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Lot 470: c.1985/86 Buell RR1000R Racing Motorcycle

Collectors' Motorcycles, Bonhams (16 October 2005)

A marque that didn’t exist 20 years ago, Buell has come a long way in a short time. Founded by Erik Buell, the company has established its own unique brand image, building a range of Harley-Davidson-powered sports bikes combining the Milwaukee twin’s traditional ‘stump pulling’ torque with a state-of-the art chassis possessing the dimensions and geometry of a Grand Prix 250.

An AMA expert-class racer and Harley engineer, Erik Buell quit his job with the company to build his own Formula 750 racer, only to find that the class was to be scrapped. At around the same time, Harley asked him to design a new chassis for its legendary twins racer ‘Lucifer’s Hammer’ and he was commissioned to build a futuristic sports bike to celebrate motorcycling’s 100th anniversary. Cleverly, Buell managed to combine these two requirements. Favourably received at a dealer conference, the result entered limited production as the Buell RR1000 Battletwin. These first Buells used 1,000cc XR (pre-Evolution) engines; rubber mounted in a tubular-steel chassis featuring an under-slung rear shock that extended as the wheel rose.

As Buell production steadily increased so did Harley-Davidson’s stake in the company, which it now entirely owns. With H-D’s resources behind him, Erik Buell was able to take his unique concept a stage further, introducing an entirely new aluminium-alloy beam chassis. Innovative as ever, the latter contains fuel within its main spars and oil in the swinging arm, and is found in the latest Firebolts and Lightnings.

Battle of the Twins racing had grown steadily in importance since the early 1980s, attracting a Harley-Davidson works presence in the form of ‘Lucifer’s Hammer’, so it was only natural that Erik Buell’s new creation would swiftly find its way onto the racetrack. No event attracts more attention in America than the Daytona 200 and that is what Buell set his sights on. At the start of the 1987 ‘200’, Gene Church’s Tilley-entered Buell RR100R pulled out a huge lead on lap one, easily outdistancing the Ducatis and clocking 178mph through the speed trap. Church though, had had little time on the bike in practice and his unfamiliarity with it saw him end up in the straw bales, breaking a wrist.

Although Daytona remained a tantalising ‘might have been’, there were plenty of successes around the corner. A Buell won the New Zealand BEARS championship in 1989 and Scott Zampach took the American domestic series in 1990, while there were further race wins garnered by private entries in Europe and Japan.

The vendor - Italian importer of Harley-Davidson and Buell motorcycles in the 1980s - acquired this RR1000R factory race bike from Erik Buell in 1990. Raced in American Motorcycle Association ‘Battle of The Twins’ events in 1985/86, it is one of the very first RR1000Rs built. The vendor restored the machine, which since completion in the early 1990s has taken part in just one race: a round of the Italian BoTT championship at Monza in 1993. The machine was thoroughly overhauled in 2003, the engine being rebuilt with new con-rods and pistons, etc, and tested once before being consigned to the vendor’s private collection. It has been featured several times in Italian motorcycle magazines.

First-of-the-line motorcycles are highly collectible, and none more so than ex-factory racers, of which this Buell RR1000R is a fine example.

Lot Details
Auction Collectors' Motorcycles
Bonhams, Classic & Motorcycle Mechanics Show, Stafford
TypeMotorcycle
Lot Number470
Estimate£15000-£20000
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£13500
Hammer Price (inc premium)£15525
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