2000 Buell Cyclone M2

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The Sport Bike for the Rest of Us

Aug 29, 2000
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Standout styling, strong powerplant, tenacious handling, "American-sized" frame and height, Made in America!

Cons:Clunky and slow shifter, no tachometer

Buying a motorcycle...especially a Sport Motorcycle...is not necessarily a rational decision; It is usually a concession to our wants, not our needs. You don't buy it to get to work...you buy it to enjoy a perfect day on a back road. You don't buy it for gas mileage...you buy it to accelerate quickly. You don't buy it to be quiet and unnoticed...you want "that sound" and all the attention that goes along with it.

Even so, there are a multitude of choices out there in the sport bike market, and lucky for us consumers, most are very good. The 2000 Buell Cyclone M2, however, perhaps does one of the best jobs of satisfying the cravings that brought you to the new bike store in the first place.

Buell Motorcyles, once a separate company, is now almost completely-owned by Harley-Davidson. The founder, Erik Buell, is an extremely-talented designer, engineer and racer of motorcycles. His motorcycles are an interesting blend of old and new, tourer and sport bike. With exception to the new-for-2000 entry-level Blast, they are all powered by the Harley Sportster-based 1203 CC V-Twin. In the Cyclone, the engine's fuel is metered by a traditional carburetor...in the X1 Lightning and S3 Thunderbolt models, a more modern fuel injection unit is used. Horsepower is significantly better than the Harley's, though, at 91 HP for the Cyclone and 101 HP for its fuel-injected brothers. The torque on these bikes is the real story, though. The Cyclone has a peak rating of 85 lbs/ft, and the curve is virtually flat throughout the powerband. On the road, this translates to smooth acceleration and a general feeling that you're always in the right gear. Unlike many of the high-revving Japanese sport bike engines, this V-Twin is a very good real-world alternative, especially in the corners.

One of the interesting design features of this bike is the rear shock absorber setup, which uses a "pull" shock rather than a traditional "push" shock. This setup enables Buell to place the rear shock along the bottom of the motorcycle frame, thus lowering the center of gravity for handling purposes. The same principle applies to the exhaust, which is also along the bottom of the bike on the opposite side.

Styling of the bike can best be described by the new label of "naked streetbike." Similar to the Ducati Monster and the Suzuki SV650, this bike does not have any significant fairing attached. In its place, the owner is rewarded with an excellent view of the attractive V-Twin engine and the bike's complex frame. Of course, the lack of fairing does take it's toll on the highway...more on that point later. Subjectively, this bike gets an above-average amount of attention by fellow-bikers and others alike. It has a purposeful and muscular look that sets it apart from its plastic-cladded competition. (I've noticed a similar reaction to the Monster and the SV650.) Naked is apparently "in." It should also be noted that the fit and finish of the Cyclone are excellent as well...a drastic improvement from early Buells of several years ago.

A major difference between the Cyclone and its competition is in its size. Simply, it is designed for the larger frames of American riders. The Japanese bikes, while perfectly sized for racers and their home market, do not fit many American males as well as this Buell will. This rider is 6'4", and the Buell is dramatically more comfortable to sit on...foot pegs and all. For 2001, Buell hopes to make others comfortable as well by offering a shorter version of the M2 (called an "M2 Low")for smaller riders looking for a better fit.

So how does all of this work? In a word, it's just plain fun to ride. It's as fun to start up and listen to as it is to motor down the road. The motor, even with stock settings and exhaust in place, absolutely growls at low revs and barks when provoked. There is a fair amount of vibration at idle, though this virtually goes unnoticed once you have pulled away from a stop. The vibration also improves drastically with miles...the more you go, the smoother it gets. Handling is absolutely superb. The previously-mentioned attention to low center of gravity really pays off in the back roads. The large, Z-rated tires don't hurt, either.

The driving experience is truly memorable. All-day rides become desirable and entirely possible...the suspension and the great saddle help with this. The roll-ons (especially with this carbureted motor) are special, and you begin looking for reasons to slow down just so you can roll back up to speed again.

The negatives? Well, they're few, but they're there nevertheless. As I mentioned earlier, the naked styling of the bike, while certainly interesting to look at,offers little protection from the wind and road debris at highway speeds. Clearly, this bike is more at home sans full frontal fairing on the back roads and local highways than the interstates. Areas where the bike simply needs improvement are the shifter and the dashboard. The shifter, though not lifted exactly from a Harley, does a fairly good job of impersonating a cruiser...not the best trait for a proper sport bike; The dashboard is conspicuously missing a tachometer. Thankfully, these two problems are addressed in the 2001 model. The shifter on the new model benefits from a complete (and supposedly effective) redesign that shortens the length of the linkage considerably, while the dashboard now includes a standard tachometer. Kudos to Buell, these changes are also available as bolt-on retrofits for the 99 and 00 Cyclones.

In sum, the Buell Cyclone M2 is certainly not for everyone. For those craving the high redline, buzzy exhaust, fully-faired sport bike ....this is not your ride. Sometimes, though, it is best to judge by what something does well rather than what it doesn't. Buell's focus on superlatives in the face of convention make the M2 a solid contender in the American sport bike marketplace. And as the Harley guys say, "If I have to explain it to you, you wouldn't understand."


Recommend this product? Yes


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