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Erik Buell Interview Exclusive

Thursday, January 28, 2010
Erik Buell
Erik Buell with the 1125CR, the second iteration of his long-awaited water-cooled motorcycle.
The demise of Buell Motorcycles shocked the motorcycle industry. Three months after the news hit, many questions remain.
For answers MotoUSA asked the man that started it all 26 years ago, Erik Buell. Anyone who has spoken to Erik Buell knows his passion for motorcycles, and sportbikes in particular. Building the American sportbike has been his professional life’s work, and in spite of the crushing news this past October, Buell will continue to support his namesake sportbikes at the helm of Erik Buell Racing.

We spoke with Buell only hours after Harley-Davidson released its 2009 year-end financial report, which showed the Motor Company 55 million in the red. Our discussion ranged from what happened to his company and the complex relationship with Harley-Davidson, to his personal reaction to the news and his plans going forward. Though he cannot broach certain topics for legal reasons, Buell answered what he could and gave us his perspective on one of the biggest motorcycle stories of 2009.

Our first question, the big question: What happed to Buell Motorcycles? What went wrong?


“Well, I think candidly what went wrong was we had a heck of a recession, which was particularly tough on all the sportbike companies and that was basically it,” said Buell. “Harley-Davidson needed to consolidate because they were having a tough time. It saw the sportbike industry doing a lot worse than their industry, which is already doing bad, and decided to get out.”
The final Buell rolls of the East Troy assembly line.
The final Buell rolls off the East Troy assembly line (top). New Harley-Davidson CEO Keith Wandell (below).
New H-D CEO Keith Wandell. Within six months of taking control  Buell Motorcycles was no more.

Asking Buell’s perspective as a business man on the move to discontinue Buell Motorcycles he said:

“I don’t agree with the decision, but that is the decision that they made. They believed that they needed to focus on their core industry when the times are hard, and they believed it would be a long recovery for the motorcycle industry. And they couldn’t be distracted, and like I said the sportbike industry was in worse shape than theirs and they felt they needed to focus. I don’t agree with them, but that’s what they felt and that’s the leadership choice they made.”

A key change in Harley-Davidson leadership took place on May 1, 2009, when Keith Wandell took over at CEO, replacing Jim Ziemer. Within six months Buell was axed. Asked if the change in CEO effected the decision to drop Buell, or whether it was the board of directors, Buell responded:

“Obviously the board supported him and put him in place. And I believe that definitely was the decision that he had input into, had the lead as CEO.”

The Harley-Davidson Brand

The current strategy for Harley-Davidson is to focus resources on the H-D brand. In a conference call explaining 2009 third quarter results, Wandell summed up the reason for dropping Buell: “We firmly belive that $1 invested in going to market with the Harley-Davidson brand delivers much more impact than the same dollar invested elsewhere when it comes to reaching new rider demographics.” (Quote courtesy of Seeking Alpha transcript ) Asked to respond to Wandell’s statement, Buell only reiterated that Harley believes the Harley-Davidson brand stands for cruisers and “they believe the brand’s strong and that’s where they should put their money.”

However, Buell had a different vision of Harley-Davidson, a more inclusive one:
Former Harley-Davidson CEO Vaughn Beals guided H-D out of economic woes in the 80s.
Former Harley-Davidson CEO Vaughn Beals guided H-D out of economic woes in the 80s.

“My belief was that Harley-Davidson could become Harley-Davidson Inc. That actually stood for leadership that could select, pick, customer bases and deliver the right product to them. But not necessarily under the brand name. And my idea behind that was when Harley-Davidson was bankrupt in 1982 or something, and Vaughn Beals [former President and CEO of Harley-Davidson] turned it around by focusing on their customers. So truly the fact that Harley was Harley, and that they always made the bikes the same, was not saving them. They were bankrupt. They’d been around for 80 years or whatever, but they were just about to go under.

“What saved them was not building what they always built. What saved them was focus on the customer. And doing things like HOG and making high quality bikes and just doing all the things that the customer that wanted a bike like that wanted. And Vaughn did a great job of it, an unbelievable job obviously, one of the greatest success stories of all time. My mind was, if they could apply that kind of thinking to different customers they’d have a monstrously powerful corporation.

“In short, you could say ‘let’s do sportbikes.’ They’re kind of similar, but actually a lot different in the customer mindset. So what we need to do is approach them as specifically and as focused a way as you did with the cruiser customer. But they didn’t because it was hard, because we were small. And it was also hard to get people to believe that.”
Erik Buell  Buell Motorcycles.
Erik Buell at the desk and at the workshop. Though his American Sportbike company has dwindled from 190 employees at Buell Motorcycles to six people at Erik Buell Racing, his American sportbike dream isn't dead: "I still feel like I have tons of energy for this stuff."
Buell gets his hands dirty.

We asked: Was there ever any talk or idea that the Buell brand goes away but Harley-Davidson takes over and delivers more of a street bike, more of a performance-oriented design?

“Obviously, they had made that thought before, thought it possible and revisited it every so often. And whenever they did any research, the answer was: one of Harley-Davidson’s greatest strengths is that it has a very unique identity and that it shouldn’t go into the marketplace where other brands are. It would devalue the brand, they need to stay independent. Their identity is extremely, extremely strong, which is a great value, the last thing you want to do is to lose that. So that’s basically what it came down to is you might sell more, but you might not sell more. But you definitely would confuse the brand. And so that really was why we kept going to do the Buell thing. Like I said, it was difficult, because it’s a big company and a small company trying to do something different. And it always was that the big company had much more important needs from a financial basis than Buell did.”

Later Buell would say on the decision to focus on the H-D brand rather than stick with Buell:

“They decided to go back to investing their money in doing more with the Harley brand. They both do require investments in that situation, that they had to make, and they made the one they chose to make. I don’t agree with it, but on the other hand that doesn’t mean I denigrate it and that doesn’t mean I think they’re stupid, or anything like that. I just disagree. That’s okay for people to disagree.”

Buell did feel, however, that progress was being made.

“I think we were getting there. We were getting there, but it takes a lot longer than I thought,” said Buell on his namesake companies progression, continuing. “But the recession really was a huge hit. And you know what it’s done to the other brands – the Suzukis and Kawasakis and everybody – they have big companies that help bolster them up, their car companies and other things. But without those, they’d be in trouble. And Harley’s a lot smaller company than any of them, so that’s the choice they made was to get out.”

The history between Buell and Harley is complex. We asked: Considering the fact that H-D ultimately opted to kill Buell Motorcycles, does Buell himself regret making the partnership?

“Obviously Buell became significantly larger with their investment. It was complex. It’s always complex when you have a large company and much smaller company in any industry. It was exacerbated because the two brands had such, shouldn’t say the two brands, the two customer bases had such significant differences.

“And so it’s very hard to get the proper focus on a little division of the big company and identify the smaller company properly for a different customer base. That was very difficult.”

The relative size disparity of the two companies was a clear challenge, but the difference in the customer base may be even larger. It was a divergence that extended to the dealer level. Asking Buell about the question of dealer support, he answered:

“I think we had spectacular dealers. I think the best dealers that we had were probably the best dealers in the sportbike industry of any brand. The ones we had that were really good, were just fabulous. There were others that didn’t get it and there were many, most Harley dealers were not even Buell dealers. So there were many, who because, once again the scope and the fact that having to accept completely different customer and different image, and also have it all be on such a smaller scale was a difficult thing.”

Buell continued: “And there’s no blame here. We had come to think of this as something that was pretty hard to do. I had a vision which was shared by some of the others, but it was a difficult one and it didn’t make it.”

"I had a vision which was shared by some of the others, but it was a difficult one and it didn’t make it"

One argument for hanging on to Buell is demographics. Could Buell be a source of young riders for the aging H-D ridership? We asked Buell: Did the numbers really bear that out? Was Buell selling bikes to younger people, or were they selling bikes to the same age group as the Harley people?

“Our demographics were about, we’re not super young, because of the price point and because of the fact that most of our product were the air-cooled and the water-cooled had just started and the water-cooled was on the higher-priced end of the scale, our demographics were more like you would see with literbikes. But they were about 10 years, ballpark 10 years younger than Harley’s. And going down.”

Why Not Sell?

Addressing one of the biggest questions since news of the company’s demise, we asked Buell for his insight or speculation: Why not sell off the Buell brand the way Harley plans to sell off MV Agusta?

“They [Harley] believed it was just too much of a part, too integrated into their business. They had dealers who were involved and they wanted to keep their dealers kind of focused. They wanted to control that. They had 137,000 Buell owners out there to sell parts to, and I think the parts business over the next 5-7 10 years will be a profitable business. And it was a great deal of complexity they felt in disconnecting Buell from Harley-Davidson.”

Related to the decision not to sell, rumors abounded about other OEMs, specifically Can-Am, as possible suitors to Buell. Asked specifically about the Can-Am rumors, and other OEMs, Buell said:

“With financials or plans for the future, or whatever deals or things might have been considered or anything, that’s not something I can talk about.”

The same holds for the confirmation or denial of Buell being bound by a non-compete clause. Again the answer was succinct:

I really can’t talk about anything like that, legal or financial.
Erik Buell poses with his original racebike  the RW750.
Erik Buell poses with his original racebike, the RW750.

The Wait for Water

The switch to a water-cooled engine sooner was a big factor in the company’s fate – at least in Buell’s eyes. He needed the water-cooled platform to be competitive on the race track, and success on the track would legitimize Buell innovation and translate into success in the sportbike market. We asked: It seemed like the 1125 platform was just breaking through. Do you regret not making the switch to a liquid-cooled motor sooner?

“Absolutely. And we tried, and couldn’t pull it off. I built the prototype of the 1125 in 1988, so it took me 20 years to get it to market. And then we had another run at it, we were actually supposed to have a water-cooled bike out by 1998, but that became the motor, Harley Davidson decided to take the motor and changed it into a cruiser motor and that became the V-Rod. But it actually started out as our engine. We were trying to get a water-cooled bike. It was actually scheduled to launch, it was ready to launch in Europe in ’98.

“We’d just been in business doing the air-cooled for a couple years, and I felt we needed to go water-cooled as soon as possible, and so did the person who was the head of marketing at the time. But we got going, but once we were given the scale. Harley Davidson looked at it and said: ‘well, when you do launch it, it will only be at these numbers and we’re doing hundreds of thousands of motorcycles. If we did a water-cooled we’d sell a lot more of those, so we need to share the motor. In fact, we kind of need to drive the motor. And then when we’re done with it, you can use it.’ And it became a great cruiser motor, but it was just too big and too heavy, it only had a five-speed transmission – a lot of things were not appropriate to bring it out in the marketplace as a true sportbike engine.

“That truly was what I was trying to do with Buell from the beginning, is truly make it a sportbike company. We did great things with the air-cooled engines. But it was very much a niche, and like I said, I knew it.”

After losing the motor to the V-Rod, Buell went back to the drawing board and persevered with the air-cooled powerplant, but the desire for a water-cooled engine remained.

“We did the XBs because we could at least do our own [engine], see what kind of elegant take we could do on the air-cooled motor, which turned out to be pretty great success in some circles. But still that was always our goal: a range of water-cooled bikes. We believed with using just the air-cooled engine we were holding Buell to about probably 5% of what if could have been, maybe 10%.”
A high-water mark in the Buell racing history  thus far  came with Danny Eslicks Daytona SportBike title.
A high-water mark in the Buell racing history, thus far, came with Danny Eslick's Daytona SportBike title.

Racing Plans

Integral to Buell’s future plans was racing. Having gathered its first title championship (albeit in the controversial AMA Daytona SportBike series), Buell was looking forward to racing on an international level with a more refined version of the 1125R superbike.

“Like I said, I still wish it could’ve worked. I think if we’d have lasted another five years, we would’ve turned the thing around. We had just won our first championship, we would’ve run American Superbike this year, and World Superbike in 2011.

“My belief was that’s what we needed to do, desperately. That’s why my very first water-cooled bike that I built in ‘98 was a superbike. It was 1000cc, water-cooled, with radiators and fuel in the frame, and all that stuff, and at that time it was going to run against 750 four-cylinder Japanese bikes. And I think it would’ve been a dominant bike. …Again I believed that’s what we needed, was a high-end racing identity. The proof that our innovation was proven on the track.”

At the center of future racing was the 1190RR, which would feature a larger spec motor using the 1125 platform. Erik Buell Racing, which will support Buell racers with parts and racebikes through at least 2010 has already sold two of the 1190RRs, though details are still scant.

“On Erik Buell Racing we have an 1190 race version that will be coming out soon. Not yet, it’s not up. We talk about it some on the website, but there’s no pictures because we’re not done with it. We’ve been testing it, but we’re not ready to release them yet.”

The 1190RRs were sold to the German-based Pegasusraceteam.com. EBR is mum on the details, however, in part because operations at the new racing company are just getting underway, still transitioning.

“We’re awfully small here,” said Buell of his new company. “It’s only six people here, and we’re kind of overwhelmed just with the emails and the contacts and those kinds of things. So we really don’t want to make a big deal out of it until we can deliver them. But in this case this was a team that’s raced Buells for a number of years with good success in Europe, and they had a great rider. We know them well technically, so they came over and they looked at the information and understood what we’re doing.”

The return to building racebikes brings Buell full-circle, his initial sportbike design the RW750 purpose-built for the AMA Formula One series. So, what is his expectation for Erik Buell Racing? What are your plans this season and beyond?

