UK Buell Enthusiasts Group Visit To NCCR Sweden, February 2017.

Report on UK Buell Enthusiasts Group visit to NCCR Sweden, Friday 10th to Monday 13th February 2017.

Our visit to NCCR Sweden was everything we had hoped it would be and a lot more. Jane wanted a full ‘Sweden in Winter’ experience and certainly got one.

Jens Krüper, his wife Birgit, daughter Julia and Pär, a good friend and colleague of Jens at NCCR for over 20 years, made us very welcome and went out of their way to make our 4-day break as memorable as possible.

Friday’s outward journey went almost to plan. The flight from Manchester to Stockholm Arlanda was delayed leaving by some passengers trying to carry on everything but the kitchen sink and then when we made our final approach to land in Sweden the pilot suddenly put both engines into full throttle to pull away from the airstrip. Apparently, the landing flaps were stuck, or the instruments indicated that they were. We seemed to spend an eternity circling the airport while they solved the problem. We very rarely fly anywhere so this was unnerving to say the least.

Despite the flight delays we managed to catch the high-speed train to Hudiksvall which we had booked in advance. Handily the train station is located underneath the airport. The train was modern, swish and on time. It took a little over 2 hours 20 minutes to cover 180 miles which included 4 stops. Jens and Julia collected us from the railway station around 9.00pm. Friday was a long day, but we had made it on time. It was a 45-minute journey to their house by 4wd Toyota on a mixture of tarmac and snow-covered gravel roads. During the journey, we noticed how many building exteriors and garden trees still had their white Christmas lights switched on. Jens explained that while indoor decorations are removed after the 12th night, they leave the outdoor lights switched on until the end of February to help brighten the long hours of darkness. Combined with snow everywhere the lights made for a magical journey.

We certainly made the most of two full days playing out in the snow. On Saturday Jens and Birgit took us to the Järvzoo Nordens Vildmarkspark, Vallmovägen, where we saw wolves, wolverines, musk ox, moose, eagle owls, arctic foxes, and reindeer. The brown bears were tucked up nice and warm in hibernation, so we didn’t get to see them. This is not an ordinary zoo; it is a natural park where 36 species of wild Nordic animals live in as natural an environment as possible. The walk around the park is approximately 2 miles long. The walkway is elevated and built entirely of wood. We walked through the forest surrounded by trees full of snow, it looked stunning and very atmospheric.

Birgit had packed some bread and sausages etc. for our BBQ lunch. We thought it was going to be an outdoor meal but when we arrived at the picnic area there was a log cabin with a cooking area in the middle of it. The fire had already been lit by park staff earlier in the day and the only other source of light was a small window and candles. It was very cosy with temperatures outside around minus 5 degrees. It was an experience not to miss.

Järvzoo website: 

On Sunday, all six of us went ice fishing. This was a trip into the wilderness to a small lake in the Hälsingland mountains. The snow-covered single lane gravel track to the lake does not see much traffic so you really need a 4wd vehicle to have any chance of making it safely. Even with 4wd our two vehicles struggled in places.

It was a beautiful lake surrounded by snow covered forest and so tranquil. We were the only people in the area, and you could literally hear a pin drop. The temperature was minus 7 degrees. Pär had brought all his fishing equipment and walked 500 metres onto the lake to drill four holes in the ice, which was half a metre thick in places. We were assured it was quite safe to drive a vehicle on if we wanted. This area regularly sees temperatures of minus 25 degrees and the lakes start freezing in October, with a thaw arriving in March.

We made ‘basecamp’ on the shore using a log shelter with a fireplace in front of it. We had come prepared with food, logs for the fire and BBQ plus thermos flasks filled with hot drinks. It is a good job we did take some food with us because we only caught one small perch. It was a fantastic day and we had done something we never thought we would ever experience. We left the lake before dusk so we could visit the NCCR workshops before it got too late.

After our unforgettable ice fishing experience on the Sunday afternoon, Jens took us to the NCCR workshops and offices. We had been really looking forwards to this.

As mentioned previously we have met Jens and his wife Birgit at various Buell/EBR events in Germany and the Netherlands. Jens and Birgit founded the Hillbilly-Motors Buell Race Team in 2002 and at the end of 2008 it was renamed as the Pegasus Race Team. From 2009 till 2011 the team competed with Buell and EBR bikes owned by Thomas Wanner, who also covered many of the expenses.

