2004 Buell XB12S built by Chad Ballard (Eleven Customs):
Photography: Laura Mahony Photography
Major Areas of Modification:
- Front headlight, speedo, controls all re-worked
- Relocation of ignition and horn
- Removal of all unnecessary fairings
- Rear seat structure rebuilt
- Complete re-wire
About the Build:
In Chad's words:
A little bit about me... I have never done anything like this, ever. I would consider myself mechanically inclined, but not overly so. I can do basic car maintenance (fluids change, tire rotation, brakes) but beyond that I am likely to need some assistance. I am 42 years old, and I am an engineer by schooling (insert nerd here), but the majority of my work has been spent selling technical systems (automation, lighting, etc). I am not afraid to dive in and figure out how something works and make some mistakes. I have found that the best solutions are usually a result of a mistake or two...
I am the father of two teenage daughters, which means that I spend a decent amount of time regaining my manhood by welding and driving racecars. I also have the coolest wife in the history of the planet because she likes me to weld and drive racecars.
I chose a Buell XB12S because Erik Buell is a badass. Totally unique concept with the courage to build a motorcycle unlike anything else in production. And a good friend of mine was ready to sell his XB12S to me for a good deal. He is very meticulous, so I knew the bike was in good shape. I had seen a few versions of café’d Buells on-line and it started my creative juices flowing. Little did I know that most of the images I was looking at were renderings and were not buildable. But they looked cool and inspired me. I wanted a vintage looking bike that was a bit raw and industrial but utilized the modern technology. Fuel injection, ECU, good brakes, etc.
I bought the bike in October 2014 with a rough vision of what I wanted to do, but no concept really of how or what I would run into along the way. I began by removing all the unnecessary plastic. Air box, fenders, diffusers. I also removed the seat and rear seat structure. There is a lot of stuff hidden in there that needs to be dealt with... Finally I removed the headlight, ignition, handlebars, speedo. Really everything forward of the forks.
I started by cleaning up the airbox and exhaust backpressure value. I found a place to tuck in the exhaust regulator, fabricated a strap, anodized it and moved on. I bought a K&N air filter with the correct diameter opening to fit over the carb intake, and drilled a hole in it for the O2 sensor. I also relocated the ignition to the air intake tunnel through the frame with the horn mounted right below it. My idea was to have the headlight and instrument cluster be as minimal and clean as possible. I fabricated a bracket that held the instrument cluster and mounted it to the front triple.
At this point I ordered a bunch of stuff from Revival. Clip-ons with the correct diameter mounting brackets, LED headlight and bucket, Motogadget m-Switch Minis, handlebars, Motogadget m-Blaze Ice turn signals, Motogadget m-Unit digital wiring harness.
I also found a cool seat from a guy online. I will emphasize cool and not comfortable.
The front end of this bike was pretty straightforward. New handlebars, shorten clutch cable, rework brake cable and throttle cable. Install new turn signals, Install new forward controls and wire everything into the headlight bucket.
I fabricated a new license plate holder and reworked the existing license plate light to have LEDs and fit on the new bracket located at the rear wheel. The most challenging part of this build was creating the rear seat structure in a shape I liked. I wanted to keep it very minimal, but it also need to house the shock reservoir, a lot of wiring, the battery and the new Motogadget m-Unit. After 4 tries, I found something that I am ok with.
All the metal work was simply anodized. I wanted this bike to be raw. Not rusted, but industrial. I like that the welds can be seen and anodizing was a great way to leave the function visible.
Rewiring a bike with an ECU and fairly complicated fuse/relay system sucks. The Motogadget m-Unit is a really cool product, saves a lot of space and works great, but I went through every single wire in the bike. It was tedious to say the least.
I love that there are people that don’t like the look of this bike. It evokes an emotional response and surprises people. It was very freeing to imagine a project and have the courage to build it. I didn’t build it for others to like it and don’t mind when they say so. Often I get asked, while people are staring at my bike, “When are you going to finish it?” I laugh and say “That’s it.” Zero Fucks Given.