“Well the goal right now basically is to advance the 1125 and the new 1190, and advance more successes on the racetrack with the water-cooled bike. And a chance to just kind of prove that the work we did was good, which is make people feel good about the Buells that they own. Whether Harley has shut the brand down or not, it will make it seem really alive and, you know, not defunct.”
Taylor Knapp campaigning the 1125R in American Superbike. Buells racing plans included a shot at World Superbike in 2011.
Taylor Knapp campaigning the 1125R in American Superbike. Buell's racing plans included a shot at World Superbike in 2011.

But how much longer could Buell campaign the 1125 with homologation rules?

“There’s really nothing that would stop. They always have grandfather-type rules in class for quite a while. With a bike that was a production bike, it was made as a production bike, and there were thousands and thousands of them made. There’s still a dealer network, and you still need parts for them. And there’s still new ones that haven’t been sold yet in the dealer network. So it’s still very much a valid product. I can’t imagine that they wouldn’t let them race for years. There’s really no reason why they wouldn’t.”

What Riders Are Missing

Buell touched on the upcoming 1190RR, but one thing Buell fans are dying to know is what they’re missing with Buell gone from the marketplace. So we asked, what was in the Buell pipeline?

“We had a lot of things in the pipeline but, (long pause) it’s not in the pipeline now. There were different things – the 1190RR and other stuff. We had a dirt bike that was well along. It was announced it was going to be launched and then that was put on the side. We had future variations. Obviously, if we were going World Superbike racing in a couple years there had to be changes. And there were other products we were working on too.”

What happened to the Buell dirt bike project?

“It was canceled. It was put on hold, frankly, I don’t what’d started it up again. But we were pretty deep into it, and it’s a pretty neat bike. But that’s the way it is, and I’m sure it’s the same with any other company that’s working hard for their future. My real excitement was that I was finally starting to turn products quicker than 20 years (laughing).”

Asked if the new 1190RR was the sportbike seen in spy shots testing near the East Troy plant, Buell said:

“No, you haven’t seen pictures of the 1190R. One of these days we’ll get them up.”

Looking Back

Some decisions, like losing the 98 motor, were out of his control, but looking back we asked Buell does he have any any regrets:

“There’s a lot of things you think you might do differently, but there’s nothing I look back in my head and go ‘oh my god that was a horrible mistake.’ And who’s to say what those decisions would have done anyhow. I don’t look back a lot. I look forward and I always have. That’s why we persevered so long to build the company what it was. We never were looking back trying to redo anything in the past, or celebrating the past and getting all nostalgic about it. The work was ongoing.

“And now the new company, I think we have the same philosophy. We’re developing new products to make sure a lot of the people out there can get race parts, because the race part business was the same step down in size and scale to Buell as Buell was to Harley-Davidson. So for Harley-Davidson to handle the race end of the business and supply race parts to the racers out there was just a ridiculous disproportion. So it didn’t make sense for them, they didn’t want to do it at all. And we really felt there were a lot of people still out racing Buells and it would be a good marketing thing for Harley-Davidson. And that’s why they decided to let us have a license to build new Buell race bikes till the end of 2010. We’re still building new motorcycles, so it’s kind of fun.”

We also asked: It's been 26 years since you started. When you look back there’s a lot to be proud of but what stands out for you as the founder?

“I’m really proud of the team we had here. A lot of people didn’t understand that Buell really was Buell. People would say, oh that stuff is Harley engineering and then they just stick a Buell badge on it,’ and that’s not true. At our peak we had 190 people here, maybe 30 people on the assembly line. The engineering team, the whole thing everything from receiving, shipping and inventory, human resources, computer and IT services, accounting, all that kind of stuff. The technical team, engineering team, we have here was really, really great. And we were doing some amazing stuff.

“I’m really proud of the team of guys we developed and how the whole thing worked together. It was an amazing, amazing little company. We were shipping products out with very low budgets, compared to real significant sized motorcycle companies. And they were the real deal, fully tested and fully certified. Tons and tons and tons of development work to make sure they were a real motorcycle, not a kid bike.”

The videos of Buell announcing Harley’s decision were agonizing to watch. Buell himself had only received word of the decision a few days before the public announcement. We asked, on a personal level what does the end of Buell Motorcycles mean. Is this the end of a personal dream?

“Oh no. That was a pretty stunning thing at the time. It was new to me. All I was thinking about was all the impact that it was going to – the people who are going to lose jobs, how can we support the customers, how are we going to get over this huge slump. Because we knew we were going to get shut down, and shut down fast. It’s just an overwhelming bunch of things to take in over a few days and figure out what to do with it. And the thing that probably weighted me the most, was just caring about the people, you know the employees – a lot of them going to be out of jobs soon. Worrying about employees in dealerships who might not longer be there. People that bought bikes and how were they going to get parts and service, and how is that all going to be set up. That’s all that was just on my mind, all just this huge weight of ‘oh my god, what do I do to help all these people.’

“So I think we got most of that taken care of. The employees we don’t, but people are getting jobs. We all kind of communicate with each other, and celebrate the success stories when they do. Quite a few of them are getting promotions with their new companies they go to because when they go in to interview and people find out what their skill sets were they go ‘holy smokes.’ Because it really was a strong team. When you bring in a portfolio of what you did at Buell, it’s always “oh my god, I thought you were a designer but you did tons of stuff…’ ….Obviously not all of them have jobs back, but I’m feeling like we’re making progress towards that. We’ve made progress to getting all the drawings transferred over to Harley so that they can take care of the customers.”

Buell still continues his dream about the American sportbike. He looks back at the end of the 2009 AMA racing season with fondness, aa vindication that Buell was on the right track.

Buell points to the feedback from competitors regarding Corey Wests top-10 running at New Jersey as a highlight.
Buell points to the feedback from competitors regarding Corey West's top-10 running at New Jersey as a highlight.
“My own goal is, I still believe that here in American we can build great sportbikes. And world class motorcycles, and not by denigrating anybody else, just saying ‘hey, our stuff is good too.’ When we ran up in New Jersey, in the Superbike race, that was a great reward to me. Because then we were running a bike that was significantly down on power and people could see the handling. So I’m having top factory riders from the import manufacturers coming over and saying ‘holy crap does that bike handle.’ I just watch Cory [West] go around the outside of Neil Hodgson. How is that possible? (laughs)

“It’s what we always needed to do, because a lot of people in sport, racing is kind of the heartbeat of it. If Sturgis and the coleslaw wrestling, or whatever, is kind of the heartbeat of Harley - the fun and good times party, and the bike gets you there. For sportbike guys, the heroes there are not Peter Fonda and Jesse James, they’re guys like Danny [Eslick], Ben Bostrom and Valentino Rossi and on down the list. So those people count a lot and a lot of the journalists who follow it count that, and they believe that this stuff is used on the racetrack. It’s the best stuff in the world, and because we were doing unique solutions, the fact that we weren’t competing at the highest level and showing that that stuff worked, some of our solutions got denigrated.

“And that’s why it was so cool for me, to finally see that. Because that chassis may be the best in the world. I'm telling you anyone who was in New Jersey, any riders that were on the track, would tell you the same thing. The bike was down on power, but against the 1098 Ducati, and the R1s and the GSX-Rs, which are all great motorcycles, it was better handling. And that’s good, that doesn’t mean it did everything else better or anything else, but we were really there, with the fuel in the frame and the ZTL front brake and the things that we did are the real deal.”

Racing success not only leads to vindication of Buell products, but vindication of American-built products. Speaking with Erik Buell it’s clear that the American part of American sportbike drives him.

“It’s important for me. For some reason in this country we have gotten the belief, particularly in the vehicle business, that we are not as good. That American stuff is not as good, that the import stuff is better.”
Erik Buell at work.
Erik Buell: "I still believe that here in American we can build great sportbikes."

Asked why he thinks that is:

“I don’t know. I don’t believe it, but I hear it said. My belief was that we have to go racing to get people to believe it. I think they do a great PR job, the import cars and motorcycles do a good job, but we tend to pick on ourselves. We’re a country that likes to feel bad about ourselves right now. We feel that we’re doing bad things and that we’re not good, and I don’t agree with that. And are people taking advantage of that to make money? Sure. Is Toyota going to promote as hard as they can that they’re better than a Ford or something, are they going to take advantage of that? Of course.

“I don’t know what I think we can blame it on. If you’ve ever been in a Cadallac CTS-V – I don’t own one – but that’s an unbelievable car and it’s cheaper than a BMW or Mercedes. It’s gotten pretty good recognition, but they literally have to make something that was stunningly good to be better, to get any recognition. And then it’s still kind of ‘well, it’s really a pretty good car, although the texture of the dashboard isn’t quite what that BMW is.’ I think, guys, what are you doing. In some respects there’s an impact there from journalists, saying things, and they do it because it’s popular and they’re in the business of selling things, they go along with the popular flow. So I don’t blame them per se, but it’s just the reality check of that.

“And you know it’s true, and I don’t know what we’re going to do about it, because it’s hurting us as a country. Because people here in America are as good as the engineers in Japan, and as good as the engineers in Germany. There is no doubt about it. The average working guy that puts some bikes together is a hard working guy. I’ve been in factories in Austria and Germany and Japan, and they’re hard working too, but we have this image that Americans are lazy and sloppy. And it’s not true. So I need to prove that, that was my deal. That’s what I feel was a piece I had got and I don’t have done yet, that hopefully someday I get a chance to do again. But my belief is that I have to lead through racing.”

Buell doesn’t seem finished yet, that’s for certain. We ended our conversation with plans for the future: Can American riders look forward to Erik Buell built motorcycle five, ten years down the road?

“I’m certainly not done and, like I said, I still want to do that. I don’t want to have to be not competing in the same market. I still feel like I have tons of energy for this stuff and so we’re leading with racing and if nothing else we’re going to hopefully build a belief that American designs and concepts and American-made stuff is cool. What I do beyond that, time is going to tell.”
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Comments
Ambivalent -Concerned American  June 14, 2010 02:52 PM
A lot of misinformation about Buell and HD out there. For one thing, I think the WSBK weekend at Miller in May demonstrated that a Buell can run down just about any make of motorcycle on a road course with their 3rd place finish in the Supersport class. Btw, that was not an 1190 engine they were racing, they had problems with the 1190's so they backfitted 1125 cc engines in the bikes and still took a 3rd place. Not too shabby.
Second, the old 700cc tariff is completely misunderstood. Hd's York Assembly Plant was, from WWI until the 1980's co-located on the site of the Naval Ordinance Factory, York Pennsylvania. AMF was a major defense contractor and they operated that site for the Navy for a very long time, building anti-aircraft cannons in WWII for example, but the site is much older. When Harley went private, the US Navy panicked, worried that this major defense plant's operator was financially unsound and, if they failed, the Navy would not have a firm to operate the plant for them. It is what's called a GOCO for Government Owned, Contractor Operated. The DoD had to protect this new company until it was financially secure. Among their products were bomb casings and a very trick liquid fueled rocket motor not much larger than a roll of paper towels used in a mach 4 target drone called the AQM-37.
Now the Navy part of the York plant is decommissoned and a major Superfund site, draining Harley's coffers to pay for the cleanup of all that crap bequeathed to them by AMF from years of making guns and ammo on that site. THAT is why HD wanted to close the place down, it's a financial albatross.
Btw, the Chrysler loan guarantee back then was also pushed by the DoD. Chrysler was the prime contractor for the then new M-1 Abrams tank. The Army could not let them go bankrupt, so Chrysler was bailed out until the M-1 program could be moved to General Dynamics. Because of these near catastrophies for the DoD, you will notice today that our major defense contractors no longer are companies that live and die with civilian product lines.
Donald -close minded  May 30, 2010 09:35 AM
Harley davidson has shot them selves in the foot again,so harley davidson thinks it's sportster is the same as a buell fire bolt or a buell lightning long,are these guy's nuts,so harley davidson destroyed the only america sport bike around.(PS) we are not all over weight baby boomers.
Mcguire -sewer rat  February 14, 2010 01:11 PM
Too bad about Buell, Harley actually had something going there. If they could have made a merger between Buell and MV they really would have had something going. Another economic year like this one and we will be lucky to have more that a handfull of manufactures remaining. How could any one survive with a 42 % drop in sales? Answer...Not Long
Jon -Still dont get it  February 10, 2010 03:26 PM
I just don't understand why HD would allow themselves to ruin such a promising oportunity. Buell sportbikes like the 1125 were awesome. They looked different and to me, that was refreshing when every sportbike company tries to mimmick each other without appearing to do so. Also the performance of these bikes is amazing. Don't listen to these fools who haven't ridden one and talk their trash. Anyone who has owned one can only testify to the amazing prowess of the bike and all reviews and track tests say the same thing. Awesome bikes, great vision. I hope Erik breaks back into the market in a strong way because I love what that guy produces.
benroe -Erik  February 10, 2010 06:07 AM
I know Erik won't say it, but HD management is stupid. Their bikes are destined to become the icon for the way not to do it in the business world. They are too close minded, non-forward thinking, and engrained in the "group think". Their only hope is that as the rest of us grow old and tired we will move on from high performance brands to the agricultural HD bikes. As for me I say go suck it HD!!
Jess -Such a superb engineer  February 4, 2010 05:06 PM
Eric Buell is a true visionary/engineer. HOWEVER he is not a designer. He should have left the bike design to a real designer. It's a pity that most of his bikes look cheap, crude, and cobbled together.
Fred M. -@Brett: 2nd bike  February 2, 2010 11:48 AM
Brett,

I like the Aprilia's RSV4's style. The KTM RC8 looks hideous to me. The BMW S1000RR is not my cup of tea. But if I bought bikes based on appearance, then there is no way that I would have ended up with an 1125CR. It's hideous. But it's fast, tractable, comfortable, and has great handling. I didn't mention the MV just due to price. The Triumph 675 is a great bike. The 848, I never really warmed up to.

