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pdad13 06-11-2004 06:16 AM

Re: Excellent
KP, your incredible propensity for butt-smooching is beginning to put you back in my good graces. If you don't say something stupid soon, I may have to apologize for calling you all those nasty things.

Buz, help me.

Buzglyd 06-11-2004 06:21 AM

Re: The modern engine predicament and...great job
Many accuse H-D of not giveing Buell the high-tech motor he needs to make this bike great but how do we know that's what Buell really wants. He's stated in at least one interview that he will never build a liquid cooled motor because he believes air-cooling is superior.

If that's the case then his only option would be to open up the V a bit to get more revs like a Ducati Monster. But then air-cooled L twins already exist don't they?

I think he's just doing things his way and he will succeed or fail based on what he thinks is right rather than what some moto-journalist or squid thinks.

johnnyb 06-11-2004 06:38 AM

Re: The modern engine predicament and...great job
also bear in mind they've never marketed them as racebikes at all, but as Ultimate Streetfighters (which makes it doubly impressive that the thing got 7th or 8th whatever at very fast Rd. America FX race last weekend.)

For street use, give me a big engine with lots of bottom end every time. maybe cause i'm an old time hot-rod guy. How often do you wind your bike up to 12000 whatever rpm on the street? Just like people did with detroit cars in the day, you take your Buell and put on the race kit or whatever, and you have the moto equivalent of like a Hemi Cuda. With a chassis more advanced than anything else in the world.

pdad13 06-11-2004 06:41 AM

Re: The modern engine predicament and...great job
That's exactly my point. We assume that Eric must secretly be lusting for the funds to develop a liquid-cooled V-5? How could he not, right?

Well, maybe he's not. And maybe he has a good reason. After all, how many of us here are engineers that can even begin to really grasp what he's talking about? I'd guess not too many.

That being said, I've read/heard E.B. say the exact same things that you've referenced. You must admit that at least some of it smacks of P.R.

The apathy at the H-D dealers towards Buell is so thick you couldn't cut it with a jack hammer. They don't even really understand the bike. This is some indication that H-D is not entirely behind Eric. You could argue that this is a dealer problem, but I'm sure that if H-D told them to get on the stick, they'd hop to.

johnnyb 06-11-2004 07:12 AM

Re: The modern engine predicament and...great job
well, y'know, if they got the recognition they deserved you wouldn't be able to pick one up for cheap would you? for me, going against the herd is yet another cool Buell advantage.

I think EB is just a guy who likes to build cool motorcycles. It was a huge challenge to make a bike as good as the XB using the engine at hand, and I'd say those guys did a fantastic job and I can't believe the mainstream US press hasn't gotten more behind Buell.

And now he's done the XB, who knows what might be next? Supercharge the existing engine? All-new l-c big twin? Dunno. I like air cooling, too, no radiators and hoses, and with enough displacement plenty of power. Whatever, Buell is the most innovative manuf. in the world right now IMO; nothing they build next would really surprise me.

sarnali 06-11-2004 07:22 AM

Re: Volume, volume, volume...
You'd have more luck finding out if the Da Vinci code is true than finding out internal financing arrangements at a major corporation. I work for the defense branch of Large Chicago Based Aircraft Corporation and funding is an absolute black hole. Nasa, USAF and "internal sources" pour money in one end and finished products come out the other, that's about all you'll find out.

I read recently that none of the big 4 Asians are making a profit on sportbikes, it's all prestige and one-upmanship. Their money comes from cruisers, atv's, parts and accessories. Harley has been making money hand over fist for the last 15 years, it looks like some has trickeld down to Buell. What they need is more dealer support or even seperate shops so the Buell line isn't treated like an ugly step child.

sarnali 06-11-2004 07:34 AM

Re: The modern engine predicament and...great job
My take is that Buells are built around Hi-Po Sportster engines, The whole thing revolves around making a Sportster engine haul ass. If you take away the Sporty motor then you've gutted the whole personna of the bike.

Whatever appeal the bike has derives from the combination of built Sporty motor-innovative frame design synergy. Take that away and you might as well buy a used VFR or SV650

Buzglyd 06-11-2004 08:22 AM

I'm still trying to get used to the frantic MV vs. my Duc. It's a totally different style of riding for sure.

You might want to check a recent issue of Car and Driver (either last month or the month before). There was an interesting article about a Chevy engineer talking about how they believe the pushrod V-8 is a superior layout for the Corvette.

