|Posted on Thursday, June 21, 2012 - 04:53 pm: ||
It was a sad day indeed. The Moco was looking at their bottom line, their stock was in the can, people were getting laid off, and they were wondering if they were going to be around after all was said and done.
A lot of people are constantly complaining that Harley lives off it's reputation, uses old technology, and hasn't changed much in 50 years. It's a formula for success for the Moco, and their rider demographic is getting older, but probably wouldn't hang around for too long if Harley did in fact go too modern. So their large and loyal customer base is what fuels the demand for their bikes, the way they are. The people who buy them don't want them to change, and hope they never do.
Now, back in the days, when Buell started making bikes, they were using much of the technology that Harley had available. His concepts of mass centralization, lower unsrung weight, and better braking were understood and recognized by the company as sound technological achievements. But by the same token, their bikes were pretty much like Harleys were, from a maintenance and parts supply standpoint.
After a while, though, Buell drifted away from those principles. They wanted better, more upgraded and innovative technology. Which is fine from an engineering standpoint, but not so much from a logistical one. Now, there's a motorcycle company out there manufacturing bikes with a totally different set of components, and they have to be stocked, employees have to be trained, and customers expect to be served in an expedited fashion.
When Buell was using mostly Harley tech, this was pretty much a non issue. Once they gravitated into their own, it became in increasingly difficult process. WHile it might be easy for the Genius' at Buell to get their heads around the new stuff, it was much more difficult to spread this out through the entire dealer network. Dealers started dropping Buell as soon as they realized they could no longer serve the customer, and complaints against them for not handling issues expeditiously became an issue. At the same time, dealers were getting their doors shut on the basis of performance, and weighed their options against what they had available.
People have this deep seated Harley hate going on now. There are a lot of people who think the Moco sold them out, or threw them under the bus. That simply isn't true. From a purely business standpoint, especially with the introduction of the 1125, Buells were getting further and further away from the original concept and gravitating into their own. Because of this, and lagging sales, as well as customer complaints, it was no longer feasible for Harley, already on the rocks, to try and support something they were rapidly realizing was becoming increasingly difficult to do.
If you talk to Harley riders now, about EBR and what they are doing, I am pretty sure that most of them will tell you that they like it fine, even though it really isn't their cup of tea. Bringing home checkered flags with bikes that are Made in the USA is something I sincerely doubt any real american would have a problem with. However, once these bikes are introduced to the marketplace, I have a feeling that Buell is going to discover what Harley knew all along. It simply isn't that easy to do all that is required in order to develop and hold onto a loyal customer base. When these bikes have issues, who will they turn to, and what level and commitment of service is to be expected?
I really like what I've seen so far in the development of the new 1190. I am keeping my fingers crossed that they get it off the ground, and people buy them in droves. I hope that they become affordable, and that people out there have access to spares and tech data that makes them easy to service, and I hope that it's easy to get parts when needed. To put it all into perspective, it's a monumental task, and one that may require the patience of Job in order to make it all come together.
We're pulling for you. We hope it works out for the best. Real Harley riders don't hate you. We just aren't seeing things the same. And there's stupid people in every demographic. But for me, there's more to riding than bringing home a checkered flag. When it stops being fun, and gets too expensive, I'll have no choice but to look elsewhere. I, for one, hope that day never comes.
|Posted on Friday, June 22, 2012 - 09:22 am: ||
I don't buy it. Almost no parts from the XR1200 will fit a big twin, so they have to stock different parts for different bikes.
Harley shut down Buell as a result of two big factors.
1) Their combination of arrogance and narrow vision was killing Buell through a "death by a thousand cuts" from day one. They were too arrogant to just let Buell be Buell, but two narrow minded to help Buell be Buell. So most Buell successes were in spite of Harley Davidson, not because of them.
2) Harley, again probably as a result of arrogance, grossly overpaid for MV Agusta and had no real plan for how to use them in the first place. The money that Harley lost to buy them, do nothing with them, then pay to be rid of them was more than enough to fund everything Buell would want to do for the next 10 years. Harley literally threw it away.
It was narrow minded arrogance that caused Harley to shut down Buell.
|Posted on Friday, June 22, 2012 - 02:11 pm: ||
Maybe not xr1200 to a BT, but to another Sporty? Probably. Now, how many sportster models are there, and how many years have they been making them.