Of course, I'd recommend getting a brand new Buell 1125R while you still can. Way less money than the 675 or 848 (maybe $7K -- plus shipping if you can't find one local to you). Great power for street use without. Better street ergos. Way better wind protection. Granted, it is a bit heavier. Just my $.02.
Andre -Point  February 2, 2010 05:35 AM
I think that we are missing the point here, Harley ha the opportunity to make something special and they failed. The bike speaks for itself, with modifications, to the exhaust, suspension and changing from a belt to chain driven this bike was able to win the AMA with a stock engine, also were can you buy the same parts that are use in racing for your Suzuki, Kawasaki, Yamaha Duc, Beamer or for that matter any other bike…with Buell you could.
America as proven over the years that we can compete in any arena if we choose to, Chaparral prove it for Chevy and the GT40 prove it for Ford by winning Lemans against all European brands some time ago. Buell was on his way to do the same.
Which bike is the best? Every driver is different; each driver must find the bike he feels comfortable with.

Mark -every complaint  February 2, 2010 12:38 AM
The honest truth here is that every body who rides a performance moter cycle in the US wants a US owned AND BUILT moter cycle company to stand behind. We want a hot rod bike with world class riders.And our world class bikes with no excuses. Harly failed to come through on every level , they had the man they had the potential but they just held the cards to tight and micromanaged the whole thing to much. As a result they have torpedoed a whole new generation of riders as potential customers and lost almost any credibility they may have had as a up and coming world leader. This is not going to affect there us sales but it going to destroy there over sea's sales as it will display there in ability to stand behind product development and progression to compeat in a changing market . I owned stock in HD and sold it two years ago , looks like I made not only the rite choice but a profit before the long road down hill.
Brett -@Fred M: 2nd bike  February 1, 2010 04:19 PM
I did as you suggested and took a look at the RC8, RSV4, S1000RR, and one you didn't mention but I thought I'd check out anyway, the MV Agusta F4. All are no doubt impressive machines, however IMO the styling is just plain ugly in all save the F4 and maybe the BMW. All of them are a bit outside of my budget and I'd prefer a mid-weight anyway (hence 675 vs 848), so no matter... Thanks for the info though.
Brett -scratching my head...  February 1, 2010 02:34 PM
Either I'm used to all the shake as it's my only bike (I've Demo'd Ducatis, Triumphs, and the 1125CR though), or at 26 I'm still too young to notice an uncomfortable bike when I'm on one.
Andre -To Brett  February 1, 2010 02:19 PM
07
Brett -@ Andre  February 1, 2010 02:10 PM
What year was your Sportster? I've had my '07 XL1200R up to 110mph and it doesn't shake at all. That wind is a killer though.
Andre -Heck of a Bike  February 1, 2010 01:36 PM
I'm no spring chicken (55) always drove sports bikes, from Kaws 750 (old 70's 2 stroke) to today’s new crotch rockets, and settle with Yamaha's R6 until now. Bought a Harley Sporter 1200 xlt after a skiing accident, and regretted that decision. Riding that thing above 60/mph was like being in the ring with Ali for 12 rounds, @ 3200 rpms it shakes so bad that you feel that it will come apart. Traded the thing for a 1125R and I can say that is by far the best bike I ever owned, yes it is not quite as quick but man it handles like an angel, you can ride the bike forever, and get off of it and still feel fresh.
Yes I’m a dinosaur, but it doesn’t meen that I want to ride on a bike designed for the Flintstones. Harley should have branched Buell , different demographics. No sport bike lover wants to go into a Harley shop to by a sport bike.

