BUELL M2 CYCLONE (1997-2002) Review

Published: 23 November 2006

"Lacks the easygoing rideability of many Japanese four cylinders"

Buell M2 Cyclone motorcycle review - Riding

"Lacks the easygoing rideability of many Japanese four cylinders"

  • At a glance
  • 1203cc  -  93 bhp
  • 40 mpg  -  150 miles range
  • Insurance group: 15 of 17
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  • Medium seat height (749mm)

Overall Rating 3 out of 5

Buell twins are oddball machines and have struggled to win over traditional Harley and Japanese retro bike owners alike. The basic problem is the old hat pushrod V-twin, with its frankly clunky gearbox and diesel-esque power delivery. The Buell M2 Cyclone is one of the more funky versions of the Buell concept from the late 90s, but lacks the easygoing rideability of many Japanese four cylinder, or European twin cylinder rivals.

Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5

Decent Showa suspension, fairly neutral steering and a firm sporty ride overall make the Buell M2 Cyclone a surprisingly adroit motorcycle on twisty corners. The old tubular frame is plenty stiff enough for the modest power output and the M2 has a chunky dualseat on top of its rails, instead of the more modest seating accommodation of the Lightning models.

Engine 2 out of 5

In a Harley Sportster 1200, it doesn't really matter that the motor makes relatively sedate power, tends to overheat if caned and has a gearbox that needs a size 10 boot wielding with brutal authority to change gear. But on an alleged sportbike the Buell M2 Cyclone's motor just doesn't cut the mustard. Post-2000 Buell Cyclones had a claimed 93bhp instead of 86bhp in their 1203cc cases.   

Build Quality & Reliability 3 out of 5

Big old pushrod twins vibrate and sometimes bits work loose, or fall off them. That's the plain truth about many a twin cylinder machine and the Buells have been known to suffer from various complaints. They also run hot, and it's crucial that the impeller fan is working 100% and the engine oil is monitored carefully and changed frequently.

Insurance, running costs & value 3 out of 5

Buells have never been especially popular in the UK market, which means they're fairly thin on the ground as a used bike, making prices for a used M2 Cyclone - preferably with some aftermarket tuning bits on it - reasonably firm. True Buelligans will pay top dollar for a sorted example, but roughhouse dawgs are best avoided. Find a Buell M2 Cyclone for sale.

Insurance group: 15 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.

Equipment 3 out of 5

The Buell M2 Cyclone is a naked roadster motorcycle and as such has few luxury items on its spartan chassis. The brakes and suspension are decent pieces of kit and it has a good sized fuel tank that allows you a good touring range. Nice three spoke alloy wheels too. Compare and buy parts for the Buell CVyclone in the MCN Shop.

Owners' Reviews

6 owners have reviewed their BUELL M2 CYCLONE (1997-2002) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your BUELL M2 CYCLONE (1997-2002)
Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 3.7 out of 5
Engine 3.8 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 3.7 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5
Equipment 3.3 out of 5
5 out of 5

A unique ride in a sea or blandness

05 July 2016 by Vince

My thing is UJM's and have owned several so I thought I'd try out a Cyclone. My thoughts... This is a special bike that's loaded with character. It's the motorcycle equivalent of a 1969 Camaro SS 396. It will run well if you take care of it and is... Read more a rewarding ride. It's fast up to 120, but won't keep up with the big dogs if you want to go into the mid to high triple digits. That said it's loads of fun to ride and that's what it's all about. Buells handle well and it handles as through my brain is attached to the handlebar and responds to thought. It brakes great. The seat is comfortable. It's unique. It's simple and easy to maintain. It fills a niche that nothing else can. The engine is an American treasure and had loads of aftermarket. It's simple and cheap to work on as well. Yes, this will get smoked by any of the Japanese 600CC sportbikes, but that's not why you buy this bike. You buy it because it offers something rare- a unique riding experience.

