Remaking The Rodney Dangerfield Of Harley-Davidsons

Story By Johnny Pants Photos By Jack “Hurricane Survivor” Cofano
2018-09-18 11:31:07 Published in Modified Stockers

   I’ve always had a thing about banging four-stroke singles for their simplicity and often giant-killing ride. You can imagine when I read that Harley, er, sorry, Buell was thinking about making a single cylinder road bike. Buell was the sporting division of Harley-Davidson so when I heard some of the initial rumors of a 900cc single hot rod, I got pretty excited. Wow, a wicked tall single cylinder with hopefully a six-speed tranny and built Buell-light could be just the thing for killing the back roads of America. I couldn’t wait.

   But, that was not to be as the most plain vanilla 500cc single made out of half a Sportster 883 engine with bodywork completely made out of Surlyn, the same material that covers golf balls of all things. Even the lame colors were injected into the Surlyn instead of painted on so it looked more cheaply toy-like than the chunk of metal Harley-Davidson. Even the white tri-spoke wheels looked cheap and a giant Big Twin drive belt for a little bike was probably reliable, but it looked ridiculously out of place.


  It handled and braked okay, but nothing really special. The engine was lethargic until it just started to pick up a bit right near redline before the rev limiter shut it down like throwing out an anchor. It was pretty smooth, though, and the dimensions weren’t wrong, but the final product was a huge disappointment to anyone other than those taking a Harley riding class where they were the featured fruit.


   A lot of beginners bought those Blasts and there’s a lot of them holding up sheds and garages with little or no mileage just waiting to be picked up for a song. Some of them are twenty years old or thereabout so the price could be hard to turn away from just because. The good part about all these potential donor bikes is that there’s an aftermarket devoted to making them into real motorcycles. From engine hop-ups like boring that can open them up to 600cc, head work, induction work, exhaust work and a better cam to name a few. Bolt on some real wheels with sporty tires and a chain drive and you’ve got something.


   Then there’s always the option like these aftermarket frame kits to spice up your motorcycle life and you might have a surprising knock-around single-cylinder Harley that doesn’t have to hide under another name. Hmmm, maybe that’s what should have been done in the first place don’t you think?

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