Smart Kid -The Wrong Bike Died!!!!  February 1, 2010 10:19 AM
Harley has shut down Buell and pinned its sporting flag on the XR1200, a tube framed, Harley engined Sportster model. Harley turned away an attempt by BRP, the parent company of CanAm and Rotax to buy the design and tooling and to manufacturer and sell the 2011 1125RR as its own under a new brand and model designation. Not sure how Harley stockholders view that missed opportunity to recoup some money on its Buell investment. It is costing Harley 125 million to shut Buell down. It is feared by the Harley exec's that if BHP succeeded as a company that didn't keep the bikes buried behind an aging line of cruisers like Harley did that it might not fair well with the stockholders. Harley has to be sick in the head if they think they can sell the XR1200 to the young buyers as a SPORT BIKE. I was at a show today that featured campers, RV's etc. There were 2 motorcycle dealers there. A Harley dealer and a BMW dealer. The BMW dealer had a huge crowd going crazy over the new S1000RR super bike. It is really a work of art. The Harley booth had 4 huge Harleys beached there and two salesman standing there making crap out of the BMW's. They were typical Harley salesmen. Tattoos and dressing up like the village people with all there Harley clothes on. I guess to each his own but the Harley's did not impress me at all. They were the same crap that Harley has been peddling forever. I was impressed with the BMW's though. I have never ridden a BMW but the K1300GT they had there really impressed me and I have set up an appointment for a test ride. The Harley salesman commented that I should not buy "that German Crap" and I should buy American. I told him when a real motorcycle was produced in America I certainly would consider it. He told me I was a smart assed kid and to F off. Harley Davidson should have shut down the plants that manufacture all the outdated overweight Harley motorcycles and concentrated on improving the Buell line of bikes. That was the only hope Harley Davidson had for a future in the motorcycle business. Surely, the stuff they manufacture now has a "SELL BY DATE" on them that is very close to expiring.
fast2win -@Kalib  February 1, 2010 05:34 AM
STFU, Fred is correct in all his statements what don't you get. his assumption on you being young is probably correct. If we have to slow down any more we'll be at a stop.The fact that Fred makes re: the 1125r is true he wanted a street motor and came up with 146hp. If you can't figure out that a design like that is capable of producing more power if tuned differently your the one that doent catch on.DSB was to have bikes that were similar in power to weight. Thats why they chose the 848 as Fred states. And in case you didnt notice when Buell did compete againt liter bikes with more hp, like in NJ he placed 6th with a rider that had never rode the bike before. But I'm sure in your mind Buell was somehow cheating there too. A 600ss IMO is one of the most useless street bike made yet kids buy them left and right. They are very uncomfortable and in town its even worse. When I test rode a 1198 Duc I couldnt get off it fast enough. The track is the where these type of bikes are designed to work well. Buell built a street bike 1st, that could be raced and is now proving that on the track against bike that were from the onset designed to be track only bikes with light etc.
Honda Rider -Harley is Out of Date  February 1, 2010 04:47 AM
I guess Harley Davidson has decided that everyone should be riding a big overweight overpriced and outdated big twin and play dress up with there Harley Davidson boutique clothes. Gee, Mr. Willey I think I will make my own decision on that matter and take a pass on the crap you manufacture.
Fred M. -@Kalib: Top 1/3 with 30-40hp less = better handling  January 31, 2010 10:32 PM
You wrote: "So we will try this one last time. “As to liter bikes, it will probably outrun them on twisty sections and they will pull it on straights”. Why and/or how will a Buell 1125 outrun a liter bike on the twisty sections?" Because it handles better than they do. Yes, I'm saying it. Erik Buell said it. Multiple racers have said it. That was proven when a Buell 1125R with 40hp less was able to finish 3rd in a pro-level race 2008, beating every liter class bike save 2. It's why it was able to finish 7th out of a field of 20 finishers in the same race in 2009. You wrote: "if you had two equally talented riders on the two bikes the Buell would get left behind just like it does when it races against liter bikes and 750cc bikes on the track." So 3rd and 7th in races that had 20 finishers each is being "left behind"? You're not just illiterate; you're innumerate, too. Or are you going to tell me that the guy that Crevier beat for 3rd in that first race was just not talented? He was Francis Martin, two time Canadian Superbike champion (1999 and 2005).
Fred M. -@Kalib: Breaking this up to keep it simple for you  January 31, 2010 09:22 PM
In case you have not figured it out yet, most of your anger and ranting was because of your deficient reading comprension. I wrote: "It all depends on where they are being ridden and by whom. The short wheelbase (about an inch and a half shorter than a GSXR1000), quicker handling, and more road-friendly ergonomics of the Buell give it some very strong points for street use." How did your mind twist that into 'the Buell 1125R will lap faster than GSX-R1000s on race tracks'? I also wrote: "As to liter bikes, it will probably outrun them on twisty sections and they will pull it on straights. After a long day of 200-300 miles, they will be crippled from their make-believe-racer posture while I'll still be fine." Again, an obvious reference to the performance of the bike for street use by street riders, but, again, you somehow believed that to be commenting on their racing attributes. How? ------------ Since you've misunderstood just about everything else, I'll state this succinctly: If the Buell, with much lower horsepower, can be competitive with I4 liter class bikes on a track, then the handling is obviously very good. ------------ But perhaps you're ascribing Erik Buell's comments to me. He said "Because that chassis may be the best in the world. I'm telling you anyone who was in New Jersey, any riders that were on the track, would tell you the same thing. The bike was down on power, but against the 1098 Ducati, and the R1s and the GSX-Rs, which are all great motorcycles, it was better handling." Is that something that you thought I said? Or are you going to LOL about Erik Buell claiming to be an engineer, too?
Kalib -Fred M  January 31, 2010 09:03 PM
Oh NASA boy 2008, 2009 doesn’t really change the fact that your beloved Buell got beat by multiple liter bikes and of different makes along with a 750cc sport bike. I guess the next thing you’re going to say is the 2008 model was faster. It also doesn’t change the fact you have yet to step up and give your reasoning for why you think the Buell will outrun liter bikes on twisty sections. You can’t use your Steve Crevier example anymore because after the Buell being beat, by a 750cc no less, your argument is as weak as a malnourished pigmy mouse. “I wrote that "It all depends on where they are being ridden and by whom”. Oh you made it clear where the bikes are being ridden “twisty sections”. As for whom if you had two equally talented riders on the two bikes the Buell would get left behind just like it does when it races against liter bikes and 750cc bikes on the track. " See the words "street use"? Hey, you’re the guy bringing up 2 yr old race results. I’m just asking you to stop with all the pretending and answer my question. Why and how will a Buell 1125 outrun a liter bike on the twisty sections? You have no answer. Now your posts have resorted to grammar school name calling; that is the first sign of being overwhelmed. I don’t need name calling to get my point across. Right about now you’re probably thinking what was I thinking using that Canadian SBK example. Only someone such as yourself Fred would try to justify one of their statements with something like that. So we will try this one last time. “As to liter bikes, it will probably outrun them on twisty sections and they will pull it on straights”. Why and/or how will a Buell 1125 outrun a liter bike on the twisty sections?
Fred M. -@Kalib: Further corrections  January 31, 2010 08:04 PM
"Fred you are the only person on the face of the earth that thinks the 1125R will turn faster lap times than a GSXR1000 and outrun liter bikes on twisty sections."--------- Again, your reading comprehension problems come into play. I wrote that "It all depends on where they are being ridden and by whom. The short wheelbase (about an inch and a half shorter than a GSXR1000), quicker handling, and more road-friendly ergonomics of the Buell give it some very strong points for street use." See the words "street use"? Were you home schooled by a squirrel?
Fred M. -@Kalib: *TRY* to keep up.  January 31, 2010 07:58 PM
What did I write? "A stock Buell 1125R ridden by Steve Crevier, got a 3rd place finish in its initial outing..." ------------- Did you see the words "initial outing"? Do you know what "initial outing" means? That happened in 2008, not 2009! If you can't read or don't know when they started making the bike, just get back on your short bus and go away. Here are the race results: ------------- http://www.cdnsuperbike.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=738&Itemid=189 ---------- Oh yeah, you sunk my battleship, imbecile.
Kalib -Fred M  January 31, 2010 06:52 PM
Fred look how many GSXR1000s finish ahead of the Buell in AMA SBK last season. NASA…this is golden. You allegedly work for NASA but you come to the conclusion that the Buell out handles GSXR1000s and other liter bikes because of a third place result in one race. That’s anecdotal at best. Fred you are the only person on the face of the earth that thinks the 1125R will turn faster lap times than a GSXR1000 and outrun liter bikes on twisty sections. This should not surprise me coming from someone who said “Don't worry; I know a hell of a lot more about bike handling than you do -- and I never claimed that a shorter wheelbase was the only thing that contributes to a better handling bike”. Yeah apparently Steve Crevier’s race results sum up what you know about the dynamics of motorcycle handling. What’s wrong Fred afraid to go out on a limb and back up your assumption as to why you think the Buell outruns liter bikes other than a third place finish in a race. Well I can’t hold it in any longer Fred. http://www.cdnsuperbike.com/index.php This Fred is the link to the race one results (just click race results) of the first round in the 2009 Canadian SBK championship but Steve Crevier cam in 7th not 3rd. He finished behind 2 GSXR1000s, 2 zx-10rs, 1 R1 and drum roll please a GSXR750. Oh boy Fred look at the bottom of the results sheet it says: Fastest Lap: 2:01.399 by Brett McCormick on lap 3, Mr. McCormick was racing a GSXR1000. I just sank your battleship…LOL
Fred M. -@Jeff -- The rules...  January 31, 2010 04:41 PM
You wrote: ------"What big bore Ducati are you referring to?"------ I was not referring to one. I was quoting the AMA press release. ------"I don’t blame Buell but why was the Buell allowed 1125cc and the Ducati only 848."------ Because the Ducati was designed and tuned to be a competitive race bike and puts out 134hp at the crank. The Buell was designed to be a street bike and puts out 146hp at the crank and it weighs more than the Ducati. Erik Buell Racing is getting 175 RWHP out of the 1125 engine as built for American Superbike. Had Buell tuned the engine to get that kind of power in their production bike, I'm confident in saying that, like the Ducati 1098 & 1198, the Buell 1125R would not have been allowed to compete in Daytona Sportbike.
Fred M. -@Kalib: Your continued cluelessness  January 31, 2010 04:26 PM
--------"An engineer! LOL Fred please you might tell this lie on some online dating services in order to get a date with some fat 50 yr old hag but after reading your posts it is really clear you’re not an engineer."-------- Yeah, NASA just lets me hang around at launches because they like me. But I'll let you go on for a while longer. It will be funnier that way. --------"How do you know how old I am Fred?"-------- I was making an educated guess based on your childish comments, obvious insecurity, and clear lack of knowledge. --------"How or why will a Buell 1125 outrun liter bikes on a twisty section?"-------- A stock Buell 1125R ridden by Steve Crevier, got a 3rd place finish in its initial outing in Superbike racing in Canada, ahead of all eight Suzuki GSX-R1000s that competed in the race. It did this despite having the disadvantages of running on a DOT rear tire (rim was not wide enough for the race slick) and having about 40 fewer HP. That's why.
Jeff -Fred & Bret  January 31, 2010 04:01 PM
@Fred “and a variety of big-bore bikes from Buell, Aprilia and Ducati”. What big bore Ducati are you referring to? The 1198 and 1098 were not allowed and the 848 is a middle weight. I don’t blame Buell but why was the Buell allowed 1125cc and the Ducati only 848. Rules like that make it look like an American series is giving an American bike a little help. If anyone got the shaft it would be Triumph. Their bike has only one more piston than the Buell but is only allowed 675cc and the 675 has one fewer piston than the 600s but is only allowed 75cc more. It would seem fairer if the Triumph was allowed 263cc more than the 600s or 263cc less than the Buell (same difference). @Bret, I agree Harley could learn a lot from Triumphs business model. Triumph also had some of the least sales decline for 2009.
Brett -@Fred: 2nd bike  January 31, 2010 03:45 PM
There was a time when I wanted a naked, and the street triple, Monster, and 1125CR were all in the running. I later decided that I wanted something more focused (full fairing). After riding a bit, I learned that I prefer the torque of a twin to the high rpms of an in-line 3, so that left me with the Ducati 848 and the 1125. Of the two I like the Italian styling, not to take anything away from the impressive handling of the Buell.
Kalib -Fred the spin master...sort of  January 31, 2010 03:38 PM
An engineer! LOL Fred please you might tell this lie on some online dating services in order to get a date with some fat 50 yr old hag but after reading your posts it is really clear you’re not an engineer. How do you know how old I am Fred? Baseless juvenile comments like that are where you show your hand at how ignorant you are. “Because they lost on the track and they don't work as well on the street”. Again, the 600s lost on the track because they were designed to race against other 600s. I could put a Ducati 1198 against a Moto GP bike and it would lose on the track but not because the Ducati has glaring faults but because it was meant to race a different type of bike. Yet another comment that a real engineer would not make because he would understand this simple concept. The Buell’s glaring fault is it can’t compete fairly against other twins even; the Ducati was only allowed 848cc. Fred please keep this side show going with more of your inane logic. The best line is “And I don't think that Erik Buell Racing would be advertising 135hp if it was really 150hp”. Glad to know that there are still people out there who believe everything an “advertisement” says. You will believe an advertisement from the builder of the bike but call an article written by a motorcycle mag a rumor. “you wouldn’t have been quoting spec sheets as your “evidence” that the Buell handles better than a GSXR1000 now would you."--------- I never made that claim, you liar”! Oh really Fred “As to liter bikes, it will probably outrun them on twisty sections and they will pull it on straights”. How or why will a Buell 1125 outrun liter bikes on a twisty section? You’re not a engineer Fred you are a very poor impersonation of a lousy lawyer. Aerospace engineer…yeah you’re in outer space.
Fred M. -@Brett: Next bikes  January 31, 2010 03:18 PM
In addition to looking at what Ducati has to offer, if you want a full-on sport bike, the Aprilia RSV4 is arguably one of the finest in the liter class. The KTM RC8 is extremely good. Maybe the best, though, is the new BMW S1000RR. They are a bit extreme for my tastes and uses (road riding -- sometimes several hundred miles per day). I tend to go with naked bikes like the Buell Lightning Long and 1125CR. If I were replacing the 1125CR today (and had to get something other than Buell), I'd probably get the Triumph Speed Triple. The inline 3-cylinder engine is wonderful, providing a healthy dose of torque along with the faster revving that is associated with I4 engines. The chassis is well-sorted, light, and the ergos are very good. Handling is good, though not as good as the 1125CR. If you want something on the very sporty side of sport touring, check out the Triumph Sprint ST.
Fred M. -@Jeff -- Don't blame Buell for DMG's rules  January 31, 2010 03:02 PM
When Buell designed the 1125R, there was no consideration given to racing. In fact, the Daytona Sportbike class was not even in existence until 2009. In announcing it, the AMA described it thus: ---------"A new class for 2009, AMA Pro Daytona SportBike presented by AMSOIL is a battleground between quick-handling 600cc motorcycles and a variety of big-bore bikes from Buell, Aprilia and Ducati. Daytona SportBike incorporates the now inactive Formula Xtreme and older SuperSport series but opens the door in total to 10 eligible motorcycles, making the new class one of AMA Pro’s most diverse divisions."---------- The intent of the class, the motorcycles that could compete, and the rules regarding weights and permitted modifications were clearly spelled out before the season began. A complaint heard prior to the season starting was that the Buells would be so unreliable as to make the racing hazardous for other competitors. You didn't hear anyone protesting the inclusion of the Buells until they started winning.
Fred M. -@Kalib: Your delusions of adequacy  January 31, 2010 02:41 PM
You wrote ---------"If you had the first clue of what crankshaft/flywheel, mass centralization, steering geometry, etc. was you wouldn’t have been quoting spec sheets as your “evidence” that the Buell handles better than a GSXR1000 now would you."--------- I never made that claim, you liar! I said "The short wheelbase (about an inch and a half shorter than a GSXR1000), quicker handling, and more road-friendly ergonomics of the Buell give it some very strong points for street use." You just wanted to distort what I said to try to convince people that you had something to bring to the table. ---------"After the fact when you realized how layman you looked with your first statement then and only then do you try to sound intelligent with some big boy terms (big boy for you) you found when you googled good handling bike."--------- I've got books on motorcycle chassis design that are older than you are. Unlike you, I am an engineer (in the aerospace industry), so I don't have to rely on Google to pretend to understand engineering. If you spent a little more time studying motorcycle engineering and less time lying and pretending to be a man on the Internet, you might learn something. ---------"How is it a glaring fault of the 600 to have a peaky power band when the bikes were designed to race against other 600s not 1125cc bikes."--------- Because they lost on the track and they don't work as well on the street. If it's a "glaring fault" that the Buell 1125R, which was never designed for racing, (saddled with 20 extra pounds of weight) was sometimes out-cornered by 600cc bikes designed for racing, then it's a glaring fault that the 600cc race bikes are have peaky, underpowered engines.
Brett -@Jeff: Daytona 675  January 31, 2010 02:25 PM
I agree with you that Triumph has the right idea. It only took them a decade... I tested the D675 and was impressed, just not as impressed as I was with the Ducati 848 or the Buell 1125CR (styling aside). I wholeheartedly wish that HD would take a lesson from Triumph and evolve into this century. Triumph makes BOTH cruisers and rockets of decent quality. Why can't HD do the same?
Jeff -RE: Fred M  January 31, 2010 02:19 PM
They had a class/series for bikes like this it was called Moto ST. The series was run by the same person who runs DMG, Roger Edmondson. That series is now dissolved. Most people who go to motorcycle races like to watch race bikes race other race bikes. No doubt the Buell makes a better street bike than a R6 but this is racing we are talking about so if the Buell needed the rules bent so badly so their street bike could be competitive then maybe they should have stayed out of racing. The national title didn’t help Buell sell on Monday or Tuesday. I think the Suzuki Bandit 1200 is a great bike and whether or not the GSXR600 wins a title would not change my opinion on the Bandit. Look at Triumph with their 675, it was a success almost over night and this was before it was raced. Buell took the wrong approach and it cost them along with all the Buell owners.
Brett -@ Fred: thanks  January 31, 2010 02:16 PM
I love my Sportster and it's been a great 1st bike (I'm 26 and have owned it for 2 years). However, my next bike will most likely be a Ducati. I bought my used 07 Roadster because it had twin disks, a tachometer, a blacked out engine, and a low price tag. I saw what it "wanted" to be and then I started modding.... now it looks like a Roadster/Nightster/XR1200/48 hybrid, but the truth is that I could have gotten pretty much the same result starting with any of those so-called "diverse" XL models. Now that Buell is gone I look at the entire HD lineup and think "what can HD offer me that I don't already have?" Since I'm not interested in a big twin, the answer is, unfortunately, "absolutely nothing." I know I'm hardly the only rider in the under-40 crowd who feels the same way. Had Buell been given the opportunity to evolve a few more years with their Rotax direction (and maybe some prettier styling), I would definitely have considered them as an alternative to the Italian twin.
Fred M. -@Brett: RIght on!  January 31, 2010 02:04 PM
Harley battled fiercely with other manufacturers, trying to engineer the best bikes possible -- which is partly why they survived when their competition did not. But that was many decades ago. Since then, they've spent almost all of their efforts on selling nostalgia and a fantasy lifestyle to people who pretend to be bad-asses on the weekends. They want to sell a $20 grand motorcycle and then convince the customer to drop another five to ten thousand in bolt-on chrome accessories, T-shirts, doo-rags, dog collars, coffee mugs, wall hangings, keychains, model motorcycles, etc. As you say, Brett, HD is facing a future where their once-faithful customers are in nursing homes. I have no doubt that HD will try to sell them leather fringed seats for their potty chairs.
Kalib -Fred M Wrong Again  January 31, 2010 02:00 PM
If you had the first clue of what crankshaft/flywheel, mass centralization, steering geometry, etc. was you wouldn’t have been quoting spec sheets as your “evidence” that the Buell handles better than a GSXR1000 now would you. After the fact when you realized how layman you looked with your first statement then and only then do you try to sound intelligent with some big boy terms (big boy for you) you found when you googled good handling bike. You are a dull tool. Your post is so pathetic you have to argue the point of “around 150 hp” and “almost 150 hp”…thin and weak. How is it a glaring fault of the 600 to have a peaky power band when the bikes were designed to race against other 600s not 1125cc bikes. Your logic is all based on your spec sheets and it shows because only somebody with the self-evident lack of knowledge would use your logic. All said Fred 135-140 hp does not equal 150 hp. You’re wrong, again, and you’re sad.
Fred M. -A Summary  January 31, 2010 01:40 PM
The idea behind Daytona Sportbike is "win on Sunday, sell on Monday." So I like rules that favor the bikes that perform best on the street. I don't want manufacturers to be rewarded for slapping lights on a peaky, twitchy, race bike. I don't want to see naive consumers ending up on bikes that have fairings and riding positions suited to turning fast laps at Laguna Seca but that suck at responsible speeds one sees on public roads. I don't want a manufacturer to be punished by the rules for having 100 mile ergonomics, a wide, torquey power band, and an engine that doesn't run the in the same RPM range as a dentist's drill. If I want to see who can make the best purpose-built race bike, I can (and do) watch MotoGP.
Brett -What happened to innovation?  January 31, 2010 01:30 PM
Quote from Keith Wendell, CEO of HD: “We firmly believe that $1 invested in going to market with the Harley-Davidson brand delivers much more impact than the same dollar invested elsewhere when it comes to reaching new rider demographics.” ...so in other words, we'd rather stick to our cheesy merchandise and tired old cruisers than invest in the R&D that made HD great in the first place. I wonder if he'll be singing the same tune in another 20 years when all of the HD loyalists are in nursing homes and the company has ensured its demise by alienating generations of future riders?
Fred M. -@Pat: Dyno 101  January 31, 2010 01:24 PM
AMA/DMG stated "A complete listing of the dyno testing results will not be released, as raw horsepower is meaningless without an inclusion of all the other variables." So there aren't numbers to go on - just rumors in a magazine that said that ONE BUELL tested made "almost" 150hp. That said, I do agree that the I4 600s had a "glaring fault" of being underpowered compared to the Buells. Their lack of torque and inability to drive well out of the corners shows that their choice of going with lower displacement I4 engines and 20lb. lighter weight minimums was not a good one from a racing standpoint. It certainly isn't a good choice on the street, where they the bikes spend far more of their time out of the meat of the power band -- and where there are no displacement limits or weight minimums. Erik Buell recognized that, which is why he specified that the engine was to make over 80 ft/lbs of torque from 3,500 to over 10,000 rpm. He didn't start with a displacement and then build an engine to it. He set performance, reliability, and mechanical requirements and an engine displacement of 1125cc is what met them.
Fred M. -@Kalib  January 31, 2010 01:04 PM
--------"I don’t know guys I read the article and it said around 150 hp for the Buell and 130 for the 600.-------- Actually it said "almost" 150hp for one of the Buells. --------"But one of you guys say Buell advertises the 135 hp (which is the stock rating and the article clearly was referring to the race prepped bike) but that claim is creditable!"---------- The 135hp at the rear wheel is for an Erik Buell Racing bike prepped for Daytona Sportbike, just the same as Danny Eslick was running. ----------"Just as a little extra info for the uniformed, a shorter wheel base is not the only thing that contributes to a better handling bike."--------- Don't worry; I know a hell of a lot more about bike handling than you do -- and I never claimed that a shorter wheelbase was the only thing that contributes to a better handling bike. That you did not mention the gyroscopic effect of the crankshaft/flywheel, mass centralization, steering geometry, etc. is very telling, though.
Pat -Fred M - Dyno readings  January 31, 2010 12:51 PM
“One dyno reading from one bike on one day at one temperature and humidity is not indicative of what one would expect from all of those bikes”. You’re right, on another day the Buells could be making over 150 hp and the 600s could be making less than 130. Doesn’t matter because on that same day if the Buell registers less hp because of atmosphere conditions so will the 600 if the 600 reads more so will the Buell as long as they are both tested on the same dyno on the same day. I think the point here is regardless if the Buell made 147 or 151 hp and the 600 made 127 or 131 on any given day the fact remains the Buell has a 20 hp benefit. It’s not like one day the Buell will dyno 10 hp less and the 600 will dyno 10 hp more than the previous run. Other Buells could be making less but so could other 600s but they both could also be making more. I’m going by what was measured and published in a magazine not with someone’s assumption. Either both bikes get a better reading or both bikes get a lower reading but the 20 hp difference will remain the same
Big D -Buell girl  January 31, 2010 11:47 AM
I use to have a H.D. but traded it in for a Uly XT and I could not believe the difference in the ride. I thought there was not difference. Oh was I wrong! I wear my gear and I would not go without it. I was told once, any one can ride in a straight line. You have to own the corners, this is true. I am 50 and would not go back to that kind of ride. My son and Husband now own 1125's. Going to miss Buell Factory. It was not just a job but a FAMILY. Eric was the boss I ever had!
Kalib -135-140 hp does not = 150 hp  January 31, 2010 10:09 AM
I don’t know guys I read the article and it said around 150 hp for the Buell and 130 for the 600. Your guy’s guess of 135-140 is like 10-15 hp off so it really isn’t “the same”. The same would be 145-150 as a guess. You also say Sport Rider has a “dog” in this fight??? But one of you guys say Buell advertises the 135 hp (which is the stock rating and the article clearly was referring to the race prepped bike) but that claim is creditable! If anybody has a dog in this fight it would obviously be Buell. But who am I to second guess expert “guessers” such as yourselves. Just as a little extra info for the uniformed, a shorter wheel base is not the only thing that contributes to a better handling bike. Many times, especially with powerful liter bikes, a little more wheel base helps add stability and better traction to the rear wheel. Judging a bikes handling capabilities based on wheel base is just as wrong as judging a bikes potential lap times on peak hp. If it were as easy as putting a shorter wheel base on a bike to make it handle better than other sport bikes that have a little bit longer wheel base then every bike would have about the same wheel base. It is not as simple as that because many other factors influence the wheel base. A spec sheet can only take you so far in your “estimations”.
LABiker -@(Swampy) re: Buell Ulysses XT  January 31, 2010 01:29 AM
You found it funny that Erik didn't mention the Ulysses; you wouldn't if you'd ever had the chance to chat w/ him as I did [he came to Glendale H-D for a huge Buell test ride promotion. When asked about a possible replacement for the S3T, he said he never expected to make one: the sport-touring market gets a lot of attention from motorcycle mags, but sales are thin. So when the XB12 models came along a couple years later, I immediately recognized H-D telling him "make it." The fact that once given his marching orders, Erik Buell went ahead & made a kick-ass product that surpassed anyone's expectations is a testament to how dedicated an engineer he is, not to any wish on his part to make anything other than a sport bike. He also said at the time that the V-Rod mill would never be put into one of his bikes because it was too big & heavy. But he had a gleam in his eyes when he said it, even then. Too bad he didn't have time to get some cases made up to splay the Sportster cylinders out at the same angle as the Rotax pumper. Think about it: standardize on one frame. Air-cooled, hydraulic tappet simplicity for the commuter & touring crowd; the Rotax high-power mill for the sportbike and track day set. Oh well. Maybe if this depression ends soon, Harley will recognize the error of their ways and restart Buell production? We can hope... Still, the money wasted on acquiring MV Agusta at a premium and then selling it at a HUGE discount sure would have gone a long way toward keeping Buell afloat til it hit the tipping point & started turning a profit. [sigh] So my question is this: if _I_ know so much more about how to run the company, why are they paying some other numbskull the big bucks? :D
Matt -NE Ohio  January 30, 2010 06:18 PM
Long live Buell! I look forward to what the future brings with fewer constraints from narrow corporate minds, and perhaps some more visionary investors.
Fred M. -@fast2win  January 30, 2010 05:48 PM
What many of the fans didn't get was that Buell was trying to create a bike that was the absolute best for a street rider, not a racer. If someone wanted to race the Buell, that was great, but that's not what it was designed for. That's 180 degrees opposed to what the Japanese factories were doing. They were building bikes to compete in certain specific displacement racing classes. And making them street-legal was just a necessary formality. Owners of the race-oriented bikes criticized the 1125R for not being competitive with liter-class bikes on the track, claiming that the Buell was a lesser bike as a result. That's like arguing that BMW R1200GS adventure bikes are poorly engineered because smaller displacement KTM 450cc enduro bikes are so much faster off-road. Or that Honda lacks engineering talent because their Gold Wing engine is 60% more displacement than the Buell, has three times as many piston, and makes 20+ horsepower less. The KTM 450cc enduro would suck for a "Long Way Down" kind of ride and the Buell would suck for touring all over the country with luggage, passenger, etc.
fast2win -dyno results  January 30, 2010 04:04 PM
Big J, as I suspected their are no actuall dyno results published because AMA has not published them. They only speak of around 130 a little less than 150. Thats no better than my or your guess. Not to mention, they as well as other mags have a dog in the race. I get most of my info from RRW regarding the facts. Many seem to want Buell to fail, when he raced in DSB they cried and when he took it to Superbike they still cried. they just didn't want him to race. A lot of that rewason IMO is how would they look if a relativly unknown rider came out and embarrassed their well established team. The truth of the matter is Erik is going to race these bikes in both classes this year and in europe as well.Dont be surprised when he does quite well. Thats because they do handle very well and at least as good if not better than the compitition.
Fred M. -Big J: Liked your last response better.  January 30, 2010 03:52 PM
----------"Fred, if you bought one for $5000 why would someone pay the same or more for it, used, when they can go to a dealer and buy one too?"---------- They can't. The dealers are now all asking for $7K and up. Again, check Cycle Trader. I got mine 2 days after the announcement that Buell was closing. ----------Buell should have gone straight into SBK. A 8th place finish in SBK would have given Buell way more credibility than 10 championships in DSB.---------- Steve Crevier placed third in Canadian Season Opener of Superbike in 2008 aboard an 1125R ----------"But without these favorable displacement rules on the street it leaves the Buell to be spanked routinely by I4 liter bikes, 1198, RSV4, RC8, heck even 750cc sport bikes."---------- It all depends on where they are being ridden and by whom. The short wheelbase (about an inch and a half shorter than a GSXR1000), quicker handling, and more road-friendly ergonomics of the Buell give it some very strong points for street use. I'm not interested in roll-on competitions with Hayabusas or ZX14s. You get to the point where brutal horsepower doesn't buy you much and where, combined with the race-track ergonomics, conspires to make you slower and sloppier after a long day of riding in the mountains. As to being humbled on a race track, I have no doubt about it. I"m 48 years old and have never raced. I don't have the reflexes of a 25 year old nor the experience of someone who's spent a lot of time on a track. But I would have bought a different bike if I wanted a track bike.
Big J -Fred M  January 30, 2010 03:04 PM
“I paid $4995 for my 2009 1125CR. Take a look on Cycle Trader for the going prices”. I also see 20 yr. old Katana 600s going for $3500 in the paper, doesn’t mean they will sell or that they are worth that much except to the person living in fantasy land. Fred, if you bought one for $5000 why would someone pay the same or more for it, used, when they can go to a dealer and buy one too?

