The Ronin is One of the Rarest Motorcycles Money Can Buy
These days, many products adopt a cookie cutter mentality. The cars we drive, the cell phones we carry, the computers we use. One brand tends to blend into another, which tends to blend into another, and so on. But some companies dare to be different, and well... different doesn't look much better than this. Meet the Ronin, a bike named after the legendary master-less Japanese warriors, built by Ronin Motorworks (which was established by two Magpul execs), and born from the last of an American breed. In 2009, the Buell Motorcycle Company closed its doors for good, the result of Harley-Davidson (its parent company) streamlining its brand in the wake of financial downturn. In 2010, Buell dealers offered a selection of remaining bikes up for sale. Ronin Motorworks answered (with a plan in mind), and the Ronin 47 project is the surreal byproduct. RELATED: See More Photos of the Ronin Motorcycles
The goal wasn’t to just tune-up a few Buell 1125Rs; instead, the resulting Ronins are genuinely all-new bikes. According to Ronin, the only bits that carried over are the frame, engine, brakes, and wheels. And so the transformation began, undertaken by Ronin’s small “pop-up” shop in Denver, Colorado. Need a good shiver? Check out their story in the video below.
The brutally sinister Ronin fascia is the result of a custom front fork assembly and carbon fiber fender, which improve the handling characteristics of the stock chassis while hiding a new fork-mounted radiator. The headlights? They’re now arranged in a mean over-under array.
RELATED: Bottpower Turns Buell XB12s into Lovely Cafe Racers
Midship, motivation still comes from a Rotax v-twin, however it has been thoroughly retuned to provide a balance of power and ride-ability, and now breathes through a racy ram-air intake. It exhales through a beautifully custom set of exhaust pipes and a ceramic-painted stainless steel muffler.
Crucially the bike has less heft to haul around now as well—each Ronin is 54 pounds lighter than the original motorcycle. Some of that heft comes from shedding its original fairing and body cladding, though the new rear subframe and mono-shock setup certainly don’t hurt either. Even the wiring system has been completely redone. And don't they look good.
RELATED: The Bolt M-1 is Part e-Bike, Part Motorcycle
Reflective of the ancient “Revenge of the 47 Ronin” legend, which tells of forty seven of these storied warriors that avenged the death of their master, a total of 47 Ronin bikes were built—each with its own unique number and name. Two years after production began and just 17 are now left. As you might expect, they aren’t cheap.
The first series (of seven) features two remaining silver and black bikes, which retail for $38,000. The prices go up as the exclusivity grows. Six all-white examples of the third series are left, followed by four remaining vintage racer themed bikes from the fourth series, two “raw” examples from the sixth run, and just three from the final series, which each feature custom artwork (pictured above, right).
With Buell motorcycle origins and a purposefully finite lifespan as a company, Ronin Motorworks and its creations are true outliers of the bike-building world. And truly spectacular.
RELATED: Check Out the All-New Jack Daniels Indian Chief
Photo Credit: Ronin Motorworks, Magpul