Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

BUELL, A BLAST TO THE LAST; Buell's Lifeline May Have Been Cut by Harley- Davidson but Fans Can Still Be Thrilled by Its Track Days, as Mark Prigg Found out. You Might Even Bag a Bargain Bike in the Process

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

BUELL, A BLAST TO THE LAST; Buell's Lifeline May Have Been Cut by Harley- Davidson but Fans Can Still Be Thrilled by Its Track Days, as Mark Prigg Found out. You Might Even Bag a Bargain Bike in the Process

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Prigg

MOTORCYLING fans have been stunned by the news that Harley Davidson is to cease the production and marketing of bikes by its Buell subsidiary, which has produced some amazingly innovative, fast machines. It comes after HD announced a worldwide drop in sales of 21 per cent and a big drop in income.

However, although production has ceased, Buell's range is still on sale while the firm clears its inventory. And its renowned Performance Academy is still up and running for die-hard track day or advanced riding fans.

Billed as the ultimate test ride, the Performance Academy lets you ride its entire range of bikes over half a day. You'll get to ride on-road, on-track, off-road and even do a skills course.

The day is designed to help riders make their choice from the Buell range, and you can swap bikes through the day as much as you like (apart from the off-road element).

For my session, held at Mallory Park in Leicestershire, it was raining heavily for most of the day which, while making the offroad and track aspects a little more exciting, wasn't great for the road session.

However, the instructors are great fun and know their stuff -- although as with most bike events, there is a certain amount of good-natured laddishness. Despite having reached crisis point, you can see how the firm has inspired immense loyalty, not just among its customers but in its employees.

For me, the day was also a chance to ride the Buell I've been riding for the past four months on a track. This was a revelation, and really showed how versatile today's bikes can be.

The bike in question, a 900cc XB9SX street bike, is designed as a nimble yet fast commuter. But put it on track and it is an amazing performer, especially in the wet conditions I experienced. Cornering was nimble and precise, and it was only on Mallory Park's main straight that Buell's 1125CR track bike was able to get past me.

The brakes, with oversized discs, performed flawlessly, and while it felt odd riding a track in an upright position, for anyone who doesn't know each corner of a track inside out it's actually rather nice to have a decent view of what's coming up -- even if it does mean you are constantly buffeted and slowed down by the wind. …

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