It was an extraordinarily successful period for the team. In 2011 their EBR 1190RR rider, Harald Kitsch, won the BEARS and Superbike Open Championship. In September 2011, Jane and I went to the Pegasus Buell Experience event at Oschersleben Motor Sport Arena in Germany. That was a brilliant weekend and they made us very welcome. Our Ulysses was the only British registered Buell at the event.

We have very fond memories of seeing (and hearing!) Harald storming around Oschersleben on the 1190RR. In Harald’s hands the 1190RR was a very formidable weapon.

During our tour of the NCCR workshops Jens gave us a potted history of how he became involved with Buells and how he first met Erik Buell in 2002. Today NCCR are involved with many projects, including developing special parts for the custom and café racer scene. They have full engineering facilities and a Dyno room. NCCR design and build their own frames using the latest CNC tube bending technology. It is an impressive setup. Their site in Delsbo is currently undergoing expansion and when the worst of the winter weather has dissipated building work will recommence. Buell and EBR motorcycles still form a small but important part of their business. During our visit, an XB engine was setup on a jig awaiting a newly developed tube-frame. In the office area was Jens own Buell, a 1991 RSS 1200 Westwind, which has a turbo fitted.

NCCR’s contract to provide EBR support for Europe runs until 2018. Despite the recent news about Liquid Asset Partners winding down new EBR motorcycle manufacturing operations in East Troy, Jens does not foresee a change in being able to supply parts and upgrades to European EBR owners.

One of the more interesting stories Jens told us was about his visit to the Daytona 200 races in March 2006 for the debut of the 1340cc Buell XBRR race bike. Harley Davidson flew him over to the USA to be part of the official HD/Buell race team. Jens was involved with some of the XBRR developments and worked with Henry Duga and Erik Buell at the track.

Four Buell dealership teams were involved at the 2006 Daytona 200; including London's Warr's Harley-Davidson/Buell with former 250 GP and Moto GP star Jeremy McWilliams riding for them.

The ‘JPS’ Buell in the pictures is a rare 2006 XBRR, number 31. It belongs to a Norwegian Buell collector called Ole.

This machine has an interesting history. Apparently, the bike was stolen out of storage and severely damaged when the thieves managed to get the bike started and attempted a burn out. The police found it in a ditch in extremely poor condition with a scratched frame and smashed bodywork. The state of the engine was unknown.

In the aftermath of the theft, Ole asked Jens and the team at NCCR to carry out the restoration work. They stripped the bike down to its frame, repaired the carbon fibre body work, ensured the engine was up to correct specification; and synchronized the twin independent throttle bodies.

NCCR had always wanted to do a John Player Special tribute. When the work began, it was right around the 20th anniversary of Ayrton Senna's death at Imola. Ole liked the idea and saw a rare opportunity to make something special out of one of Buell's rarest bikes. A lot of work went into the design to closely match the colour scheme of the original Lotus 97T. Colin Chapman gave NCCR permission to use the black and gold design with sponsors logos. They went through dozens of different shades of gold and endlessly tweaked the position and size of the graphics before settling on a final layout. NCCR then coated the bodywork in gold, masked the graphics, and painted over in black and added multiple layers of clear coat.

The original (and massive) XBRR Daytona tail section was replaced with a custom aluminium frame plus new bodywork hiding the battery and the Öhlins remote reservoir. The 1340cc engine still puts out around 150 HP; and they opted to keep the stock magnesium wheels and 43mm inverted forks. Jens also added a new mudguard with integral scoop feeding air towards the front brake. The result is a work of art. It looks simply stunning, with or without bodywork.

Lakeside photos of the JPS XBRR: Ulf Engborg.

At the end of our visit, we were presented with a signed, third and final edition of the ‘Buell Book’ which Jens co-authored. It is a fascinating book and comprehensively charts the history of Buell and EBR motorcycles right up to October 2016 when Bill Melvin of Liquid Asset Partners bought the company.

The ‘Buell Book’ is published by Huber Verlag GmbH and is only available in German. There’s plenty of pictures and if you have a limited understanding of the German language you can follow the text. See: Book Reviews Page 2