The SingleCylinder Gazette - 9/20/99

(Note: This page is the first of a series including complete specs and a 3,000 mile road test. Index of pages is here.)

The Buell Single

Rumors, Facts, and Spy Photos

There's been a lot of speculation in the motoring press these past few months. A lot of people knew Buell had a single-cylinder motorcycle coming along, but facts were scarce, and rumors ran a bit wild.

The engine, for instance, has been attributed to "high-tech" Swedish designers, or Rotax; take your pick. Here's a compendium of what's been passing for information in the press, along with some genuine spy photos and first-hand roadside reports.

Three test bikes were spotted on a remote back road in the Arizona desert in May of '99. Their riders were putting in long days in the saddle, and happened to pull up around sundown for a stretch, right under the window of a single-cylinder aficionado. So much for secrets. Not much could be gotten out of the test riders; they stuck to the Cowboy Code of "Yup", "Nope", and "Reckon so".But the motorcycles talked too much: they were discreetly marked "Buell by Harley-Davidson".

The road testing continued through the summer, with local temps up to 120 degrees, and monsoon thunderstorms that caused violent flash flooding and washed out roads. Two of the Buell Singles were seen in the area as recently as September 9th, idling comfortably at an intersection after a hell of a trial by heat and flood.

If you want to hear two of these Singles hammering uphill into a hard left, here it is in mp3:

Now for some informative details.

The best bet on engine displacement is 500cc. The crankcase is a stressed frame member, the downtube bolting to it forward of the cylinder base. A carburetor was seen angling to the right rear. Running up the right side of the cylinder is what may be an overhead cam drive. There's a Sportsterish primary cover on the left. No kickstart was seen on the test bikes.

Final drive is by belt. The rear suspension is a conventional swing-arm with a single shock angling forward under the saddle.There are single-disc brakes front and rear.

Here's a roundup of recent press scuttlebutt: says the Single will be introduced later this year; but Motorcyclist (9/99) wonders if the recent recall of almost 19,000 Buell motorcycles will delay the introduction of new models.Cycle World (9/99), citing an anonymous "company spokesman", reports the Single will cost under $4,000, with a full-price buy-back for riders trading one in for a Buell or Harley-Davidson twin.

BUELL SINGLE leaning into a left-hand hairpin. Is that an OHC drive running up the cylinder?

In closing, we'll add some fresh grist to the rumor mill. Why road-test this new model in a remote corner of Arizona 100 miles from Anywhere? Heat, yes. Privacy? That didn't work out too well. Consider this:

Back in March, Ford and Harley-Davidson announced a 5-year "technical and marketing" agreement. These photos were taken 18 air miles from Ford's Arizona Proving Ground, an installation covering almost 6 square miles of desert, with everything an automotive engineer could ask for in vehicle testing. It may be a coincidence, but the Buells appeared to be running the same road course Ford uses to test its light trucks.

Could be there's a "Ford Tough" American-made Single coming our way. Be on the lookout.

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