WORDS: Aaron Frank
PHOTOS: Erik Buell Racing
Hero who? That was the question many American motorcycle enthusiasts asked after Erik Buell Racing (EBR) announced title sponsorship from Hero MotoCorp for its factory effort in this year’s AMA Superbike Championship. Though virtually unknown in the USA, Hero is one of the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturers. The Indian firm built more than 6.4 million motorcycles last year—mostly utilitarian, small-displacement commuters for India’s domestic market. Hero’s interest in the tiny American manufacturer of high-end, high-tech superbikes reaches beyond race sponsorship, however—the Indian giant has also signed a technology agreement with EBR, contracting the start-up American firm to supply engineering and design support in advance of Hero’s plans to produce its first premium motorcycle products in 2014. This cooperative agreement comes in the wake of Hero ending a 27-year-old joint venture with Honda last year. EBR and Hero have already collaborated on one project—the Leap hybrid scooter that debuted at the New Delhi Auto Expo earlier this year—and the two parties are currently working on the forthcoming motorcycle design.