Tuesday, July 28, 2009

An Open Letter to Erik Buell

I bought my first Buell in 1998. A beautiful pearl white S1W with the reactor purple frame and wheels. I loved how the wide gas tank tapered down to a narrow waist and a tiny saddle. It looked like a cobra, and handled like a mongoose on Red Bull. I loved the thundering sound, and how it vibrated at the stop lights. I learned to love its twitchy responsiveness. When my brand-new bike decided to blow the top off its oil reservoir and leak all over the place, I forgave it. Buell was the outsider, the underdog. I was a part of something that would be one of the greatest motorcycle companies ever.

When the XB series came out, I sang its rapturous praises like a faithful acolyte. Fuel in the frame! Oil in the swingarm! Genius! Buell has to be the best-engineered bike ever! Nevermind that they still used the same basic motor as the old '98 S1W. Buell had to be on a roll, now. I remained one of the faithful.

I got my current mount, a 2008 1125R, and felt that Buell had truly made it right. I've put up with the stumbling at low RPM, the occasionally balky ECM and air intake solenoid, the false neutral between fifth and sixth gear. It was still the best bike Buell ever built. I was envious to hear how the 2009 1125R's motor was smoother and more compliant. For 2010 Buell gave us an oil level sight glass and an optional fairing, and released the 1125RR race-only bike into the wilds of the AMA.

Uhmm... Yay?

And then there's BoB.

The Book of Buell is the new Buell manifesto. The little red book for The Bueller Nation.

Prepare for the cultural revolution.

People are already quoting from the Book of Buell as if it were gospel. Allow me to appoint myself Grand Inquisitor of the Faith.

The Book of Buell says "Sitting is not a sport. ... Before you buy a Buell, take a moment to think about what you really want to do on it."

I'll tell you what we want to do on it. We want to win. We don't want to be competitive. We want to crush our enemies, see them flee before us and let the lamentation of their women be our lullabies. Be ruthless in your engineering, Buell. We want our weapons.

The Book of Buell includes some heresy. Quoting "Our competition employes thousands, and that's not even counting the robots. Buell is 200 people building motorcycles by hand in East Troy, Wisconsin." Sorry. We're not going to buy that anymore. We don't care if there are bigger kids on the playground. If you want respect, hit harder than the bigger kids. I'm confident Buell can do it. Be ruthless.

I like the new logo. I see where you're going with that silver and black shield. The BoB says it's "shorthand for 'I don't care what you think.' " "A Buell won't make you any friends," and "we don't engineer motorcycles for acceptance. We engineer them for performance. And we engineer them without mercy." If you want Buell to be the Raiders of motorcycling, make sure it's the Raiders of the late 70's and early 80's, not the hapless collection of felons who now wear the silver and black. Just win, baby. On the road and on the racetrack.

So there we are. You set the standard, and we're going to hold you to it. Never again will I buy another Buell because of sentiment, or to support the struggling underdog. I'm not buying a Buell unless it's the absolute best sportbike I can get. I want the precision of a scalpel and the force of a sledgehammer. I want to win. To quote from the Book of Buell, "And while racing and sportbikes have always been important at Buell, they are now officially the only thing that matters."

We want to win. The Bueller Nation and our privateers want to win. It's the only thing that matters. Give us our weapons, Mr. Buell. And engineer them without mercy.
Shawn Higbee, our favorite privateer


  1. This site sums it up! You are spot on! Give us our weapons... I love it.. Thanks!! It's about time Buell copt an attitude. Especially from all the wonderful treatment we've been recieving from HD dealers (and some HD riders). That's right.. we dont care what you think.

    Been riding Buell's for over 10 years now... and now I'm more proud than ever to own a Buell.

  2. Great sentiment. We want our weapons. With Danny Eslick recent winnings, I think we have a good shot at keeping it going. There's nothing like hearing that a Buell won a race.

    Go Buell!

  3. I'm sure you have all heard the terrible news that the major company known as Harley - Davidson has chose to discontinue the brand we all have grown to love over the past twenty seven years. I was ashamed as a Harley owner, so bad that i instantly traded in my H-D for a 2009 1125R which I already knew was going to be the most amazing ride I have ever owned. Thanks for the greatest ride ever Erik.

  4. i think Buell will be brought back to life, its only a matter of time once the recession is over.. im guessing a company like triumph or ducati could be possible candidates for the resurrection of Buell. even if it doesnt happen, the name and pride of Buell riders will always be the same, live to ride and ride to live!

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