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Old 05-18-2002, 08:25 AM   #71
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Default Re: Buell XB9R

I have been waiting for this bike and now that I've seen it and read about it, I would like to say that the one thing that is making me think twice is the lack of an option for the bar placement. I know that an aftermarket riser is already available so I may reconsider. I also think the price is a little high. I'd really like to see Buell offer a bike in this vein thats geared toward sport touring. I think they missed the mark with the s3t somewhat. So once again please offer me options for bar placement or a sport toring version of the bike with a more relaxed riding position and I may buy this bike. I think a good comparison for MO would be the BMW R1150R without abs and the FIREBOLT. I really would be interested in that comparison.

One last thing I currently have a 2000 M2 with about 8000 miles and only had one problem with the bike that was fixed for nothing even after the warranty had expired. All in all I really like the FIREBOLT.
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Old 05-18-2002, 08:28 AM   #72
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Default But Buell can't really compete on

The problem is, buell isn't a viable brand, its a tacked on Harley nameplate selling old, pushrod engines shoehorned into real sophisticated chassis, in an attempt to compensate for a dismal, overweight, underpowered engine.

Buell is supposed to be harley's strategy for when the harley buyers all have coronaries and can't shell out $20k on a Ultra-Wide-Electra-Super-Glide. As such, it needs to attract significant numbers of younger buyers. Worse, the younger buyers care less about brand, and so the profit margins have to be lower, which implies that sales need to be higher. Being a cult, 10k bike/year brand is not sufficient.

The comparison with the SV650 and an uprated suspension SV650 is more than fair, since it is the SV, not the 600 supersports, which are the direct competition: those who buy "funky" bikes are not going to be enough to have Buell be a viable brand.

The problem with Buell has ALWAYS been the engine: That 45 degree, air cooled dinosaur should be killed and buried, at least as far as Buell is concerned. And the comparison with the SV is designed to address this head-on.

The SV does no fancy engineering tricks, but simply relies on a modern engine in a decent, low cost chassis, and ends up being light weight. Buell tries every trick in the book to save weight, but the basic mass of the engine leaves it

The buell brand is in BIG, BIG trouble. HD only shipped 1,300 Buells last quarter, compared with 2,500 the same time last year. According to the 10Q, all other buells have been discontinued: it is only the Firebolt and Blast (and we KNOW what a dismal result the Blast is, due solely to the engine) for 2003 (and a firebolt derived tourer?). They still hope to have the same production of 10k motorcycles, but that really is in the noise.

Also, lets face it, the Aprilias, Ducatis, and Triumphs DO compete directly with the Japanese. (British prices to follow, there is no "Really Useful" section in an american magazine).

The Mille and 998 are head on with the RC51, all three have entries which go head to head with the VFR, the TT600 is very competitive (just a hair behind, but the same price) with the japanese 600s. I know that US price on the RC51 is less (so it is included separately)

<ul>[*]Triumph Sprint RS: 7650 £[*]Triumph Sprint ST: 8700 £[*]Ducati ST4: 7850 £[*]Ducati ST4s: 8500 £[*]Aprilia Futura: 7900 £[*]Honda VFR: 8300 £[/list]
<ul>[*]Triumph TT600: 7000 £[*]Honda CBR600: 6900 £[/list]
<ul>[*]Aprilia Falco: 7000 £[*]Aprilia RSV Mille: 8000 £[*]Aprilia RSV Mille R: 10,000 £[*]Honda SP1, UK price: 10,000 £[*]Honda RC51, US price: $11,000, or 7500 £[*]Ducati 998: 10,500 £[*]Ducati 998S: 13,150 £[/list]
<ul>[*]Buell Firebolt: 7350 £[*]Suzuki SV650S: 5150 £[/list]
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Old 05-18-2002, 09:59 AM   #73
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Default Re: But Buell can't really compete on

A point of disagreement:

2001 U.S. sales figures:

Buell: 5991

Triumph: 6107

Ducati: 5405

Aprilia: 1829

I do not think that Buell is in "big trouble". They are clearly a player in the "second tier" motorcycle manufacturers.

They are in the second major phase of bike design since being incprporated into H-D and will continue to introduce new models on this new platform. The tube frame Buells were the evolution of the original Buell concept. They stopped production of these to re-tool for the Firebolt. That explains why the units shipped last quarter were significantly down from prior year/quarter.

I am not sure as to the weight of the engine, but I recall reading thatn the XB's motor is under 200 lbs. I would be curious to see what the SV's motor weighs, especially after you pump it full of coolant.

No doubt the SV is a great value and a fun ride. But the Buell is so different and cool.nIt blazes its own path and a lot of people like that. I frankly am tired of race-replicas that all look and sound the same.
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Old 05-18-2002, 10:03 AM   #74
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Default Re: Buell XB9R/RC51

Point one: The comparison is between an RC51 and the Firebolt. Besides this snippet of anecdotal evidence that the Buell is quicker with Minime v. Burns, there are no hard numbers to back up such a farfetched claim. The way to resolve, indeed, which bike is better handling would be to take them to a track. A bike that is derived from a World Superbike Champion (soon to be AMA Superbike Champion) is bound to have better handling characteristics than one that is not is my assertion, which would be borne out by such a test. A camel is still a camel if it's not in the desert.

The whole point of the Buell is that it's a great street bike? One that handles in such an ill fashion it takes up most of the article?

