OK let me begin the Buell hater fest... As Gabe's excellent review details the excellent design concepts implemented by this bike (mass centralization, fuell in the frame, lower cg, the front brake, belts, etc.) I still feel sad and frustrated that the Buell is still handicapped by inferior engine technology. Worse yet, as Gabe pointed out, Yamaha and Suzuki are copying his concepts..Next we will see a SV with a low slung exhaust and fuel in the frame.. Erik has done a fantastic job but I would love to see a Buell with a Ducat aircooled V-Twin installed just for yucks or the V-Twin from the Suzuki SV1000 or even the 650 SV.. I would love to see a motorcycle magazine take on the challenge of putting a proper motorand transmission in a Buell.
Gabe thanks for doing an excellent article that doesn't sound like a Buell press release. I love the looks of these machines. The new paint schemes and wheels look better IMHO. However, HD I am still waiting for a better engine and transmission</a>
And it's obvious Erik is sick of answering that question. He says the motor he uses is an all-new design that is perfectly suited to Buell's needs, but he also complains about how heavy it is.
I have a few theories as to why Buell isn't going to have a different engine any time soon:
-The close ties to H-D require them to use an H-D motor, and the VR water-cooled engine is too heavy and complex for use in a sportbike.
-More power would change the character of the bike and alienate the customer base who likes the air-cooled, pushrod thing.
-This motor burns clean enough to meet Euro and CA emission standards for the foreseeable future.
-A more complex, high-performance motor would be more expensive, requiring Buell to either charge a lot more money for their bikes or reduce the quality of the other compenentry.
I think Rotax, Folan or KTM could build a fantastic motor for Buell, adding 10-20 HP and dropping 40 pounds or more, as the motor could be used as a stressed member. But it would be a lot more money and wouldn't have the same charming character these bikes do now, and it still would be no match for machines like the GSXR1000, so why would they want to build it?
Excellent Gabe. Will you be covering Jeremy McWilliams next weekend then? Rumor from a high-placed source who spoke on condition of anonymity is that XB-RR will have a couple of major upgrades and a top five is doable...
I feel you should stick to political commentary KP. ( U c Arianna's rant about Rumsfeld over at huffingtonpost? her for president man...)
What makes Buell Buell is compactness. RC51 will not fit. V Rod will not fit. Ducati L-twin will not fit. The further you move the wheels apart, the lesser the advantage. I am going home I have done a hard day's work here. As far as u know...
Your first , third, and last point are really good and insightful ones. I think point #2 is a little wea. I think Buells customer base includes some younger Gen X and Ys that don't have a romantic relationship with pushrods or aircooled motors. I think point 1 is the real reason... i.e don't bite the hand that feeds you..(HD) Love the photos by the way (MO has the best)
Points taken... How about engines the MO staff have suggested Rotax, KTM etc... it can be done right. Thanks for tip ..Arianna is what is called a cougar (oldie but goodie babe)... Cougar is something I learned from Letterman's show last night..Hey she is single and lives in LA... Buz I think she is your age..
Don't get me wrong, I love the looks and most of the tech the Buells have. But getting my character-filled butt constantly handed to me by every other "sportbike" would get old real fast. And is Buell profitable? Could it survive on its own without HD?
Anybody know if you can take something like an S&S and slap it in the Buell chassis?
The aftermarket is already there from the cruiser market (Like upping the power on a POS that can't turn or stop is a good idea....) so how come I can't find any reference to a red mist kinda entrepenur that has done this yet? Is this my Post-It note idea?
There has to be some reason why nobody's done this yet. They may make adequate power, but who's with me....
I have always liked Buells, from their tube frames days and more so now. Maybe it is because I like an underdog or maybe its because I would like to see America do something more then just talk. Im happy to see them sticking with their racing program w/ the XB-RR as well. They only will make motorcycles that are more competent if they race them. The R.N.D coming from that is the fastest way to develop his bikes. I wish them well.
Im not saying this because Im some kind of Buell, fanatic. My ride now is a Suzuki Bandit1200 It is an underdog as well. However, just like Buells how much HP do you need for the street? Torque is the most important number from stop light to stop light in my opinion.
If you can't keep up or go faster on a street ride with 100 hp, having an extra 20 won't help you. It's all about the rider.
Buell is either borderline or marginaly profitable, although I imagine you could play all kinds of accounting games to swing that one way or another, since it is a division of a much larger company. I think Triumph is a good analogy; they are not profitable, either, but they keep at it, thanks to John Bloor's real estate success. Eventually they will gain enough market share to maintain profitability. I expect the same from Buell. They are both small companies that market their bikes to more discerning enthusiasts.
Incidentally, I told Erik Buell my "Triumph Theory", and I don't think he liked being compared to Triumph very much! I thought he'd be flattered.
There's a lot of aftermarket stuff available for the Buells, and in fact they used a lot of off-the-shelf stuff for the XB-RR. I don't know if you have the resources for 150hp, but 120 should be obtainable relatively cheaply if you know what you are doing.