What makes you so certain that I sit in an armchair when I make my educated and well thought out observations? Is this where you are found to be most productive? My guess is you really don’t have an answer to my points so you will childishly make up stuff like I am a “armchair criticizer”.

The truth is the Buell is an okay sport bike. Without the huge power advantage the Buell would not have done much in DSB and even with the advantage it barely squeaked by with a 5 point victory. You say there aren’t displacement rules on the street. But without these favorable displacement rules on the street it leaves the Buell to be spanked routinely by I4 liter bikes, 1198, RSV4, RC8, heck even 750cc sport bikes. This is part of the reason the DSB series was a joke and why the 1125R did not sell well; buyers were smart enough to know regardless that the 1125 beats up on 600s (only some of the time) at the races it was manufactured, artificial and hollow. Buell should have gone straight into SBK. A 8th place finish in SBK would have given Buell way more credibility than 10 championships in DSB.

Is the 1125CR a better street bike than a 600cc, maybe. It would depend on what kind of riding, where you ride and who you ride with. I personally think both bikes make a good street bike, again depending what kind of riding you’re going to do.

You like your Buell and good for you. Others don’t care for the Buell so what. You had some good points and you are in denial of some other points.

“And if that consoles you when I smoke you on the street, then enjoy that thought” Do yourself a favor and take your Buell to a track day and don’t be surprised at how humbled you and your Buell will be after just the first session.
NP -Enjoy  January 30, 2010 02:56 PM
Nice interview. Good luck in the future Erik (and bring a team to the TT)
Fred M. -Big J: Reread  January 30, 2010 02:46 PM
My main complaint with your reply to fast2win was the condescending, holier-than-thou tone. He said he had not seen DSB horsepower numbers but that he suspected the Buells would make 135-140 rwhp. I think that he's correct. One dyno reading from one bike on one day at one temperature and humidity is not indicative of what one would expect from all of those bikes. I know that Eslick's bike didn't dyno that high. And I don't think that Erik Buell Racing would be advertising 135hp if it was really 150hp. I don't "refuse to listen." You do. I cited tests by professional motorcycle journalists that stated that the Buell outhandled the 600cc competition. I cited ex-MotoGP rider Jeremy McWilliams' comments on the Buell's handling. I cited impressive race results. And you refuse to consider those because they run contrary to your arm-chair musings on the bike. You've not been able to provide any kind of support for your claims about the bikes supposed "glaring faults" and you just expect us to take you at your word on that.
Fred M. -Big J: Your village is missing an idiot  January 30, 2010 02:19 PM
You incoherently blathered: "You just answered the question for why you are so agitated Fred. Who, who could you sell your Buell to? You’re stuck with your Buell and no amount of false justification will make you any less miserable. Buell dealers can’t even give them away at half price but you imagine you’ll make a profit selling your used one…keep dreaming."-------- I paid $4995 for my 2009 1125CR. Take a look on Cycle Trader for the going prices. I currently own five street bikes (2003, 2005, 2006, 2009), three cars (1999, 2008, 2009), an SUV (2003), and a boat that I repowered in 2008, and none were bought with loans. So, I'm not real concerned or "agitated" about whether I can resell the 1125CR. --------"What qualifications do you have for your ignorant criticisms?"--------- I'm not the one who's criticizing bikes based on watching them from a recliner: You are. As to criticizing you, your irrationality makes that easy. So does the fact that there are numerous recognized experts who have written about the Buell 1125, directly contradicting your critique of the "glaring faults" you imagined from your recliner.
Big J -Fred M  January 30, 2010 01:58 PM
Really Fred, did you read the article? Was I wrong? Did you watch the race at Laguna? Was I wrong? Fast2win challenged my statement I answered his challenge. He did not believe I was telling the truth because HE did not read it anywhere. I told him the first time where to find the article and still he questions me. Denial, this is why he and yourself refuse to listen to other inputs on this subject. I listen to all inputs and make an informed decision. You selectively pick the few articles that say positive things about the Buell-naturally because you own a Buell-but I read ALL the information available on the Buell. I don’t have a problem with people living in their own world, but I do have a problem with people denying reality and pushing their fantasy world on others who disagree.
Big J -Fred M  January 30, 2010 01:45 PM
“If I wasn't happy with my 1125CR, I'd sell it, make a profit, and buy something else” You just answered the question for why you are so agitated Fred. Who, who could you sell your Buell to? You’re stuck with your Buell and no amount of false justification will make you any less miserable. Buell dealers can’t even give them away at half price but you imagine you’ll make a profit selling your used one…keep dreaming.

“I have a low tolerance for baseless criticisms from people with no qualifications to make them”. What qualifications do you have for your ignorant criticisms? Oh that’s right you are a Buell owner so anything you say about Buell is unchallengeable. Your disposition is rather visible and morbid.
Big J -fast2win  January 30, 2010 01:30 PM
I’ll say it again more slowly… “In the January (2010) issue of Sport rider it had an article discussing the issues with AMA/DMG and in the article it was revealed that back in the beginning of the season when the bikes were dyno tested the Buell put 150 hp at the rwh and the 600s averaged only 130 hp”. I read this issue at the news stand while waiting for a flight just a few weeks ago. Here is the link to the article: http://www.sportrider.com/features/146_1001_ama_pro_roadracing/index.html Just because you didn’t read or find the article does not change the facts. So you cited one corner on one race where the Buell did okay. So I’ll give it a try. Apparently you weren’t at Laguna Seca where the Buell looked ragged at best.

