Buell blowback

The May issue is the best I have ever read. Period. At 53 years old, I have literally been with you guys from the beginning, and thought I had seen it all—until Steve Anderson's superb "inside" article. Excellent work only to be supplemented with Peter Egan's heartfelt "put your money where your mouth is" Ulysses editorial. Mr. Hoyer, it took guts to publish this one. Mr. Edwards would be proud.

I too work for a large company where many times the right hand does not know or care about the left, and where new CEOs and "wet behind the ears" marketing wannabes come and go—only to leave destruction in their wake. The picture on page 43 of the 1998 SI White Lightning says it all. That bike is Buell, and legions of Buell riders know it. Unfortunately, it looks like the brass at H-D never did. Now we are left to wonder what could have happened had they enough common sense to accept Bombardier's offer and start selling through Can-Am dealers. Can-Am would have appreciated the concept. One also has to wonder if "they" realize that thousands of loyal Buell owners are now looking at VFRs, the new CB1100, C-14s, Z1000s, Bonnevilles, Thruxtons and Speed Triples. No, I doubt the suits at H-D even know what we are talking about. Customers? Employees? What? They still haven't figured out how to raise the seat, set the pegs and put a fairing on a V-Rod. A hundred

million for MV Agusta would have gone a long way in East Troy.

Come on, Erik, get through the legal-ese of the next few months. Break out the bender, the welder, the spray gun. Then surprise us all with the next SI.

Dale Baker Crystal Lake, Illinois

I have gone through Panhead, Shovel-head, Evolution and Twin Cam ownership. The ride started in 1968 and 40 years of loyalty to Harley-

Davidson followed. After hearing only positive comments for years about Buell Motorcycles, I took a Ulysses for a test ride. When the XB12XT model came out, I bought one. After a very short while, I noticed the Road King sitting, unused, in my shop. 1 sold it to a friend and continued riding the Buell non-stop.

February 1,2011, is not far off. I'm sure Erik Buell will not disappoint.

Virginia Gardner Submitted via

Economics 101?

You know, at the end of the day, Buell had to produce a "fair profit" for Harley-Davidson. They did not! Therefore, when times got tough, Erik and friends had to go. They have had plenty of time to make their plans work.

It's called the Free Enterprise System.

Ron Miller

Submitted via

Steve Anderson exhibited uberjournalist skill in his in-depth look at the demise of Buell.

H-D's "laurels" are firmly entrenched in the tradition and respect which is afforded an old-line motorcycle manufacturer, but one that's exhibited little interest in stepping into the 21st century rela tive to their product offering. It's obvious that engineering evolution (no pun) moves at glacial speeds in Wisconsin. I visited the (sole) local FI-D dealer here in central Oregon several years ago looking for a Buell. I was told that they "didn't handle" them and was invited to look at the H-D offering. Wonder why the "partnership" didn't work?

Erik Buell had vision with a capital V. He had the balls to take the risks to drive his products into the marketplace. Let's face it, H-D feared his foresight and innovative skills, and as a consequence, Buell wasn't cut any slack or preferential deals by H-D's management team, the net result being collapse.

Bill McMillan

Redmond, Oregon

As an engineer, I can relate to Erik Buell's frustrations when engineering decisions are set aside by accountants. I do understand the need to make a profit, however, some "management" decisions seem senseless. I learned during the course of ownership that most dealers stocked no parts and did little to move the bikes. In the price range, they would rather sell a Sportster and hand you a 600-page accessory catalog hoping you would spend a couple grand on chrome. I wish Erik and all those formerly employed at Buell the very best. I hope we have not seen the last of Mr. Buell.

Byron Johnson Natchitoches, Louisiana

Finally, a fully dressed American sport-bike. A race-winning sportbike. An aggressive design-and-manufacturing team. Too bad corporate America walked away for short-term profit versus long term-investment. The Baby Boomer era may enjoy the retro look of Harleys but what about the new-bike generation? How do you compete in a world market when your bikes pass on product development? Has H-D lost engine design as a core competency? Sportbikes, sport-touring bikes, light-duty touring and supennotard are world-market bikes. Buell could have broken into any of these markets. As a manufacturing engineer, I hate to see projects shut down as the engineers are just starting to have fun. Good luck on your next venture, Erik. I already miss Buell.

Jim Hansen Andover, Minnesota happened to this country's passion to make things better than anyone else?

Jim Donofrio, Jr.

Las Vegas, Nevada

Erik and much of his team, fund them, and let them do it right this time.

L. Wall

Denver, Colorado

H-D deserves to be lumped in with the Big Three, Wall Street, insurance companies and the post office—another bloated vehicle for the people at the top to make huge profits while creating nothing. Until the management of H-D understands that they are stewards of a marque that has a long and great history, things will not change. What

The post office makes money?!

Damn few bikes combine sportbike handling with all-day comfort, fewer still look good doing it. Your excellent Death of Buell piece revealed how much more we've lost. Short-stroke 984s and I340cc XBs, the turbo Diablo (below)! Liquid-cooled BuelI/Porsche sportbike and streetfighter! So many great bikes that never were... It will be a tragedy if someone isn't smart enough to hire

Grumpy of' men?

In his column in the May issue, Kevin Cameron states, "What if tomorrow's buyer is minimally concerned with what the motorcycle is and much more interested in how it looks and how it makes the operator feel about him/herself?"

What if, indeed. The transition has already begun where I ride. It started happening more than a decade ago and is in full swing. How else do you explain cruisers outselling everything else and the resounding success of some manufacturers selling a lifestyle instead of motorcycles? I think the main reason the cruiser guys don't want to wear helmets is simply because they don't want to invest all that time and money into looking "cool" and not be seen doing it.

Bob Wortman

New Milford, Connecticut

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