RIP Buell

I find this news incredibly sad.  I don't know anything about Buell's finances, or the politics of how it was assimilated into — and ultimately killed by — Harley-Davidson, but it's never a good thing for the sport when a company goes under.

I'll admit it, I choked up watching the above video.  

Maybe some of it is my Wisconsin background; maybe some of it is seeing a man who so clearly loves his work and his company have to give its eulogy.  

Buell brought so many things to the sportsbike world; I remember bike show displays that proudly showed off the perimeter floating brake disc, the frame holding fuel, the swingarm holding oil.   Like the Buell Blast or not, it got 70mpg — that's better than my XT!

I've ridden a Buell Blast around Wisconsin, a Firebolt XB12R and a Lightning XB12SCG around a track in Nevada, and I've toured with Firebolts and Ulysses.

Rarr, now I've spent minutes of my life trying to find the photos of me at Femmoto riding the Firebolt.  I'll upload one later if I find it.

In the meantime, here are my other Buell photos.  I never owned one, but I liked riding them.  I'm sorry to see them go…and it'll be interesting to see what, if anything, this does to Harley.  I think their reason of "needing to focus on the Harley brand" is a bit coy; can you think of a brand less in danger of being forgotten than Harley-Davidson? Ah well, I guess this is why I'm not in PR/marketing.

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12 Responses to RIP Buell

  1. MsJamie says:

    Now that completely sucks.
    Watching the video, I wondered how many “takes” it took him to record that without breaking down in tears. He came close a couple of times.
    Buell seemed to be growing in popularity, even as HD’s dropped due to the economy. I wonder if some VP came to the conclusion that Buell was cutting into HD’s market share and started yelling “Fire”.
    It wouldn’t be the first bonehead maneuver by HD management.

  2. John says:

    Eric Buell brings to mind the brilliance of the Kiwi John Britten. Both men driven to innovate in the pursuit of speed and mechanical beauty. Both creating machines that move the inner motorcyclist in all of us. While I’ve never owned a Buell, the motorcycles of Buell were on my radar for future purchase in more flush times.
    The decision by HD to end Buell motorcycles is entirely wrong-headed. Like all insecure posers, the management of HD has shot itself in the foot while trying to shore-up it’s self-image. In the face of a perceived competitor, HD have not destroyed a competitor, they have destroyed an ally. Buell enhanced HD’s image.
    Much as they did with the “bad santa” Christmas advertising campaign, HD has once again harmed the motorcycle community. I wonder how many on the HD management team can actually ride a motorcycle?
    Eric Buell, I am so sorry that we have lost your vision. We need someone like a Bill Gates (lots of $) to step up and fund your next effort.
    I’ll still wave to HD riders, and some will wave back, but I will never own a Harley. Not now.

  3. Pat Johnson aka zzo says:

    Here, here to the above comments. I’m not privy to Harley management, but I thought the strategy was to use Buell and Aprilla to fill in the gaps in the HD line-up. HD needs sport, adventure and entry level bikes to broaden their mix so they are not so dependent on guys in mid-life crisis buying the cruisers. So, HD again positions itself strategically in the past and hopes no one will notice.

  4. Roger Willcut says:

    One of the problems that I now face is being sure I have spare parts for my Buell Blast; a 2007 in my favorite motorcycle color – Black. Suppose I should lay in some spare parts fairly soon. Until now I seldom bought green bananas – at 71, there is no sense in wasting stuff. But having just finding out about my “mid-life” crisis (oh yeah, I got one of those H-D FXDLI a couple of years ago)I better get on ebay and start looking for 1, or maybe 2, to Buells to use as “parts bikes”. I wonder if I need do the same thing for my XT225? So many bike choices too little time and money.

  5. Roger Willcut says:

    I apologize for my comment yesterday. Maybe just a tad bit overly sensitive on the HD digs, or slams. But I will be trying to pass the Buell Blast on to which ever of my youngest great grandchild seems to be showing an interest in motorcycles. They will get the 1981 Exciter 250 as well.
    Again, sorry for snooty remark yesterday. But shoot folks, some of us HD guys are real sensitive.

  6. Chris M says:

    shame. HD seems to be managed by the same intellectual goliaths that ran GM into the ground over several decades of incompetence.
    I hope Erik Buell ends up with the rights to his name, and the use of the liquid cooled Helicon 1125, and walks right over to Victory to set up shop. Victory attempted a partnership with KTM a few years ago that did not go beyond talks of Victory sport bikes, made by KTM. Now is the opportunity for Erik to rid himself of HD, and start fresh. BRP the parent of Victory is also the parent of Rotax which builds the 1125. Great fit, and a bright future for Buell!

  7. Pat Johnson aka zzo says:

    I would like to apologize to Roger W. if he took my comment personally about HD being dependent on “guys in mid-life crisis buying cruisers.” I’m a guy in mid-life crisis myself but I indulge it with a VStrom 650 and a KLR 650. HD has a perfectly reasonable marketing strategy for their brand and niche. The sport bike, dual purpose, scooter, etc manufacturers all have specific marketing strategies aimed at their niches. My point was that Harley is pretty much a one trick pony and they may need a broader mix of machines to survive. I think that by axing Buell and Aprilla, HD is betting its long-term survival on one, somewhat worn niche. BMW, KTM, Suzuki, Kawasaki, Honda and Yamaha have a much broader mix of bikes and to my mind a much better chance of long-term success. Short-term thinking seems all too common in American business, unfortunately.

  8. Pat Johnson aka zzo says:

    Correction: Aprilia is owned by Piaggo and HD owns MV Agusta. I must have all my Italian bikes stored in the same place on my brain’s hard drive.

  9. Supporter of Harley Davidson says:

    I found this site actually looking for a tent, and then read the comments posted here about the harsh criticism towards HD. I am an avid HD rider, not in mid-life crisis, but rather one who enjoys the HD lifestyle supporting American heritage and commerce. Has HD been perfect in their marketing decisions? NO, what company is. I find it somewhat offensive with all of the negative feedback about the closing of this AMERICAN bike manufacturer, from a majority of bike owners riding non-American made or designed bikes. Criticism towards the manufacturers for making difficult decisions in a serious economic downturn, while continuing to support other countries products employees and designs. Quite frankly I am tired of it all..We endorse illegal aliens, and discriminate against those who enter our country honestly and legally, we buy foreign brands and then assassinate the character of a company which has been the LARGEST contributor of American motorcycle progression and history.

  10. Roger Willcut says:

    To Bluepoof and friends. I am sorry, for bringing the preceeding diatribe onto this group.

  11. zzo says:

    In response to Supporter of Harley Davidson: My reading of the above critiques of HD’s decision to ax Buell and MV Agusta is that all were concerned about the future of HD without Buell and MV Agusta. So, in reality we are supportive of HD and concerned for its future without an effort to broaden its line-up. Speaking only for myself, I looked at HD when I bought my last two bikes but HD did not make a bike suitable for what I need (I have yet to see a HD on the gravel and dirt roads I use). Buell came close and I avidly followed their new models with the intent to buy one that met my needs. No one assassinated HD’s character, just their business decisions. As for supporting illegal aliens, I think you slipped a cog there.

  12. carolyn says:

    Dang, I totally missed that comment from Supporter. Wow. I didn’t see anyone at all slamming HD and, frankly, if anyone thinks *this* site is a Harley-slamming site, then that person doesn’t spend much time on the internet. And, um, I’m with zzo on the cog-slipping. Sounds like a personal ax to grind there that has nothing to do with motorcycles, nor this blog post.

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