Posts by Category: Buell

Buell March 8, 2015 posted by

Raw Awesome 1998 Buell S1 Lightning

From the S2 Thunderbolt of 1994-95, the Buell S1 Lightning was a decrease in model number and price, but an improvement in many ways.  Developed by Harley-Davidson engineer Erik Buell, the Buell bikes pioneered many innovative features but never denied their desire for the brute horsepower of the 1203cc Sportster engine.

1998 Buell S1 Lightning for sale on eBay

20150307 1998 buell s1 left

20150307 1998 buell s1 right

Adjectives like pure, naked and muscular are used on the Buell S1, some comparing its single-minded design to the Ducati Monster.  With the Buell features such as horizontal rear shock absorber, large diameter front brake disc, and isoplanar engine mounts, there is no denying the performance orientation of the 100 hp machine.

20150307 1998 buell s1 left engine

20150307 1998 buell s1 right engine

With under 1000 miles, this one seems mint.  From the eBay listing:

944 miles, one owner. To include new battery, original cylinder assembly with pistons, original heads, original air filter assembly (motor upgraded prior to delivery), plus original and Corbin seats. Bike properly stored in heated shop.

20150307 1998 buell s1 binnacle

There was a factory upgrade engine available in 1998, maybe that's what was installed on this bike, though there are countless H-D 1200 upgrades available.  Also seen here is a cone filter instead of the factory Power Volume intake.  The owner has upgraded to a Corbin seat but includes the factory piece.  WP suspension, low maintenance belt drive, and Italian controls complete this innovative package.  Blue trellis frame and orange bodywork have a good-natured effect on this thunder bike.



Raw Awesome 1998 Buell S1 Lightning
Buell December 27, 2014 posted by

Blue & White Buell: Buell XB12R in Washington


2009 Buell XB12 for sale on ebay

Here is a Buell XB12 with only 3 miles on the odometer.  Now I know some regular readers of RSBFS aren't big fans of the Buell lineup, with the usual complaint being along the lines that they were just a disguised Harley Davidson and aren't really that rare.  But consider this- the Buell lineup was one of the first to use a frame that puts fuel in the frame spars and oil in the swingarm.   Also the traditional hub-mounted rotor gave way to a perimeter-mounted unit and another defining feature (a trend Buell started) was the "mass centralized muffler" that exited under the bike.

Its also important to note that for the XB12 the motor wasn't actually a Harley Davidson product.  Instead, it was for the first time a purpose-built bike specific for the brand.  The XB12 was reported to produced 103 HP at 6,800 RPM and 84 LB-FT at 6,000 RPM and be  good for mid 11's in the quarter mile.

buell riders left

All in all, the Bike had some pretty serious tech, a lot of which can be seen as evolution into Erik Buells new EBR bikes.  Reviewers were generally positive about the bike;  consider the following from motorcycle daily:

There are pros and cons to a Buell XB: adequately muffled, they sound great, and on the road, they’re a nice experience — the torquey motor pulls sweetly and provides adequate thrust for real-world riding. The true stars of the show are the chassis and the brakes. They’re both user friendly and provide good feedback. Heck, the seat is even comfortable enough for long rides if you can figure out how to fit luggage.

This particular Buell is the 1st gen with the Non-HD motor and incorporates all the other bits of Buell tech that the company was known for introducing.  Plus it only has 3 miles on the odometer according to the seller


So whats this XB12 worth?  Well Buells in general haven't started to catch the attention of collectors and it will never be a piece of unobtainium.   Then again this bike only has 3 miles on the odometer - I guess anyone who buys this bike will have to make a decision on whether they want to just tuck it away and hope it goes up in value or actually ride it and enjoy it...decisions, decisions.


Blue & White Buell:  Buell XB12R in Washington
Buell October 7, 2014 posted by

Beluga Buell: 1989 Buell 1200 Battletwin


I know a lot of RSBFS readers think that except for the new EBR bikes all Buells were kind of half-assed sportbikes that didn't measure up to the competition.   What is interesting to me is that if you say the name "John Britton" to these same people they will claim that the Britten V-1000 was probably the greatest bike of the last century.  Yet both John Britton and Eric Buell started out with a set of unconventional ideas and then built their bikes out of their garage workshops, producing something weird and kind of wonderful.  So perhaps its time to give the early Buell bikes a bit more respect.