He cited the fact that a pushrod V-8 has much smaller exterior dimensions than a double overhead cam V-8. The DOHC gets its HP via RPM and the pushrod V-8 gets it via displacement.

The 5.7 litre Chevy is smaller overall (which allows them to place the engine where they want it for best handlilng) than Porsche's 4.4 litre V-8 in the Cayenne.

Could this be what Beuell is up to continuing to use the pushrod V-twin?

Buzglyd 06-11-2004 08:23 AM

Don't worry
His moments of decency are short-lived.

You've been warned.

pdad13 06-11-2004 08:36 AM

Re: The modern engine predicament and...great job
Agreed on all points.

Except, I really like the idea of Buell. If they can't sell enough units at an acceptable margin to justify the recent investment and their existence in general, H-D will eventually pull the plug. Sure, I might be able to get a good deal on one, but that spells trouble for the company. I know they have a very small staff (something like 50 people), but they seem to be spending a significant amount of money in advertising/marketing and development of the XB line must have cost a bundle. Are they selling enough to make a profit or at least break even? I wonder.

Also, I would argue that by increasing sales, and therefore production, prices should go DOWN. Although, with H-D's pricing philosophy (which has been very successful) they may not see it that way. H-D essentially owns the cruiser segment in this country so they can charge just about whatever they want. Buell will be playing in a very different arena. They may be able to charge a bit of a premium, but they're going to have to be price competitive with the 600 SS class. If the $2K discounts become common, that's a step in the right direction. But the fact that the XB12 has an $11,000 MSRP leads me to believe that they don't want to discount that steeply and that they're being forced to in order to turn inventory. This is also not a good sign.

As I posted above, Buell, at its current production rate, probably doesn't have favorable economies of scale. So they probably want every penny of that $11,000 if they can get it. To improve E.O.S., they'll have to build and sell more bikes. That probably means cutting pricing. Which probably means "hello, red ink," at least for a time. Being that H-D is a Wall Street darling, I doubt they'd accept this strategy.

So the question is if Buell can exist as a niche manufacturer. I'm not sure they can. Then again, I'm not a finance guy, so someone tell me if I'm off base here.

Anyone have any other information?

cyclesteve 06-11-2004 09:04 AM

Re: The price is NOT steep...
High service fees? Heck a moron can work on this. It must be so because I can do all the service on my XB9S. It is very easy to work on compared to a Jap bike. In addition no valve adjustments thanks to hydrolic lifters. I did my most recent service per the book in less than 2 hours at a cost of less than $35 for materials. The dealer wanted $170. Jump on in. Buelling is big fun! I hope they come out with a sport tourer soon. I will be there to replace my VFR800.

pdad13 06-11-2004 09:15 AM

Re: The modern engine predicament and...great job
Yes, true. I now have a whole new appreciation for the Sporty-based engine. And to remove it would greatly alter the character of the bike.

But this is all a matter of perception and hindsight, isn't it? If the XB had been orginally introduced with an all new V-Twin--let's call it the "Sh*tstorm"-- that "everyone" agreed was a great engine, you wouldn't be able to imagine the bike being anything but Sh*tstorm-powered, would you?

Listen, I like the bike the way it is, too. I just don't want to pay $10-11K for it the way it is.

pdad13 06-11-2004 09:20 AM

Re: Volume, volume, volume...
"What they need is more dealer support or even seperate shops so the Buell line isn't treated like an ugly step child."

This is absolutely one of Buell's biggest problems. Couldn't agree more.

pdad13 06-11-2004 09:31 AM

Re: The price is NOT steep...
Sorry, don't have the facilities to work on my own bikes. And Harley service ain't cheap. Plus, I've heard that many of the H-D service shops aren't even up to speed on the Buells, so if something goes wrong, your bike could be laid up for aeons. Do they have morons working at H-D dealers?

Good to know about the ease of maintaining them, though. Another plus for Buells.

gbrummett 06-11-2004 09:44 AM

You don't have to pay $10-11K!!
It's only $8,995 for a 2004 XB12R or XB12S or $6995 for a new 2003 XB9R or S at Chandler Arizona H-D Buell and they have over 20 in stock with all colors ready for delivery.

Check it out...

They were number one in Buell sales world wide last year. Ask to see the little sales trophy.

pdad13 06-11-2004 10:06 AM

Re: You don't have to pay $10-11K!!
Do you work there? Or are they just giving you a cut? :)

Being that I live in New York, how do you propose I get the bike home? Plus, if there's a problem with the bike, I'm pretty sure the local H-D dealers are not going to be all that helpful. And then I've got to go through some registration hassle, I'm sure.