I don't think Harley intended to lose money on MV Augusta.
|Posted on Thursday, June 28, 2012 - 12:18 pm: ||
Harley's heart was never into what it took to make Buell successful. It takes a superhuman drive and passion to make something like that work and that lay in MR. Buell himself, NOT Harley. To them it "sounded like a good idea at the time", or maybe wanted Buell close and less of a competitor.
The marketing was NEVER there for Buell. How can you sell bikes when no one knows what they are? I'm still asked every where i go "what kind of bike is that?" as im sure you all have. Has anyone seen a Buell add in a magazine? or anywhere else for that matter.
It's not all Harley's fault.
The heads at Buell have their share of responsibility also.
It looks to me that they didnt listen to what the people wanted. They were making bikes the way THEY wanted and didnt put enough weight in the peoples wants and likes were. To be successful you have to give people what THEY want and work your engineering marvels in.
From a business standpoint Harley had to do something after Buell sale's dropped at such a staggering rate. Just shutting them down was stupid, and completely reactionary. Its not evident to me if Harley tried to fix the problems or even tried to sell off Buell. I see it as they were never behind the american sport bike and were happy to just wash their hands of Buell.
|Posted on Thursday, July 19, 2012 - 11:30 am: ||
First of all Buell sales fell off at the same precipitous rate if not LESS than Harley due to the economy. Fact was that Buell provided Harley with PROFITS several year in a row when HD was struggling(hence newer multiple "custom" models coming out).
Making things look "bad" led them to "dump" Buell to supposedly make up for MV fiasco AND pumping in many "new" custom models.
Another issue I was given was that since HD paid all warranty be it Buell or HD they kept dragging their feet on paying dealers and several with less than reputable service records on Buells decided to cut losses. Had a great dealer, had warranty in my 06 I got used in 08, ,it had minor issues, isolator went and had to be updated, then bolt broke off in head but easily fixed, rear wheel brgs went out AND from new rear tire install from before I bought it they didnt replace the sprocket bolts, so me riding 7 days a week in 08(main transpo) I took a dump after breaking two bolts, took them while to get paid for sprocket AND wheel. Then only other real issue was oil leak from rocker box and head to cyl oring.
Now no warranty and I have to fix things this year(warranty expired 11/09)my self. so far ay 17.5k miles are a frayed clutch cable, normal use no big, nad one front wheel brg has fragged, I am going to up grade to a heavier duty dual row bearing with slight machining of wheel.
As for Buell sharing responsibility, come on Harley WANTED them to be a separate brand line, then cut them when they are? Come on. Honestly I would have preferred to see Harley take Erik to task to make some good handling/performance updates to older style bikes. I know of several people who have melded Buell engine performance with regular road bikes and even went other ways. Instead of burning a bridge, they should have given Erik a chance to push Buell into a separate, unconnected bike line. They could have even had a chance to make money on service parts for older bikes selling the Buell. The cut was similar to what GM did to Olds/Pontiac/Saturn and Chryco did to Plymouth and Ford did to Mercury. Only issue was that Buell was STILL SELLING BIKES and according to two studies I read at a slightly higher rate than HD,,,soooo HD cut the competetion.
And dont get me wrong by Blast was for mileage/price not for being Buell,,but then I DO like riding different bike too. As for me my next bike will probably be an 883 Superlow. But thats me and I have a great relationship with my dealer.
|Posted on Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - 10:14 am: ||
Had Buell been profitable then Harley would not have shut them down. Buells have always had a fan base but not big enough that they sold bikes like Harley is able to sell bikes. Not even close no matter what some Buell riders WANT to believe. I wish Buell was still making bikes for Harley Corp but that is history. Let's hope that EBR starts selling reasonably priced bikes that we all start seeing on the streets again. I look forward to being able to purchase an EBR AX bike should that ever become available. Not at all interested in a crotch rocket. Plenty folks are but most crotch rocket riders are young and don't have a pot to piss in, let alone the cash to buy a high priced EBR bike. Let's hope that Erik understands that. There is a good reason that companies like MV Agusta are always in and out of bankruptcy. Beautiful bikes but not near enough folks can afford them. Even Ducati has changed owners too many times.
|Posted on Monday, September 17, 2012 - 09:24 am: ||
Buell couldn't listen to their customers. They had to go through a committee of H-D big wigs. H-D was so disillusioned that they expected the Buell demographic to eventually buy Harleys.
Harley had stifled Buell from the start, while at the same time Buell needed H-D support to grow. It seemed to be a pretty tenuous relationship, especially reading the stories of all the Buell projects Harley muddled or canceled.
It's no coincidence that once Buell had a prototype for a true sportbike devoid of H-D limitations and input that the MoCo was done with them.
