Thursday, July 23, 2009
Bye, bye, Blast
They did it. They killed the Blast. And unlike South Park’s Kenny, I don’t think we’ll see a magical resurrection in the next episode.
The news started on the bulletin boards. The first poster described what he’d seen his newly arrived September issue of CycleWorld. Then it spread to Twitter. A link to a twitpic photo showing the horror- a mangled, twisted Buell Blast, crushed into a cube. But, the ad said “it makes a killer ottoman.”
I wonder how the many Blast owners who shelled out good money for their Buells feel about that. An ottoman.
I never owned one, and you probably don’t either. That’s the problem. But the Blast was there for those who wanted to get into motorcycling, but weren’t ready for a Firebolt or a Lightning. We thought it would always be there. I always thought it might be the foundation for a neat little off-roader, a mini-Uly. Or an electric bike.
Any marketer will tell you it’s easier to retain a customer than to convert one. Someone who starts out with a Ninja 250 is likely to remain a Kawasaki rider for life. The rider who learns on a Honda Rebel in a Motorcycle Safety Foundation class stands a good chance of going on to buy Hondas. The Blast was a gateway drug for Buells.
So what now?
Erik Buell has spoken. There is no appeal. The Blast is gone. We move forward, right? That’s progress, isn’t it?
I wonder what will happen to those Riders Edge classes. They won’t be riding around on the Blast anymore.
What will happen to the small but hopeful crop of niche companies who were going to create new bikes based on the Blast? Companies like Mac Motorcycles who were showing us what could have been with the Blast. What of those Blast owners who customized their little single-cylinder rides with much love and pride? Will they move up to Firebolts or 1125Rs?
Above, the Mac Motorcycles Spud. Below a Blast customized by Hellcat Customs
And if, as that ad says, racing and sportbikes “are now officially the only thing that matters,” what does that mean for the Ulysses?
I’m trying to stay positive about this. I’m trying to hold to the hope that this will mean better Buells in my future. Maybe next year I’ll be able to trade in my 1125R for a street-legal RR like the one that Taylor Knapp debuted at Mid-Ohio.
I’m holding out hope that Gixxer riders will look in awe as I ride my next Buell down the twisty side of Mount Palomar.
But I keep coming back to the image of that poor Blast. Crushed. Crumpled like the draft of a bad resignation letter, tossed aside to start something new.
It deserved better.