When Eric Buell released the Buell M2 Cyclone it sat in a sweet spot in his tubular framed range. The sportier S1 Lightning was quick but known for being uncomfortable while the S3 Thunderbolt sports tourer was a bit on the portly side. Sitting between the 2 was the Cyclone that bettered the Lightning in comfort and the Thunderbolt in weight. Powered by a 1200cc Harley Davidson Sportster v-twin the M2 Cyclone was good for around 91bhp and 85 Nm of torque. These were respectable figures, but due to its riding position and styling the Buell M2 Cyclone became known as an ‘old man’s sports bike’. That rather unfair reference is enough to put anyone off the M2, but this Buell cafe racer by Raffaele Gallo of Officine Uragani will have the name callers eating their words.
When Raffaele set out to build his latest Officine Uragani project he had a very clear direction in mind. Inspired by cafe racers from 1960s London, he wanted to create a machine that possessed the same rebellious character and clutter-free design. The Buell M2 Cyclone presented the perfect starting point with plenty of power and a frame that was ripe for modification. After purchasing a 2000 M2 Cyclone he stripped away everything that earned the bike its unpleasant nickname and kicked things off with an extensive chassis overhaul.
Raffaele tells us that the Cyclone’s frame has been modified by around 80%. Along with stiffening things up and tightening proportions, he created a well balance bone line for the perfect cafe racer posture. We’ve all heard the phrase ‘looks fast standing still’ and I think it’s fair to say Raffaele has perfected the stance with his Buell. Once he had the chassis finished work started on the bike’s appearance. The M2 now wears a complete set of hand made aluminium bodywork. The front fairing alone consists of 4 carefully shaped pieces and also houses the oil tank. The fuel tank is also a complicated component that features a glass insert for monitoring the fuel level.
While simple lines were the key to creating his M2’s aggressive looks Raffaele was careful not to go so far that things would become boring. To do this he’s incorporated plenty of details that add visual interest. The number plate bracket, for instance, is a work of art. It runs from beneath the seat out to the rear end and complements the lines of the frame perfectly. Looking inside the front fairing reveals another trick bracket that holds the fairing and headlight in place. There are also carbon inserts and additional panels installed to break up surface areas.
The finish on Raffaele’s Buell M2 Cyclone is also incredibly clean thanks to some clever planning. You won’t find a single bolt holding any of the bodywork in place thanks to hidden mounting points. He’s also run all of the bikes wiring inside the frame and tucked the battery into the tail. In 2000 Buell moved to an alloy swingarm after issues with the previous tubular design. Raffaele has made the bulky swingarm a feature by polishing its surface before lightly brushing it. You’ll find the same finish on the CNC parts he’s created like the filler cap (which houses an analog clock), air filter housing and derby cover.
When it came to performance the v-twin is still running Buell’s original tune. The only custom tweaks are to the fueling, intake, and exhaust. For major performance improvements, Raffaele instead focused on handling. Buell designed a very efficient Mono-shock rear suspension that sits horizontally beneath the engine so Raffaele opted to leave it untouched. The wide 240/40 rear wheel though was installed by modifying the swingarm using a technique of his own. Up front, the changes are more dramatic with a set of USD Marzocchi forks smoothing out the bumps. To fit them to the bike Raffaele machined a custom set of CNC triple trees. Finally to give his Buell cafe racer plenty of stopping power he added a full Brembo gold series brake system.
Raffaele named his Buell ‘AVANZATA’ (advanced) as a reference to military tactics. He unveiled his Buell cafe racer in 2018 at Germanys ‘Custom Championship’ where it took out first place overall. We strongly doubt anyone at the show would have questioned the judge’s decision.
Photography by Herbert Hepfer