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Thread: Buell Performance Academy.

  1. #1
    Administrator Ken's Avatar
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    Buell Performance Academy.

    I've just got back from my Buell Performance Academy at Cadwell Park. Started early (for me anyway) as I was up and in the shower by 5:45a.m. Arrived at the circuit at eight and went through all the usual formalities of booking in. The briefing was very comprehensive, probably the best I have ever had at a trackday - full marks there.

    The time was split into various sessions;

    Session 1, Riding the Buell 1125R or 1125CR. This was just a track and bike familiarisation session, led by instructors, relatively slow start then gradually speeding up until everyone had a good idea of where the track went and how the machine handled. I was interested in riding the 1125R so made sure I was near the bikes when it came time to 'Gentlemen and lady, choose your machines.'

    On start up and idling the engine felt quite agricultural, quite a lot of vibration compared with my CBR6RR. Once on the move, however, much of the vibes disappeared once the revs went above a couple of thousand and the bike would rev happily to ten thou or so in the gears. The bike felt quite heavy, not surprising considering my usual mount, and very stable and I enjoyed getting the feel of it.

    Session 2: Riding the Lightning XB12. This comes in three variants, the 12Ss, the 12Scg and the XB9SX City X. I think (but can't be sure) the bike I got was the 12Scg with the shorter wheelbase and lower seat height. Again, on start up, there was the characteristic vibration which disappeared as the revs rose. Initially the bike felt odd as the steering was very light and the bike seemed to flop into the bends. I remember that the Honda CB1000R had felt the same when I test rode it and, just like the Honda, the odd feeling soon disappeared. Around the twisty bits and through the village bends the light steering made sense and the ride was enjpyable. When we got to the open roads the torque from the big V-twin was more than ample to hustle the bike along at a very respectable pace.

    Session 3: Skills. This was fun. A course had been laid out, with cones, in the car park. Again we were using the lightning. The course started with a slalom, into a tight offset circle, exit the circle at a sharp angle into a narrow, turning channel. Up and over a see-saw, round a tight figure eight, accelerate up the short straight into a box, stop and restart without taking the feet off the pegs then back into the starting box. Suffice it to say that only a couple of riders - and I was not one of them - managed to complete the course, or anywhere near it, without putting a foot down. The noticeable thing was that most of us fault footed on the right hand turns and not the left hand ones.

    Session 4: Off road on the Buell Ulysses XB12X. I am saddened to report that your aged scribe was unable/unwilling to do this ride. The bike was very tall and top heavy and having started the engine I found I was unable to lift the bike upright off its sidestand. I literally, did not have the strength in my wrists and shoulders to pick the bike upright from the (awkward) position it had been parked in. I guessed that, had I ridden it, if it had started to topple I would not have been able to hold it. In fact, one rider, had dropped his machine twice, with some damage to lights and plastics, before the ride had actually started. I was lucky, however, as the instructor leading one of the groups took me as a pillion passenger. It was a great lesson in bike control - 'Where's he going now, can't be there, that's not possible, the gap is too narrow and the turn impossible, Oh, I see, it wasn't too narrow there was a good two inches to spare between the trees.' - and so it went on. Great fun.

    Session 4: Back to the car park and the Lightnings. This time the instructor had laid out a long narrow strip of cones with rounded ends. This was to simulate two hairpin corners with a short acceleration straight in between. The idea was to teach us the correct way to attack the infamous 'Hairpin' in Cadwell's wooded section. A worthwhile exercise which showed how many of the group were turning too early and compromising the exit from the hairpin.

    Session 5: Back to the 1125R and the full Cadwell circuit. This time we were sent out a few seconds apart and were able to ride at our own speed. Used in anger the 1125R is quite a formibable bike. The amount of torque and power available from the 1125cc 72 degree V-twin is exhilarating. 146BHP at 9800 rpm and 82ft lbs of torque at 8000 rpm gives a very usable spread of torque and power. After a couple of laps I felt that I was putting up some respectable laps and was pleased that (apart from a couple of instructors) only one rider passed me throughout the session and the corners and apexes seemed to be flowing nicely. I even got a bit of air under the front wheel and a minor 'slapper' at the top of the Mountain.

    Then, just before the end, came the bonus which was also quite a deflating experience. I had the chance to ride pillion, at racing speed, with Matt Llewellyn professional motorcycle and ex-British Superbikes (BSB) racer. The 'hot' lap made me realise that these guys are in a league all of their own. Exit the pit lane, pulling a wheelie before the first corner of Hall Bends, left right left, harder than I would have thought possible, round the hairpin and accelerating hard up to Barn, pin the brakes, round Barn and up the Start and Finish straight to Coppice. Where I would have expected him to brake he was still accelerating hard. Hard over to the left round Coppice then, in an instant, we were hard over to the right for Charlies1 and Charlies 2 which he took, in one swooping curve, probably thirty or forty mph faster than I had been doing, up through the gears, pinning the throttle up Park Straight then hard on the brakes probably a good fifty yards after I would have hit them. Slammed over to the right round Park, a long sweeping curve then, bang, hard right and hard left at the Gooseneck and down the hill to Mansfield. I just cannot believe the speed he took the 90 right at Mansfield accelerating up to the Chicane, braking incredibably late then bang, bang, right left through the Chicane, hard left and hard right to the mountain with the front wheel in the air at the crest then full speed through Hall Bends again, the Hairpin, Barn and then hard, hard, braking to turn off the circuit and make his way back to the paddock. I now have some idea of what a well set up bike is capable of round Cadwell, my favourite circuit, it make my efforts look pitiable. It was, without any doubt, the greatest bike ride of my life.

