Fast Orange: Buell XB12 “Delila”

Buell XB12 Custom

FabMan Creations creates a streamlined “Buelligan”… 

In the early 2000s, the Buell XB12S Lightning was a welcome, if atypical, addition to the motorcycle market, combining elements from the cruiser, sport, and streetfighter worlds:

“An antique, character-rich engine in a stubby street-fighter motorcycle chassis dripping technical innovation….a very individual motorcycle and hugely enjoyable to ride. Easy to love if hard to justify.” —MCN

Buell XB12 Custom

The engine, of course, was a 1203cc Evo V-twin much like the one in the Harley-Davidson Sportster of the time, though it had Buell Thunderstorm heads, fuel injection, and an ECM-controlled exhaust, helping it to pump out 103 horsepower and 84 foot-pounds of torque.

Buell XB12 Custom

That almost prehistoric engine design was mated to a space-age chassis, with features like fuel in the frame, oil in the swingarm, a toothed kevlar belt drive, and a giant front perimeter disc brake. The stubby 1320mm wheelbase made the front wheel ready for liftoff with a slightest twist of the wrist, and the bike could blast down the 1/4-mile in a respectable 12.2 seconds.

Buell XB12 Custom

While that dragstrip time might not frighten the 1000cc superbikes of the era, the Buell had something harder to come by — character — and it tended to draw more attention than the latest Ninja or Fireblade:

“This Buell isn’t a bike for shrinking violets. People will look and point, and it will draw a crowd when you park up. And it isn’t even a little bit boring. Or conventional. Or characterless. Or uncomfortable. Or unusable. It is, however, great fun, as practical as it can be, stuffed full of character, great in traffic and it sounds like two flatulent skeletons in a dustbin…” —Motorbikes Today

Buell XB12 Custom

Recently, we heard from Wayne Buys of South Africa’s FabMan Creations (FMC), whose KTM 950 Desert Sled we featured back in 2020. Wayne is a millwright with more than 30 years’ experience, who specializes in hand-fabricated motorcycle tanks, seat pans, skid plates, stainless exhaust systems, and more.

Buell XB12 Custom

For this build, Wayne had a wide open design brief, allowing him to follow his vision with little constraint:

“I was given free rein by client, and was looking to do a build with clean lines.”

Buell XB12 Custom

Most of the bodywork is handmade, including the vast aluminum top cover and tail, belly pan, air scoops, and headlight / speedometer housing — all of which combine to give the bike a smooth, streamlined monocoque look. The seat and subframe are custom, as is the stainless silencer — mated to modified headers — and Wayne laid down the paint himself.

Nicknamed “Delila,” the finished bike seems to streamline the silhouette of the Buell machine, rather than reinventing it.  Below, we talk to Wayne for more details on the build.

Buell XB12 Custom: Builder Interview

Buell XB12 Custom

• Why was this bike built?

Commissioned by a client.

Buell XB12 Custom

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

I was given free rein by client, and was looking to do a build with clean lines.

Buell XB12 Custom

• What’s the story behind the nickname “Delila”?

Lack of imagination ;-). Delila sounded cool.

Buell XB12 Custom

• What’s it like to ride?

An absolute blast.

Buell XB12 Custom

Build Sheet

– Modified header pipes and built a new stainless silencer.
– Handmade aluminium top cover, belly pan, scoops and new light/Speedo housing.
– Changed frame lines to match up with top cover.
– Built and covered seat
– Installed Kustom Tech hand controls on mx bars
– Shortened stock front fender
– Powder coated wheels
– Laid down some paint
– I thank the Lord for my blessings and give Him all the Glory for this build.

Build Process Shots

Follow the Builder



  1. Stunning. I like these Buells but in the US, Harleys dealerships don’t want to touch them.

  2. Kevin Olsen

    Looks cool. I’ve had a couple and they are the best combination of power, handling, strength and feel good factors with a sound unmatched for attention.

  3. Jeremy Lobdell

    Don’t own a Buell if you don’t like attention. If you go ksd be prepared for some conversation. I loved my 05 sb9sx. It had character and soul.

  4. Just bought my first Buell XB9 & can’t wait to ride it. Should be interesting after my original XLCR cafe racer acquired in 1980. Just waiting for insurance to come through then Happy days.

  5. After a lifetime of GSXR’s, for some odd reason I’m still in love with my 06 BuellXB12Ss. Yeah you need to be a bit of a mechanic, sure… on minor stuff like chafed wires, primary chain adjustments, maybe a stator or a battery…but at least the air cooled pushrod torque monster paint shaker won’t let you down. No need for valve adjustment cause lets face it.. when you whirl an engine at 14k RPM… LOL, lets just say even the oil has a hard time keeping up. And you can call it antique, or a tried and true engine desing developed by decades of flat track racing, where torque and traction is king. If you don’t know why long stoke V-twins can slide around a flat dirt track, while 4 bangers lowside… look it up sometime. Plus, there is also a good reason they use these air cooled pushrod engine designs in long haul cruisers, and aviation. But if you want real power the basic quad cam engine design can take you all the way to top fuel drag bike level…. and these engines love turbos. Which is what Eric Buell had in mind until H-D felt the need to cancel the deal with Garrett, and make it in house… not knowing a thing about turbo designs except what they heard from their fellow air cooled pushrod engine collegues at Porsche, so naturally it got cancelled. But you can still see the turbo pass through on the left side frame rail/fuel tank, on early 03-04 models. Capped off for an extra half a gallon of fuel by 05 onward, mainly for a bit more fuel on the XBRR racers. Also in case you are wondering about why these Harley Davidsons V-twin engines shake at idle, its because you just can’t make torque by having a 3.8 inch stroke, and a 3.5 inch cylinder, without the secondary forces creating a shake at idle. It’s barely noticed after 3500 rpm, and smooth by 4k. On the flip side, if you like that stroked out v8 drag car secondary engine force shake on a motorcycle, you can also easily swap out the jugs to a 90ci 1275kit, 120hp … which is almost a 1500cc monster… I’m still waiting to have a “need” for. But I’ll probably go with the 1250 and turbo route once that day finally arrives.
    In a nutshell the Buell is not a GSXR, but it handles far better, and the rear wheel traction is well worth it alone. Because when your bike flings you into the air and lands on top of its gas tank from a high side, you begin to look at 4 cylinders in a whole new light. Because even on a track, fancy ignition cutter traction control gizmos that slip to suddenly grip, are only great on paper.
    And thats my 2 cents worth of BS… Love the aluminum body and color.

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