Thursday, 15 October 2009

Buell Motorcycle Company is dead


That's what you get for building one of the ugliest bikes ever created (1125R, below). Erik's a lovely fella, who gave me a lot of time when I interviewed him a few years ago, but if the bikes were good, people would buy them, right?
Hell for Leather have posted the full press release (and tear-jerking video). Like you care. But it gave us an excuse to show the Sundance Buell Blast. G

20 comments:

KrookStreetRacing said...

That Gold Sundance bike is the reason I started building my framer. If Buell's own bikes would've had just an once of the style of that bike, I don't think the company would have gone belly up.

My God, that 1125 R is ugly from the front! Looks like the bastard love child of a Ducati 916 and a Goldwing.

/D

Chris said...

It's a shame, I was chatting with a pal about it last night.

We concluded that if you're gonna have left-field ideas then the build quality needs to staggering (bikers are sooo conservative).

Does this mean that the US no longer mass produces a sportsbike?

Mick P said...

Hmm. Knock-on effect for Mac Motorcycles down in Worcestershire, perhaps? They use the Blast motor.

harreng said...

That's a shame - almost bought an 'X1 years ago, had the test ride, loved it, then an unfortunate incident with my licence held things up for a few months, so I never did it.

#15 said...

Buell Blast street tracker here I so much hope Eric Buell will find a way to carry on... Eric is a racer and racers are optimists by nature and don't give up!

Mick P said...

Some racers are blind to danger and carry on until they're destroyed...

Anonymous said...

i think its a shame the air cooled bikes all looked great, never ridden one, but would still like too!.
stevie 28

9half said...

"That's what you get" really that's the comment you are gonna make....

Since you are unfamiliar with the states.. people do buy his bikes... Harley Davidson is just a dumb company.. always have been..

Think the guy earned a little more respect.. but I guess yer any expert.. cause only experts have 'blogs"

Sideburn Magazine said...

Hey 9Half
You tell me why they went out of business then? Yes, times are hard, but what do you want me to say? Everything's great, Buells are perfect, they're selling loads of them all over the world and they still went out of business? No, because that isn't a fact. They're not making bikes that appeal to enough people. They have/had clever tech, good ideas, then packaged them in very, very ugly, bikes with, by modern standards, very poor build quality. I don't live in America, but I've been a full-time freelance motorcycle journalist for over 10 years. And yes, I do a blog for fun. Those ar my credentials.
Incidentally, Triumph aren't going out of business. They've just had their best sales year ever in the UK. So they've proved something, right?
GI

Paul said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul said...

Yeah, some older Buell's are cool with some nice ideas... would love to own a Lightning XB12S. But the new ones... well, fook me Tommy! Looks like they got beat half to death with the ugly stick.
It's a shame.

9half said...

Well I guess that's the difference.. I have worked in the motorcycle Industry for over 12 years, building bikes and making products.. I know how much of someone's heart goes into something... and I know how passionate he is about his bikes and I feel he deserves a little more respect than a " haha your bikes went out of business cause they're ugly" not cause of the horrible economy...guess he could have sold out and built a Jap copy but we don't do that here

Diesel said...

Sideburn, you have no idea what you are talking about. HD killed Buell because there quarterly profits were down over 80% so they killed off Buell to put the money into HD and save their asses. I live close to the York plant and they are shutting it down. Which means they need money to restructure and build a new facility or modify an existing one to manufacture bikes.

Also Buell did not go belly up!

harreng said...

I don't think anyone's being disrespectful 9half, just a bit brutal with the facts - the X1 I test rode years ago was hopelessly over geared,[to pass euro noise limits in the drive past]the exhaust brackets were snapped and the front brake disc was warped and juddering, all on a low mileage test bike from a main dealer, who seemed to think these points were all part of the joy of ownership!-WRONG!- Under different circumstances [see above post] I would still have bought one, as I could have easily fixed these flaws - but many potential buyers can't, and wouldn't want to.
I'm sure Eric's a gifted engineer, but you also have to give the market what it wants, which starts with reliability and aesthetics.

Sideburn Magazine said...

9Half and Diesel
You are both right, but I maintain you're not looking at the bigger picture. I am sad when any manufacturer closes, even if my original post was flippant. Erik is a good guy with okay ideas who deserves some respect, but the Buell's are NOT complete products. They're full of more compromises than the market will put up with. The Ulysses is a disaster. On the official world launch of 1125 R Buell were apologising for the crap fueling BEFORE anyone rode the bikes, saying they already planned to revise it. That is not the actions of a company with their act together. To Diesel's point - and I'll admit I know nothing about quarterly projections or any of that - but would H-D close a division of the company that was or had been performing well (global meltdown or not) whether they needed to rationalise the manufacturing plants or not? No? If Buells had been selling strongly they'd want them to help pull them out of the hole. Right? Or am I off the mark there?
I'm sorry for the workers who lost there jobs a lot more than I am for Erik. He'll have got a golden handshake, but what are the real facts here?
This is all getting to heavy for our little blog, but I'm not walking away from the facts. They are - Buell sales globally, poor. If they'd have been great who would have closed the factory? Why are Buell sales poor? I gave my informed opinions. You guys are fans of the brand, and patriotic, and I admire those traits, but don't make me out to be an idiot just mouthing off. The tone, perhaps not right and if a worker at the plant was reading the post, then I'd apologise. I wasn't making light of it, but perhaps being more tabloid than I normally am. Sorry for that. GI

Hieronymous Cowherd said...

To be honest, I'm more worried about MV Agusta, which HD cut adrift the same day. A world without Buell will be sad, but a world without Agusta would be unbearable.

And the terrible thing is that Harley's retrenchment strategy is obviously to keep churning out repro antiques for die-hards rather than move forward. I give it five years before Proton buys the brandname.

sonic said...

..... exactly, though not sure America could stomach Proton ownership.
The MV Agusta devest worries me, but not too much. I've considered buying a Buell and an MV but then went and bought a Ducati.
What is odd when you look at the size of America, is that now Buell's gone, it only makes one type of bike which for a big company is a tad limiting. Can you imagine Triumph only selling retro's and actually surviving for more than about 2 weeks.

I don't know how much of Buell Erik Buell currently owns but maybe he should consider taking his brand to Honda/Yamaha or China for some big cash investment and a bigger European dealer network.

Diplomate said...

Time for a cup of tea .....

bob dobbalina said...

i'd stil give my left nut for an s1 white lightning

Anonymous said...

See what can be done with a Buell Blast here.

Note the change to the engine halfway down.
This is a Sundance Super XR top-end kludged onto modified Blast cases. New 650cc displacement delivers plenty of wheel-lofting "Ooomph!" Sundance-Keihin (that's "KAY-heen") FCR carb gives quick response and smooth acceleration. Insides of cases scraped out quite a bit to make room for larger, heavier flywheels that seriously boost torque.

How much? Don't ask. Unfortunately, WAY too much work involved in this mod to make it a viable product. The engine work alone would probably cost well over double (triple?) what the entire Blast cost new.

All the best,
Li'l Adam (for Sundance)

P/S: The gold one linked to above is being reworked now. When done, it's going to be VERY interesting (in an amusing retro sort of way).