Deadly Buell Blast is no more Moonrider Redux

1 Мар 2015 | Author: | Комментарии к записи Deadly Buell Blast is no more Moonrider Redux отключены
Buell Blast

Moonrider Redux

Deadly Buell Blast is no more

The motorcycle associated with more rider training fatalities is no more. Buell is no longer going to produce the Buell Blast.  Check out this tongue-in-cheek video that officially announced what insiders had known for some time:

Prior to the Blast, the smallest motorcycle Buell had ever produced was the RW750 in 1983—and that only for racing and discontinued quickly.

In 1993, the Motor Company bought 49% of Buell, Harley-Davidson Motor Company had purchased Buell shortly after it had decided that the best way to attract younger riders and women riders was to offer a motorcycle training course. To do that, they needed both a curriculum and motorcycle small enough to use for training.

Rather than dilute the Harley Big Manly Bike image, in 1998 the Motor Company bought a further 49% interest in Buell. HD misunderstood and consequently mismanaged the brand over the years and failed to establish it as a serious contender for the rapidly growing sportbike and sport-tourer market. It’s interest in Buell was primarily in providing a conduit to attract  women and young men and funnel them to the motorcycles produced by the parent company.

And controlling Buell provided them a way to own a training motorcycle—it developed the Blast, with a 492cc. engine that came in at 360 lbs. dry. That was still too big for MSF’s rider training motorcycle criteria. However, in 1998, the Motor Company was not an MSF member.

While Harley had been one of the founding members of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) back in the early 70s, it was no longer shortly after it had finagled the the infamous tariff against imported motorcycles in 1983. Whether Harley was kicked out as some say or left of its own accord due to very bad blood, it was no longer a member of MSF (and is still not a member of the Motorcycle Industry Council).

And the Motor Company began negotiations with MSF about joining the trade group. Or rather, according to sources who were present at the meetings, Harley told MSF what it wanted—and MSF complied. The new rider training curriculum MSF was developing had to be more consumer-friendly—this translated to the “student-centered/adult-learning” basis of the Basic RiderCourse (BRC)—and the motorcycle criteria had to change to fit the Blast.

Harley came in with the majority market share position—thus paying the most dues—and gained the chairmanship of the board of trustees. The criteria was changed so the Blast was acceptable and Harley began Rider’s Edge using a black-and-orange version of MSF’s curriculum.

Before the Blast began to be used in training, the most expert of rider educators and administrators informed both Harley and MSF that the bike is too heavy for students to handle easily, too tall for its heavier weight, has too “torque-y” and engine for it’s weight, an “on-off” clutch with no friction zone, and while the brakes are excellent, they are not forgiving. The bike doesn’t stall out because it has so much torque and when students pop the clutch and the bike shoots forward, they grab on to the handlebars–and end up rolling on the throttle WFO. They predicted that serious crashes would occur—though they never imagined that training deaths would occur.

Buell Blast

Right from the beginning, those experts were proven true: the Blast was associated with injury crashes resulting from riders crashing into obstacles located within 40-feet of the range. However, very few were known by the rider education community.

In fact, serious injuries began to occur before anyone suspected. The first lawsuit known to be associated with Rider’s Edge was the result of a training crash in 2002 at Wild Boar Harley Davidson in Hudsonville, MI (now Grand Rapids Harley). According to the Appeals Court summary, “Plaintiff Susan McCoy purchased two motorcycles from defendant Kelley’s Harley Davidson, Inc. d/b/a Wild Boar Harley Davidson, Inc. (“Kelley’s”) in June 2002.

After purchasing the motorcycles, plaintiff enrolled in a motorcycle safety course titled “Rider’s Edge New Riders Course” partially sponsored by Kelley’s and defendant Motorcycle Safety Foundation, Inc. (“MSF”). During the course, plaintiff accidentally drove a motorcycle into a brick wall, injuring her ankle, pelvis, scapula, thumb and wrist.”  Prior to the crash that resulted in multiple injuries, instructors had “reprimanded her for handling the motorcycle improperly.” She claimed that they had failed to make sure she mastered the wrist down position.

Rider’s Edge, with its combination of a dangerous bike and dangerous courses, continued it’s injurious progress over the years. Another death occurred in Kenosha,WI at Uke’s Harley-Davidson during a course and near-fatalities were rampant including ones in West Virginia and Florida.

For example, in one state where Rider’s Edge courses comprised only 25% of the sites associated with the state program, Rider’s Edge courses were responsible for 52.13% of all accidents and 60% of all injuries and all the broken bones and dislocations. Students, unable to control the clutch and throttle ran off the range into such objects as walls, fences, creeks and trees.

The Buell Blast’s market was, by far, the dealerships that offered Rider’s Edge themselves. Few of the motorcycles were sold even so. That Harley-Davidson has finally stopped producing this deadly training motorcycle is a cause for relief—but what the Motor Company will replace it with is anyone’s guess.

It can only be assumed that this deadly little bike will continue to be used in Rider’s Edge until a replacement bike manufactured by the Parent Company or one of its subsidiaries such as MV Agusta is found.

Buell Blast
Buell Blast
Buell Blast
Buell Blast


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