Harley-Davidson Dirt Bike Rumors
Friday, May 22, 2009
A couple years ago Harley-Davidson had expressed interest in expanding into the off-road market by developing a dirtbike under the Buell badge. But in Septemebr of 2007, Buell seemed to be throwing in the towel on the project when they released a statement claiming they had ‘shelved it’s off road development plans for the foreseeable future.’
“Buell has made the business decision to focus resources on its street motorcycle business, including continued development of the XB line and the launch of the all new 1125R superbike platform,” said Buell President and Chief Operating Officer Jon Flickinger in the release. “Buell customers and dealers have expressed incredible excitement for the new 1125R superbike and our entry into the mainstream sportbike market.”
We had a long-term ATK 450 enduro
in '06. The fuel-injected dirt bike ran strong and we actually liked it for the most part.
After that statement was made public there simply was not a lot of buzz surrounded the proposed return to their roots but the fact remained that something was in the works. At the time it seemed unlikely that Buell or H-D would be willing or able to develop a from-scratch off-road motorcycle so the question was what brand could they buy and re-badge? The easy answer is the currently all-but forgotten ATK marque. It is after all an American-built dirtbike that seemed pretty good when we tested it – but it was rough around the edges. Some peculiar design characteristics like the forward facing intake and rear exit exhaust might have been functional at the time of the original design from Cannondale – but it was quirky in application. The engines put out serious vibration, but they were fuel-injected with electric start so the ability to map them to conform to strict EPA standards seems like a potential upside.
Rumor on the street is that a few Harley-dealerships have received inquiries from the corporate level about whether there is any interest in expanding to the off-road market once again. Is it merely a rumor? Is it the sign of a big change looming on the horizon? We do not have any official word as of yet but once we hear something, we’ll be sure to let you know. Until then – is there any interest in an American made dirtbike in these tough times? If so, what would you do if you were making the call at H-D?