When Harley-Davidson pulled the plug on the Buell series of Harley-engined V-twin sports bikes back in 2009, Mike Mayberry and Richard Fitzpatrick, vice-president and president of firearm accessories maker Magpul Industries respectively, had the idea of taking the Buell 1125 engines, and placing it a limited series of motorcycles as engineering art. This begat the idea of “The Ronin”, a limited edition of 47 motorcycles, named after the 47 masterless samurai of Japanese legend.
Carrying the 1,125 cc Buell V-twin, Ronin Motorworks – an entirely separate concern from Magpul – designed an entirely new frame and suspension for the engine, while retaining some of the best ideas from Buell. These included the beam frame, and rim-mounted disc brakes.
A special Ronin Motorworks touch is the front-mounted oil-cooler, placed in front of the unique Ronin enclosed girder forks. A CNC-machined sub-frame carries the single rider seat and rear cowl, while another cast-and-machined alloy part functions as both the battery box and the rear-set foot-pegs.
The limited production of 47 Ronin began in 2014, with a first batch of 12 machines, followed by 10 all-black Ronin at an increased price. Subsequently, there was a release of eight, six, four, and then 2 Ronin – all with different color schemes and features. The remaining five – dubbed Final Release Special -come with one-off paint designs from the factory and each will be unique.
Each bike is named after the eponymous samurai of the 47 Ronin story of honour and revenge. The name is engraved on the bike and on the bamboo toolbox that comes with every machine.
For the final release of five Ronin the specific names are Horibe Kanamaru (#5), Sugeno Harafusa (#4), Nakamura Masatoki (#3) and Teraoka Nobuyuki (#2), with numbers one and two already spoken for. The #1 Ronin, Oishi Yoshio, was raced by Travis Newbold to second place in the Top Heavyweight division of the 2015 Pikes Peak Hillclimb race, coming in behind the factory Honda team.
Each comes with distinct paintwork, with the third and fourth Ronin featuring artwork by Colorado mural painter Scot Lefavor, whose art decorates buildings in the cities of Boulder and Denver. The second Ronin features art by Samuel Lee Turner in traditional Japanese tattoo illustration style.
The fifth of the Final Release Ronin was designed by Jason Thielke, in a mix of linear style with dynamic motion. Thielke insisted on becoming the tool to the canvas by hand-masking each individual line, acid etching patterns into raw aluminum, and using blasting media to create contrasting elements.
As can be expected from a motorcycle with a production run this limited, and with each bike being a unique piece of rolling art, the Ronin are not cheap, and it was impossible to find published prices for any Ronin. The last confirmed price for a pre-production Ronin was 38,000 USD (RM169,000) ex-works, back in 2014.