Harley-Davidson shutting down Buell - Sportbike Forum: Sportbike Motorcycle Forums
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 10-15-2009, 08:15 AM Thread Starter
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Harley-Davidson shutting down Buell

Harley-Davidson is discontinuing the Buell product line of motorcycles and seeking buyers for the recently acquired MV Agusta.

The Motor Company announced the news in its third quarter 2009 report Oct. 15. Worldwide Harley-Davidson retail sales dropped 21.3% over the quarter compared to the same period in 2008.

"While the environment remains challenging for us, we are mildly encouraged by the moderation in the decline of dealer retail Harley-Davidson motorcycle sales," says Keith Wandell, chief executive officer of Harley-Davidson, Inc. "And moving forward, our strategy is designed to strengthen Harley-Davidson for long-term growth and deliver results through increased focus.

"As our announcement regarding Buell and MV Agusta indicates, we are moving with the speed and decisiveness required to bring our business strategy to life," says Wandell. "The fact is we must focus both our effort and our investment on the Harley-Davidson brand, as we believe this provides an optimal path to sustained, meaningful, long-term growth."

Buell production will end Oct. 30 and a limited number of new motorcycles will still be available at dealerships. Harley-Davidson will continue to provide replacement parts and service at dealerships for Buell motorcycles and warranties will be honored.

"I want to personally thank all our past and present Buell employees, dealers and suppliers for their efforts. I also want to thank Buell motorcycle owners for their support and passion for the brand," says Jon Flickinger, Buell Motorcycle Company president.

The decision to shut down Buell will eliminate 80 hourly production jobs and 100 salaried positions. A majority of Buell staff will be employed until Dec. 18. Harley-Davidson will incur a one-time cost of $125 million by shutting down Buell.

Erik Buell, founder, chairman and chief technical officer of Buell released a video statement on the company’s website http://www.buell.com/.

"I will always be proud of what we have accomplished. It is a testimony to what a small group of passionate and inspired people can do, and with brilliant innovations, we’ve produced some of the best-handling bikes of all time," says Buell. "I personally look forward to exploring how I can continue to work with Harley-Davidson to bring advanced product technology to riders.

"I have also had the great fortune to meet and get to know many Buell riders over the years, and they are an amazing and interesting group of free thinkers," Buell says. "May you ride with pride into the future. And may your roads ahead be as adventuresome and rewarding as mine have been for the last 26 years."

Harley-Davidson will immediately begin seeking buyers for Varese, Italy, based MV Agusta. Harley-Davidson acquired MV Agusta in 2008.

"Buell and MV Agusta are great companies, with proud brands, high-quality exciting products and passionate enthusiasm for the motorcycle business," says Wandell. "Buell has introduced many innovative advancements in motorcycle design and technology over the years and MV Agusta is known in Europe for its premium, high-performance sport motorcycles. However, our strategy to focus on the Harley-Davidson brand reflects the fact that we believe our investments in that brand are a better utilization of overall company resources."

More: Harley-Davidson shutting down Buell on Motorcycle.com
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 10-15-2009, 10:17 AM
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That's quite a shame, IMO. They did challenge the conventional view which has a place in industry normally.

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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 10-15-2009, 06:20 PM
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I've said it before, I'll say it again. Buell's single biggest hold up was their connection to Harley engines.

That engine was obsolete before we went in to world war II. Had they just stepped up in engine technology, imagine what they could do.


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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 10-17-2009, 01:59 PM
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I always have liked the look of the Buells, unfortuately I am probably like everyone else who stayed away, because of the quality of engine.

Buell could have done much better in the market by actually choosing a market to compete in. Buell was never part of the Harley market, sportbike, or standard.

Had Buell created a product to compete against some market, they might have faired better. Instead Erick Buell was more about having a visionary bike that challenged technology trends, but by no means was beyond any of the prevailing technology in sportbikes. And as others have pointed out, ther powerplant was never designed to compete- both in terms of performance or longetivity.

I will never buy a two-stroke or a Ducati (no offense), because I rather ride then perform routine maintenace. Buell & Harley are no different. They are not bad bikes, but these bikes don't come to mind when you want quality and peformance.

Harley for most part supported Buell financially. This could have been the reason why development never went any further than the original 1198cc powerplant that is in every Harley, but as of recent Buell began importing a new powerplant from an Austrian company. This Austrian engine was better, and the new 1125cc did fair well in DMG supersport and superbike as the 1125RR. Yes, I know this was completely unfair in terms of regulation of 600's vs 1125, but it showed technology advancement of their product.

In hindsight Buell should have developed the powerplant around 1000cc, or as of late 1100cc (like Ducati) if they were ever to compete "legally" as a superbike. Kids cannot afford (in terms of insurance) a 1000cc+ sportbike, so Buell never realized the gains in a 600cc market.

I can only hope that some company buys the rights to Buell and develops this American product like it should have been developed. Unfortunately, some company from China will be the only ones to take this risk.

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Last edited by Mr.TrevorClever; 10-17-2009 at 02:01 PM.
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