Hey, what's the sales tax in AZ?

Okay, okay. I'll check out the web site.

Thanx, GB.

sarnali 06-11-2004 10:44 AM

Re: You don't have to pay $10-11K!!
If you can get the bike at a few grand discount then it might be worth it. All you'd have to do is arrange shipping to NY, and going through a dealership that's not going to be more than $6 or $700 dollars I'd expect. Plus the local dealers are going to treat you like ***** anyway so at least you wouldn't be paying them for the privilige.

I've looked into buying a new Bonneville on ebay from a dealer in VA. and having it shipped out to Washington, and though I'd save a few hundred bucks I'd rather support my local dealer who has treated me well. In your case where it's a grand or two..........

seruzawa 06-11-2004 10:57 AM

Re: The modern engine predicament and...great job
In engineering the usual goal is to produce the simplest design possible. From experience I know that air-cooled engines are simpler than water cooled ones. Also, pushrod engines are easier to assemble/disassemble - one of the reasons GM has stayed with pushrods on their new generation of V-8s is ease of assembly on the production line.

Buell is building streefighter. If a large displacement slow revving v-twin can be a superior streetfighter then it is the people who insist on using a heavier more complex water-cooled high reving 4 cylinder who are behind the 8 ball.

It's all in personal preference anyhow. One is not innately superior to the other.

In an analogous vein, even though one would think that modern fanjet engines are "superior" to propellor powered engines you may note that the USAF still uses turboprop C-130s which are unbeatable for large loads on short runways. And the Navy still uses the lockheed turboprop Electra based Orion subhunters because of their superior fuel efficiency and huge loiter time. In fact the Japanese recently bought a few themselves.

The required use must be considered for any product before one can decide on technical superiority. Blanket statements have a way of backfiring.

pdad13 06-11-2004 11:20 AM

Re: You don't have to pay $10-11K!!
Yeah, you see this is the problem. I have shipped a bike from Colorado. Arizona would probably fall within the same shipping zone. And you're right, it'll cost about $650-$700. Add that to the price and were up to $9700. Dealer prep is going to be about $400 minimum, right (if they charge the same as they do for a H-D)? Now we're up to 10k already. Then I've got to deal with the registration.

My point is that I really like the Buell. But I can also go to my Kawasaki dealer and get a leftover 2003 ZX-636 for a lot less out the door. And I'd have it prepped and home in about three hours. I can get an 2003 SV1000S for about $7,200 at my local Suzuki dealer. Different bikes, very different experiences, I know. But it's still hard to justify ten grand for the Buell. For some, the extra couple of thousand isn't an issue and that's fine. But for me it is.

Hell, when I'm ready, maybe I'll just find a nice used XB-9, get the race kit installed and be done with it.

Or maybe those discounts will roll this way soon.

bubba2003 06-11-2004 11:26 AM

Re: You asked for it: My Buell experience.
Hey, y'all, I'll be only too happy to post my semi-negative life-with-vfr800 stuff and my semi-positive life-with-ZX9R stuff and my recent test rides on my-bud-the-doc's GSX-R1000, ZX-10R and CBR1000RR. I've been street riding, racing offroad (read crashing) and tuning for 44 of my 54 years and have owned over 50 bikes, mostly off-road machines but the street units include a '55 Panhead in the late 60s and 10 or so Jap bikes. Whew! So little money, so many motorcycles. Just say the word and I'll spill mah guts.

ewok1 06-11-2004 11:42 AM

you're right abut the air cooled engine. (and probably the other stuff too) my 2 valve ducs are way easier to work on and around than the in line 4s we have. which as martha stewart would say "is a good thing". while i really don't want to open a can of political worms, why do the japanese want sub hunters?

i must be a little like a turbo prop orion subhunter cuz i have huge loiter times on friday.

pdad13 06-11-2004 11:51 AM

Re: You asked for it: My Buell experience.
I would love to hear what's on the mind of anyone named Bubba.

Buzglyd 06-11-2004 12:13 PM

Re: The modern engine predicament and...great job
And if you backfire under your blanket it might float off the bed.

seruzawa 06-11-2004 12:54 PM

Re: radiators
China is not a particularly good neighbor. They are buying a more modern Navy, including submarines, and the Japanese are (wisely I think) simply responding to that possible threat.

