Buell M2 Cyclone review
Pressure level two
The M2 has always been an extravagant motorcycle. And when it comes to the performance of the time-honored Harley V2 engine, the Buell people said they still have something up their sleeves. They gave the 1999 model a slightly more powerful engine. But not only that.
As a Buell driver you get used to it. Very fast. To the puzzled looks of a number of passers-by and to drivers who overslept the green phase at the traffic lights out of sheer amazement. As a driver of a motorcycle that is not around every corner, you have to live with it. In the case of a Buell, also with this strange box on the right side that you take for a long walk with you. “Helmholtz Volume Power System”, that’s the name of this ominous box, is simply a part of a Buell, including the 1999 vintage M2. Otherwise, however, they have already lent a hand. The sports motorcycle manufacturer docked at Harley-Davidson has made some efforts to make a motorcycle that has already been respectable and with undisputed qualities that little bit better.
And to give it a propellant with more pressure, for example. Of course, there was only one engine that came into question, since the tradition-conscious Americans are their own. So basically that 45 degree V2 engine continues, no matter how baroque it may appear to some contemporaries. For years, this nominally 58 hp engine has been in service in thousands upon thousands of Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200s without complaint. Known everything else, but not a sports engine ?? at least as standard. After a visit to Buell’s fitness studio, however, the V2 shows its second self: the test M2 released a good 93 hp peak power and 115 Newton meters of maximum torque, values that are worthy of all honor.
Values that could impress a lot more while driving if it weren’t for this torque hole into which the Buell driver plops between 2000 and 3000 rpm. The otherwise pleasing carburetor engine doesn’t really want to. And especially the bang from the low revs, that’s what Buell is actually committed to. Too bad. But the steady thrust from 3000 rpm makes one forgiving, even if the V2 has never been a product of maneuverability. Also convincing: the moderate drinking habits of the robust engine. Whereby by no means should be confused with crude. Anyone who has ever experienced the painful vibrations of a Harley engine will be surprised by the smoothness, yes, culture, of the M2 drive. What is recorded positively under “good vibrations” in chopper and cruiser circles would in the long run take the last nerve away from a more sporty naked biker. But this Buell doesn’t, thanks to the ingenious engine mount. This is still in the changed framework of the Buell. Because of this new layout of the tubular space frame, the manifold of the rear cylinder could be moved further forward, which largely saved the driver’s calf from heat and worse. Incidentally, this change is also pleasing to the eye: quite artistic, the bizarre stainless steel mesh of the two-in-one exhaust system.
The conventional fork, on the other hand, has been adopted unchanged from its predecessor. It responds well and is also sufficient for ambitious country road pilots, but always turns slightly to the right when braking heavily, because Buell deliberately does without the second brake disc. Part of the philosophy: company founder Eric Buell demands as little unsprung mass as possible. And that’s why only six-piston pliers bite into a huge 340 brake disc. Incidentally, it can be dosed well and decelerates perfectly even at brisk country road speeds.
Unfortunately, the M2 does not like that much, because it is a bit stubborn and reacts with a noticeable righting moment. Unfortunately, this spoils some of the driving fun that the Buell could otherwise bring to its driver with its handy two-cylinder. In any case, the facilities for this are available: a relaxed seating position, for example, and a significantly wider and more comfortable bench compared to the previous model. Or great knees on the enlarged, now 19 liter plastic tank. Also gratifying: the new spring strut, which is under tension, takes its job very seriously. A metal cover now protects the Showa element from dirt and moisture. Tight damping combined with good responsiveness do not pose problems for the M2 hindquarters, which is also equipped with a new, stiffer aluminum swing arm, even on bumpy roads. Short, hard hits are no longer simply passed on to the driver’s back without being filtered.
All small things that have an extremely positive effect overall: The coordination of the C.yclone has been adapted more to the faster driving style in Europe. Without smoothing the angular character of this motorcycle, however. And that’s good.
Buell develops, adapts the M2 more to the stricter driving style in Europe. You obviously want to get away from the much ridiculed café racer image, the M2 is proof of that. An alternative to Italian two-cylinder? Perhaps. It depends on the attempt. Because you have to get involved with them. Not just because it looks different. Buell driving is fundamentally different. Anyone who swears stone and leg by silky smooth running, beefy four-cylinder, will not be happy with it, that’s for sure.
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