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Buell posted by

Serious Collectors Only: 1991 Buell RS1200 with only 111 miles


This post is in our archives. Links in this post have been updated to point to similar bikes available to bid on eBay.

Join us in the comments for a discussion on what criteria should be considered for bikes to appear on RSBFS. Thanks for the post Marty! -dc

Let me say up front that I struggled a bit with submitting this bike, given the fact that its big, slow, is powered by a 1200cc air cooled engine more appropriate for a paint shaker than a sportbike and the comments on the last one of this brand posted weren’t exactly positive.  But if this site is truly about rare sportbikes then it shouldn’t really matter if they are first generation survivors like the GSX-750 LTD, unobtainum dreams like the Ducati Supermono, or weird techno efforts that missed the mark such as the Bimota V-Due or BMW K1.  The qualifications are whether it was trying to be a sportbike and whether its rare.

buell 1

1991 Buell RS1200 for sale on eBay

Here is the bike, a 1991 Buell RS1200 with only 111 miles.  The saga of Erik Buell and Harley Davidson is pretty well known but for anyone not familiar it can be summarized as the following: decide to build an American sportbike (in this case using a Harley Davidson engine), achieve some success, sell a large portion of the company to Harley, struggle in the Harley “image-comes-first” structure, get shut down during the financial crisis and finally restart all over again with a new company.

The RS1200 used a compact. lightweight and extremely clever chassis to hold the big HD V-twin from the Sportster range.  Also,the  forks had Buell’s devised anti-dive system which uses solenoid valves operated by the front brake lever to cut the forks’ air volume, effectively increasing the springs’ rising-rate just when it is most needed.  A full techno review of the bike can be read here.

buell 4

So does it belong here on RSBFS?  Well it was an expensive, small-volume sportbike that  didn’t sell in great numbers but lots of bikes on RSBFS are like that.   Perhaps most importantly, the RS was a truly professional attempt at building an American sports bike and it  was the machine that laid the foundations for Buell Motorcycles’ success in subsequent years.  It can even be considered to be part of the evolution of Buells excellent new 1190 EBR models.

This particular model has insanely low mileage which the seller seems to think will justify a price quite a bit above KBB values. Personally, I think this bike will only move to a collector who wants to build out a bit of his american sportbike collection…I can see it parked next the VR1000 and Roerh perhaps…

Note:  The seller is also selling a very nice 1975 HD RR259 Daytona Road Race Bike  and a 1974 Ducati GT 750 so perhaps a deal could be struck.



  • “So does it belong here on RSBFS?”

    Marty makes a good point and I think we should take this opportunity to define the criteria for what makes a bike eligible for the front page of this site. My rough outline has always been 1980ish-2004ish model year, low production numbers or survivor status, as close to stock as possible, and in very good to excellent condition. This bike certainly fits those standards. What else should be considered?


    • Absolutely it belongs here; the old adage beauty & beholder most definitely fits with bikes. There are some that would say the Vyrus or Bimota Tessi models are god ugly, while another will happily shell out 60-80k and wait a year to get one. Bring em on I say, not that hard a job to click the delete button 🙂

  • I think its fine to post it…and fine to pan it as the awful bike it was/is.

    No doubt that Erik Buell is passionate and innovative. We don’t have to look at his failures with rose colored glasses though.

  • Post away. There is no accounting for taste. While this bike doesn’t “grab” me as far as design or performance, I still found the accompanying description interesting. I’ve only been into collecting for a couple of years now and I am always astounded by how little I sometimes know. This site has always been informative in its descriptions and it’s comments. There have been bikes on here that I have found to be absolutely ugly so I just bypassed them but then then sometimes it’s been a real shortcut to me finding my next bike. The recent 1990 GSXR 750, for example. Yes, you might not find this particular Buell very attractive, but certainly Eric Buell and his company is a testament to persevering and innovation! Post on, then comment, nicely, on why you don’t like the bike and why.

  • I’ll gladly accept and read with enthusiasm ANY entry that isn’t (yet another) RG500 Gamma, RZ500, or some turd Ducati 888. Yawwwwwn!

  • I appreciate the roll down memory lane. I’ m not moved by the old Buell’s but do enjoy remembering their unique character.

