By John Burns
Yea verily, with all that’s come and gone with Erik Buell and his motorcycles, it’s hard to believe only 20 years have transpired since he begat the X1. This was truly a motorcycle that was stealthily sneaking up on being a machine that could compete with some of the best in the world. At that time, Harley-Davidson had just bought up control of Buell Motorcycles. Surely goodness and mercy would follow Buell all the days of his life?
1999 Buell Lightning X1
A Different Way to Dance
Los Angeles, September 27, 1999 — There will always be things we are forced to accept, without explanation. Remember the kid back in high school you could never figure out? He was the one that everyone thought was a dork, but he somehow got invited to all the parties, hung out with the cheerleaders and such. You know, the nerd who would somehow befriended all the jocks and stoners and the rest of the ‘cool’ people. He was just so out-there, so un-cool that he was cool. Even those that didn’t understand him had to accept him.That kid, in this bike’s honor, shall from now on be referred to as Buell. When Erik Buell was at Harley, he helped with the design of some of the first FXR frames.
So it was only a natural progression that when he decided to go the sportier route and build something decidedly un-cruiserish, he wedged a Milwaukee-born power plant into his sport frame. As things came along and the bikes took shape, as is often the case, the offspring looked quite like its creator; which is to say, the bike was quite quirky at first. It had a number of cool features that onlookers admired, but it was decidedly homebuilt, in both look …read more