Buell 'Franken Blast' 500 - Industrial Look Custom
Because girdering around town was never this fun
When it comes to motorcycles, it's easy to get skeptical, especially when we are glancing at custom ones. Sure, you may think that it's uncomfortable, or you don't like the paint scheme picked or the technical approach used in the process of making the bike.
By overthinking, we tend to miss the main idea that wraps a custom project: in the first place, a motorcycle is a masterpiece of the technical evolution. By making a custom motorcycle, the builder invests emotions, feelings, money and time in the process. By knowing this, it's logical to assume that a custom project must please the author in the first place. Everything that comes after is a bonus.
I'm going to start today's piece by telling you that back in June, Alex took his Buell to Chicago Motoblot where he took a prize for the "BEST MODERN AMERICAN MOTORCYCLE". It seems that even Roland Sands noticed his work and offered him a prize for the most particular garage.
Here is the crazy story of a custom bike that took a different path. A Buell Blast built in a Chicago apartment. Yes, you read that well: inside of an apartment. To start, let's talk a little bit about Buell Blast. The Blast is a 492cc thumper, not too fancy, no high-performance and looks that will not make any heads turn, mainly used by riding schools as a work mule.
It already sounds a little bit crazy to make a custom bike out of this kind of motorcycle, doesn't it? Maslin Liviu Alexandru, a very talented Romanian thought the same and gave it a shot.
In Romania, Alex used to work as a dental technician, but after hours he built everything in his small workshop: from custom streetfighters based on Ducatis to snow bikes or drift trikes.
Because he wanted to achieve the next level regarding his talent and passion for motorcycles, Alex moved to the United States back in December 2015. He sought a job at dealerships, and shops, brought a portfolio with his previous projects but as he said, "0 f*cks were given". He found a job as a carpenter's assistant, and as the paychecks were handed to him, he bought a TIG welder, then he built a fabrication table in his apartment. Over the next year, he collected more tools. The urge to build a custom motorcycle took over, and despite not having everything needed for this kind of job, he sourced a low-mileage Buell Blast and started wrenching in his rented apartment.
He would take the Buell apart at work, and bring it into the apartment in pieces. But this was the more comfortable part. He confronted the lack of tools he needed for this kind of project and realized how many things from the shop were still missing. Alex wasn't discouraged, he still made designs and gathered parts. After he managed to amass a stash of cash over the next six months period, he had enough money to buy all the parts needed to continue the build.
Some of the parts like bungs, spacers, rear-set plates and other bits and pieces were his design. Because of the lack of connections in the US, the parts were made by his friends back in Romania, and mailed to him. For the rest of the build, he used a small vice, handsaw, hammer, TIG welder drill and a rotary tool - all of this, trying to keep everything as silent and organized as he could so he wouldn't upset his girlfriend.
When he had to weld different parts, he would take days off from the job so he could work during the day when everyone else is at work. Not to draw attention, he would weld with the window shades on so no one would see the light emitted by the electric arc. All of this and some AC/DC playing loud in the speakers so the neighbors would not hear the buzzing sound from the welder.
As you can see in the photo gallery, this Buell has nothing in common with the factory version. The subframe was hacked, the rest of the frame was de-tabbed, the rear shock mount was moved, and fabbed a support for the Biltwell seat.
For the girder front end, Alex provided the guys from Chassis Design Company with all the measurements they needed to build it to specs, and then he welded on his headlight brackets.
The girder fork is equipped with a V-Rod wheel. For the rear end, Alex retrofitted a Buell XB swingarm, rear wheel, and brake system. The rear suspension is ensured by a shock borrowed from a Buell 1125.
The 'fuel tank' is serving a double purpose. The black part is a tiny fuel cell that holds about a gallon - but that's the best Alex could manage considering that he was aiming for a specific look. The raw aluminum part is a cover for the electrical bits.
Performance-wise the stock engine's output was enough to make him happy (for the moment) regarding the fact that the previous owner had tweaked the carb with a Dynojet Jet Kit. To get the full potential of the Dynojet Kit, a UNI foam filter and a custom exhaust system are replacing the stock parts.
To get a speedo reading, Alex is using his smartphone that is loaded with a speedo app. The phone has a double purpose, as Alex being new here, is using the GPS for riding around.
#1: In October 2017 you can see Alex and his Buell at the Barber Vintage Festival in Alabama.
#2: In February 2018, Alex is invited to present his rolling piece of art at one of the biggest custom events from the US: Mama Tried Motorcycle Show. This show takes place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. For further info, please check out the website.
#3: Alex is planning a new project. This time will be an electric bike, and it seems that the perfect candidate for this project will be a Zero FXS. We're eager to see the results.
#4: Planning a new project takes (A LOT OF) money. For the right amount of cash, Alex is letting his bike go. If you fancy this bike, think at an offer and feel free to contact him.
Photo credits: Grant Schwingle of Whiplash Racing Media & Maslin Liviu Alexandru