False Neutral Episode #4: Dollars & Harleys & Buells, Oh My!

FN-Podcast-04
Eric and Pete welcome Hooniverse contributor Wayne Moyer. Topics include Erik Buell, entry-level Harley-Davidsons, and why it’s so hard to make money manufacturing motorcycles nowadays. Now with bonus background noise!
As always, follow along with the photos below the jump, then leave a comment about which of our opinions you agree or disagree with. Please subscribe, rate and review us on iTunes.

False Neutral – Dollars & Harleys & Buells, Oh My!

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Suzuki GS500E
Suzuki GS500E

 
Buell Blast 500
Buell Blast 500

 
Husqvarna TR650 Terra & Strada
Husqvarna TR650 Terra & Strada

 
EBR 1190RS Carbon Edition
EBR 1190RS Carbon Edition

 
EBR 1190SX
EBR 1190SX

 
Aprilia Futura

 
Aprilia Tuono 1000R
Aprilia Tuono 1000R

 
Friedel Munch
Friedel Münch on an early example of his NSU-powered Mammut motorcycle

 
Harley-Davidson Street 750
Harley-Davidson Street 750

 
Kawasaki KZ1300
Kawasaki KZ1300

 
Buell XB12X Ulysses
Buell XB12X Ulysses

0 Comments

  1. Great discussion on the state of motorcycling today. Pete, I think it also goes back to your point from last week that no one “needs” a motorcycle. In the US, it’s typically not something that is used daily, unlike in many parts of Asia where almost everyone has a scooter or small single cylinder motorcycle, but fewer people own cars and those who own cars, drive them infrequently.

  2. Good point about how traffic and unsafe driving has sucked a lot of the joy out of riding. When I got my bike license at 16, I was able to leave my exit my neighborhood and almost immediately access empty country roads. There’s literally a giant new city right over top of those roads now, and it’d be nuts to try and commute in that environment. I’m out West these days, with access to riders’ paradise a few hours away, but if I ever moved back to the crowded East I doubt I’d even bother owning a motorcycle.

    1. PS: There’s a story that the Aprilia Futura was never brought to Canada because of its headlight configuration. Apparently there was nothing in Canadian legislation to cover a bike with three headlights. A rip-off for Canadians who want one of the sneaky great bikes of the last two decades.

    2. Of course I live on the east coast and still have to deal with it. Thankfully I live out in a more remote area. So I have some great roads and less traffic to deal with.

  3. The first street bike I ever bought off the showroom floor was a Buell Firebolt XB12R. The very first time I saw the second generation Buell’s, I knew I had to have one… After riding it for a couples of years, there was one thing I found it lacking; a better motor. I was so exited when I learned that they were switching from a Harley engine to a modern liquid cooled Rotax engine. But unfortunately, the integration of the cooling ducts killed the design for me. The newest generation of Buell motorcycles finally got the form and function right, but I think it might be too little too late. I’m glad they were able to reopen manufacturing, and I sincerely hope they they are able to weather the financial storm. Erik Buell is one of the great pioneers of motorcycling engineering, and an idol of mine!

  4. Funny enough, I got to try out a Buell on a corporate test ride once, an XB12 Lightning (I was hoping to try something smaller, but it was all they had). On the pre-ride briefing, one of the instructors comes up to me and starts off with “so, this is way touchier than most of these Harleys, so careful with the throttle, or you’ll do a wheelie and I’ll have to take you off the ride. Also, the brakes are more sensitive, so careful with those, or I’ll have to take you off the ride.” So I’m panicking a little since the last bike I had ridden had literally a tenth the displacement, and was more than a little thankful when it was only running on one cylinder. At the same time, at least the instructor wasn’t writing it off as a “wheelie machine,” just acknowledging that most people there probably had a different skill set.

    1. Any motorcycle throttle and brake is more touchy than a Harley 😉 The XB12’s had a really short wheelbase (although I believe there were two wheelbase lengths in the Lightning model) and a lot of torque. They would wheelie (don’t ask me how I know) but they were not nearly powerful enough to to wheelie on their own; it took deliberate effort. As for the brakes, the ZTL front brake was decent, but not as good as most sport bikes, and despite the “zero torsional load”, my Firebolt wanted to stand up while hard braking into a corner. Performance wise, the XB12’s were lacking, but I still believe they are the most well designed and engineered motorcycles ever made.

  5. Oh the frustration.
    I totally agree on the GS500 recomendation. But don’t just stop there. the GS500 is very much a standard, and offends some people. The GS500’s engine, and most of the chassis components, come straight from 1976, with the GS400. I can’t recomend a 1976 bike, but anything from 1980 on has an electronic ignition and is in essense, the same bike as the modern GS500.
    Do keep in mind, if you wreck a GS500F, you can’t “just remove” the oil cooler. There’s a casting change inside the cases that will starve the crank of oil and ruin the engine.
    The glowing review of the buell bugged me. If you bring a buell to any harley dealer in chicagoland, you get laughed at, and at BEST you get put at the end of the list, at worst, you’re told to leave. (No, i’m not kidding) Not to mention the exhausts rotting out, and the tendancy of the buell to shake parts loose.
    The one advantage I found of the buell, is my wife could flat foot it.

  6. The Buell Blast is a 500cc not 400cc! It’s true that most people laugh at the Blast. But those who actually own one buy it because it’s cheap. Harley could have churned out a second iteration. I wonder what improvements and what the Buell would have looked like.

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