The MV debacle really showed their ignorance and bias.
|Posted on Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - 11:41 pm: ||
Buells had warranty issues that Harley dealers ended up fixing. First the simple stuff from overpowering, like broken muffler mounts, then potentially catastrophic failures like primary chain tensioners and oil pump drive gears. Not to mention the crappy wheel bearings. Or the early shocks, that cost Harley a lot of money in recalls.
After a few years when heads started snapping off at the mount, Harley probably figured that the design wasn't meant to last very long, it was more of a go-fast patch job.
Yes the XB motors redesigned the heads but the old tube frame models were recall liabilities whose problems kept growing as the miles racked up.
By the end Buell was using Rotax motors and no Harley parts, what does that really have to do with Harley?
Harley has been run by lawyers for decades now, they probably decided to cut Buell for potential liability issues, both for recalls and for increased go-fast crash potential.
Besides which the cash cow at Harley is the bloated image, not performance.
Just my .02.
|Posted on Saturday, November 24, 2012 - 06:09 pm: ||
I am not sure of when the Rotax engines started but I would bet that did not sit well with HD nor would sit well on an HD showroom floor. I don't want to knock the guys that like that engine but I for one would never had bought my TT if not for the HD connection. I ride a Ultra and a Night rod Special and enjoy my Harleys. Especially the one with the oil in the swing arm and the fuel in the frame!
|Posted on Wednesday, January 16, 2013 - 11:08 pm: ||
I'm pretty sure the foreign-engined VROD predates the 1125's. Can't have it both ways.
|Posted on Sunday, September 01, 2013 - 10:21 pm: ||
I think it boiled down to the 1125's flashing their muscles on the Harley showroom floor. I think they intimidated some of the overweight, beer bellies. Especially when a fit guy in his 20's came in with a fine woman, because lets face it, Harley women are beefy. All the fine girls are on the the back of sporty bikes.
|Posted on Monday, September 02, 2013 - 07:55 am: ||
The majority of crotch rocket riders are poor?
Just because they ride $10,000 bikes instead of $40,000 bikes does not make them poor.
That would be like comparing the skill levels of the same riders you mentioned.
I will be the first to admit it takes a lot of skill to hog 2 lanes at a time on a 900 pound bike with a 300 pound wife on the back while going 30mph in a 50mph zone, successfully blocking a line of 20 cars.
|Posted on Monday, September 02, 2013 - 12:03 pm: ||
The Rotax engine is built where? The vrod engine is built where????
|Posted on Monday, September 02, 2013 - 08:29 pm: ||
When I purchased my 1125CR I was told by the mechanic, that I know very well, "Don't bring that sum bitch back for me to work on, I don't know how to work on them and I don't want to know how to work on them, the same goes for them damn V-Rods."
Most if not all the mechanics at this dealership felt the same way. I honestly believe that most of the dealership mechanics feared the technology, just mention to a HD mechanic about the rumors and patents of a water cooled Harley engine and watch them cringe.
|Posted on Monday, September 02, 2013 - 10:20 pm: ||
There is a culture in HD shops that is very averse to technology and innovation. Unfortunately for them, younger generations crave those things.
I don't have anything against basic, classy bikes. I believe those bikes should still be produced and offered. But there should be something in your line up that appeals to the performance enthusiasts.
For America not to produce a competitive performance motorcycle is really shameful. Especially given our automotive culture. To cut down Buell like that is equivalent to scrapping the Mustang. It was a company with 27 years of history.
Who will step up now to produce a performance based American motorcycle? The answer is, if its not Buell or EBR, then no one. 27 years of development cannot be replaced.
|Posted on Tuesday, December 17, 2013 - 03:30 pm: ||
In a lot of ways the Harley's are more technically advanced than the XB Buells , the fuel injection for example. I don't know about pricing in the US but in Europe the Buells were over priced by a good 25%. The day HD pulled the plug on Buell they discounted all the Remaining Buells heavily, within a week they were all sold. My XT came with a $1500 custom paint job and $4500 off the previous retail price.
I think the Buells were costing them a lot in warranty work, not selling too well probably due to not being marketed properly, and that was it.
|Posted on Sunday, September 28, 2014 - 08:50 am: ||
Wonder if some of these angry, misguided, young men like Grego are still around here.
I should post a pic of my Harley riding wife...