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
The shock is firm and not intrusive. I think the fork is a bit lightly sprung for me. The front break is great, but read is wooden. Very good overall in that regard. I prefer naked bikes and need the wind since I live in a hot climate. I can go all day if I keep it around 70-75 MPH. The stock saddle reminds me of the all day comfort of a Corbin. Some of my Japanese bikes have sears have me begging for mercy within 100 miles. Not with the Buell.
Engine
5 out of 5
I ready have Japanese I-4's and V-twin's and this is something completely unique. It's loaded with character and immense power to 7000 RPM. It gives it all to you right off idle and pulls hard all the way triple digit speeds. I have owned several sportbikes and I have no criticism of the engine and can appreciate it for what it is. It's the polar opposite of anything you're used to in a sport bike and for me that deserves a place in my motorcycle collection. It's also easy to work on and the aftermarket is second to none. The engine is a souped up 90's Sportster engine so parts won't be a problem. It's not going to lead the pack of sports bike on the open road, but it's will be fun abound town and entertaining at all sane speeds.
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
I think it's a quality ride, period. The 45 degree V-twin will eventually vibrate parts loose and the rubber mounts should be considered a maintenance item. I recommend the Stenzel mount and the 4th engine link installed to help keep the engine under control.
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
I work on all of my bikes and own several mostly from Japan. So the rubber engine mounts will wear out from the stress of the engine's imbalance. The Stenzel mount and 4th link can extend the life of them. Compared to my vintage Japanese bikes, the Buell has one easily removed carb as opposed to four that have to be muscled out. Less carb rebuild kit expense and no carb balancing. It has the rubber mounts that will wear out, but the valves don't need the PITA adjustment. The primary chain will need to be adjusted and the oil changes are a bit more involved. Forks are regular sliders and are Showa. I suspect many people forget about valve adjustments so this bike is perceived as having higher running costs. So there's nothing complex about this bike and there's nothing I can't tackle since it's low tech. It's analog technology.
Equipment
5 out of 5
Ergonomics are great. It has low pegs and a proper saddle as opposed to a seat. So all day comfort is possible. You need to be careful to not catch your toe when cornering hard since the bike likes to get down low. The X1 of this vintage has the rearsets. The M2 is a standard.
4 out of 5

Best bang for your Buck

03 July 2016 by Cobrafang

The seat is a bit high for me, I cant rest both feet on the ground, it seems to have motocross rear tire gap between fender and tire. The handlebars are not high enough or pulled back enough. The engine does not like idling in gear going slow and it... Read more get hot, at least it puts off some heat if not moving fairly fast.

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
-
Engine
4 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
Its 18 yrs old and still riding fine. Mine has the HAMMER 1250cc BIG BORE KIT, ANDREWS N4 CAM, RE JETTED, COMETIC TOP END GASKETS, Later model flywheel 18 lbs lighter.
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
AMZOIL synthetic
Equipment
5 out of 5
-
4 out of 5

The 97 M2

12 July 2013 by Graeme1203

I've had the M2 since new in 97, over 40,000 miles on it. Been used for touring, continental trips and mad blasts on great local roads. Had a couple of issues in the first 1,500 miles (all sorted for free at the dealership (Black Bear newmarket are... Read more the best)) and no troubles since. This bike handles better than I can ride, has (two up with camping gear) left my brother inlaws GSX11 for dust going through Milton Keynes and still puts a massive smile on my face everytime it comes out. When it is parked up, it gathers a crowd, sounds fantastics (carbon SSR2)and looks the nuts. It is a bike thats rewards input, the more you put in, the better it becomes. Mine is the 97 model, not mentioned above, but they changed this at the end of 98, removing a lot of what made it great. The 97 had a much more aggressive power delivery (smoothed out in 98), minimalist bodywork (bloated in 98). Still got it because even though I have ridden big mad Yams, suzuki and Ducatis since, nothing compares to a good fast sweeping A road, sun shining on your back and a buell to abuse. Ride it aggresively and you will understand

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
-
Engine
4 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
3 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

Under-rated

21 January 2010 by AmericanV

I've been running my Stage One M2 for the best part of ten years, solo, two-up, up-hill and down dale; Wildboarclough rough or Cat and Fiddle smooth, and it has been brilliant. Not as finely honed as the Lightning or later XB models but much more... Read more flexible ... can't say I've ever been aware of it running hot, however, and have never heard the impeller fan cut in - probably because it hasn't got one. But then why let inconvenient things like facts get in the way of a good character assassination?

