Time’s Up: Buell Thunderbolt Street Tracker

Buell Street Tracker

Colorado’s Nigel Mount builds a radical Buell tracker for The Greasy Dozen 2020…

Since 2012, the good folks at Old Bike Barn have presented one of the nation’s great grassroots motorcycle events, the Greasy Dozen Collective, where sponsors help a dozen garage-builders kick-start their projects, giving them a deadline to compete their builds. It all culminates in The Greasy Dozen Run, an organized ride along some of Ohio’s best backroads, leading to a campsite where festivities are held:

“The GDR remains a traditional grassroots motorcycle event that is built around bringing like minded individual’s together! We want to give back to the people who help keep these small shops and business afloat in a world run by large corporations. The Greasy Dozen Run is a free event and will remain a free event as long as we’re around!”

Buell Street Tracker

Enter our new friend Nigel Mount, a Colorado-based fabricator who started in his father’s restoration shop, working on vintage cars, and has spent the last two years working at a custom Harley shop:

“I’ve been learning from two OG’s who’ve been building hot rods and choppers since the late 1950’s. So far I’ve only built two personal custom bikes.”

Buell Street Tracker

The kick-in-the-pants for this project came when it was selected for the Greasy Dozen’s class of 2020, giving Nigel a deadline to complete the build. The bike started life as a 2002 Buell Thunderbolt S3T, a fuel-injected V-twin sport-touring machine with Dynamic Digital Fuel Injection (DDFI) and a Thunderstorm heads, putting out 101 horsepower at the crank. Says Nigel:

“The bike was bought because I was broke and it had been sitting in the back of the shop for years and believed to have a broken bottom end. I bought it because it was all I could afford and was going stir crazy only working on customer bikes. From there the frame seemed to really lend itself to a tracker type bike. Also Colorado has tons of winding mountain roads that will just become dirt, so it made sense from a practical standpoint too.”

Buell Street Tracker

With a tight deadline and no space of his own to work on the bike, Nigel nonetheless went into full-blown fabrication mode, working on the bike in 30 minutes stints during his lunches, breaks, evenings after work, and several Saturdays.  Given the compressed time frame, the list of modifications is simply staggering, including a fully adjustable swingarm, one-off welded aluminum tank, billet seat frame, Fiat Fulvia two-throat carb with a one-off billet intake manifold, moving the six-piston calper to the rear, and so much more.

Buell Street Tracker

Unfortunately, the ‘Rona cancelled this year’s Greasy Dozen event, but a digital showcase is coming soon (Aug/Sep 2020) and Nigel will be at a few shows around Stugis next week (Aug 8-13). Below, we get the full story on this stunning build from Nigel himself, along with more stunning shots from Enrique Parilla (@eparrillacreates).

Buell Street Tracker: Builder Interview

Buell Street Tracker

• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.

My name is Nigel Mount, I currently live in Denver, Colorado, USA. I’ve been a fabricator for 10+ years. I started in my father’s restoration shop working on vintage British and Italian cars. My first motorcycle was a 1981 GS550, which the night I bought it, I tore down intending to make it something of my own. It ended up a cafe/brat, winning its class at the 2017 Laconia Bike Week Broken Spoke Sport Bike Showdown.

About two years ago I started working at a custom Harley shop where I furthered my skills specific to custom motorcycles. I’ve been learning from two OG’s who’ve been building hot rods and choppers since the late 1950’s. So far I’ve only built two personal custom bikes.

Buell Street Tracker

• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?

2002 Buell Thunderbolt S3T.

Buell Street Tracker

• Why was this bike built?

This build concept was accepted into the Greasy Dozen Moto Show for 2020. Sadly the ‘rona cancelled that. However there should be a digital showcase soon (Aug/Sep 2020). And we’ll be at a few shows around Stugis next week (Aug 8-13).

Buell Street Tracker

• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?

The bike was bought because I was broke and it had been sitting in the back of the shop for years and believed to have a broken bottom end. I bought it because it was all I could afford and was going stir crazy only working on customer bikes. From there the frame seemed to really lend itself to a tracker type bike. Also Colorado has tons of winding mountain roads that will just become dirt, so it made sense from a practical standpoint too.

Buell Street Tracker

I also wanted to move the rear shock to a traditional location from under the motor to add ground clearance and a cleaner look. I also wanted it to be fully adjustable for ride stiffness and height. That created a lot of logistical challenges that influenced a lot of the components. Plus, I bought a two-throat racing carb from a Fiat Fulvia, so that really tied the generation of the bike to the late 80’s racing scene.

Buell Street Tracker

• What custom work was done to the bike?

To be brief, the only things that remained untouched were the fork tubes and exhaust headers (ran out of time). The swingarm and suspension mounts are all one-off. And the swingarm is actually two pieces (left and right). The engine mounts had to be scrapped and made from scratch because Buell integrates the rear engine mount, shock mount, and swingarm pivot together.

Buell Street Tracker

The entire seat frame is billet aluminum, housing the taillights, with a KTM seat I shortened and reskinned. The fuel tank is a one-off from sheet aluminum which I integrated the gauge into, with the ignition and light switches.

The oil sump tanks are located underneath the fuel tank, made from sheet aluminum as well. The intake manifold is a true two-throat made from a billet aluminum and welded together.

Buell Street Tracker

I machined the top triple clamp flat to bolt on some extended risers I modified.

Buell Street Tracker

The headlights were machined to fit inside the trees to allow for the acrylic number plate to sit as flat as possible against the forks.

Buell Street Tracker

The front 6-piston caliper was moved from the front to the rear, and a custom bracket was made for it, as well as a million other little modifications to get everything to fit, and play ball.

Buell Street Tracker

• Does the bike have a nickname?

The bike’s been named “Time’s Up Since I don’t have a garage or enough space of my own, I could only work on the bike at lunch, break, and maybe an hour after work. I took my Saturdays off to try to get big items done, but the bike was basically built in 30 minute increments.

Couple that with Covid-19 causing shipping delays, and even less time between work, and the deadline was just rocketing towards a very consuming build. So much of the bike’s final design and why things were done the way they were was because of this insane time crunch.

Buell Street Tracker

• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride this bike?

Pretty damn scary. Unlike a traditional Sportster 1200, this Buell motor makes its power at the top end, so it’s a “late bloomer” if you will and with the EFI, stock it would make 100hp at the crank. I undersized the carb on purpose to make it extremely responsive and snappy. I think I got the weight of the bike pretty close to 400lbs from 480ish. Now take away the front brake…

Buell Street Tracker

It’s actually a blast in the dirt. But on the street you just have to really be aware how easily the rear will lock up unless you hang your ass way off the back seat.

Buell Street Tracker

• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?

Personally the fuel tank is quite the achievement for me. Building a one-off tank is always a challenge. But aluminum can be a bitter material to work. And this tank was going to have significantly more welds in it than any traditional tank. It was terrifying because if this didn’t work out, I didn’t have enough time to start over. Plus it actually seems to hold more than two gallons so that was a nice bonus.

Buell Street Tracker

Follow the Builder: @NigelMadeThis

Follow the Show: @TheGreasyDozen

Follow the Photographer: @eparrillacreates

4 Comments

  1. …..love yer header dumps….

  2. It’s really nice. But, pretty useless without a front brake. I wouldn’t even ride it without a front brake.

  3. laurent davidson

    c est une machine pour la montée impossible (rire)

  4. Just started a project with the exact same bike. Would love to know some good spots to get Buell parts. I have a Thunderbolt S3 in a million parts.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*