Or maybe they just like to loiter in the sea-lanes and whistle at the girls.

ewok1 06-11-2004 01:33 PM

how'd you know?
good one. glad to see someone shares my lowbrow sense of humor. i been grinning since i read this.

sarnali 06-11-2004 02:27 PM

Re: Some updates to your info. (Jet subhunter and new cargo plane)
One of the issues with the 737 MMA is it's relative inability to loiter at slow speeds over the target area, and as bro saruzawa pointed out the large turbo props can.

Sub hunting can be a long drawn out affair, unless you just nuke em.

The Japanese Government is right to be concerned with China on one side and Korea ( with a long history of abuse by the Japanese) on the other. The worse the N. Korean economy gets the more enticing S. Korea looks.

sarnali 06-11-2004 02:30 PM

Re: You asked for it: My Buell experience.
Nascar, Skoal, MGD horse-*****, and Hooters girls if the stereotypes are true.

Holy_Kaw 06-11-2004 02:47 PM

Re: You asked for it: My Buell experience.
The word.

BMW4VWW 06-11-2004 03:56 PM

Re: Excellent
Buz is right. Kp's mood has a direct correlation to the timing of his medication. VWW

itsings 06-11-2004 10:48 PM

Re: You asked for it: My Buell experience.
quote//" the gearbox needs serious work, it shakes like hell at idle, and itÂ’s kinda weird. But, damn, it was a blast."

And then the real kicker. "I think I would own one."//

I couldn't have said it better after my test ride. Both the S and the R models are some of the coolest bikes to be dreamed up. And I too thought very seriously about making the purchase.

But it only took the next time I rode a buddies CBR to realize how much further the Buell's needs to go. It's not just a pure performance, quickness, top speed thing. It's just an over all refinement that the bikes lack in comparison to their peers.

But I pray that someday soon Eirk Buell is no longer working with both hands tied behind his back being forced to use that engine and transmision. When that happens DAM is he gonna produce an amazing machine....

itsings 06-11-2004 11:03 PM

Re: The modern engine predicament and...great job
quote// Buell is building streefighter. If a large displacement slow revving v-twin can be a superior streetfighter then it is the people who insist on using a heavier more complex water-cooled high reving 4 cylinder who are behind the 8 ball.//

The Aprilia Tuono is universally considered the most amazing production streetfighter motorcycle ever built. Nothing slow reving or air cooled about it... :) And I am pretty sure they got the required use right!!!

I always see everyone make claims about how the air cooled V-twin is a superior design. But whether that's true or not it's irrelevant when discussing Buells. Because whether it's a good design concept or not the engine and transmision are still of very poor comparitive quality and performance to their peers. Whether those peers be liquid, air, in-lines, V's whatever... the Buell's are always going to be seriously handicapped as long as they are using that same sportster engine and tranny.....

itsings 06-11-2004 11:12 PM

Re: They both turn so light they make a CBR600RR feel like a truck
Um yeah, thats called stability. See when your bike can actually go over the speed limit in under 12 seconds it's important not to have the rake and trail numbers of a 250 GP bike...

And where I work there's this guy that says after he rides his XB12R and then drives his Dodge pickup it feels like a truck..... :)

seruzawa 06-12-2004 02:39 AM

Re: Some updates to your info. (Jet subhunter and new cargo plane)
Yeah, but the last time the AF bought a cargo plane with such huge glowing claims it turned out that the plane had serious problems with the wings snapping off. Military procurement is famous for overblown lies about the abilities of new gear. That's how these generals get those nice fat retirement jobs from the contractors.

We'll see.

electraglider_1997 06-13-2004 12:39 PM

With a rc51 engine
Then it'd be a Tool instead of a Buell.

bigjames 06-14-2004 08:34 AM

Re: You asked for it: My Buell experience.
Hmmmm, Rental bike that has been through who knows what, wrong bike for the trip, lousy road (have ridden it many times) that is easily the worst place to test ride anything, inexperienced rider on that bike, did not listen when instructed how to ride it, claims New York drivers are polite (idiot, where do you think a lot of those Miami drivers learned to not drive?) and you all gush about what a wonderful review it was. Give me a freaking break. This may be nicely written, but has absolutely no use as an objective ride review.

pdad13 06-14-2004 12:15 PM

Re: You asked for it: My Buell experience.
Hmmmm. Bike had less than 1000 miles on it, so it should have been broken in but not abused. I think I can also assume that motorcycle rental agencies must be more diligent about upkeep than, say, a car rental agency, given the liability issues. (This was no fly-by-night shop either. It was a H-D dealer.) So I doubt they would have put me out on a bike that was mechanically dubious. It's bad for business in so many ways, numbnuts. The rental agent also told me they don't rent that bike much. Most people want cruisers down there (so I do agree with your point about this not being the best route to "test" a bike such as this. In fact, I said that very thing.)

