Every time I hear the words ‘Buell Motorcycles‘ uttered melancholy descends over me. I imagine the amazing motorcycles that Erik Buell would have developed if Harley Davidson hadn’t pulled the pin on his enterprising. Now, all we are left with are ageing examples of his efforts. I can’t help but think that if H-D had let him keep innovating things would be very different in Milwaukee today.
Florian Taverne and Christophe Kling run the workshop Taverne Motorcycles on the southern coast of France. The pair are self-proclaimed autodidacts who have been maintaining, repairing, customising and restoring motorcycles for the past 5 years. Like any workshop, most of their work is for customers but this project was entirely their own. “The Project X started with just a Buell M2 1200 Sportster motor and we had to source or build all the parts to complete the rest of the bike,” says Florian.
Buell dabbled with their own factory-built cafe racer back in 2008 with their 1125CR. Based on the most powerful model in their range the bike was by all accounts a beast. Unfortunately, like many other factory cafe racers, its connection to the style was flimsy. Florian and Christophe’s M2 cafe racer was to be a very different kind of bike. With no Harley accounts department or brand managers breathing down their necks, they set out to build an entirely original Buell cafe racer from scratch.
Once they had sourced a solid Buell M2 frame Taverne set about getting the bike rolling again. For the front end, they secured a set of fully adjustable Triumph 955i forks which were mounted using a modified yoke. Rear-end suspension duties were then taken care of using a Buell X1 swing arm and Shock Factory mono-shock. The X1 swingarm adds 8cm to the overall length of the bike and the custom mounted shock keeps everything nice and level. For the wheels, the boys picked out a set of 17 inch, lightweight forged alloy rims from an Aprilia RSV4 which they’ve wrapped in ContiSportAttack 2 rubber. As radical as Buell’s perimeter brakes were there’s no sign of them here. Instead, Taverne opted for a complete Berringer set up that spans the disks, callipers, reservoirs and levers.
“The biggest challenge on this project was the realisation of the aluminium bodywork” Florian recalls. The handmade bodywork consists of a monocoque style tank and tail unit which sits perched on the modified M2 frame. A belly pan was also put together which doubles as an oil tank for the dry-sump v-twin. An additional side-mounted oil-cooler keeps temperatures at safe levels and it’s styled to match the finish of the engine. Mounted between the rear cylinder and shock is a faux oil alloy tank that houses the bike’s battery and electrical components. The headlight sits in a bespoke cowl nestled between the forks and the front fender was rolled from sheet metal.
The frame of the Buell M2 widens at the front and hoops around the engines front cylinder. Taverne utilised the space above the engine to stash more of the bikes electrics leaving the engine and handlebars free from clutter. On the right side of the bike a custom side panel houses a Motogadget gauge, on the left is the ignition, warning lights and kill switch. For the realisation of some of their other components, Taverne enlisted the help of USV Racing who machined the clip-on handlebars, grips, rear-set footpegs and miscellaneous mounting hardware. To wrap up the aesthetic upgrades a colour scheme consisting of metallic gold, black and bare alloy has been applied. And a commissioned a tattoo artist from Sparrow Kustom Tattoo engraved the engine cases.
From the factory, the Buell M2 engine was a modified version of Harley’s 1200cc Sportster v-twin. It produced 90bhp in standard trim, but Taverne wanted to unlock some additional power. For this, they installed a Mikuni HSR carburettor, high flow air filter and a custom exhaust system. These changes along with the weight savings have transformed the M2’s power delivery. Add to that the combination of upgraded suspension, premium brakes and performance rubber and you’ve got yourself one hell of a wild ride. So although Taverne Motorcycles M2 Cyclone is far from anything Erik Buell imagined it’s everything a v-twin powered cafe racer should be.