Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Don't be a sheep!

I like 90% of all the Harley riders I meet. I'm grateful for the capital from H-D that has helped Buell grow into the company it is so far. But sometimes the differences between those two companies and their riders is amazing to me.

The 1953 movie "The Wild One" with Marlon Brando and Lee Marvin first put the idea of the bike-ridng rebel in the public consciousness (as an aside, do you realize Brando didn't ride a Harley in that movie? It was a Triumph Thunderbird - an English bike!).

1969 gave us "Easy Rider," where again, bikers were shown as counter-culture rebels. Throngs of wannabe rebels worldwide bought Harleys (and anything with a Harley Davidson logo on it). Worldwide supplies of chrome were depleted. Countless Harley riders wanted to make a statement: "I'm a rebel- a rugged individualist!"

Just like everyone else.

I've always thought this, but I never thought I'd see the day when Harley Davidson and their ad agency would so clearly portray their own Harley riders as flocks of sheep, following the leader.

Buell, on the other hand, really does embrace individualism. Maybe it comes from Erik Buell's privateer roots.

The Book of Buell is rife with examples. "A Buell won't make you any friends." and "It's ok not to wave back." come to mind. Even the new logo (which I love) is supposed to be shorthand for "I don't care what you think." Now that's individualism!

Don't be a sheep. Ride a Buell.

Monday, August 24, 2009

"I can't ride behind him"

This past weekend, the SoCal Buell Riders Club went on a ride down Highway 94 and up Sunrise Highway, past Julian.

At one of our stops along the way, I heard one of the guys remark, "I can't ride behind him. He moves around on his bike too much. It's distracting!"

I was leading the ride, so I didn't get to see the rider they were talking about, but I was glad to hear it. Whoever they were talking about, he was riding a Buell the way it was meant to be ridden.

Watch a top pro surfer. He doesn't stand on the board like a wooden statue. He's always shifting around, moving on top of the board to cut the right line across the changing wave. That's how we ought to be riding our Buells.

As the "Book of Buell" says, "Sitting is not a sport."

Part of me wishes I hadn't been leading that ride. If I could have watched this guy, I might have learned something. Even at slower speeds, I try to at least shift my weight around. I'm not dragging my knee at 25 mph, but even slow speed corners are more fun (and more instructive) if I use them to practice moving around on the bike.

Wait. Is it possible they were talking about me? I don't know. What I do know is that I'll keep moving around on my Buell, learning new moves and how they affect the line my bike takes. Riding a Buell is supposed to be a ballet on a stage moving at 95 mph. Oh, sorry officer, I mistyped - 65 mph, of course.

I want to hear from you. Post your comments.

See the photos from our ride at http://www.meetup.com/SoCal-Buell-Riders/photos/694487/

Friday, August 14, 2009

A Good Start at Virginia International Raceway

We're off to a good start at VIR.

Buell riders are doing pretty well in qualifiers.

In Daytona SportBike Group A, Taylor Knapp took second spot, with Danny Eslick in 11th place, and Shawn Higbee in 23rd.

Shawn also came in 19th place in Friday's American Superbike practice round.

Michael Barnes took second in Group B, with Walt Sipp taking 16th.

And to top off the day's results, Taylor Knapp was won his first SuperPole of his career. Congratulations to Taylor Knapp and Latus Motors Racing!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Buell is Missing Out on the Aftermarket

Talk to anyone in the parts department of your local motorcycle dealership. They'll tell you a motorcycle is a platform on which to hang your accessories.

The average new bike owner spends an additional $5,000.00 accessorizing his/her bike in the first year!

Bravo to Buell for finally releasing the side fairing kit and belly pan for the 1125R. Buellers have been clamoring for that on the discussion boards for as long as I can remember.

Walk into any Harley-Davidson dealership. Fringed leather saddle bags, chromed everything, skull-themed doodads, screaming eagle clutch covers are everywhere. And Harley riders buy them by the boatload. Harley riders want to belong to that vast fraternity of Harley owners. But they don't want to get lost in the crowd.

Buell owners often cite wanting a bike unlike all the others on the street as one of the reasons they were attracted to Buell in the first place. But if you own a Buell and want to truly make it your own, you'll have to turn to third-party aftermarket vendors like American Sport Bike, Ilmberger, or Sport Twin. I went to my local HD shop and saw American Sport Bike parts. Buell factory accessories? Not so much.

Buell also recently revised its logo to rave reviews from the faithful. Everyone wants a shirt with the new silver and black pegasus logo. Where is the merchandise? Missing in action. Apparently they do exist, but only at the factory.

Erik Buell is a brilliant, innovative engineer. Here's hoping they can get a team together that can be as innovative and ruthless with marketing the brand.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Avoid the 'Noid

A week ago, I rolled my 1125R out into the driveway, ready to hit Palomar. I turned the key, and...