Two: Yeah, I forgot to turn the engine switch on. If you were reading, and not grunting to yourself, you would have noticed that I was preoccupied with my feelings of dread about the bike. Plus it was kind of funny, so I mentioned it. No doubt an uber-skilled rider such as yourself would never do such an inexcusable thing. And God forbid anyone else admitting to such a crime! What was I thinking?

Three: My fond rememberance of New York drivers was an example of something adults (at least those with proper mental development) call SARCASM. Of course I don't think New York drivers are good, Skippy. I was just freaked by how bad the drivers in Miami were on that day. By the way, I've been to Miami more than once and I'm pretty sure that there are a lot of Miami natives who've never lived in New York. (Ever hear of a nice litte island called Cuba? How 'bout the rest of the U.S.A.?) So while I'm sure there are many, many dangerous NY-transplanted blue hairs and young chessebucket-types terrorizing the roadways, I'd be willing to be that that MOST (means "more than half") of the people who live are not actually from NY. I believe this to be true because, among all of our driver safety sins, we at least know how to MERGE. Obviously, many Miamians don't.

Four: How many times did I say that I wasn't writing a proper road test? Okay, at least once. In fact, I preferred to refer to it as a "rider impression." It was my only chance to ride a Buell, any Buell, for any extended period of time. So the fact that it was the wrong trip for that bike didn't deter me one bit. Apparently your poor comprehension skills let you down once again. This was never intended to be a "test." The fine people at MO do a wonderful job of testing all by themselves.

The story here was how my attitude towards the bike changed--I really did hate it at first. And how, maybe, we're all a little afraid to try something that goes against the grain. Maybe we're all missing something.

Okay, bigjames? You don't have to agree with what I say. I'm just an average rider with an opinion. That doesn't make me an idiot. Not sure I can say the same about you.

XB12R 06-14-2004 03:42 PM

Re: You asked for it: My Buell experience.
I enjoyed the review. I just bought a Firebolt last week and my heart was sinking as I began reading your article. There are so many great bikes out there, that committing to one is always going to be a compromise, I just don't like to get beat over the head with with all the things the Buell lacks. On the way home from the shop I stopped at a friends and swapped bikes to ride his RC51. Might not have been a great idea on my part, as it highlighted all of the XB's weak points. We decided that they have different things going for them, and there is no perfect bike. FWIW, I am still breaking it in, but I rode for an hour and a half the other day and was totally comfortable. Great seat and ergo's. I had a sportster with a corbin 5 years ago that just killed me. I have had a Hawk, Superhawk and SV and I think it more comfortable than those as well. Also, right off the bat finding nuetral has been no problem, and shifting has been a lot easier than I expected. I put upward presure on the lever, and then just blip the clutch and get a quick smooth shift. Nothing like the RC, but not the tank-like gearbox of the sportster either. Have found no false nuetrals yet, but I have yet to really hammer it.

pdad13 06-14-2004 05:22 PM

Re: You asked for it: My Buell experience.
Remember, much of my initial problem with the bike was merely because it was so different that what I ride on a regular basis (currently, a Kawi ZRX). And I really think that's one of the problems people have giving Buell any credit. It's a very different approach than what their used to.

Once I figured out how the best way to ride it, I really enjoyed it. I've never ridden an RC 51, but I'd bet that there are some advantages to the XB12. It's just hard for most of us to accept because we think there's no way we could enjoy a bike with an old-style pushrod motor as much, or maybe even more, than the latest and greatest. That's why I wrote this thing. Not to give you a technical analysis, but to try to look at the bike in a different light. A light that we all live under but rarely see. Most of us are too busy looking at specs.

By the way, the gearbox did get better for me, too. It still wasn't as good as I would expect, but it's just an imperfection that I could live with.

If the bike stays reliable, and you enjoy it, be happy with it. Don't second-guess every time you look at your friends RC. You've got a cool, unique bike there. At least in my opinion.

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