Thursday, June 4, 2009

A Tour of Erik Buell's Garage: The Bike Barn!

Yesterday I was in Mukwonago, Wisconsin, on a tiny old abandoned farm. On the property is the small shed where a racer and former Harley-Davidson engineer named Erik Buell started the company known today as the Buell Motorcycle Company.The shed, also known as "the barn" (even though it's next to an actual barn) has been recently restored to the condition it was in during the 1980s, when Buell was developing his RW750 and RR1000 roadracers. As recently as a couple years ago, Buell had not been in the building for many years and it was literally falling apart, filled with debris and deteriorating parts and relics.

Erik gave a nice tour and talk, which I've preserved on my crummy point-and-shoot video camera. I apologize for the poor video, sound and production quality, but just pretend you're 3 feet high, hard of hearing and have cataracts. After viewing the three videos, scroll down for photos.

And now some photos:

Buell's prototype VR1000 from 1989, with split radiators, a liquid-cooled V-Twin and fuel-in-frame design. Sound familiar?

 Close-up of the VR's headstock, with interesting VIN.

You wouldn't guess, but underneath that black bodywork is the V-Rod prototype.

This is the only RW750 in existence. It was powered by the evil Barton two-stroke Four.

Here are a pair of Barton cases. The motors made 163 hp at the crank, but didn't spend a lot of time running: high-speed seizures were common. The motor used two crankshafts, one in front of the other. I'm sure it was a good idea at the time. Buell bought Barton so he could have a steady supply of parts.