Friday, October 16, 2009

Sad day at the Buell Motorcycle factory...

Today (or technically yesterday) is a sad day for me, and many of my fellow Buell motorcycle owners as we learned that Harley-Davidson has decided to end the Buell Motorcycle line. I guess it's similar to General Motors ending the lifespan of Pontiac and Oldsmobile and Hummer, but it's a sad day.

Almost eleven years ago, myself and two other Buell motorcycle owners founded American Sport Bike Night in the San Francisco Eastbay, and we pride ourselves on never missing an episode of ASBN held on the First Monday of Every Month. Since 1998 when we started in Dublin, California to this month at the Straw Hat in San Leandro, our Buell enthusiast group has supported Buell with a passion.

I have been to the Buell motorcycle factory on several occasions, and have had personal conversations with Erik Buell many times as have many Buell owners. I've been to the Buell Homecoming, and I currently own three Buell motorcycles. Today is a sad day.

Other than the devastating news about Buell, today I attended the Thursday Club in San Leandro with many former co-workers and friends, then worked my surveillance job for a few hours, rode my 2009 Kawasaki from Oakland to Brentwood to check on my elderly mother, then rode back home to get ready for my evening job near home. Busy day for me luckily, so I had little time to reflect on the apparent death of yet another major American manufacturer.

Erik Buell was an engineer for Harley-Davidson and started his own company with a few loyal friends in 1983. I met him the first time when he wholly owned the company. Then, Harley-Davidson bought 49% of Buell, and finally ended up with 98% ownership. Many changes happened at Buell, and the new Rotax powered 1125R was the newest generation of Buell motorcycles. I'm sure that I would have owned one eventually.

Erik Buell is the only living founder of a major motor vehicle company that is still living. Henry Ford, Honda, and all the rest are long gone, and we were lucky to have a living legend in Erik Buell. ASBN hosted a private dinner in Carmel during the MotoGP weekend a few years back, and I, along with 78 dedicated Buell enthusiasts shared the private dining room for a dinner with Erik. ASBN did well that day.

I'll find some of the photos that I have, and share them later. For now, here I am with the first Buell that I bought.


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