Every Cloud: A new life for a written-off Buell XB9S

Buell XB9S cafe racer by North East Custom of Italy
There’s nothing more depressing than checking the damage to your bike after dropping it—or worse, after a crash. But for mildly damaged bikes, it’s a cloud that often has a silver lining.

When this 2002 Buell XB9S arrived in North East Custom’s Padua, Italy workshop, it was a mess. The rear frame was warped, the tank was smashed, and the lights were snapped to pieces.

Buell XB9S cafe racer by North East Custom of Italy
For two years, the Buell had been sitting in its owner’s garage, before he made the decision to salvage it with a custom job. And then he made an even better decision: he called brothers Diego and Riccardo Coppiello.

Buell XB9S cafe racer by North East Custom of Italy
“The concept was to amplify what we like about the Buell,” says Diego. “The idea of having the fuel inside the chassis is fascinating, as well the oil in the swingarm. But what seems strange, to our eyes, is that Erik Buell decided to add a fake tank.”

Buell XB9S cafe racer by North East Custom of Italy
That tank is now gone, and with it, a fair bit of weight. At just 385 pounds dry (175 kilos), the XB9S was already a light bike—especially given its engine size.

To make the Buell lighter still, Diego and Riki also created a simple ‘suspended’ seat. There’s no tail unit to speak of, just a minimal new subframe to support the weight of the rider, which attaches via the original frame mounting points.

Buell XB9S cafe racer by North East Custom of Italy
Fitting the new seat meant stripping the electrical system down to the essentials, and hiding it under a thin fiberglass cover on top of the frame where the old ‘tank’ used to be.

To get the fit exactly right, the crew made a clay mold first and then created the fiberglass. At the same time, they made a stubby new fiberglass front fender, and positioned the new lithium ion battery down behind the exhaust.

Buell XB9S cafe racer by North East Custom of Italy
That exhaust is a free-flowing Buell Pro Series system, but now shorter to balance out the new bulldog stance.

The original airbox had to go, to make room for the electronics, so there’s now a cone filter in place. The ECU has been retuned to match the changed flow of the intake and exhaust.

Buell XB9S cafe racer by North East Custom of Italy
“The lines are now very simple,” says Diego. “The colors are minimal too—just gold on the forks, and red on the seat.”

The forks have been rebuilt and trued, and fitted with new high-performance internals. The back end is upgraded too, with a new Hyperpro shock, and the tires are Michelin’s ultra high performance Power Cup Evo compound.

Buell XB9S cafe racer by North East Custom of Italy
The rest of the work is in the detailing. Ahead of the Honda CB 400SS bars is a simple modern bowl headlight, mounted with custom brackets to avoid obscuring the forks.

There’s a Motogadget speedo flushed in into the headlight bowl, and Motogadget also supplied the turn signals. The grips are simple black rubber Tommaselli ‘Dakar’ items, and there’s a slim LED light strip flushed into the rear frame loop. It’s all very puro.

Buell XB9S cafe racer by North East Custom of Italy

For many folks—this writer included—the styling of Buells is something of an acquired taste. But this one is very much to our taste indeed. With more performance, slick aesthetics and uprated components, what’s not to like?

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Buell XB9S cafe racer by North East Custom