As an ex-Buell owner, anytime I get the chance to write about one I’m going to take it. From start to finish, Buell has released some cracking bikes. There’s really not a single model, except for the Buell Blast, that people don’t stop and look at. It’s always a conversation piece at brewery bike shows littered with retro-modern Euro bikes ridden by hipsters with tight black jeans, suspiciously clean leather boots, and a few tattoos. If they don’t stop and look on their first pass by, they certainly will when they hear the Harley firing order which will make them wish their poor little Thruxton could carry the same tune.
The Buell story has been told many time on RSBFS. Track rat turned Harley engineer turned motorcycle builder. The X1 is a precursor to some of the more innovative designs that Buell came up with but what really shines about the X1 is it’s classic design. It’s a simple V-twin housed in a tube frame with a single round headlight up front.
One of the core tenets of the Buell engineering philosophy was keeping a low center of gravity. While that was taken to the next level on the XBs, you can see the beginnings in the X1. The X1 received the underslung exhaust and a battery tray that lives right above the gearbox. An upside down Showa front fork helps keep the front-end stable under braking and on corner-entry which is an ode to Buell’s pursuit of performance. A cheap, lanky front fork would’ve satisfied the bean counters but left riders with much to desire.
In all of the design craziness of the Buell lineup, one of the aspects that tend to get overlooked is actually the engine. The X1 got upgraded heads and and pistons that put out ~80 hp and ~80 lb-ft of torque which was significantly better than the 1200cc Sportster of the time. While that motor would have been exciting in a Sportster, it really shines in the shorter wheelbase X1 that was ~50 pounds lighter. People tend to think any and every Harley engine is a sluggish, overweight piece of metal that happens to create rotational movement. What they don’t realize is these juiced up Harley engines are torque monsters that don’t start wheezing as they get up in the rev range. Combine that with the soundtrack and you have a gem of a motor.
Aesthetically, the X1 is a great bike with one major flaw. The intake on the right side and air scoop on the left are truly atrocious. They make the X1 look bloated and ruin the visual lines of the design. Fortunately, there are a ton of aftermarket intake options to clean up the front of the bike. Aside from the that design flaw, the X1 has a cafe-esque design with a contrasting swingarm and subframe that nicely draw the eye to the back of the bike. The X1 also benefits from the inherent symmetry of the V-twin which adds to the cafe look. The polished rims are pretty sweet too.
Clean X1s are not that common to come by anymore. At one point, these were very cheap and lot of people did some things they shouldn’t have to these bikes. As far as price goes, for a clean bike this isn’t crazy but anything more than $5k would really be pushing it. That being said, people are going to wish they could pay $5k 5 years from now. This has all the elements of an appreciating classic: a great story, engine, and style. This X1 is also in incredible condition. It looks like it’s fresh off the showroom floor despite the 11k on the odo so that should help value as time goes on. Just double check with the seller on the exhaust as an R&D doesn’t yield any results on a quick google search.