After releasing grim third-quarter financials today, Harley-Davidson has also announced that it is discontinuing Buell Motorcycles. In a somber video (posted after the jump), Erik Buell confirms the news, and praises the Buell team for taking on the industry giants with “this little American sportbike company.” Buell will continue to sell its motorcycle stock, and Harley-Davidson will continue to honor any warranties and part needs for Buell motorcycles.
Buell Motorcycle will be idling its East Troy plant during the months of November and December. During that time, employees will receive 8 days of paid vacation (and be essentially unemployed the rest of the time), but will retain their full medical benefits. The move by Buell isn’t all that uncommon for manufacturers who are experiencing a slow down in production, but surely sucks that “Happy Holidays” cheer out of the non-unionized shop.
The Buell XB12 series seems to have a few more gremlins than usual, as this is the 3rd time, in less than one year’s time, that the motorcycle has been recalled by Buell and the NHTSA. This is also the 2nd time that the XB12 has been recalled for a front-brake line routing problem, which could cause the line to rub against the front wheel, causing a hole to form, and a complete loss of front-braking power.
Noticeably missing from the 2010 Buell line-up, is the Buell Blast. The quirky, modest, and reasonably priced entry-level motorcycle that not only powers the bikes from Mac Motorcycles, but also sheds insight on what would happen if Tonka made a two-wheeler. While the bike provided a nice stepping stone for anyone that wanted to enter the world of motorcycling, it never fit into Buell’s image as an “American Sportbike” company. So Erik Buell crushed it.
The big news for Monday is that Buell has updated its model line-up for 2010. While we could probably make this an at length post, detailing everything new and great about the true American Sportbike brand, in reality it boils down to just marginal increases in the products look, feel, and general performance.
However, there are a couple points of interest we would like to point out. The 1125CR now has the color white (which does look rather good), and an integrated battery tender plug.
We’re not quite sure if this is because the bikes sit at the dealership for so long waiting to be sold, or if they get relegated to the back of the garage while their owners ride something else. Either way, Buell clearly seems to expect their bikes to sit around and do nothing for a while.
Buell Racing is trying to go legit, and make a bid at the American Superbike class in the AMA. After already making a joke out of the Daytona Superbike class, Buell is going to offer a turn-key bike for AMA licensed racers who are looking to take on real superbikes like Honda CBR1000RR and Yamaha R1.
If you’re an AMA licensed privateer, looking to compete in the American Superbike class, with about $40,000 burning a hole in your pocket, Buell is hoping you’ll take up the cause and waive the American flag for them.
Take one British stunt rider (Craig Jones), one American sport bike (Buell 1125R), and one frozen Swedish lake bed (Lake Dellen), and what do you have? A 148 mph PR stunt that would be a record if there was a category for such a thing.
Buell Distribution Company is recalling 3,316 2008 1125R, and 2009 XB12R/ZX12SEG motorcycles. The affected bikes have a front brake line which may be contacting the front tire because of a faulty routing method. If this is the case, the condition could be causing a hole to develop in the front brake line, thus allowing brake fluid to leak. If not seen to, this condition might cause a failure of front brake, leading to a possible crash, injury, and/or death of the rider.
Affected bikes should be taken to their local dealers where the brake line will be re-routed. If damage has occurred to the line, it will be replaced free of charge. The recall is expected to begin on or before April 20, 2009. Owners may contact Buell Distribution Company at 1-414-343-8400.
The New York Times ran a great article this week about the challenges facing Harley-Davidson, both from the current economic depression, and more generally as the quintessential Harley rider gets older in age. In summation, Harley-Davidson dealers around the US and overseas are seeing sales drop dramatically as people scale back their expensive purchases, and as the access to credit becomes increasingly difficult. There’s no real surprise there, and any hardcore fan will be quick to tell you that Harley will be back on top once this financial turmoil is over. However, looking farther down the road at Harley-Davidson’s long-term business position, there is additional trouble brewing as well. Baby-boomers account for the majority of Harley sales, and they are getting older. The NY times ends there with its commentary, but we think there’s more to the story on Harley-Davidson and the American bike market in general.
Buell has issued a recall on some of its 2008 & 2009 XB12XP and XB12XT motorcycles, citing problems with the windshield mounting nuts. The exact models affected are the: 2008-2009 XB12XT & 2009 XB12XP.
Apparently the windshields may become dislodged and allow the windshield to either strike or distract the rider while the vehicle is being ridden at a high speed. This could result in a crash, which could cause injury or death to the rider. This is only affecting 624 bikes out on the road, but a windshield to the head is not to be taken to lightly.
Affected bikes will have to brought into the shop where dealers will remove the windshield’s two rubber mounted nuts and install two new fastener assemblies.
The recall is expected to begin on or about October 27, 2008. Owners may contact Buell at 1-414-342-4080. The NHTSA Campaign Number is 08V538000.
Source: The Kneeslider