Beginner Bike Spotlight: Buell Blast

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2008 Buell Blast, image courtesy of Harley Davidson of Brandon, FL

Used on every Harley Davidson “Riders Edge” training course in the naughties (2000-2009) and beyond until the arrival of the new HD Street 500 & 750, the Blast is a sturdy little bike with a determination that may just make you smile.

The Specs (via Wikipedia.org):

Manufacturer Buell Motorcycle Company
Parent company Harley-Davidson Inc.
Production 2000–2010
Class standard
Engine 492 cc air cooled OHV single
Power 34 bhp (25 kW) @ 6,500 rpm
Torque 30 ft·lbf (41 N·m) @ 6,500 rpm
Transmission 5-speed manual
Suspension Front: telescopic fork
Rear: swingarm with single coil-over-shock unit.
Brakes Disc/disc
Tires Front: 100/80-16M/CTL 50T
Rear: 120/80-16M/CTL 60T
Rake, trail 25.0° / 3.4 in (86 mm)
Wheelbase 55.0 in (1,400 mm)
Dimensions L: 77.8 in (1,980 mm)
W: 29.3 in (740 mm)
Seat height Standard: 27.5 in (700 mm)
Low profile: 25.5 in (650 mm)
Weight 360 lb (163 kg) (dry)
399 lb (181 kg) (wet)
Fuel capacity 2.80 US gal (10.6 l; 2.33 imp gal)
Oil capacity 2.0 US qt (1,900 ml)
Fuel consumption 64 miles per US gallon (3.7 L/100 km; 77 mpg-imp)

The Case For The Blast:

Praised for its friendliness for beginner riders and reviled by Eric Buell himself, the Blast occupies a bizarre little niche in the beginner rider scene. Tough as nails, the Buell can take a beating and keep on running. Generally chosen (at the time it came out) by beginning riders for being the only other American bike available aside from the Sportster offered by Buell’s parent company, Harley Davidson. Often the “gateway drug” bike for the rest of the Buell line of American sport bikes, the Blast is a rough-and-tumble starter with no apologies.

Some people criticize the bike for its “built down to a price” feeling, but for what you’re paying for it, it’s remarkably good for beginner riders because it can take the ham-fisted inputs of complete novices and somehow still manage to make the rider look good. I’ve personally sat on one and found it to feel tiny beneath me, and that seems to be a general feeling of most average-sized American male riders. It shakes, vibrates, rattles, and putters around town without any real drama, however it does lack the style and flair of most other beginner bikes, but for what it is, it’s not too bad at all. 

Despite the love/hate relationship most people have with this bike, it holds its value quite well, generally staying between $1,500 to $2,000 for one in good condition, with battered examples going for much less. There’s a host of recommended modifications to help civilize the bike a bit more, like a Buell intake breather, altering the stock exhaust, beefing up the suspension, and a host of other mods that are recommended for optimum performance or rider enjoyment.

Bonus info, links to Buell forums:
Buell XB Forum
Bad Weather Bikers Buell Sub-forum

The Blast really is a case of “it is what you make of it”. If you treat it badly, try to repaint the polymer plastics (don’t do this, paint won’t stick very well to it; buy alternate colored plastics), fail to maintain it, or in general treat it like crap, you’re going to have a bad experience with it. If you accept its limitations, treat it nicely, and take care of it, it will last you a very long time indeed.

It’s a Loveable Little Oddball:
Custom Blasts

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Buell Blast Review video by “TwoWheeledTon”

Final Thoughts:

I personally like the Blast. Though it feels tiny beneath me, I like what it’s trying to be: a no-frills beginner bike made in America. It’s not perfect, true, but put it against some of the other competing bikes and it will definitely surprise you.

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