The problem was eventually traced to a fault in the instrument panel. Something for which SD Harley didn't have a replacement. My bike would be out of commission for a week.

But this story has a silver lining. Christopher at SD Harley did the amazing - he lent me a 1125R so I could lead this morning's Buell Club Ride out Sunrise Highway.

That alone would have been a great story. But there's more. After I took the key from Chris, I got on the bike and started it up to take it down the street to top off the gas. I twisted the throttle, and the bike lurched forward eagerly, much more easily than on my own 1125R.

The difference between my bike and Chris' is that his bike had been de-noided.

De-noiding is the common term used to mean removing, disabling or disconnecting the Air flow control solenoid. Search the Buell boards and you'll find a lot of talk about this mod. (Click here for a good example of the procedure). I'd always been a bit skeptical, figuring the factory would put out the best product it could. I was wrong. De-noiding the 1125R is definitely the way to go.

On our Buell Club run along the Sunrise Highway over Mount Laguna and on through Julian to Santa Ysabel, I found myself enjoying the bike in ways I never could with my own. Power through the corners was predictable, linear and limitless. The only reason to end that ride was to get to my own bike to do the same modification.

To their credit, Buell does sell a resistor that plugs right in where you'd remove that solenoid (Buell part Y0248.1AM (solenoid eliminator plug) sells for $6.00), which tells me they're aware of the difference this makes and the demand for that mod.

So, take my word for it. If you ride a Buell 1125R or 1125CR, avoid the 'noid.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Are You a Fan or a Spectator?

I know a lot of people who describe themselves as race fans. My buddy, TJ is one of them. He knows who’s where in the point standings, all the way to the twentieth place. He had to upgrade his Tivo because his old unit was full of AMA and SBK race videos he couldn’t bear to delete. The last three times I’ve been to his place he’s asked me if I want to watch the last lap of the Catalunya race again. It was thrilling the first three times. Now, not so much.

Bring up the topic of the Buell motorcycles in AMA racing and he goes borderline apoplectic (He’s a die-hard Suzuki GSX-R guy). Sometimes I’ll start on that topic, just to spin him up.

With all that passion, I was surprised at his response when I asked him what he did to support motorcycle racing. He looked at me like I was nuts.

“Support! What do you mean, support racing? I watch it all the time! You don’t know anyone who’s a bigger race fan than me!”

Poor TJ. I didn’t know how to break it to him. He wasn’t a fan. He’s just a spectator.

A fan is a fanatic. Fans’ passions spur them to action. To be a true motorcycle race fan, you have to actually DO something about it. Get involved. Here are my suggestions for going from a spectator to a true fan:

Get out and race. The best way I can think of to really get involved in motorcycle racing is to race. Seriously. I don’t expect you to crash the next Isle of Man TT, but several local clubs have track days at Willow Springs Raceway or Glendora. Getting on the track is a great way to hone your skills for the street and gives you a better appreciation for what’s going on the next time you do watch the pros race on TV (or better yet, on the hill overlooking The Corkscrew at Laguna Seca Raceway). Check out the Willow Springs Motorcycle Club (http://wsmcracing.com), Take it 2 The Track (http://ti2tt.com) or the Red Hot Riders (http://www.redhotriders.com/) as examples. If you’ve never ridden on a racetrack, don’t worry. They all have orientations and classes for first timers, and you’ll ride with other newbies at first. One last point about racing – keep it on the track and off the street.

Work on your own bike. A lot of races are won or lost in the pits. You’ll have a better appreciation for what the pros are doing when you hear the announcers talk about a suspension tweak or tire change if you’ve actually done it yourself. If you think you can’t work on your own bike, try going to a clinic put on by one of the local bike clubs or Privateer’s Garage (http://PrivateersGarage.Com)

Meet other fans. Go for rides with other fans and stick around afterwards to share a meal. I know in the age of the internet, it’s less fashionable to actually meet people face to face, but sharing a day with other people who share your passion, and learning from them will do wonders for your appreciation of the sport, and you’ll likely make friends who’ll ride with you to your next track day or race day road trip.

Put your money where your heart is. If you want to support motorcycle racing, how about supporting motorcycle racers? Not every pro gets the big contract and lots of endorsements. A lot of racers, like rodeo cowboys, live off the purse. If they don’t win, they don’t eat, and that makes it tough to get to the next race with a working bike and good tires. A small donation to your favorite racer or team is a way to be part of the action. Watching your favorite pro on TV is a lot more fun when you know you’ve paid for the tires on that bike. Shawn Higbee, for example, has a button on his website (http://Higbee-Racing.Com) where you can donate to the team via PayPal. If you’ve ever been inspired to work on your riding skills or spent an enjoyable afternoon watching racing on TV, drop a few bucks in your favorite racer’s inbox.

TJ really thought his slavish button-pushing and TV-watching made him an ùberfan. I almost didn’t have the heart to tell him he was a mere spectator.


Did I mention it was fun to get him all worked up?

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