...well, she USED to ride a couple of Harleys, until she got her Duc (hmm, maybe that disqualifies her from contradicting his point lol).
|Posted on Sunday, October 19, 2014 - 01:48 am: ||
had it but lost it with reliability issues.
|Posted on Sunday, December 14, 2014 - 10:55 am: ||
Harley Davidson buyers don't hate technology improvements. They simply prefer those improvements within a very narrow band. Particularly, they prefer to have a recognizable package whose lineage can be tied back to the original model.
Harley buyers didn't accept the V-Rod just because the technology was "new". They rejected it because there wasn't a "heritage".
I have folks who looked at them (and the Rocker). Even test rode them. Commented that they were impressive in their performance, etc. They simply wouldn't buy them. Part of the attraction of Harley Davidson is the sub-club within the brand. When you guy a Heritage Soft Tail Classic, you are immediately admitted to the HSTC club. Same for Road Glides. Same for Sportsters.
It isn't just enough to be part of the larger Harley club. It's the acceptance of the sub-club that guide, in large part, the buying behavior.
It's why there was very little buyer crossover from Harley to Buell.
Having sold both, I can say that both were high quality products with loyal followers, but they were as different as oil and water.
|Posted on Monday, April 11, 2016 - 07:18 pm: ||
I remember the luke warm press on the 2008 1125R.
What I don't remember is the follow up articles where buell fixed each and every issue (heat, fueling, looks, etc....)
The Japanese used to be excellent at fixing all the complaints in the magazines.
|Posted on Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - 08:38 pm: ||
Harley closed Buell for simple, understandable reasons. First, acquiring Buell had been Jeff Bleustein's project, and as long as Bleustein was chair of H-D's board of directors, Buell had a protector -- essential in corporate politics. Bleustein retired. At almost the same time, Harley got itself in big trouble. It had over-expanded, with talk of reaching 500,000 or even 600,000 annual sales numbers. The company had spent money accordingly on production and other capability expansion. Then the 2008-2009 recession hit, and H-D couldn't even finance Harley Finance paper. They were staring at a possible bankruptcy. The H-D BOD hired Keith Wandell as an axman, to cut the company back to a size where it could survive and prosper. From Buell's point of view, Wandell came with negative attitudes. He hated racing, having seen the auto companies that his prior company supplied to -- in his opinion -- waste money on auto racing projects. He wasn't a motorcyclist, and he had literally no understanding and no proclivity to understand sport bikes and athletic motorcycling. He was a huge fan of the Ford One initiative, which had been instituted in part to stop regional groups within Ford from warring over resources. Within days of coming to work at H-D, he put the new Buell facility on hold, even though that involved breaking contracts, which should have told us something. But, I think, the most important thing was that Buell was non-union, had been a target of Harley's unions for years, and those unions had been unsuccessful in organizing it. By killing Buell, which Wandell thought was a distraction and not essential to Harley's future, a view shared with a number of H-D's Directors, he sent a strong message to the unions: I'm playing rough, and you better come to the table offering something. It was a message that played ever so much better than if he had protected non-union Buell while asking for union-plant cuts.
The Buell demise was tactical, not strategic, and it can only be seen in the context of the huge mess that the parent company had gotten itself in. Closing Buell was not about dollars and cents, because the cost of closing it and paying off the Harley dealers with Buell dealerships was far greater than any short-term losses that Buell was likely to have made during the recession. Margins on XBs were far greater than anything Harley was getting on Sportsters, for example, even as we were being over-charged on engines.
(Message edited by steve_a on April 19, 2016)
|Posted on Thursday, April 28, 2016 - 08:50 pm: ||
Thank you, Steve a.
|Posted on Tuesday, October 18, 2016 - 01:56 pm: ||
To add something to this,
I work at a Harley dealer here in Brandon, FL, and from the techs I have spoken to, the idea of change falls into two demographics. The older techs tend to lean towards the "traditional Harley" mindset, and thus despise any thoughts of anything new, including the V-Rod or Buells.
The younger techs, however, didn't mind the ideas of newer technologies, even the V-Rod, though they frown at the style and form of it, rather than the technology. Most like the idea of new technology and laugh at the idea that Harley refuses to step into the liquid-cooled world, and instead staves off the inevitable with oil-cooling the exhaust-valve only instead of the whole engine.
My supervisor (Service Supervisor) loves the Buell, and is currently tempting me with a Buell he's rebuilding in his spare time. Not everyone at Harley hated Buell, but I do believe that the "Big Wigs" might have been too close-minded in regards to the innovation Buell offered.
As Steve_a posted above, the worst thing to ever happen to Buell was Bleustein.