getting in the Race

    Getting in the Race

    Hero Chief Executive Pawan Munjal, shown posing on an EBR 1190RS, met Buell at Nascar's Daytona 500 in February 2011. Hero hired EBR on a string of consulting jobs before investing in the U.S. manufacturer.

    Photograph by Sanjeev Verma/ Hindustan Times via Getty Images
  8. Engineering Talent

    Engineering Talent

    “The great thing about American engineers,” says Buell, “is that given the opportunity to be free thinkers, they’re very good at it.”

    Photograph by Greg Ruffing for Bloomberg Businessweek