1989 Buell RR1200 for sale on eBay

This 1989 Buell RR1200 Battletwin is located near Philadelphia, PA USA and currently has only 3500 miles.  For those of you unfamiliar with the Battletwin RR1200, it was essentially an evolution of the Buell RR1100 which was one of the most aerodynamic bikes ever built (FYI: The late 80's Buell 1000/1200 had lowerCdA than most modern bikes, including the wind tunnel designed Suzuki Hayabusa).  The major difference between the RR1000 and the RR1200 was the engine; while the RR1100 was powered by a vibration prone Harley Davidson XR1000 motor, in 1989 Buell adopted the new smoother HD 1200cc Evolution engine into the RR1200.

When it was introduced in 1989, the Buell Battletwin 1200 was an intriguing mix of old and new; a thoroughly modern chassis that was a Buell custom design, an exhaust positioned underneath the engine (to help with mass centralization), Marzocchi forks with anti-dive technology, and a horizontally mounted shock.  The looks were certainly different from what had appeared before;  as one reviewer wrote about it and the similarly oddball BMW K1 "they look like something built as a representation of what someone thought motorcycles would look like when we lived on the moon."


NOTE:   The following pics with bodywork removed are from a source other than the auction and should not be taken to show condition of the listed bike.

buell7 buell 8

The bike’s wide seat was found to be quite comfortable and thanks to Buell’s patented Uniplanar engine mounting system, the already reduced HD 1200 engine vibrations were kept further in check. The bike rode on 16-inch Dymag wheels and brakes were floating discs with four-piston calipers.

Even though the BattleTwin weighed about 170 kilos the focus was on handling and was about as good as anything from Europe.

"It is a quick steering yet stable bike that is easy to ride at high speeds through flowing turns.  It likes to be taken through corners on power and can understeer if you backed off the throttle while leant over in a corner but power through with the engine driving hard and you’d be rewarded with positive and neutral handling that made it hard to believe you were on a Harley.  In comparison, the competing 1989 BMW K1 was overweight, top heavy, hot and slow."


So what's it worth? Well it will probably appeal more to collector of oddball bikes than an investor, perhaps ending up parked alongside a HD VR1000 or Gilera CX125. Cost when new was about 12.5 k and this particular bike looks like it might need a new chain and probably some other items. Then again, according to a recent story done by, a good, well-maintained example could cost anywhere between US$25,000-50,000 today so this might be an opportunity for a collector/investor after all.


Beluga Buell:  1989 Buell 1200 Battletwin
Buell October 6, 2014 posted by

Featured Listing: Ready to Race 2007 Buell XBRR

Update 4.22.2015: This bike is heading to a new home. Congratulations to buyer and seller! -dc

Update 10.6.2014: Now on eBay, links added. -dc


Certainly not the handsomest machine, Buell’s XBRR was a factory racebike based on their XB12 streetbike that featured Buell’s customary obsession with mass-centralization and weight-reduction. Both very good ideas, considering the powerplant was based on Harley-Davidson’s antediluvian 1200cc, pushrod v-twin, but de-stroked and bored-out to 1339cc. With huge 62mm throttle bodies, the race-spec engine puts out 150hp and 100lb/ft of torque. It has no real powerband and pulls from just off idle until you run headlong into the 8,000rpm limiter.

2007 Buell XBRR for sale on eBay


But while the engine is the motorcycling equivalent of a big-block Chevy, the rest of the package definitely goes its own way. In classic Buell style, fuel is stored in the frame and oil in the swingarm, allowing a low center of gravity and providing good surface-area to keep things cool. The bike also features Buell’s signature Zero Torsion Load perimeter front brake, with a Nissin 8-piston caliper!


