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Buell’s last ride

Two weeks ago, Harley-Davidson announced that it was ceasing production of its Buell line of sports bikes. The reason given was to focus on the Harley-Davidson brand. This economy has had a negative effect on many industries. The motorcycle industry is no different.

In a press release, Harley-Davidson said, “The new long-term strategy aims to drive Company growth through a focus of efforts and resources on the Harley-Davidson brand.”

Todd Kearney of Noto Harley-Davidson Buell in Scranton says that since the announcement, Noto and its parent company, Electric City Harley-Davidson, have been getting five or six calls a day asking about the Buell Company.

“There are several questions that seem to be asked most frequently: What about warranties? What about service for Buell bikes? Is Harley coming out with something to replace the Buell? Can I still get a bike?” he says. “Lastly, there have been questions about Buell racing.”

He answered each of these questions for me. Regarding service: “H-D is giving (dealers) the option to remain a Buell service center.” He also confirms that Noto and Electric City will remain service centers, “so people who own Buell bikes in the area can get them serviced.”

As to the question about warranties, Todd says, “(H-D) will honor warranties (for a) minimum of seven years. Then they’ll evaluate after that.” So it seems that your bike and parts will be taken care of very well by authorized dealers.

Can I still get a bike? In the press release, Buell President John Flickinger says a limited number of new Buell motorcycles remain available for sale through authorized dealerships, and production will wind down by Oct. 30. He also stressed that Harley-Davidson will provide replacement parts and service through dealerships and that warranty coverage will continue as normal for Buell motorcycles.

It seems that Buell’s shutting down has sparked some interest in the product, Kearney says.

Buell has seen moderate sales here, and Noto has sold its last Buell bike but is willing to help you look for one from another dealer or company stock, if you are interested.

“Like the Aprilla or Ducati, Buell riders are niche riders,” says Kearney. “They are into what’s the latest technology. (Buell) did a lot of industry firsts.”

This quote in the press release from Erik Buell, who is Buell’s chairman and chief technical officer, sums it up rather well. “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. 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.”

Some of these cutting-edge technologies include mass centralization, chassis rigidity and low un-spring weight. These are the things that Buell is known for. Todd tells me that Erik Buell will be kept on by H-D.

“Erik and H-D are having an ongoing discussion on how he will serve in an advisory role at H-D in areas of product development and advanced products,” Todd says. Erik Buell founded Buell in 1983 and became a part of Harley-Davidson in 1999.

Regarding Buell racing Todd says, “Buell will continue to provide parts for those who want to race, but the racing-support program and contingencies will be discontinued.” From other published reports, it seems that the racing program may have been the sticking point for Buell. The company’s Web site talks glowingly about the Buell history and says “It was Erik Buell’s passion for racing that led to the development of the first Buell motorcycle.” This indeed is the end of an era for motorcycles.

It would seem that the economy has taken another company out of the picture. Hopefully Erik will keep dreaming and building awesome and innovative machines.

As the weather goes back and forth between fall and winter, stay safe and remember that wet leaves are like ice. Slippery!

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