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Blogsky and Hutch

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.”

Wheelying through this g-out caused several of our test bikes to bottom harshly  but the ATK handled the sharp impact with relative ease.
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?
Post Tags: Harley-Davidson, Buell, Dirt Bike, ATK
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Comments
phx761 -Mr. Fond early memmories September 23, 2010 04:36 AM
When I was about eight years old, I was at a bike shop and I remember being with in two feet of brand new Harley Davidson two strokes, which were, irronically, being sold in a Yammaha shop,lol. All I remember was that they were selling something called a mdr 360, or something like that. It looked like a litteral 'two stroke tank', I mean that thing looked like it could climb the side of a damn mountian. I remember it being geared low, ....a large rear gear and a moderate engine to chaine gear. The shocks were heavey duty looking and it was very impressive. I just wish that I would have had the money to buy the 360,.....I'd be a very rich man today. To be honest, I bet that there isn't one left in America.
RR -Long time coming. May 17, 2010 10:22 AM
I think this would be great! I am actually coming up with a marketing plan for H-D for a course I'm taking and this is the area I focused on. A legend on the road could be a legend on the track if it is done properly. I've always had dirtbikes growing up and would have seriously considered a H-D if it was available to me. I would've been proud to say I was a H-D owner my whole life.
Abe Tingler -HD off road bike March 11, 2010 08:22 PM
Cannondale motorcycle company should have made a close copy of what the japanese bike's. If they had done this, Cannondale would have seen much succeses. I would give the same advice to Harley Davidson. Maybe KTM would be a good company to copy in the beginning.
Ethan R. -HD/Buell Dirtbike July 29, 2009 02:45 AM
I owned one of the newer developed Cannondale platform 450s, stolen on Apr 27th:-(, and they are a strong and reliable bike now, but ATK needs money to further develop the bike to keep up with the new EFI bikes coming out. It wouldn't hurt HD to invest in ATK to help fund new developments on the ATK's. I own a CityX and its a great machine and would definately purchase a dirt bike if they produced one.
Landon from Canada -Motocross June 3, 2009 07:09 AM
It's a tough time for the right bike not only because of the economy, but also because of the rules. 250 and 450 4 stroke motocross bikes are king for racers because of the class structure, but the high cost of repairing a 4 stroke motor is putting a lot of guys that I ride off the 4 stroke bandwagon. If it was still 125 and 250 2 stroke class bikes, that would be pretty straightforward of a decision. So, give it a couple of years to figure out what will hold in the motocross racing world, then decide WHICH bikes to make.
irkt -Harley dirt bike May 25, 2009 06:20 PM
I was at Daytona working as a photographer in '94, when they first raced the VR1000. People were genuinely excited but Harley dropped the ball by only funding the racing program year to year. That was a beautiful bike but it was always a year behind everyone else in development. I'm afraid Harley has become a marketing firm that happens to sell motorcycles. Relabeling a Cannondale/ATK would be symptomatic of their drive for profits at the expense of development. The only bright spot in the Harley line-up I've seen lately is the XR1200 and they weren't even going to sell THOSE stateside!
Alan Golightly -ATK May 25, 2009 06:15 PM
I think ATK bought out the Cannondale motorcycle. It was named dirt bike of the year by one magazine; but in reality had lots of problems, overheating, "sounded like a bucket of loose bolts". I think the competition is too stiff in the dirt bike arena for Harley to compete. To sell, the bike needs to be really refined, with the bugs worked out. The Cannondale had innovations, but it takes more than innovation to sell a new bike. It has to be a great bike, and resonably priced, and get a good review in a magazine like Cycle World.
Bill Chwala -HD off road bike May 23, 2009 08:09 AM
Since most dirt bike owners do not race their machines and trail/off road them instead, I wonder if the future is very bright for a new entry, given the state of the economy and the fact that 24,000,000 acres of public land will soon be shut down unless we motorcyclists are able to stop this proposal somehow. It doesn't seem like a very wise move for Harley.
Joe Rosa -HD/Buell Dirtbike May 22, 2009 05:35 PM
I would love to see it happen but they really would need to do it all the way through. The biggest problem is that every time they start to get us thinking they're getting serious about a product line they stop making it. They did it before with dirt bikes. They did it with the VR1000. I am affraid that they would just do it again. It seems like they are not willing to build the customer base. They just want us to run it and buy it. They need to race it like the other manufactueres and continue to race and develope it even though they are not winning. If Harley builds a real dirt bike and supports it like other manufacturers do then people will believe in them. Also, it really needs to be American made and not an import with an HD or Buell badge on it. And the 1125R racing against the 600's is an insult to all respectable Amercian motorcycle racing fans. It should be raced in the Superbike class or not at all. If they cannot win in that class then they need to continue the developement and continue the racing in the proper class, Superbike. I say these things as a Harley Davidson owner and supporter. I am currently looking to buy a Buell as well. An XB12S just for fun.