    The Buell Academy, a most enjoyable and salutory experience that I can fully recommend.

    Ken.
    Last edited by Ken; 08-05-2009 at 02:54 PM. Reason: Clarification and typos.
    Die dulci fruimini!
    Ken.
    Wolds Bikers, Lincolnshire, England.

  2. #2
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    Sounds like a great time Ken. While I don't share your delight in sport bikes, I do admire those who can ride the tracks. On my "to do list" is a sport bike school. On the other hand, I have ridden the Ulyssis on a few demo rides and found it to be quite a lot of fun. They wouldn't let us go off road but I did manage to oops, missed that turn...LOL.

  3. #3
    Administrator Ken's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CharlieCLU View Post
    Sounds like a great time Ken. While I don't share your delight in sport bikes, I do admire those who can ride the tracks. On my "to do list" is a sport bike school. On the other hand, I have ridden the Ulyssis on a few demo rides and found it to be quite a lot of fun. They wouldn't let us go off road but I did manage to oops, missed that turn...LOL.
    Manufacturer specific and properly organised training trackdays really are great fun, Charlie - if you get the chance, go do!

    I've added a few photos, taken by Buell, below.

    Ken.
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    Die dulci fruimini!
    Ken.
    Wolds Bikers, Lincolnshire, England.

  4. #4
    Administrator Ken's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken View Post
    Manufacturer specific and properly organised training trackdays really are great fun, Charlie - if you get the chance, go do!
    Ken.
    Well, sadly, it doesn't look as though anyone else will get the chance to do another Buell Performance Academy. Harley Davidson are halting production of Buell motorcycles and are also looking for a buyer for MV, as the article by Baz Hiralal from 'The Deal.com', below, reveals.

    Ken.

    Harley-Davidson Inc. (NYSE:HOG) reported an 84% drop in profit, but at 1:20 p.m. its stock was trading up more than 3% to $27.14 on a 52-week range of $7.99 to $28.75. Perhaps investors like the new strategy, or that sales fell at a slower rate -- a fact which CEO Keith Wandell found "mildly encouraging."

    Last year, Harley entered the high-performance sport bike market, acquiring
    Italian motorcycle maker MV Agusta Group for about $110 million. But after reporting disappointing third-quarter earnings (profit dropped 84%) due to weak sales and troubles in its financing arm, Harley will sell MV Agusta. As part of its "single-brand strategy it focuses on the Harley brand, the company will also cease manufacturing of Buell motorcycle products.

    Employment will end for a majority of Buell employees on Dec. 18, Harley said in its earnings report
    . About 80 hourly production positions and about 100 salaried positions at Buell will be lost. As we reported in our earnings preview earlier in the week, the Milwaukee company has already announced more than 1,000 job cuts. Harley expects to incur about $125 million in one-time costs related to the discontinuation of Buell. Harley expects to save about $140 million to $150 million with all the restructuring measures.

    Harley said it will now begin actively looking for a buyer for MV Agusta to continue along the development of the brand.

    On the earnings side, net income for the third quarter was $26.5 million, compared to $166.5 million in the third quarter of 2008. Through nine months, Harley reported net income of $163.6 million, down 71.6% from the year-ago period. Revenue through nine months was $3.57 billion, down 17.1% from the same period last year.

    Through nine months, Harley shipped 187,085 motorcycles, compared to 226,898 in 2008. And Harley once again narrowing its guidance for full-year 2009 shipments to 222,000 to 227,000. In January, it reaffirmed shipments of 264,000 to 273,000 Harley's to dealers worldwide. It later lowered those numbers to 212,000 to 228,000.

    "While the environment remains challenging for us, we are mildly encouraged by the moderation in the decline of dealer retail Harley motorcycle sales," said CEO Wandell in a statement.

    In its financial arm, Harley Davidson Financial Services Inc., the company said it continues to successfully access the credit markets to fund its lending activities. On Oct. 9, HDFS completed a $700 million term securitization transaction with a weighted average interest rate of 1.2%. HDFS recorded an operating loss of $31.5 million for the third quarter compared to an operating profit of $35.6 million in the third quarter of 2008.

    Harley could finally see a turnaround after the restructuring and the hopeful return of a stable economy. But even though its stock is up Thursday, the iconic motorcycle maker has still lost about $10 billion in market over the past two years. Its cap is around $6 billion now. When it was trading around $60, some had speculated --- for whatever reason -- that Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (NYSE:HMC) was eying a bid. Our sister blog 'Dealscape' showed
    why that was a silly notion. But for any other would-be buyers, Harley is a lot cheaper these days.


    Die dulci fruimini!
    Ken.
    Wolds Bikers, Lincolnshire, England.

  5. #5
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    True Harley riders don't really care but Buell was starting to make an impact. It's a sad day when any manufacturer bites the dust....

  6. #6
    Administrator Ken's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CharlieCLU View Post
    True Harley riders don't really care but Buell was starting to make an impact. It's a sad day when any manufacturer bites the dust....
    Sad indeed, Charlie. I was so impressed with the 1125R that I changed my avatar as some of you may have noticed.

    Ken.
    Die dulci fruimini!
    Ken.
    Wolds Bikers, Lincolnshire, England.

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