While I realize that Buell’s eventual move to a Rotax-based powerplant was necessary for the bike to compete on the world stage, there’s something cool about their use of a lumpy, torquey all-American v-twin, and the XBRR is probably the very last word in fast Harleys. And it’s likely to be the last word for some time. Instead of capitalizing on their rich racing history, Harley seems very content to rest on their “bad to the bone” image to sell bikes. Which makes sense as racing would require them to actually make bikes that can win races...


Normally, I like to fill in some blanks with the history of a bike in question, but in this case is our old buddies over at AutoMania have already done a fantastic job detailing this history of this machine.

From the AutomaniaGP website: 2007 Buell XBRR for Sale

My love of riding what I term “Anvils” has carried me on the frames of many older and what some people would refer to as “antiquated” rides. Most have been air-cooled BMW’s, some of which have genuinely surprised riders, others reacting with phrases such as “There goes a garage sale looking for a place to crash”. There is an extremely satisfying feeling of using an outdated Engine as a basis to build a quick and sometimes surprisingly fast motorcycle. With that that explanation, please do not think me out of plumb for lusting after this particular bike, the 2007 Buell XBRR Production Race Motorcycle we have here at the shop.

This bike was originally owned by Harley Davidson of Fredricksburg on the east coast of the US. They raced it during 2007 and it was the #2 bike for their racer Brian Bemisderfer. In 2010 it was bought by it’s present owner who was going to race it in the lightweight Twins class in Utah and also running it in Sounds of Thunder which is a AHMRA class. While on the Dyno at Harley Davidson in SLC the crankshaft let go. It had not even been to the track. Two sets of crankshaft parts were obtained and sent to John Hoban of Darkhorse Crankworks who built and balanced a new crank. The motor was then sent to Latus Harley Davidson in Portland Oregon and they rebuilt the engine.

Since then the bike has set in an office on static display. It is fully race prepped and starts immediately and runs nicely. It has not been to the track. It is modified with: Burns race muffler, STM Slipper clutch, Brembo master cylinder and a Penske rear shock. It was fitted with a starter motor and lightweight lithium battery but also comes with the hand held remote starter. Included are e 3 or 4 different rear sprockets and a 1 tooth smaller front sprocket, a new primary chain and one or two cylinder head temperature sensors. Included also is all of the data acquisition tools and CD’s, receipts for parts and labor for recent work and some minor spares. The bike has never been registered, having been issued an MSO by Buell when sold new originally. The MSO will be supplied to the new owner or an Oregon title created, which ever is desired.


Just 50 were planned, although 56 were rumored to have been produced. The XBRR was almost $31,000 when new, and the bike competed in AMA racing in the Formula Xtreme class. Its inclusion in that class was very controversial at the time, since it was intended for “production-based machines” and some of the other teams argued that the XBRR was anything but.

This example features a very desirable slipper-clutch, something the bike desperately needs that was not originally included. And the traditional Harley black-and-orange paint definitely looks better than the stock yellow!


At $20,000 this could be a great way to go racing for a reasonable price, and although bodywork might be a bit hard to come by, tuning parts for the engine should be obtainable. Plus, how hilarious would it be, passing riders on a bike with a non-unit gearbox? Not to mention the noise! The noise!


Featured Listing: Ready to Race 2007 Buell XBRR
Buell July 19, 2014 posted by

Serious Collectors Only: 1991 Buell RS1200 with only 111 miles

Join us in the comments for a discussion on what criteria should be considered for bikes to appear on RSBFS. Thanks for the post Marty! -dc

Let me say up front that I struggled a bit with submitting this bike, given the fact that its big, slow, is powered by a 1200cc air cooled engine more appropriate for a paint shaker than a sportbike and the comments on the last one of this brand posted weren't exactly positive.  But if this site is truly about rare sportbikes then it shouldn't really matter if they are first generation survivors like the GSX-750 LTD, unobtainum dreams like the Ducati Supermono, or weird techno efforts that missed the mark such as the Bimota V-Due or BMW K1.  The qualifications are whether it was trying to be a sportbike and whether its rare.

buell 1

1991 Buell RS1200 for sale on eBay

Here is the bike, a 1991 Buell RS1200 with only 111 miles.  The saga of Erik Buell and Harley Davidson is pretty well known but for anyone not familiar it can be summarized as the following: decide to build an American sportbike (in this case using a Harley Davidson engine), achieve some success, sell a large portion of the company to Harley, struggle in the Harley "image-comes-first" structure, get shut down during the financial crisis and finally restart all over again with a new company.