We've seen the Firebolt. The front end looks like a bad 70s flashback. The side looks like a cartoon drawing with the frame disproportionately large for the bike.

"Most people who buy Buells..." yeah, all 3 of 'em.

Consider: If Honda made this motorcycle, reviewers would say it handles poorly, is underpowered, and using technology for technologies' sake by using rim mounted brakes and fluids in the swingarm, etc.

The fact that you can spend the same amount of money and get a better handling, faster, and perhaps more durable motorcycle should give one pause.

Or not.
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Old 05-18-2002, 10:10 AM   #75
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Default Re: Buell XB9R/RC51

moment of clarity:

I was on the XB9R, going as hard as I dared into corners, 'cause with that front end the cornering speed wasn't what I felt it should be, and I knew there'd be less drive out than John on the RC51 behind me.

I was busting my ass, working hard and, while he says he was giving it the whip, I think he could have had a sandwhich at the time.
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Old 05-18-2002, 11:40 AM   #76
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Default Re: Buell XB9R

Well, Harley dealers and riders seem to be big on buying American, which is frankly a plus for me as well. I don't mean to bash foriegn companies, but I'd rather buy locally when possible. But a lot of us like in-line fours, and we have to choose from foreign brands to do so. An American company that made in-line fours might be quite successful. By no means do I expect American companies to stop making air cooled V-twins; there is a large market for them here and overseas. But it's a little frustrating that I have to choose between getting the type of bike that I want over buying something made here, and I suspect others feel the same way.

I like the XB9, and I'm gald to see that Buell's products continue to get better (although the XB9 is probably a bit too small for my tastes). I'd love to see Buell apply it's styling cues and design philosphies to a bike with the performance profile that I, and a lot of other people, enjoy.

My $2. (adjusted for inflation)

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Old 05-18-2002, 12:39 PM   #77
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Default Aprilia makes a hell of a lot more

Buell makes ~10k bikes/year, 1/3 of which are the Blast, which is a pretty low margin vehicle.

Ducati makes ~40k bikes per year, and is a niche manufacturer, with all high margin vehicles.

Aprilia, however, is not. They make nearly 200k motorcycles and scooters per year. They have only recently started penetrating the US market, but are very, VERY strong in europe.

Worse on the comparison, aprilia's sales are growing rapidly, while Buell is not. Buell is 10k/year, and effectively flat for the past 4 years.

And it's all the fault of the engine(s). Just look at what Aprilia has produced using the Mille engine, and the sales growth over the past 2 years. Just imagine what Buell's engineers could do with the equivelent.

Think about it for a second: What could Buell's creative and solid chassis engineers do with a modern, counterbalanced, narrow angle, 1L water cooled V-twin.

Remember, they can't use the current engine as a stressed member (which means the chassis needs to be bigger and heavier to compensate), it weighs probably 50 lbs more than it should (requiring every lightening trick in the book), its longer than it should be (due to the split engine/transmission design, which is why oil was moved into the rear swingarm, the shock under the seat, etc), and, in the end, gets a rather paltry 5 horse more than an SV650: an unremarkable, rather generic engine, designed to be cheap.

If the Firebolt and Blast represent the next few years of Buell, things are bad indeed. One starts to wonder if the Firebolt's engine can meet CARB 2004 without lots of tweaking. They are pushing the design awfully hard.

Finally, how long is Harley going to hang onto a divison that produces 2% of their sales, yet represents >4% of their production. Harley has already been trying (and succeeding) in shifting production away from the Sportster to the Twin-cam bikes (higher profit margin). When will they do that to Buell?

And what about the dealers? How many HD dealers really like carrying the Buell line?

Ducati's name can get them a massive premium (useful for a niche manufacturer), Buell's can't. As such, outside a small group of faithful, they need to compete on merit.

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Old 05-18-2002, 12:45 PM   #78
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Default Re: Buell XB9R/RC51

1) Again -- street vs. track. No, it is not quantifiable, I agree. I have no doubt the XB would be slower on the track, but this does not mean that it is not great fun on the road. I have ridden it; I was quite impressed.

Bike purchases cannot be based strictly on numbers. It has to be based largley on feel. One reason I don't care as much about top end is that I tend to enjoy roads with very few, very short, straight lines.

2) On looks, you don't like it. Fine. I think it is quite striking. I enjoy seeing the working parts of a motorcycle.

3) The price. I agree it is a little too high. But again, price isn't the primary concern of people buying Buells, Ducatis, Aprilias, Triumphs, etc.

In the end, some people will like the XB9R. Some won't. Does it really have to be a pissing contest? Ride because you enjoy it, not to prove a point.

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Old 05-18-2002, 12:47 PM   #79
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Default Re: Buell XB9R/RC51

Oh yeah. As much as Minime complained about the handling, Burns seemed to think they (minime/hackfu) were overstating things.

I am very close in size to Burns. That may be why my riding impressions were very close to his.
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Old 05-18-2002, 01:25 PM   #80
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Default Re: Buell XB9R/RC51

you could put colin edwards on a sv 650 and he'd run away from picote, its not a valid comparison, you'd have to compare edwards or picote's lap times on each bike to get a better idea of the bikes capabilities. I have a hard time believing an rc51 couldn't wax a buell myself but breathed on sportsters can be fast, in a good frame/suspension package who knows? real world capabilities tend to differ from all out track capabilities
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