    I’d forgotten about that passenger backrest. EB having revealed its genesis being his experience wheelieing a girlfriend off the back of a bike at one point. It is intellectually satisfying to me to consider the little details that were explored by that guy. The fact that they were not actually good ideas is beside the point.

    I enjoy rsbfs, but not because I am a shopper. I liked this post. Adds some variety. So for me, rare is the more interesting side of “rare sport bike”. For a guy that was a teen when this bike came out this is a history reminder more than a history lesson. I enjoyed being reminded, because I have forgot a lot of stuff since then.

    That said, I’m reminded that I will never find motivation to try and acquire an old buell.

  • Backrest to avoid losing the GF off the back? Seems redundant after the Harley motor.

  • And those turd 888s with their damn World Championships.

  • First I’d like to say that the publishers of this mailing are doing an excellent job. I’ve been collecting for 30 + years and the machines represented here are a fine mix. I collect bikes from the 1950’s to present, so I also subscribe to the sister site for rare classic bikes as well, also a fine read.

    In terms of getting agreement on what’s collectable from 10 people on any given day, the answers will run the gamut that is as wide as it is tall. People collect for different reasons.

    One item is certain, Erik Buell contributions to the motorcycling industry are worthy and strong. Clean original pieces are already being grabbed up and put away for the future. If you’re a fan of Erik’s work fine, if not, that’s great too. Wait for the next mailing. One man’s ceiling is another man’s floor.

    Again, many thanks to the publishers of both pages.

  • Keep the variety coming. I review this site daily for an introduction to and education on bikes I might not normally consider.

  • I enjoy reading about most of what is posted. As much as I like Ducatis I admit it gets tiring seeing just how many limited productions they’ve made. But don’t change on account of me. If there are any thoughts of changing the sillouette logo….I would have to say go for one of the nicer looking Buells. That may sound funny coming from a guy who rides an NSR250. If there was an American company that made a light weight sport bike….it would be in my garage.

  • Well, it’s not my site, so my opinion really shouldn’t matter all that much. That being said, I would never call this a sportbike.

  • i agree with Aaron. Its not a sportbike. And its only rare because not many were produced… or even desired back in the day.

    so of the “rare sportbikes for sale” criteria- yes- its a motorcycle- that is for sale!

    Keep posting the Buells. That’s fine. We will keep trashing them- just like Buell did to his own machines when he put them in the crusher.

  • This bike is fine to post, but if you guys ever post a Katana again…

  • I have been watching this site for a year or so and really enjoy it. Might be a bit heavy on Ducati and stink wheels at times, but a great site overall.
    When it comes to Buell I do wonder what all the negative fuss is about. Is is chassis design? Have you seen a RR1000/RS/RSS1200 naked? Is it the engine? Yep, it can be tractor like at times. Is it the styling? Have you seen early Bimotas?
    Full disclosure I am a Buell fan boy. Have had an XB9R (yes, I know, it is not a real sportbike…….) loved the design, loved the torque, hated the HD derived and built engine that let go the big end at 13K miles. I have met EriK Buell a few times. What a guy. Loved the fact the name on my “gas tank” matched the guy I was talking to…..
    I have had Yamaha, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Buell and the most negativity I got was with the Buell. Not sure why.
    Just what defines a “sport bike”? Funny, I see no negative posts (or positive for that matter) for the “ELR” Kawasaki. Is that a sport bike?
    If Erik Buell can be accused of anything it is getting into bed w/the wrong $$$$$$ backer. If I had to guess he was sold a bill of goods that just did not pan out (See MV Agusta….). Take a look at what he makes now. Only real negatives in the reviews here and over the pond are it does not have ABS and all the “take the rider out of the equation” electronic BS that some others have. Not bad for a company with less employees than Honda has in a janitorial staff.

    • Totally agree with you. Have a 2009 1125 CR, this was a turning point for Erik for what was the shape of the future of EBR Racing. Rotax motor, amazing suspension and electronic components. I totally dig it. So does the public. Torque Hammer Exhaust…rarely seen here in the states. Tuned within an inch of it’s life. An amazing bike. Anyone have an opportunity to get on a new 1190 RX. Hair raising, even if you bring the riding chops and road experience.
      Patience, experience, and a unique build viewpoint paid off for Erik. The man is a survivor !!!!!!

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