HARDRIDER MOTORCYCLE MAGAZINE

in his personal collection. In 1993, Harley-Davidson purchased 49% of Buell, investing $500,000 and taking Erik Buell’s house as security.[10][11] Erik Buell took the deal, against strong advice from his attorney.[10] Harley-Davidson CEO Jeffrey Bleustein had bought it as a skunkworks development. In 1998, Harley- Davidson bought a majority stake and took control of Buell Motorcycle Company, and the company became a subsidiary. Since then, Buell has used modified Harley- Davidson engines, primarily from the Sportster, to power its motorcycles. Buell Facility Most Buell motorcycles use four-stroke air-cooled V-twin engines, originally built for XR1000 Sportster. After these were depleted, a basic 1200 Sportster engine was used. In 1995, the engines were upgraded with Buell engineered high- performance parts and further upgraded in 1998. The liquid-cooled Harley V-Rod motor, developed by Harley-Davidson then made street legal according to the EPA by Porsche, was originally an Erik Buell project, designed for a fully faired AMA Superbike Buell by 1998. Harley decided the engine should also be used in a sport-cruiser, then took over development, making it “too big, too heavy, too expensive and too late” for Buell. Harley-Davidson forced Buell to follow the rigid product planning and distribution process beginning in the 1990s, with the philosophy that Buell was the starter brand, and customers would eventually trade up to a Harley. By 2008, Harley’s credit arm, Harley- Davidson Financial Services (HDFS), was struggling, and the lower resale value of Buell motorcycles meant that new bike sales were significantly affected. When Harley CEO Keith Wandell was hired, he immediately questioned why Harley even owned Buell. Wandell, who had never been on a Harley before being hired, was heard talking about “Erik’s racing hobby”, and questioned “why anyone would even want to ride a sportbike”. He organized a team to analyze “the adrenaline market”, and concluded that sportbikes would encounter high competition and low profits, while cruisers had high returns. On October 15, 2009, Harley Davidson Inc. announced the end of production of Buell Motorcycles to focus more on the Harley Davidson brand. Selling Buell was not legitimately considered, as Harley didn’t want their Harley dealerships to sell an outside brand, and Harley didn’t feel Buell had much value without the dealer network. Closing the Buell brand was estimated to cost Harley approximately the same as their total investment in Buell over the past 25 years. Erik Buell immediately began looking for outside buyers, finding BRP (who owns the Austrian Rotax engine manufacturer BRP-Powertrain) a good choice, especially since Harley would have to pay Rotax “an eight-figure sum” for the 1,125 cc engine contract. Erik Buell later founded Erik Buell Racing to provide support for 1125 and XB privateer race efforts. Technology Buell ZTL front brake Buell XB models also incorporated the industry’s first Zero Torsional Load (ZTL) perimeter floating front disc brake system, a patented “inside- out” wheel/brake design that puts the brake disc on the outer edge of the wheel,[12] rather than at the hub. This lets the suspension function better, improving control and traction, through reducing unsprung weight on the front wheel, because only a single disc and caliper— with a corresponding reduction in bolts and brake fluid—is needed compared with the conventional dual-disc brake setup on most modern sport bikes. In an exchange in the pages of Motorcyclist magazine between Suzuki engineer James Parker, creator of the GSX- RADD hub-center steering system,[13] and Buell’s Director of Analysis, Test & Engineering Process, Abraham Askenazi, Parker conceded the ZTL system’s advantage in unsprung weight. But he pointed out the remaining weight is located further out on the rim where it is most detrimental to acceleration and braking, and that there were potential heat transfer issues, and the need for one fork leg to be stronger than the other. Responding, Askenazi disputed all of Parker’s criticisms, saying the ZTL system was 30% lighter than the brakes on the Suzuki GSX-R1000, and that the Buehl

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