Buell: Top 5 technical innovations

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In a shocking move prompted by further disastrous financial results, Harley-Davidson has killed off its Buell marque (more details here).

Buell bikes may have been quirky and occasionally unreliable, but they bristle with technical innovations. As MCN Chief Road Tester Trevor Franklin says, “Buell’s three-prong attack on handling achieved nirvana.”

Here we take a look back at the 5 most celebrated Buell innovations: 

1. Underslung exhausts
Erik Buell pondered owhy riders should put up with side-mounted exhausts that were non-aerodynamic, spoiled the line of the bike and made the rider hot. His answer: an exhaust mounted centrally under the bike.


2. Fuel in frame
Erik’s passion for racing made him question why a race bike had to handle like a pig when the fuel level dropped. Using a bike’s aluminium beam frame as the fuel tank means the weight of the fuel remains low, so the bike handles well no matter how much fuel is onboard.


3. Mass Centralisation
Years before Honda spouted mass centralisation as MotoGP magic, Erik Buell was building it into his bikes. It was part of a three-pronged attack to achieve handling nirvana: moving components nearer to the centre of mass, achieving the lowest unsprung weight possible and making a frame torsionally rigid.


4. Zero Torsional Load (ZTL) Braking
A huge single rim-mounted disc and reverse mounted caliper that performed as good as a normal two-disc set up but with less unsprung weight. Arguments still rage on the increased gyroscopic effect.


5. Engine Oil in Swingarm
Similar to fuel-in-frame concept and it increases cooling action too.