Streetfighting Machine: Buell XB12 Custom

Buell XB12 Custom

Matao Buell: From Bike Shed London to Wheels & Waves…  

In 2002, Buell Motorcycles stopped production of their tube-framed bikes and introduced a new set of bikes, the Firebolt XB9R / XB12R and Lightning XB9S / XB12S. The new machines featured aluminum beam frames that doubled as fuel tanks, swingarms with built-in oil tanks, rim-mounted front brakes, and ground-pounding Harley-based V-twins.

Buell XB12 Custom

The next-gen Buells were like nothing else on the market, and were loved and hated as such. Here at BikeBound, we’ve always loved these bikes for the out-of-the-box design innovations behind them, and they’re at hoot to ride as well.

“When Erik Buell set out to build a 250 GP racebike-sized sportbike with a stump-pulling torquey V-twin, he wasn’t kidding around. The latest generation of Buell Motorcycles — that free-thinking, cornering-oriented division of Harley-Davidson — have wheelbases and steering geometry that are even shorter and tighter than most contemporary 250 GP bikes, never mind all of the 600-class sportbikes…” –Rider

Buell XB12 Custom

The XB12S boasted 100 hp and 81 ft-lb of torque from its 1203cc V-twin, good for a quarter-mile time of 11.2 seconds and top speed around 150 mph. While not sound particularly fast by superbike standards, the Buell had a heavyweight midrange punch and loads of streetfighter attitude.

Buell XB12 Custom

Lately, we’ve begun to see more Buells making their way into custom workshops. When our photographer Roberto Garagarza (@roga______/) captured this XB12 at the 2023 Bike Shed Moto Show, we had to find out more.

Buell XB12 Custom

Soon we’d tracked down the builder, Steven Lucas, a 37-year-old French mechanic and boilermaker who recently founded his own brand, Matao, located in Quiberon, South Brittany.

“I spend my days creating, imagining, and shaping by hand each of your creations, furniture and motorcycles…”

Buell XB12 Custom

Though he’s been riding, building, and working on bikes since childhood, this is Steven’s first professional client build under the Matao brand. Steven modified the rear subframe and front mask, installed a new headlight, customized the tank cover, revamped the controls and electronics with Motogadget goodies, replaced all the hardware, and had the engine rebuilt by the Buell specialists at Twin Motorcycles France.

Buell XB12 Custom

AB DecoMetal and L’Atelier de So took care of the paint, while La Sellerie Fleury upholstered the custom saddle in alcantara and Greapz 3D Printing produced several bespoke parts.

All in all, this is one impressive first build, and we can’t wait to see what roll out next from the Matao workshop. Thanks to Roberto Garagarza (@roga______/) for the show photos, and Steven himself for the outdoor shots.

Buell XB12 Custom: Builder Interview

Buell XB12 Custom

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

I created the Matao brand in 2019. I opened my workshop because I’m crazy about motorcycles. I am a mechanic and boilermaker. I am 37 years old. I have been passionate about motorcycles since childhood.

• Why was this bike built and what is the make, model, and year of the donor?

This bike is my first professional project. My client asked me to modify his motorcycle which he did not find to his liking. It’s a Buell XB12 from 2007.

Buell XB12 Custom

• What was the design concept and what custom work was done to the bike?

I wanted to give this bike a new line by modifying the rear structure, which I didn’t like very much originally. I also modified the front face by mounting a headlight from Baja Design. The tank cover has also been modified and receives the entire electrical system of the motorcycle, the Öhlins tank, the K&N air filter, and the battery.

Buell XB12 Custom

The engine was refurbished by Twin Motorcycles France and repainted by AB DecoMetal. All the other parts have been repainted by L’Atelier de So.

The electrical system has been modernized with accessories from the essential Motogadget brand. Everything comes from them. Part of the braking system comes from Beringer. I had some pieces 3D-printed with Greapz 3D Printing. All the original hardware has been redone. The saddle is done in alcantara and made by La Sellerie Fleury.

Buell XB12 Custom


• Does the bike have a nickname?

The bike has no nickname.

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

For me riding this motorcycle is freedom and above all a big adrenaline rush.

Buell XB12 Custom

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

The thing I did on this bike that I like the most is the rear structure. Can’t wait to tell you about future projects.

Buell XB12 Custom

Follow the Builder

Instagram: @matao_bzh
Facebook: Matao BZH

Bike Shed Photography: Roberto Garagarza (@roga______/)


  1. To bulky up top. Very poorly designed body wise. Everything else looks great but that body needs a slicker more fighter jet look to it. Or stealth bomber look to it. That tank and those curves don’t work, the tank seats to high up and the front looks like something off a dirt bike. Love the seat design and the way the back shock looks. the bike is a great work of art but that body could sure use an overhauling to something stealthy.

  2. Giovanni Fossati

    Sorry, how much your last creature Buell??

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