Last Buell Motorcycle Rolls Off the Line

A dark day

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LastBuellXB12ScgThe mournful expressions on the Buell workers’ faces in this photo say more than words can. So long old friend.

Harley-Davidson announced yesterday that the final bike built by Buell, a Lightning XB12Scg, rolled off the production line on October 30. This marked the 136,923th motorcycle built by Buell in its 26 years of operation.

On October 15 Buell’s parent company, Harley-Davidson, announced that the Buell line-up would be discontinued effective December 18, 2009. The move, along with ditching its investment in MV Agusta, was seen as necessary by Harley.

This desperate act was done solely to keep Harley’s “84.1 percent decline in net income and an 84.5 percent decline in diluted earnings per share from the year-ago [3rd] quarter” from plummeting even further.

Buells will be for sale at dealers until stock is depleted. Current Buell owners can rest peacefully knowing that Buell, or rather Harley, will continue to supply Buell parts for another seven years as mandated by federal law.

Regardless of your opinion of Buell motorcycles, you can’t deny this is a dark day for all of motorcycling, and not just Harley-Davidson.

Erik Buell had an undeniable passion for his products as viable and competitive (even superior if you ask him!) alternatives to other brands in the sportbike segment. If you’ve ever met Erik or heard him speak, you’ll understand.

Don’t know ‘bout you, but this photo gets me all choked up, as if I, too, have suffered a personal loss. In fact, I think all of us in the U.S. motorcycling community have suffered an immense loss.

Buell Motorcycles Shut Down

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  • http://www.howardshubless.com HowardsCustoms

    I agree that HD had to do something, but I hoped they at least try to sell it. The picture above is tough to look at. I can imagine as the bike went by on the assembly line and the person finished their task, they simply walked down to the next station with the bike as their was not another one waiting for them.

  • http://www.badweatherbikers.com John Heibler

    If you think seeing that pic is tough, we had a final ride/luncheon at the Buell factory on Oct 26th, employees watched us roll into the lot and were embracing each other while tears rolled down their cheeks.

    HD can choke on any product I would have thought of buying again.

  • Rion Annassie

    Dang it, just as soon as Buell started to get it right with the Helicon. I don’t ride sport bikes, but it is a sad day indeed for our nation. I wish HD would have just sold it off instead.

  • M K Stevenson

    I really wish Harley would have seen that their excessiveness with the rock concerts and multi, multi-million dollar museums were all examples of the pride of being on the top of a fat and artificial economy. Now, Buell pays the price for the pride… just after winning the AMA title and developing bikes that the whole world was paying attention to. America is destined to create air-cooled V-Twin cruisers while the rest of the world pushes technology limits. BAD MANAGEMENT HARLEY. Also- buying MV Augusta… really?!?!

  • D Lindhardt

    When was the last time that HD truly “innovated” anything technically with their motorcycles? Decades? What have they done to draw the next generation of riders and the present generation of true sport inspired motorcyclists onto a “real” american built technological beauty that does what a motorcycle is supposed to do…inspire with the ride!!!
    Buells don’t need chromed farkles and widgets made in India or Taiwan to impress real motorcycle enthusiasts. It is true that HD can and does sell longstanding, warmed over two wheeled platforms that accommidate a lot of circus clown trinkets, for which many of the purchasing motorcycle posers are defaulting on their HD loans now, and if that is what HD stands for then I am proud to see the BUELL line discontinued and hopefully restarted by another company with Vision.
    What level of business ignorance must HD posses to simply discard the only innovative technological platform that was truly American in origin? Waste their shareholders profits and resources on buying MV? And then, to hire a hatchet man who needed to jump ship from Johnson Controls because the lucrative deals were drying up with the bankrupt american auto makers and he was going to look bad for not being able to manage the problems and innovate with new solutions. Hey, he just did the same thing at HD! What a great, short sighted, unimaginably shallow business move. Hell, Mr. Waddel doesn’t even ride motorcycles! He can’t begin to understand the true nature of the business he thinks he’s in. When will he be moving segments of the manufacturing processes to India as part of the new HD game plan to be “competitive” or more profitable?
    Honestly HD, what are you thinking? By making this move HD appears to state that NONE of their prior “American Value Goals” were real and/or valid.

  • Steve

    Very sad, I have an 06 Ulysses which I plan on keeping a long time. Buell’s are not for everyone, which I guess was part of the problem. But for those of us who “got it” they are great bikes.

  • Matt Cuddy

    The 45 degree air cooled V-twin will live on, because it is 1/5th of a radial aircraft motor. My XB9SX was a keeper. Too bad it got squished along with me. I was going to keep it forever. Told myself when I bought it “this will be my last new street bike.” And it was too.

  • Rob Lore

    It definately is a sad day. As was said before Buells are not for everyone but if you “got it” they are one of a kind. I own an 04 XB12S and I can guarantee that it will be in my garage as long as I am alive.

  • Tommy Boy

    Harley cannot survive by re-shaping a fender here and adding a new chrome bauble there and calling it a new model. Their current customer demographic will get too old to ride and young riders just don’t care about Harley’s brand of nostalgia. HD is in for some rough sailing. I’m glad I sold my stock a couple years ago.

  • John Shutz

    I wanted a “streetfighter” looking bike and when the closure/rebate program was announced I did a quick 3 day survey of the 1125CR and then bought one. I’m a die hard Ducati fan, owning many of them these last 7 years. The 1125CR in just a month’s time has proven to be bike that performs beyond any of my expectations, I love it. I like it so much the Ducatis are staying in the garage since this bike has the power, ergos and ease of riding like no other bike I’ve owned. I find it more ridable than my Ducati Multistrada. The Rotax motor is flawless. I really think this package was the start of something really good for Buell. Too bad it all came crashing down.

  • http://www.bikervoodoo.com Nicholas Gomez

    I’m very disappointed that Buell had to be axed. HD should have kept the brand going. It didn’t even begin to penetrate overseas markets. Strategies in business should be long-term profitability and service, not just for short-term gains.

  • Paul Voorhees

    I bought the Lightning XB12S in 2004 and have been riding it every year since. I added the performance muffler system offered by Buell that same model year. I absolutely love this bike and will never sell it. I’m not happy that HD killed off the Buell product line and agree with everyone else that it was a big mistake as Buell was just getting started with improved design and quality control way ahead of HD. I’m now a Ducati / Buell fan for life and will never purchase an HD product again. Just look at the new Ducati 1199 coming in March 2012. Look really close at the under slung exhaust system on the 1199 Panigale. Eric got so many design elements right from the beginning and now the Asian and Europeans are following Eric’s lead. Mass centralization lives on in the new Ducati 1199 Panigale. EBR lives on and I hope Eric continues building great American Sport Bikes.