First-Time Builder Crafts Ferocious Buell Hardtail: Home Run

The world of land-speed bikes is known for its brutal minimalism, and it is this aesthetic that inspired Corban Gallagher in creating his first custom build. As a nuclear chemist with downtime in his shop, Gallagher took on the challenge of building a custom motorcycle in just nine months. The result is a stunning Buell hardtail dragster powered by an S1 White Lightning engine.

Gallagher started with a 1998 Buell S1 White Lightning as a donor bike, but only the front forks and Sportster-derived engine remained from the original. The rest of the bike was scrapped, and Gallagher sought out a fabricator to produce a rigid frame that matched the style he had in mind. Big Al at Bitter End Choppers provided the perfect frame, reminiscent of the old salt flat racers that Gallagher admired.

The S1 White Lightning engine received some upgrades, including rebuilt heads, a new clutch, and a DynaTek 2000i programmable ignition. Other improvements such as a fresh carb, air cleaner, and stainless steel exhaust system were also made. The engine, which was advertised to produce 101 horsepower and 129 Nm of torque back in 1998, now runs smoothly after Gallagher’s modifications.

To complete the build, Gallagher meticulously chose and modified various components. He selected a leather seat from Alex Leathercraft in Germany, which sits on a small shock that is attached to a custom bracket interfacing with the oil tank. Gallagher also went through a tedious process of finding the right bodywork, eventually settling on a 1.6-gallon gas tank from Lowbrow Customs and a plastic nose fairing from eBay.

The Buell hardtail features custom-made brackets and clip-ons, vintage-style controls, and a Honda Shadow fender mounted on handmade struts. The Buell forks and brakes made the cut, while the wheels were upgraded to a set of Dymag MotoGP wheels. Gallagher made sure to repurpose materials whenever possible, using capsules normally used to encapsulate radioactive material as spacers and brackets on the bike.

Despite finishing the build just in time for a show, Gallagher hasn’t unleashed the full potential of his custom hardtail. However, he is already working on his next project for next year’s Handbuilt Show. Inspired by the spirit of both the show and the MotoGP, the new build will feature a 1997 Sportster frame, a modified 1996 motor, a custom mono-shock swingarm, Buell XB wheels and forks, a Norton Manx tank, and race fairings from a classic Triumph Trident.

Corban Gallagher’s debut custom build is a testament to his passion and dedication. With his eye for detail and desire to push boundaries, it’s clear that he has a bright future in the world of custom motorcycles.