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
-
Equipment
3 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

Lots of fun on good roads

29 September 2009 by DonaldB

I have been riding for 30 years and this is the most fun I have ever had on 2 wheels without breaking the speed limit. It is terrible on bumpy roads but on good roads it handles like it is on rails and has tons of torque to make legal speed limits... Read more good fun. Not one for land speed record lovers as it runs out of steam at 90mph but at least you will not loose your licence. The engine is very accesible and easy to work on. The lack of centre stand is not ideal so paddock stands are required. I would not like to tour on one. The older models thin seat looks good but is not practical for more than 50 miles use. If you like a solid old school cafe racer and enjoy easy DIY maintenance this is for you.

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
-
Engine
4 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
3 out of 5
-
1 out of 5

Could it get worse?

30 April 2009 by ThomasD

After S1 and X1 could there be something worse? Yes there could be the M2. Take away the only good thing on the X1 and S1, the pretty good suspension and there you go a horrible ride which will break down anyway. Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
1 out of 5
-
Engine
1 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
1 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
1 out of 5
-
Equipment
1 out of 5
-
Read all 6 owners' reviews in full

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 1997
Year discontinued 2002
Original price -
Used price -
Warranty term (when new) Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 15 of 17
Annual road tax £82
Annual service cost £250
Performance
Max power 93 bhp
Max torque 83 ft-lb
Top speed 135 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 11.9 secs
Average fuel consumption 40 mpg
Tank range 150 miles
Specification
Engine size 1203cc
Engine type V-twin, four stroke, 5 gears
Frame type Steel tubular
Fuel capacity 19 litres
Seat height 749mm
Bike weight 197kg
Front suspension Preload, rebound
Rear suspension Preload, rebound
Front brake Single 340mm disc
Rear brake 230mm disc
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 170/60 x 17

History & Versions

Model history

1997: Buell M2 Cyclone launched.
2000: Engine power up, brakes uprated, new gear ratios, spring-loaded footrests.
2002: Buell M2 Cyclone discontinued.

Other versions

None.

Photo Gallery

  • Buell M2 Cyclone motorcycle review - Riding
  • Buell M2 Cyclone motorcycle review - Side view
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  • Buell M2 Cyclone motorcycle review - Side view
  • Buell M2 Cyclone motorcycle review - Riding
  • Buell M2 Cyclone motorcycle review - Riding
  • Buell M2 Cyclone motorcycle review - Side view
  • Buell M2 Cyclone motorcycle review - Top view
  • Buell M2 Cyclone motorcycle review - Engine
  • Buell M2 Cyclone motorcycle review - Riding
  • Buell M2 Cyclone motorcycle review - Side view
  • Buell M2 Cyclone motorcycle review - Brakes
  • Buell M2 Cyclone motorcycle review - Instruments
  • Buell M2 Cyclone motorcycle review - Side view
  • Buell M2 Cyclone motorcycle review - Side view
  • Buell M2 Cyclone motorcycle review - Riding
  • Buell M2 Cyclone motorcycle review - Side view
  • Buell M2 Cyclone motorcycle review - Instruments
  • Buell M2 Cyclone motorcycle review - Side view
  • Buell M2 Cyclone motorcycle review - Riding
  • Buell M2 Cyclone motorcycle review - Riding
  • Buell M2 Cyclone motorcycle review - Side view
  • Buell M2 Cyclone motorcycle review - Top view
  • Buell M2 Cyclone motorcycle review - Engine
  • Buell M2 Cyclone motorcycle review - Riding
  • Buell M2 Cyclone motorcycle review - Side view
  • Buell M2 Cyclone motorcycle review - Brakes
  • Buell M2 Cyclone motorcycle review - Instruments
  • Buell M2 Cyclone motorcycle review - Side view
  • Buell M2 Cyclone motorcycle review - Side view
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