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.


  1. Thank You. I agree. Being a Blast owner and a marketer myself I think Buell has made a big mistake. I do not believe I know of any other company to use such careless, negative marketing to create buzz for their product line up. I think this is going to make the books.

    Did anyone at Buell stop to think what message they are delivering to their customers? Or maybe they just don't care. The message reaches not only the Blast customers, all of their customers. "Racing and Sportbikes are the only thing that matters". Meaning racing and sportbike consumers are the only thing that matters. Well for now anyway.

    As a once proud owner of a Blast, now I am just an owner, I can not help but believe Erik Buell just said; The Blast has no value, it is giving Buell a bad name and Buell no longer wants to be associated with the bike or it's customers.

    I think it is marketing suicide to make a mokery of a product that was sold, advertised, and built under your own brand. It sends a message to the customer the product has no value and it was a mistake to purchase it.

    Since Buell so ruthlessly stated they are moving forward, crushing the Blast and leaving their customers feeling like they got punched in the face. I am not going to go with my original plan to move up into another Buell, Instead, I will take my business to one of the Big guys, spend my money whith a company who values all of their customer as equals.

  2. Is Eric Buell listening now? He should be. Thanks for the comments and I agree wholeheartedly. His real efforts should have been to disengage with Harley and make his own separate sales and service company--a company that really knows Buells and respects them. A company that Buell riders can count on for expertise, especially in service to the bike. That's the decision Buell riders need, not the death to a bike that I personally love riding, with its upgrades and all that I put on it (which he should consider, to make the bike more profitable and better. He should be listening to the Buell Blast rider for input. There lies customer satisfaction. Not the mockery and death to the bike).

  3. What about the smaller and shorter riders that would love more than anything to get on more power like a lighning but cannot b/c I myslef am only 5'0" and a female I cannot reach b/c all new bikes seat height are about 31.0 so then what am I so posed to ride? I don't want a cruiser heck I probably couldn't reach the handle bars comfortably. So for me the blast is about the only thing that I can ride, which is OK I wish I could get on something with a little more power, I have but not safely touching th ground like I should.

  4. I just bought a 2006 Blast and I have had five different bikes and I like this one. I am six foot 2 and I had to get used to it but the bike is fine. I don't need a bike that go's 190mph. I think Eric was nuts for getting rid of this bike. Even if I do upgrade which I don't see happening as long as this one runs and I can still get parts, I don't think I'd feel confident about purchasing from Buell in the future. For a single cylinder I think this bike has plenty of power,It definately can kill you. I really was appalled at seeing that new bike get crushed, he could have auctionjed it of for charity or something. Senseless. /Jerry

  5. Jerry, glad you enjoy that Blast. I've considered getting one myself for a fun track bike. There even used to be a group of folks who raced Blasts. Fun bikes. Hopefully there will always be great little bikes- the Honda CBR 250R for example. Maybe someday we'll have another one made in the USA.

  6. They actually still build the bike. It's doesn't say Buell on it, and it's only available to dealers for this purpose: I hated those ads. My spouse purchased a Ducati Monster 696, but she could not get comfortable with it. It's low for a sporty bike, but she's not tall. A Blast would have been perfect.