“Many bike's have classes with 20hp difference and the bike with the most hp dosent always win”. But do they also have some 30 ft. lbs. of torque advantage and a 88% displacement advantage also…NO.

Now fast2win just man up and say yes Big J your info is correct and accurate and I apologize for doubting you with my foolish denial of facts.
Fred M. -@Maxx: Corrections and clarifications  January 30, 2010 09:55 AM
--------"But I think the fact that Buell was sh*t canned and no one rushed to save it, speaks a lot about the bike."-------- Again, Harley Davidson refused to sell Buell Motorcycle Company despite very strong interest in purchasing it and keeping it going. They flat out refused. How does Bombardier (just to make up an "hypothetical" example) buy Buell if Harley won't sell it? Buell's market share was up by 55% in the last 5 years. (Harley's was up just 9% over the same period). What does that say about the bikes Buell was selling? --------"I also found that a lot of Harley dealer would not work on them."-------- Yes, only those Harley dealers that are also Buell dealers, with the factory training, may service Buell. It's contractually stipulated by Harley. --------If you do a little research on the 1125 you will see the big problem they had with the fuel mapping before they released it. Even knowing about the problem, Buell still release the bike without a fix.-------- I did know about it. Which is why I bought an '09 rather than an '08. However, they have since corrected the problems in the '08s with free updates. I can't speak to the pressures that forced Buell to bring the bike to market when they did, but I would suspect that they were significant. Of course other bikes have also received criticisms for first-year fuel mapping issues.
Fred M. -@Danny: Manufacturing numbers  January 30, 2010 09:25 AM
-----"I am working at my fourth manufacturing company and I can promise none of them could sustain a ratio like that. Only a start up company has numbers like that."----- Buell produced 137,000 motorcycles over a 26 year period. How is that a start up company? Buell's specialty was producing cutting edge sport bikes, not contract manufacturing of CNC-machined widgets. If they had taken over manufacturing of the engines, frames, brake components, forks, shocks, and electrical components used on their bikes, they could have employed far more people in production. They could have cut back on their engineering staff or outsourced more of their engineering to other firms. But the way that you stay on the cutting edge of sport bike design is by devoting your own resources to motorcycle engineering, not finding ways to manufacture sub-assemblies in-house.
Fred M. -Big J: La-Z-Boy Test Rider  January 30, 2010 09:02 AM
--------"I saw many glaring faults with the 1125R when it raced against little 600s in DSB. The 600s out braked the Buell and cornered better but the Buell made up for its faults with the HP and torque advantage."-------- Motorcycle USA tested the ZX6R and the Buell 1125R, stating "Not to mention, where most seem to think the Inline-Fours have a major advantage in corner speed and the Buell gets it back coming off the corner, we found in stock form the Buell is right on par with the Kawasaki mid-corner, leaving the Inline-Fours with little-to-no advantage. In fact, when it came to the ease of changing direction, the Buell is superior to the lighter Kawasaki." They also said "Who would have thought a V-Twin Buell would turn-faster and sharper than the best 600cc Supersport made? I know I didn’t. Until we rode them, that is." You didn't mention that the Buell was required, by the rules, to carry 20 lbs. more weight than the 600cc bikes. But who cares? It was fastest. I can make a two-stroke 125cc bike that embarrasses the 600cc bikes in cornering and braking, but that doesn't mean that the 600cc bikes have "glaring faults." --------"In the January issue of Sport rider it had an article discussing the issues with AMA/DMG and in the article it was revealed that back in the beginning of the season when the bikes were dyno tested the Buell put 150 hp at the rwh and the 600s averaged only 130 hp."-------- Well that is a glaring fault. It makes a lot of horsepower. --------"I rode one myself but only scooted around town while the owner was on my bike so I really didn’t push the bike. It rode nice but so do many bikes around town."-------- So you didn't find any "glaring faults" while riding it. --------"The only person with a condescending tone here is you Fred."-------- I condescend to you in order to help you understand. --------"Obviously you are not happy with your Buell because if you were you would not have to jump all over anybody who disagrees with your opinion."-------- If I wasn't happy with my 1125CR, I'd sell it, make a profit, and buy something else. I actually own two Buells (an XB12Ss and an 1125CR) because I think that they are have exemplary engineering and handling. I jump all over people who post indefensible bullsh|t (like you just did with your La-Z-Boy handling report on the Buell 1125R). I flamed the people who were posting bullsh|t about the Honda NT700V, a bike I don't own, don't want to own, and that isn't my kind of ride. I have a low tolerance for baseless criticisms from people with no qualifications to make them. Which is why you're on the receiving end of this response.
fast2win -Bettter handling jap bike?  January 30, 2010 08:58 AM
Big j, I have never seen hp#'s published anywhere on DSB. EBR is going to be producing bikes at 135 rwhp,I suspect thats closer to what Eslick made maybe 140. As far as handling and braking aparently you weren't at Mid Ohio when Eslick and Hacking battled on the brakes several time coming out of the key hole down the back staight and having to brake hard for the right hander going into the turns where Eslick passed him in the twisty part not the staight. The bike handles better than the 600's. Many bike's have classes with 20hp difference and the bike with the most hp dosent always win. Especially considering the Buell 20lb weight penalty, which was in reality closer to 30. So I’m having top factory riders from the import manufacturers coming over and saying ‘holy crap does that bike handle.’ I just watch Cory [West] go around the outside of Neil Hodgson. How is that possible? (laughs) (Quote from this article)Get out of denial.Thats from the riders who can get the most out their bike's, not guy's that think they know something about a bike capability. I think EBR will do well in their respective classes.

Danny -overhead  January 29, 2010 09:38 PM
"At our peak we had 190 people here, maybe 30 people on the assembly line."

Does anyone else see a problem with this. I am working at my fourth manufacturing company and I can promise none of them could sustain a ratio like that. Only a start up company has numbers like that.
fRaNk -It was a good run.  January 29, 2010 07:59 PM
I hope the best for Eric Buell. Even if his company never gets back or better than the level he was cast down from I think he had acomplished more than most people with a dream ever do. He is a winner in life, love or hate his product. I think he had bold an innovative products. Not saying that they had never been done or thought of before but he put them out there when nobody else would an did. As for Harley, I kinda hate them for closing the doors but then again they did back him for a long run. I think the only blame is the global economy. An executive decision was made by business in the name of profit and accountability to investors. I don't think it had anything to do with H-D hating Buell. They had a symbiotic relationship, they used/need each other. In my opinion I feel that Buell falls into the relm of greatness. It's a shame that they came out with a new product (1125) ready to take on the rest of the market for share and then it ended almost as soon as it bagan. I don't believe thet H-D really wanted to kill it, look at the investment. I think closed minded American cyclists did. Both H-D and generic "I have to have the biggest fastest even if I can't ride it" sport riders did. And buy personal exprience I know that the H-D dealerships her in America surly didn't help boost sales either.
Rob Latimer(Swampy) -Buell Ulysses XT  January 29, 2010 07:24 PM
$6800 for a Ulysses? Yikes, I'd buy it!

