As I get a late start on a rainy Thursday afternoon, I get a voicemail from a good Buell riding buddy of mine: Buell Motor Company is closing down.
With very little time before our print deadline at Handlebars, I offer a brief but heartfelt eulogy to Erik Buell, the legendary employees of Buell Motor Company (aka the "Elves"), and all the steadfast supporters of this great brand.
Shock and dismay at this news is already running rampant with the online community of Buell enthusiasts. I've tried to reach my old boss, Scott Maddux, to hear his take on the news—unfortunately he's on a jet plane at this writing. Another dealer, Tom Bumpus, whose dealership just earned the highest accolades in the HD-Buell organization as a Pegasus award recipient, seems blindsided by the news.
I once was known by a nickname "Buell Brad" back when I was still selling these fine machines. I own the very first Buell sold by Smoky Mountain H-D/Buell. I've had the honor and privilege to meet Erik Buell and many of his fine staff over the years. I even had the great experience of riding the new 1125R Superbike at Barber Motorsports Park in 2007, just after its introduction. So it is with a heavy heart that I relay this news to you, our Handlebars readership. We've all heard time and again in these dark economic times of companies closing, of good folks losing their jobs, but this one hits home with me pretty hard.
To those of you who own one of these great bikes: Raise a toast, raise a front wheel, in honor of Erik Buell and his legacy. May we yet see great things from the talented mind behind such great motorcycles.