Thursday, October 15, 2009
Buell closes its doors
A video on Buell's website today shows an emotional Eric Buell announcing the apparent end of the brand at the hands of parent company, Harley-Davidson.
"The decision has been made," Eric Buell said in the video. "We will no longer be making Buell motorcycles."
The news of Buell's liquidation -- along with the liquidation of Harley-Davidson's other pet brand, the recently acquired MV Agusta -- comes on the heels of H-D's third-quarter 2009 financial report, which revealed an 84 percent decline in profits. According to Market Watch, the Milwaukee-based motorcycle company posted a profit of $26.48 million (11 cents per share), a gigantic drop from the $166.54 million (71 cents per share) of a year ago.
Reports indicate that all Buell and MV Agusta employees, approximately 190 in total, will be laid off by December 18, 2009.
Buell stirred up controversy in AMA road racing earlier this year when the company's 1200cc, Rotax-powered supersport platform was allowed to compete in the Daytona class against motorcycles with less than half the displacement, then went on to win the championship. Further controversy followed when Buell was allowed to run a non-homologated race package in the Superbike class. The advantages Buell's race bikes were given drew the ire of many in moto-journalism and throughout the blogosphere, including we here at The Superbike Blog.
These embroilments aside, the impending absence of Buell from the world motorcycle market is a clearly negative development. Despite the aggravating amount of preferential treatment Buell received in American road racing to make them competitive, the company has unarguably built lots of really good street bikes since its inception in 1983. It was also the first to develop and/or successfully utilize fuel-in-frame technology in mass production, among other innovative proprietary features. These firsts should be commended as the sun sets on America's first (some would say, "only") sportbike manufacturer.
The Superbike Blog sends its best wishes to all the soon-to-be former employees of Buell and MV Agusta during these trying economic times.