What do you do with a half finished 2001 Buell X1 Lightning project bike? That was the question facing John Whitby when he saw it. His friend, Mark Blundell, runs a salvage yard in Canada where the owner brought the non running Buell to get it off his hands. When John and Mark later looked at the Buell, adding new plugs, a battery and some fuel, they had a runner, though still half way to somewhere only the previous owner could know. It sat in a corner for a year when John figured he could do something with it, he had visions of a cafe racer.
Stripping the Buell down, a Lyta-style three-gallon short circuit Norton fuel tank was ordered plus an alloy oil tank and matching seat. Of course, those would never fit the Buell frame so surgery was involved, cutting away the top of the frame and rebuilding it to serve as the base for the tank and seat and creating the look of the Norton featherbed frame it was meant to emulate.
A BMW fender, Lucas style lights, Norman Hyde handlebars, a Sportster carburetor in place of the fuel injection, lots of custom fabrication and all of the remaining Buell pieces combine to make a pretty convincing Norton Manx with some fairly obvious modern touches. In other words, you get the look of the old Norton with the handling of a modern Buell, in my mind, that’s a pretty satisfying combination and far superior to some of the repurposed Buells I’ve seen. Nice work, John!
I stumbled onto this bike, as I do so often, because it’s currently for sale on eBay. Cycle Canada has a very nice article about it, too. It seems to me, the new owner would have a pretty sweet ride and it serves as a source of ideas for anyone with an older Buell who might be tempted to rework it into something new.