The RS1200 used a compact. lightweight and extremely clever chassis to hold the big HD V-twin from the Sportster range.  Also,the  forks had Buell’s devised anti-dive system which uses solenoid valves operated by the front brake lever to cut the forks’ air volume, effectively increasing the springs’ rising-rate just when it is most needed.  A full techno review of the bike can be read here.

buell 4

So does it belong here on RSBFS?  Well it was an expensive, small-volume sportbike that  didn’t sell in great numbers but lots of bikes on RSBFS are like that.   Perhaps most importantly, the RS was a truly professional attempt at building an American sports bike and it  was the machine that laid the foundations for Buell Motorcycles’ success in subsequent years.  It can even be considered to be part of the evolution of Buells excellent new 1190 EBR models.

This particular model has insanely low mileage which the seller seems to think will justify a price quite a bit above KBB values. Personally, I think this bike will only move to a collector who wants to build out a bit of his american sportbike collection...I can see it parked next the VR1000 and Roerh perhaps...

Note:  The seller is also selling a very nice 1975 HD RR259 Daytona Road Race Bike  and a 1974 Ducati GT 750 so perhaps a deal could be struck.


Serious Collectors Only:  1991 Buell RS1200 with only 111 miles
Buell July 4, 2014 posted by

Silk Purse Out of a Sow’s Ear: 1995 Buell Thunderbolt

I’m really not sure what it was that made Erik Buell stick with Harley Davidson power for so long. Maybe it was patriotism? Stubbornness, a desire to do something simply because no other sane person would even attempt it, let alone succeed?

Who knows, but the bikes he came up with, especially in those early years, are endearing and playful mutts, with a sort of cobbled-together style that stressed function over form. The weird, bulbous bodywork, the Performance Machine billet wheels, the huge, almost automotive air cleaner sticking out of the right side. But somehow it all works to create something that looks purposeful and cool, and clearly built around that imposing and iconic Harley mill.

1995 Buell Thunderbolt for sale on eBay

1995 Buell Thunderbolt S2 R Side

They also tuned the motor to make the powerband more sportbike-friendly and give it more than just a fat bottom-end. They did their best, but these are still heavy, low-revving lumps, and they run out of breath pretty early. But the torque, man. The torque

Buell eventually introduced many weight-saving, mass-centralizing features on their bikes, but you can still see indications of the direction he would eventually take in this early iteration. Although it lacks the distinctive ZTL [“zero torsional load”] perimeter brakes, their signature underslung exhaust was already in place and certainly unusual for the time.

This particular example looks great and includes a number of standard, effective upgrades that boost power for the 1200 Sportster engine to a claimed 108hp at the wheel!

1995 Buell Thunderbolt S2 Dash

From the original eBay listing: 1995 Buell Thunderbolt S2 for Sale

Up for sale is a cherry condition 1995 Buell Thunderbolt S2 Signature Edition. This particular bike has been owned and cared for by an adult and has not been down. It currently has 9314 miles which all have been well maintained by Lancaster Harley Davidson. The bike is currently on consignment and sitting in our show room for sale. It has had a fair amount of custom work with out effecting the quality of the ride or reliability. The custom work was all done proffesionally by J&B Moto Company and Lancaster Harley Davidson with the up most care taken when performing the work.

This bike might be relatively clunky and crude by today's standards, but it makes enough power to keep modern sportbikes honest. With most maintenance parts available at your local Harley dealer, this is an exotic you can live with that offers real-world performance in a sport-touring package. Also, that Harley connection means it’s okay to wear fringed leather chaps while riding, if you feel like it.


1995 Buell Thunderbolt S2 Front Rear

Silk Purse Out of a Sow’s Ear: 1995 Buell Thunderbolt