I find it amusing that Erik Buell does not even mention the Ulysses series of bikes, even though the bike is AWSOME! What a wonderful accidentally built bike(LOL)! There is nothing like it out there that compares to it(yet), a touring bike with sportbike manners, outstanding brakes, handling, styling, and some really impressive torque, all the wile with the bags loaded, the girlfriend on the back and still able to split lanes at 110! The whole package was a perfect fit even with the air cooled engine. What a great bike, thank you Erik!
Ross Munro -Rosscoe  January 29, 2010 06:16 PM
So, after waiting twenty years to market a water cooled M/C, Mr. Buell
finally gets his chance and what does he do? He wraps it up in some of
the butt ugliest body work ever seen. The younger demographic so many
alude to took one look and said "No thanks".
Not Looking for a Harley -V-Rod & Buell - Whats next?  January 29, 2010 03:55 PM
Harley Davidson stuck millions into the worthless V-Rod. They built a bike that nobody wants but them. They thought the assless chaps crowd would flock to them - didn't happen. Harleys next big idea was to build an American sport bike. Great idea but you don't put a Harley motor in it and sell them at Harley dealerships. Harleys market is shrinking as there buyers go from Harleys to walkers and rest homes. Harley Davidson is in for a huge surprise if they think they can stay in business selling the outdated crap they make now to young buyers. Ain't gonna happen boys......
Ed McFaraland -More with Buell please...  January 29, 2010 03:41 PM
Buell made a better V rod than Harley- they didn't want the competition. That is the impression I get. If that is even slightly true then HD management really is clueless.
Ducatirdr -2004 XB12R w/15k miles  January 29, 2010 02:36 PM
to: Erik Buell Erik, THANK YOU!!!! I love my black and gold XB12R. It is the most fun street motorcycle that I've ever owned. I love the pit bull looks and the modern tech features/suspension mixed with an old school air cooled motor. The bike is so much fun at New Hampshire's twisty road course on track days. The power is so easy to use and never intimidates. Oh ya I don't need some magazine to tell me that either. Nor some ad saying it won Daytona. I had a 2000 Ducati 996 and it's furious acceleration and furious 6000 mile service was just too much for my riding style. I sold it when I got into club road racing. I used to pass people that were riding 1000's in the shorter tight tracks on my clapped-out EX500 race bike so I know it isn't about motor size or bhp. Its about being able to use the power. My Buell allows me to use all the motor and row through all the gears. It's FUN! I've ridden my Buell from Mass to TN to do the Tail of the Dragon and put 2500 miles in one week. I had H-D service in TN stay late to replace my rear tire after hours. I could go on about great rides, good support and most importantly about how many times I laughed out loud in my helmet. In the not too distant future when everyone is riding silent electric 9 second 1/4 mile bikes. I'll be that old dude riding the noisy, vibrating (at idle), Buell on its rear wheel past you as you sip your Mocha Latte. I hope you'll hear the laughing as I ride past.
Maxx -Get over It  January 29, 2010 01:56 PM
Fred glad you're happy with Buell. But I think the fact that Buell was sh*t canned and no one rushed to save it, speaks a lot about the bike. Besides as far as repairs and quality goes, you are right all bike have problems. Buell just do not have the best track record for repairs and this is coming from authorized dealers who attempted maintain them. I did research the bike before purchasing it. I also found that a lot of Harley dealer would not work on them. If you do a little research on the 1125 you will see the big problem they had with the fuel mapping before they released it. Even knowing about the problem, Buell still release the bike without a fix. Buell had it's strong points just not enough.
Ed -What tha?  January 29, 2010 01:43 PM
I have a Dyna. I enjoy it. I get on it and ride the back roads with the wind in my face. I feel, see and smell the scenery around me. It has a Zen quality. HD/Buell/Honda etc. are businesses, not religions. Harley is making business decisons. So is Eric. That is what businesses do. I get what I want from my Dyna. If Harley wants to commit business suicide, that is their path. Eric Buell has his ducks in a row and is good at what he does. He will survive. Meanwhile, I get to ride my Dyna, dressed the way I choose and enjoy the ride. Comparing bikes is like comparing wives. Never tell a man his wife is ugly. It just never works out for the best.
sasha -Well written article..  January 29, 2010 11:21 AM
excellent article. thank you for sharing the voice of this great man, Erik Buell.
Big J -Fred M  January 29, 2010 10:03 AM
I saw many glaring faults with the 1125R when it raced against little 600s in DSB. The 600s out braked the Buell and cornered better but the Buell made up for its faults with the HP and torque advantage. In the January issue of Sport rider it had an article discussing the issues with AMA/DMG and in the article it was revealed that back in the beginning of the season when the bikes were dyno tested the Buell put 150 hp at the rwh and the 600s averaged only 130 hp. But the fact that Jeremy McWilliams says the handling is good enough for WSBK is all I need in order to blindly ignore what I saw and read about in other articles and heard from owners. I rode one myself but only scooted around town while the owner was on my bike so I really didn’t push the bike. It rode nice but so do many bikes around town. The only person with a condescending tone here is you Fred. Obviously you are not happy with your Buell because if you were you would not have to jump all over anybody who disagrees with your opinion. I don’t care what people think about my bike one way or the other; I like my bike it does what I want it to do and does it well and I’m confident of that. If I had doubts of my bike or second thoughts as to why or if I should have bought my bike then maybe I would be very defensive. Your typical response will probably validate my assessment as to why you are so defensive and insecure.
GEN Y -Harley without Buell?  January 29, 2010 09:21 AM
Harley Davidson continues to sell its overpriced antiquated tractor-like replicas of yesteryear. I do not want to be one of the morons in assless chaps and beanie helmets riding one. When Harley Davidson scraped Buell they lost there flight into the future. The young motorcycle rider/buyer of today does not want to be associated with the outlaw image that Harley Davidson is promoting.
Fred M. -@Maxx -- Basic Capitalism Lesson  January 29, 2010 09:01 AM
@Maxx You wrote: ------------------Straight from the founder's mouth,"They had 137,000 Buell owners out there to sell parts to, and I think the parts business over the next 5-7 10 years will be a profitable business."------------------ You obviously don't have much experience in the motorcycle business if you think that's some kind of damning statement. All motorcycle companies aim to make a profit selling bikes, servicing bikes, AND SELLING PARTS for bikes. Do you think that Hondas and Suzukis have magical bodywork, footpegs, grips, and mirrors that heal when after a crash or parking lot tipover? Do you think that Kawasaki and Yamaha have miracle batteries, spark plugs, air cleaners, and oil filters that never need replacement? Dealers make profits selling parts for routine maintenance, crash repair, and repair necessitated by abuse or neglect. That's how business works. ------------------I almost purchased a Buell but after talking with riders about dealer support and simple repair I am glad I did not waste my money.------------------ Well, I'm glad you didn't buy one, but I've got two. The only failures I've had were two LED turn signals (there was a batch of defective ones on the 1125 series) and a voltage regulator on my XB12Ss, which is at 12K miles. But I'm not someone who needs a lot of "dealer support." My Suzuki DRZ400S had far more problems, and many more unaddressed flaws, than either of my Buells.
Fred M. -@SICKWITIT  January 29, 2010 08:35 AM
@SICKWITIT "Buell's are not that bad, but on the other hand they are just not that good. Fred M. has never pushed his stock 1125 hard enough to see the glaring flaws of the bike, so give him a smile and a nod and let him continue to rant." Please stop with the condescending tone. Either provide information (such as how you believe that the Buells are inferior to competing bikes), or go into receive-only mode. Like most street riders, I don't have the talents of a Danny Eslick or Ben Spies, but I'm a skilled, experienced street rider and I've never found another bike that handled as well, for me, as my 1125CR. So what are these "glaring faults" that I've not seen mentioned in the glowing reviews of the 1125 series (excepting first-year fuel injection issues)? The 1125R began winning races in box-stock form. The Buell 1125R posted 2nd and 5th place finishes at the start of the German racing 2008 season on Hockenheim’s Grand Prix circuit, despite having been received by the dealerships that entered them just a few days earlier? This hardly sounds like the kind of debut one would expect from a street bike that was "not that good" and that had "glaring faults." Ex-MotoGP rider Jeremy McWilliams said that the only thing it needed to be competitive in World Superbike is more horsepower -- the handling was that good. But maybe he doesn't have your skill level and can't really push a "stock 1125 hard enough to see the glaring flaws of the bike." Yeah. That must be it.
RandyS -No Buell for me.  January 29, 2010 08:33 AM
I was contacted by a Harley dealer willing to sell a new XB12XT for $6,800. I told him no thanks. It's not the price it is the fact that I would have to deal with the moron Harley dealer for warranty and parts. I will not willingly walk into a Harley dealership. I do not anything to do with there poker runs, pig roasts and Hog Meetings. That is for a bunch of immature older men who want everyone to think they have a hot motorcycle just because they have loud exhaust. Harley's are slow, heavy underpowered motorcycles and putting loud exhaust on them does not change anything except let the public know that the show off rider is a asshole.
Maxx -Think about It  January 29, 2010 08:11 AM
Straight from the founder's mouth,"They had 137,000 Buell owners out there to sell parts to, and I think the parts business over the next 5-7 10 years will be a profitable business." I almost purchased a Buell but after talking with riders about dealer support and simple repair I am glad I did not waste my money.
Too Young for A Harley -Spiker is Right On  January 29, 2010 07:24 AM
The local Harley dealer now calls and advertises his dealership as a "HARLEY DAVIDSON BOUTIQUE". Well, that really confirms what Mr Spiker has to say. This guys is running ads for the new line of Harley clothing and, get this "Performance Parts". His advertising does not mention anything about motorcycles. This weeks "deal" is anybody who spends over $100 on HD clothing will get a free HD bandanna and window decal. I am too young to ride a Harley as I am only 32 years old. Maybe when I am in my 50's and can no longer ride a motorcycle I will consider a Harley so I will have something to look at and polish. Of course I would remove the muffler and wear my old prison clothes and go for a few show off rides.
SICKWITIT -ok  January 29, 2010 07:04 AM
Yea its sad to see dreams crushed and comapnies die, but enough is enough. "We" (the U.S. Government, AMA, and many citizens excluding myself) have done everything keep Buell and H-D going including bending rules and regulations. Buell's are not that bad, but on the other hand they are just not that good. Fred M. has never pushed his stock 1125 hard enough to see the glaring flaws of the bike, so give him a smile and a nod and let him continue to rant. All I'm saying is if you want to build high performance machines you need to surround yourself with people of the same mind set and interests. It was a bad idea to get in bed with H-D in the first place. They service pirates not pilots. If Eric can come back and rebuild his company thats great and he will learn from his mistakes ,but if not, well thats capitalism and we will see better products from better companies or they to will be destined for failure.
Spiker -Harley is a Sham  January 29, 2010 06:38 AM
Everybody reading this forum must realize that Harley Davidson is not a motorcycle company. Harley Davidson builds and sells what "they" call a motorcycle only so they can then sell there "real" product which is the aftermarket line of clothes, jocks, ash trays, dog collars, dog dishes, jackets etc. Plus they build the "motorcycle" with a limited horsepower and suspension so they than can sell you there Screaming Beagle line of performance products that should be on the bike in the first place. Harley will never change there motorcycles because they do not really care about motorcycles. Motorcycles are the means for HD to sell there REAL product line. Buell buyers did not fit into there typical buyer as they did not buy a bike and then buy a HD jock strap and HD dog dish. Soooo, the wiz kids at HD finally figured out that the money they are spending on Buell could be spent on next years new line up a HD clocks, shirts, bras, jock straps and "all new screaming beagle equipment". Harley Davidson promotes the "Outlaw Image" with the clown outfits and loud exhaust. Just take a look at there web site and the "all new 48". It shows supposed young buyers smoking cigarettes and riding the all new 48 with no rider protection other than a small helmet. Harley Davidson continues to spit in our face. They think that there loyal fans will buy there shit forever. Actually, there base of buyers are now in there 50's and 60's or in jail. The young motorcycle riders will not consider a Harley. They might have considered a Buell but with the Harley antique motor and selling them in Harley dealerships the Buell was condemned from the get go. I considered a Buell because I liked the design and features but the stupid Harley motor PLUS having to deal with the morons who run a Harley dealership turned me away real fast.
Dr. Sprocket -Great Interview  January 29, 2010 06:36 AM
Great interview! The thing that impressed me is how Erik deflected the attention away from himself and seemed most interested/concerned about others - employees, customers, and fans. That man has it right!
Guy -Great article.  January 29, 2010 03:26 AM
It sounds like Eric went into HD with a vision and dream... Then lost his way in trying to navigate through a big corporate entity. HD didn't want what Eric wanted, they wanted more of the same, status quo, promote what they have, not engineer for the future. It was a two way street though, HD got what they wanted in the way of their advances, Eric got paid.
Jesse C -So it wasn't the 1190, then what was it!?!?  January 28, 2010 08:43 PM
My question is this: since the spy shots of the sexy yellow Buell weren't of the 1190, then what was that motorcycle caught "testing?" It was such a sweet looking motorcycle, and it seemed smaller than the 1190. It kills me to think that it might have been a middle-weight, Rotax v-twin-powered bike to battle the Duc 848 and Tri 675 crowd, and that we'll never see it. I would have definitely been interested in a bike like that. Crap.
Deano -Concerned American  January 28, 2010 08:42 PM
I own seven Harleys and two Buells. After this bull I will NEVER buy another Harley. They have totally lost touch with reality. Willie puts on another piece of chrome and changes out a seat and calls it a new model with enough PR fanfare to fund the innovation at Buell for two years. Harley's idea of of staying in touch with their "core" demographics is to come out with a friggin' trike. They can continue with that stroke of genius mentality and come out with a Harley coffin next...ya know, gotta keep on focusing on our core demo. In the meantime all the new riders, who could have been on Buells, will be riding Hondas and Yams and so forth. Hey Keith...anyone take a look a how Caddy transformed themselves over the last few years?? Did they follow their old demographic to their grave, or...wow...here's an idea...refocus on a new, younger buyer! Even bankrupt GM could figure that one out! Hey HD Board...can that new CEO of yours and find a real leader to try to save the company...assuming there is even time left to save it.
Sean Rocket Pepper -The Bull  January 28, 2010 07:24 PM
Buell tells a good story but the fact is he put all his trust in HD when the writing was on the wall from day one. Maybe he didn't have an alternative choice, but his quest for success at a greater level took him away from a niche market specialised motorcycle which Buell were getting good at building. Erik Buell's arrogance to succeed as a higher volume manufacturer is ultimately what has put him back to where he should have been aiming all along. Low volume building of world beating motorcycles. Only now it would appear he's left it a little late. If only he'd have listened to me years ago. But then he never has been a good listener. Engineering genius maybe. But never one to take good advice.
joe -ERIK BUELL RACING ANSWER YOUR CUSTOMERS AND PICKUP THE PHONE  January 28, 2010 06:59 PM
If you intend on supporting buell racing products and selling them aswer you dam phone and reply to emails
Procyon96 -Overlooked Point  January 28, 2010 05:25 PM
Something overlooked in the article and reader's comments is the impact that Buell had on the entire HD model lineup. Owners of new generation Sportsters can ride their bikes without their hands going numb from engine vibrations because Buell's innovative engine mounting system tricked down from his sportbikes to their cruiser. I have a feeling that the new 4 point engine mounting system used in the '09 and '10 Touring models also use this same system Also, I think Buell's overall views on motorcycle performance may have spread to (infected?) other H-D engineers. How else can you explain H-D upgrading many of their models with improved frames, stiffer swingarms, larger front forks, 17" front tires, 180+ rear tires, BREMBO brake calipers, and 6 speed gearboxes?
Sprot Rider -Harley Sucks  January 28, 2010 04:53 PM
I always liked the Buell motorcycles although I thought it a little unfair to be racing a 1200cc bike against 600cc bikes. But with the crap 1930's Harley motor in the Buell I guess the race was even. Harley certainly killed Buell from the get go. It was not much fun going into a Harley dealership to look at a Buell. The moron Harley salesmen take a look at you and if your not dressed like a pirate with a bunch of tattoos and a pony tail they do not want to deal with you. Buell should have had the Rotax motor from the start and a independent line of dealers. Harley dealers were not interested in selling Buells. A Harley dealer wants to sell a bike PLUS all the other Harley shit. The dealer makes big money selling the screaming beagle kits and all the other Harley shit. They could not sell that stuff to a Buell buyer. Like it has been said before - the Harley riders are moving to RV's and walkers. Young people like me do not want anything to do with the Harley outlaw image. I tried twice to look at Buell motorcycles at 2 different Harley dealers. Both places treated me like shit plus they made fun of my full face helmet and protective jacket and pants. Harley Davidson can go to Hell for all I care.
Sumanster -Great interview!  January 28, 2010 04:33 PM
Bart, thank you for getting and posting this interview. Very interesting to see some of the details of what went on behind the scenes, and Erik's thoughts then and now. Also great to see that he's still driven by the passion to create innovative, competitive sportbikes. While Erik Buell may be temporarily down, he's definitely not out.

I bought a Firebolt last October - my first new motorcycle ever in 16 years of riding - less than a week after the shocking closure announcement even though I wasn't even in the market for a new bike (getting a great price certainly helped seal the deal). I've always liked its styling, it's always gotten rave reviews in the press for its handling and torque, and I couldn't be happier. People may diss the engine's archaic roots, but Buell's engineers got 103 hp and 84 lb.ft. of torque out of that mill, and the throttle is unbelievably smooth, unlike some allegedly more sophisticated bikes I've tried (Aprilias, Benellis). For the real world where I ride, it's a fantastic bike. I've gotten 16 years (and counting) out of my old bike, a Suzuki Intruder that I bought used, so I'm looking forward to getting several decades out of my Buell. :)

I got a sense of optimism out of the interview, so I'm eager to see what Erik will unleash on the world in the next few years.
Iman501 -buell being sold  January 28, 2010 03:07 PM
HD says that they dont want to sell buell off like MV agusta b/c HD is to "integrated" into the buell line...

Well if you buy youself a car (my case i had a wrangler) i put all sorts of stuff into that jeep that werent original, such as lift kits, tires, lights, and misc items. When it became time to move on in my life and sell the jeep did i say i cant sell it b/c i've put to much of my stuff into that jeep?...no...so why does harley say that buell has to much HD in their line....if buell was sold off does HD really think that Buell would continue to use harley motors?....
thewall -btw  January 28, 2010 02:53 PM
Great interview Bart.
Kevin -This is sad.  January 28, 2010 02:50 PM
Erik had such bigger plans for Buell and HD held him back. One of the biggest criticims of Buell was the engine and Erik never wanted that air cooled thing. It was forced on him by HD. The 1125R was a huge step for Buell. If that step could have been made in 1998 like he wanted it would have been an entirely future I bet. HD should have sold Buell a long time ago to a company that was willing to fully support Eriks vision. All they did was kill it.
thewall -I just became...  January 28, 2010 02:43 PM
...a big Erik Buell fan. I don't care what you think about the fairness of the AMA rules or Buell motorcycles in general. Erik Buell is one put together dude. I think I hate HD though...
irksome -...  January 28, 2010 02:37 PM
I had some admiration for Harley back in the '80s when they went to the feds and said they wanted to tariff on Jap bikes over 700cc lifted early so they could compete on the open market. That took balls. Sadly, they're still selling the same bikes 30 years later. Oh okay, they went with OHVs. Just 20-30 years after everyone else. HD is now a marketing firm that happens to still make motorcycles. Their demographic is rapidly moving to RVs and walkers. The decision to axe Buell was short-sighted, but the same can be said for all of their corporate decisions. Maybe if Erik Buell had agreed to wear the pirate costume...
Frank -American Engineers  January 28, 2010 02:35 PM
I am Canadian but I totally agree with Erik Buell that American engineers are every bit as good as those from Japan and Germany. I recently got to drive an '07 Corvette and I think its the best car I have ever driven. I have also driven an '07 Lamborghini Gallardo, Maserati Coupe Cambiocorsa, almost all of the BMW's and Mercedes and I still think the Corvette is better.

