1996 Buell S1 Lightning
Frame no. 4MZSS56J1T3220049
Engine no. SS56T220049
A marque that didn't exist 20 years ago, Buell has come a long way in a short time. Founded by Erik Buell, the company has established its own unique brand image, building a range of Harley-Davidson-powered sports bikes combining the Milwaukee twin's traditional 'stump pulling' torque with a state-of-the art chassis possessing the dimensions and geometry of a Grand Prix 250.
An AMA expert-class racer and Harley engineer, Erik Buell quit his job with the company to build his own Formula 750 racer, only to find that the class was to be scrapped. At around the same time, Harley asked him to design a new chassis for its legendary twins racer 'Lucifer's Hammer' and he was also commissioned to build a futuristic sports bike to celebrate motorcycling's 100th anniversary. Cleverly, Buell managed to combine these two requirements. Favourably received at a dealer conference, the result entered limited production as the Buell RR1000 Battletwin. These first Buells used 1,000cc XR (pre-Evolution) engines; rubber mounted in a tubular-steel chassis featuring an under-slung rear shock that extended as the wheel rose.
As Buell production steadily increased so did Harley-Davidson's stake in the company, which it now entirely owns. With H-D's resources behind him, Erik Buell was able to take his unique concept a stage further, introducing an entirely new aluminium-alloy beam chassis. Innovative as ever, the latter contains fuel within its main spars and oil in the swinging arm, and is found in the latest Firebolts and Lightnings.
Dating from 1996, the year this iconic model was first introduced, this S1 Lightning has Buell's first-generation tubular-steel frame and is powered by a tuned 74ci (1,200cc) Harley-Davidson Sportster engine producing a claimed 91bhp at the crankshaft. 'Although plenty of bikes make far more out-and-out power, the Buell has enough, when allied to its competitive 193kg (425lb) of weight, to give seriously useful roadgoing performance,' reckoned Bike magazine. Combined with Buell's assured styling touch, the result was a class-leading, streetfighter-style 'naked' that, as an early example of the marque, can only become increasingly collectible in the future. The machine displays a total of only 11 miles on the odometer and is presented in 'as delivered' condition. It has been recently serviced and recommissioned.