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Old 06-10-2004, 04:27 PM   #71
EbonFlame
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Default Re: Compliments and suggestions.

Hey, you should have felt famous when you were mentioned by name a couple of times in actual MO articles!



It was a reference to your frequency of replying half a dozen times in a thread with something like "great review thanks."
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Old 06-10-2004, 07:21 PM   #72
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Default Re: Excellent Review

Oh yeah, right. I forgot.
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Old 06-11-2004, 01:58 AM   #73
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Default Re: You asked for it: My Buell experience.

Yeah. That's why all the criminals don't use them.
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Old 06-11-2004, 02:32 AM   #74
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Default Re: The modern engine predicament and...great job

Buell's problem is that it's the air-coolled longstroke engine that makes it different. If they switch to a powerplant like Aprilia or the other v-twins use than they lose their character.



In spite of the claims by various people that they would consider buying a Buell with a shortstroke liquid engine, I doubt that many of them actually would and Buell might lose the buyers who like it the way it is.



Tough decision.
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Old 06-11-2004, 04:48 AM   #75
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Default Volume, volume, volume...

"You know that at the price they are charging $10,000 the mark up is considerable. Consider the average Japanese Hi-Tech 600 ss is about $8000"



I don't think they're making a lot of money at Buell.



KPaul, I was going to say that the wacky tooling for Buells (there's a bunch of new think in a Buell) justified the higher cost.



But then I considered, say, the Yamaha R6. Controlled fill castings for the frame and subframe? Substantial redesign every couple of years? Lighter, stronger, better, faster engineering going on constantly as the big four snipe away at each other making yesterday's bullet into today's spent slug? OK, maybe tooling and engineering costs are just as much or more for the Japanese.



But I bet volume is the issue. I'd guess that Buell is selling many many fewer XB's than Yamaha is R6's, so the manufacturing costs are spread out over fewer units.



This seems borne out in that it's been tough to find Buells at a significant discount. I suspect that if they had to knock off 20% from the Buell list price the factory couldn't be profitable.



Of course, this could be total hooey. Does someone on this forum know what the markup on a XB12R is?

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Old 06-11-2004, 05:36 AM   #76
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Default Re: Volume, volume, volume...

Also, the Japanese have their cruiser cash cows to fund the sportbike wars. I wonder if HD uses their normal line to underwrite losses at Buell.



It'd be interesting to know exactly how the internal funding goes at these companies.
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Old 06-11-2004, 05:42 AM   #79
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Default Re: The modern engine predicament and...great job

Yeah, you're right. I thought about that, too. Once you get used to it, there's something very endearing about that motor. The tourque is enormous and, once the revs climb a little, it really does smooth out and feel very cool. Totally different than my daily inline-four experience. And that IS one of the things I grew to really like about the bike.



Lest anyone be confused, this bike in no way feels like a Sportster. Except maybe when you're watching the front wheel bob around at idle.



I did ask myself if I would like it as much, or more, if it had a more mainstream, high tech engine. The answer is probably. I do think Buell has enough new-think engineering, not to mention styling, to continue to stand on their "different" positioning. And because the motor continues to be the source of most of the critisism, a new one would most certainly open the door to mainstream acceptance. Will they lose some of their core audience? Maybe. But what will they gain?



Stand-out-from-the-pack looks, stunningly different engineering, excellent chassis, reliability (hopefully), American-made AND a top-flight motor. How many do you think they'd sell? Even a premium price?



I think I know the answer to that one. I'd be saving my pennies and wouldn't carp one bit about the price.



We must also remember that there is a percieved value to things. This is very important to people when they go to purchase something, even if that value brings no measurable functional advantage. For sportbike buyers this is especially true. People are willing to pay for a Ducati, for example, because, aside from exclusivity and beauty, there is a percieved technical excellence built into each one. We imagine a team of engineers in Italy sifting though hundreds of exotic materials, making millions of calculations, poring over reams of computer designs until they get the optimum combination of finely developed parts. The designs are then handed over to master builders, who painstakingly hand assemble at least the first few prototypes. The bikes are tested and measured in every parameter known. Then, voila! An exotic sporting motorcyle is born.



Now, consider the imagery associated with Eric Buell's motorcycle: This guy from Wisconsin had a few cool ideas how to build a sport motorcycle. Unfortunately, the big wigs bankrolling the operation are more interested in selling 1950's-style cruisers, so they won't give him the money to develop a new, advanced engine to go along with his impressive chassis. So, he goes to plan B, which is to take an essentially 1940's engine architecture and redesign it. And voila! We have some sort of half-baked, developmentally-disabled, idiot-savant motorcycle.



(By the way, much of this may not be true. But we THINK it is.)



The question is, for 90% of all riders out there, is the first really a functionally better motorcyle than the second?



I'm not so sure it is. And even if the first is a functionally better bike, who's to say many people still woudn't enjoy the second better? I think we all lose sight of the fact that most of us will never line up on the starting grid next to Valentino Rossi. Or Ross Valentino--dry cleaner by weekday, club racer on Sunday--for that matter.



The problem, from a sales and acceptance standpoint, is that the Buell is so different, people, including yours truly, have trouble getting their heads and hearts wrapped around the idea of a cutting-edge chassis carring an old-tech motor. It doesn't compute. There is no percieved advantage to using such a lump--even if there may be some very tangible real world advantages. And I think I can now say that there are some indeed.



Interesting, ain't it?



(P.S.: Buell can never use an outsourced engine. It would do tremendous damage to their brand. They're trying to build an new-think engineering image. To go somewhere else for a motor would be mean admitting defeat and destroying that image. Whatever is developed has to be done in-house, or at least it needs to give that impression.)







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