I worked as a mechanic on high end Euro cars while doing my bachealor's degree (Mechanical Engineering) and from that perspective a lot of the American cars were way better than the Euro stuff. Euro stuff is needlessly complex for no performance benefit.

There are amazing new cars coming out of America. It was looking until recently that Buell was on track to make the first world-beating American sports bike if only Harley let go of the purse strings a bit. I would buy an American sports bike but I would never own a Harley. I actually kind of like Harley bikes but the whole Harley "lifestyle" thing is embarrassing.

It really is unfortunate that it has become fashionable to trash our own stuff and praise imports. I used to be like this but I found out the hard way after owning BMW's (cars).

I am doing a PhD in mechanical engineering right now so it makes me angry when people talk about how much better German engineers are for instance. I am a good engineer too and so are the guys I have worked with and gone to school with. There are smart engineers everywhere in the world and some of the best are here in North America.


Dant the Canadian -...........  January 28, 2010 01:58 PM
Buell didn`t die..... H.D. kill it......

If Buell would of chosen another engine supplier many years ago, like ROTAX, they would still be here, and selling well.....
Harley are push rod engine from the 1950.... 1125 Rotax engine his a devellopement from the Aprilia RSV1000.......

I ride a Triumph Daytona 675.... It`s totally evolved compare to a Bonneville
Fred M. -Fabricated quotes  January 28, 2010 01:47 PM
@Buell Maybe You wrote: >>>I wonder what Fred M is smoking. I really can not see his Buell "smoking everything on the street".<<< Who the heck are you quoting? I sure didn't write that. I compared the performance of my 1125CR against the typical Japanese I4 600cc bike (specified in my earlier posting), which it will handily beat on the street (and the track, as shown in AMA Daytona Sportbike competition). As to liter bikes, it will probably outrun them on twisty sections and they will pull it on straights. After a long day of 200-300 miles, they will be crippled from their make-believe-racer posture while I'll still be fine.
Buell Maybe -Let Eric Build Again  January 28, 2010 01:02 PM
I wonder what Fred M is smoking. I really can not see his Buell "smoking everything on the street". Anyway, the Buell is a good motorcycle and they were just getting rid of the crap Harley boat anchor motor in favor of the Rotax and Harley guts the company. I feel sorry for Harley Davidson because they do not want to market to younger riders. The outdated overweight and overpriced junk HD sells is a favorite for the cruiser crowd in there 50's & 60's who like to play dress up and ride with no mufflers. 90% of the Harley crowd are show offs who go for the Harley Davidson "Outlaw Image". The Buell is a good bike but I doubt Harley will let Eric go to another company and start building again. If you build a Buell without the Harley shit motor I can not see why Harley would care. It not like anybody is trying to steal HD advanced superior motorcycle technology.
EAB -I will eat my shirt....  January 28, 2010 12:17 PM
...if it comes to pass that Polaris or Bombardier hasn't already proposed a "blank check" deal to Mr. Buell.
rex -Too bad, quite a shame  January 28, 2010 12:12 PM
I am a Buell fan. I have four Buells now, and have owned a total of Six. They handle great, sound great, look great, and have tons of torque. The best bike I have ever owned. One has over 40,000 miles, another over 20,000 miles and my new one has over 500 miles. I love both the air cooled and water cooled motor. But one of the best things is the Buell family. I have met some great friends that I will always have from now on. The factory employees and Erik really did care of about their customers. We are even having our own Homecoming in East Troy this year, all put on by the Buell owners and Enthusiasts.
superdave -HD is making one mistake after another...  January 28, 2010 12:12 PM
I've been riding Harleys forever, started out on an old AMF era shovelhead that broke down every time you looked at it sideways and I still love that bike. I finally got stepped up and bought a new Ultra, just about $20k. I loved that bike, still do, but once I got my first Buell I was majorly POed at HD! Here's why... I paid $20k for a bike that can't even do 100mph without a heavy tailwind and I was lucky to see 35-40mpg, the Buell I had just picked up had 100HP, got 65 mpg cruising at 80 mph and was just as comfortable! (S3T). Then I snagged a Uly and wow! now the Ultra was outclassed on EVERY front! Ever try to put a full face helmet in an Ultra side bag? It fits fine it the Uly bags, now my Buell has replaced my Ultra as my long trip bike. I could go on and on about things HD SHOULD HAVE LEARNED from Buell. Instead they opted to return to their 'core' which is BS. I AM their core, I am a scruffy biker, beer swilling et all but I know an inferior product when I see one. Every $25k Harley should be putting out at least 100HP, if a $9k Buell can do it and maintain reliability why can't a screamin' eagle 103? Every person that rides on one of my Buells CANNOT believe how much better it is than their HD - except in styling... Maybe that's Harley's new core business, the boutique business selling a 'fabulous' line of clothes and other sh*t and oh by the way they make bikes too... If Harley wanted to focus on the customer they'd shut down the BS clothing and accessory junk and focus on making a bike that's WORTH the $20k they ask for it. I sincerely hope that HD does learn that they ARE a motorcycle company and starts to focus on that. Sorry for the rant, I just can't stand to see one American pioneer dismissed because he didn't fit the 'core' ... Ride Safe, Ride Free superdave
Eric Ebear -Shortsighted Fools  January 28, 2010 11:40 AM
OK.....so let me understand this.....We have the only large American Motorcycle Company (HD) building and selling cruiser type motorcycles for umpteen years and obviously running out of cruiser aged people to sell them to... So this Corporation brings on an innovative,forward looking company (Buell) to develop and sell brilliant sportsbikes to the younger enthusiasts and keep the appreciation and future business to the Mothership ongoing. So along comes a new guy to run the business and his decision is to dump the ONLY thing that is going to save his Company from a lack of interest in it's aged,retro product.And NOT because that company (Buell) was faltering , no , in fact that very company had just won a NATIONAL SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP! Gee , let me see , now WHEN had Harley won a championship last in Road Racing? Along with that this Company had just started to make a profit for his Company(HD).Too bad that Mothership couldn't see past it's bloated gut far enough to seperate Buell out of it's chrome-laden dealerships and sell it to a company that could allow it to advance it's state of the art innovations to the worlds enthusiasts.
SHAME ON YOU Harley Davidson.You allowed this narrow minded , nothing matters but our stale,overhyped cruiser market Keith Wandell
to put the final words on your Tombstone. What shortsighted idiots put him in charge anyways? Just another sad American story on how Big Profits and Small Minds destroyed our advancements on the World Stage of Technology and Innovation.
buellboy -Harley sucks  January 28, 2010 11:36 AM
My neighbor was so pissed with HD, he went and tradd in his ultra crap glide for a nice Buell ULY.
you can't make a better statement to HD then trading in theri garbage and getting a real bike.
I tell you waht next time a see a HD guy stranded becuas his crappy engineered bike broke down, i will smile and not stop,lol

Jack -Last straw  January 28, 2010 11:09 AM
My current Harley will be my last, I'm done with H-D.
bill -HD riders are lazy- Buell riders are cool  January 28, 2010 10:53 AM
great interview but i can see why foreighners would think Americnas are Slow and Lazy.
Look at yur typical HD rider.
overweight
they do not wear protective gear except for their belly to make them bounce off the road
his bike will not go over 60mph
all they do is ride from bar to bar and getting waisted with their 100 year old GFs.
lucky if he can count to 10
takes a bath once a year

Buell rider
wears protective leathers to protect his skin
looks good and steals the HD rider's daughters
does not get drunk while riding becuase at 165mph you can't make a mistake
has some college education or higher
takes a shower everyday




Jules -Shoot themselves in the foot  January 28, 2010 10:51 AM
I bought an 1125R in the "fire sale"; I doubt I'd have been able to afford one at the full retail price but I am really pleased to have one. I had an old X-1 previously and think that Buells are fantastic machines and full of charecter. I suspect that the 1125R would not have got to market without HD's backing so I am grateful for that but I also think their disposing of Buell in this manner will prove to be a mistake. Their demographic is aging, bikes like Buells attracted a differnt demographic into their dealerships and opened up a new market to them. Not only have they turned their back on that market but they've p*ssed off a large number of future HD owners... I certainly won't buy one I'll be a Triumph rider when I feel the need to buy a cruiser...
Dunk -Fail  January 28, 2010 10:29 AM
"They believed that they needed to focus on their core industry" That is hilarious.H-D be bought by an Indian company within 2 years and built there.
4Cammer -Love my XB9R  January 28, 2010 10:22 AM
BRKNtibia - Bye Bye January 28, 2010 07:02 AM I wish this guy would just go away. Why?
sloJon -Foreward.  January 28, 2010 10:13 AM
Nice. Eric Buell should be back. He seems able to look ahead. H-D may come to see the error of their ways.
GeoffG -A big mistake  January 28, 2010 10:01 AM
I think H-D axing Buell was a major mistake, and it will limit H-D in the future. H-D's purchase of Buell was forward thinking, it got them a sportbike division with a ton of potential; killing it for short-term gain will hurt them in the long run. I hear guys like "Shooter" saying that Buell should never have "gotten into bed" with H-D in the first place, but that's very shortsighted, too. Buell worked his connections to H-D to purchase engines, and they eventually took notice and bought in--without that purchase, I doubt Buell would ever have been able to produce more than a few hundred bikes a year, and they certainly wouldn't have been able to develop bikes like the XB series or the 1125s. Buell himself says he's been trying to bring the 1125 to market for 20 years...if you think building up a bike company is easy, just ask guys like Fischer and Roehrich. Anyway, as a Buell owner and a mechanical engineer, I have a lot of respect for Erik Buell. His designs are elegant and practical; more importantly, he's been able to bring those designs to production and to the market. I am not the taget demographic for Harley, but if I ever do get to the point of wanting a cruiser, let me tell you--it will never be a Harley, because I can't support any company with such lack of vision.
Fred M. -Haters, not riders...  January 28, 2010 09:38 AM
I can't imagine being so insecure that I would celebrate the closing of a motorcycle brand, 180 people being laid off, and someone's dream being crushed. We get it: You didn't buy a Buell -- and I'm willing to bet that you never even rode one. You probably have another cookie-cutter I4 Japanese sport bike. Yes, your 600cc I4 Yamahondazusaki makes more peak(y) horsepower per cc than my Buell 1125CR. And if that consoles you when I smoke you on the street, then enjoy that thought. But there are no displacement rules on the street, so all you did was choose to buy a slower bike than mine. Maybe that was appropriate given you experience and skill level, but don't go hating on my bike just because it's different than yours.
Shooter -Hope Eric Wins  January 28, 2010 09:13 AM
I hope Eric comes out of this with another backer. His first mistake was getting into bed with HD. The public did not want a sport bike with a Harley motor in it. Eric tried to change it but a pig is still a pig no matter what color you paint it. The 1200 motor is heavy and way outdated just like everything else HD makes. Maybe if Buell had there own separate dealerships things might have been different. I was in a Harley dealer last summer looking at a XB12XT and once the salesman found out I was interested in a Buell he was gone. HD dealers want to sell you a underpowered Harley so they then can sell you all the aftermarket stuff for $$$$$ more. Also, a Buell buyer is not going to buy and Harley belt buckles, ash trays, clocks, do rags or t shirts.
MotoJoe -American Sportbike  January 28, 2010 08:34 AM
I hope that once he gets the legal issues completed with H.D. he finds the correct backing and does it again with new designs.
GPFuzz -Erik Buell will not just go away  January 28, 2010 08:03 AM
BRKNtibia, why do you think Erik Buell going away will make your life better?
Fred, Are you saying that the big 4 from japan doesn't count on selling parts to people who buy their motorcycles?
I'm so sick of the folks who put down Buell motorcycles, especially when you consider that I've got nearly 70,000 miles on my 2000 M2, supposedly an unreliable bike with no redeeming values, yet I get up every morning, thumb the starter, and off I go, whether to work or across the country. The only thing I spend money on is fuel, oil changes and tires.
Erik Buell will be doing his thing for a very long time, and I say more power to him!
MR -Good Journalism  January 28, 2010 07:57 AM
Bart,
Great job capturing part of our history from an american motorcycle legend's minds and thought process. He will be part of US Motorcycle Hall of Fame.
Thanks.
Vince -Stay  January 28, 2010 07:45 AM
I hope he stays around forever. How can it be a bad thing? More brands, more competition... not a bad thing.
BRKNtibia -Bye Bye  January 28, 2010 07:02 AM
I wish this guy would just go away.
Chris -HD falls  January 28, 2010 05:35 AM
I'm sure, not to long from now, that H-D will be standing at Washington's door asking for a handout. Idea's like this one to axe Buell and his efforts to diversify their product base was rather foolish. Ever look at the auto industries? Does Ford, Chevy, Toyota, or any of the major brands, make one type of vehicle? Of course they don't! Why, because it simply does not make for good business. The only major brand that has stuck around making one type of car has been Ferrari...and what do they make? High end sport cars designed, principally, for racing. On the flip side of that coin could you imagine Studebaker producing a 2010 model that looked exactly the same as a 1950's model but with ABS and fuel injection? It would have failure written all over it... though this concept sounds vaguely familiar to a current production concept used by H-D. Before too much longer I could see H-D dropping their motorcycles all together and just putting their name on everything like Eddie Bauer did with Ford...
Fred -Speaks volumes...  January 28, 2010 02:32 AM
Quote from Buell: They had 137,000 Buell owners out there to sell parts to, and I think the parts business over the next 5-7 10 years will be a profitable business.