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Sturgis 2001 Buell

Fast And Agile--Just Right For An Escape From L.A.

by Bandit

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It's part of our job as moto-journalists to try what's out there in the American market and report back. The ultimate test is to take a bike, customize it and ride it to Sturgis. What could give you a truer test of a bike's ability to look cool and endure a long run? I've been fortunate enough to customize and ride everything from nearly bone stock bikes to ground-up customs. Each trip is an adventure. Each run has varying characteristics, and with each journey there's a new woman, but that's my problem.


This year we needed to make a choice. I had a Kenny Boyce Pro Street frame that I planned to load a Twin Cam engine into and ride to the Badlands. I also had a 2000 Buell M-2 and I had recently installed dual Mikuni carb heads on my '48 Panhead. Since I'm also working on a Pro Street custom for Dr. Ladd Terry, the Bikernet morale officer, I decided to hold onto my Pro Street project for next year. Another doctor, Dr. Hamster, had been working on his 34 VL and was excited about riding it to Sturgis. We both knew that the antique ride would be a long shot.


On top of the time/money consideration, I enjoy riding the M-2. It's the hotrod of Harleys, light, agile, brakes like a madman and hauls ass. The guys at Harley like to refer to Buells as their street fighters. I have to agree. So I decided that I needed to put some miles on it and experience its ability for distance. Like last year when I told folks that I was going to ride a rigid to Sturgis, I got the same reaction to the Buell. I rode it to Laughlin with a passenger and soft saddlebags. The bike handled like a dream. At 100 mph, it was more stable than most Big Twins, and acceleration was always at hand. There's no hesitation from zip to 100 mph, and that's my riding range. I was advised at one point to put a smaller pulley on the rear for lower rpms while cruising. Later I found that the modification had its glitches. I found that the bike was glass smooth at 100 and still zippy and that was good enough for me. We began a series of mild mods with a cam change to the Screamin' Eagle race version and added the stainless race header. My partner to Laughlin had a blast and was so comfortable she passed on several rest stops. We kept going and ran out of gas in the desert. So you can understand why there's a new woman each year. She's still out there somewhere. In the final analysis the decision was made to ride the Buell to the Black Hills Rally.

If you've read the techs, you know what we did to this puppy, so I'll go beyond the build to a few conceptions about Buell. First, there is no fairing to speak of, but I actually found the bike extremely comfortable to ride. The little chin fairing keeps the big blast off your chest and I didn't need anymore. I may regret those words as I hit the Colorado monsoons, but so far, so good. Some guys complained about the sitting position, but I found it comfortable once I knew how to sit. Like any bike, you need to find the groove. The brothers talked about leaning on the bars and too much weight on the wrists. I found that if I leaned over the bars I put excessive weight on my grip, but if I sat on my ass, it was no different than other bikes, although under hard braking situations you are thrust forward.


Some felt the ride on a Buell would be rough, yet most were unaware that the bike is basically a rubbermounted Sportster, and incredibly smooth, especially at 80-100 mph.


Others thought I might look ridiculous, and I told them I look ridiculous all the time anyway. What difference would this year make? Others don't like mid controls. If you're not used to them, you may find that you need to adjust, but once you get the hang of them, you'll find less pressure on your back.


Alright enough perceptions and conceptions, let's get ready to ride. The Buell has 400 miles on it since we made the cosmetic changes and cured some rocker box leaks.

This last week we installed Joker Machine billet and anodized turn signals on it and hid them as much as possible.


We picked up a small oil cooler from Chrome Specialties and installed it with longer oil lines at the front of the bike. The oil capacity is about 2.5 quarts, which always makes me nervous, so we changed oil and plugged in the largest Dyna oil filter we could find. The filter and cooler combination allowed us to squeak in 3 quarts and take some precarious kinks out of the lines. I also stopped by Joker Machine and they liked the mods so much they told me to run one of their point covers or die.


Dewey's Custom Pegs makes the cleanest air cleaner cover on the market and it fit like a dream. Finally we ordered a chrome hardware kit for the rear pulley. While disassembling the rear wheel, we polished the right wheel spacer and the belt adjuster guides--not bad touches.

So Sturgis 2001 is one week away. If I collect enough aluminum cans off the beach I'll have a pile of quarters for spending money. The woman in my life is the best candidate to run Bikernet while I'm on the road, and I'm ready.


This is our quest each year, to build a vehicle and make it to the Badlands to talk about it. I'll have a full report upon my return. Hang on.

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