Patriotic bike enthusiast, racer, and entrepreneur Erik Buell had a dream: to make an all-American sportbike. That would have been nearly impossible for a small-timer to do if he’d insisted on creating an engine from scratch to power the bike, so Buell took a proven, iconic American motor and stuck it into his new motorcycle. The first-generation Buells were strikingly styled, but very odd. They worked pretty well but had a cobbled-together look and feel that didn’t appeal to mainstream buyers. This Buell M2 Cyclone is from the second “tube-frame” generation and has a spare, café-racer style a bit like an American Monster. When new, these did come in a number of wild color combinations, including the white-framed “White Lightning” version that had blue ceramic-coated headers. So not really bikes for shrinking violets.
The Harley Davidson 45° v-twin has a number of shortcomings, but a lack of character isn’t one of them. These things do feel very alive and, for many motorcycle fans, there’s no substitute for the “potato-potato” exhaust note and classic motorcycle sensations of the classic pushrod twin. It’s a pretty ideal engine for a roadbike, with mounds of torque from just off idle and a lazy feel that helps you relax a bit while your hands buzz into numbness… It’s relatively narrow as well, although the non-unit gearbox negates that advantage somewhat: it’s narrow between your knees leaves your feet splayed out to the sides. It makes plenty of power too: 91hp and 85ft-lbs of torque and a dry weight of 435lbs mean effortless motive force at pretty much any rpm.
The biggest problem is that the package is incredibly heavy, which is fine for a bagger designed to cruise the highways, but not so great for a lightweight roadster designed to carve up backroads and racetracks. But Buell used a number of tricks to keep weight down to reasonable levels, and the attention to detail on the tube-framed bikes is pretty impressive: heim-jointed rods control engine vibration, a compact rear suspension arrangement to keep the wheelbase short, and an exhaust packaged under the engine keeps the center-of-gravity... Centered.
From the original eBay listing: 2002 Buell M2 Cyclone for Sale
Very rare 2002 Buell M2 Cyclone with the famed Harley 1203cc motor (well known to go into the 100,000 mile range with very little maintenance). Maintained by Harley mechanic. Clean title in hand. Never down, tipped over, or ridden foolishly. Extremely low miles (3,956). Starts, rides, sounds amazing. Owned by a mid-40s motorcycle collector who takes very good care of motorcycles. It is highly unlikely you will ever see another one being ridden near you and if you do, it likely will not be in the condition this great motorcycle is in. Needs nothing but a rider.
I am selling because I am buying investment real estate and putting the money towards that purchase.
Harley riders love this bike. Sport bike riders love this bike. It gets more comments and compliments from both the Harley guys and sport bike guys than any bike I've ever owned. Harley guys wave at me while riding it. Sport bike guys, too. It is a very rare bike that has a coveted spot in motorcycle appreciation by millions of riders.
There are no stories. It is a very rare, spectacular motorcycle, that is a joy to ride and to talk about with other riders who comment on it frequently. It runs 10/10. Compared to other similar year Buells, it looks 8/10 and I tend to be overly critical compared to most riders.
The seller also includes a list of recent services and modifications that have been done. This orange-framed machine is very striking, and appears to be in very nice, original condition with low miles. Only those tacky carbon-look short turn signals let the appearance down. Seriously: you stick a $20 pair of JC Whitney bits on your pride and joy? Plenty of manufacturers make affordable and classy bits if you want to get rid of the stock units.
Buells always generate plenty of controversy when we post them, and it's easy to see why: on paper, these bikes just don’t make all that much sense and the in-your-face styling is very love-it or hate-it. Except for that hideous airbox. That's just hate-it. But even hypercritical British biking journalists at the time seemed to get what was going on here: fun, more than outright performance. An all-American sportbike just because. I had the pleasure of riding a pristine White Lightning very recently and it took a few minutes to get used to the conflicting sensations: that throbbing, thudding twin contrasted with the light, flickable handling, like I was riding two motorcycles at once. That may not be your thing, but these definitely make handy backroad tools and you certainly will generate attention wherever you go.