Buell Motorcycles, an American motorcycle manufacturer founded by former racer and Harley-Davidson staffer Eric Buell, began producing racing bikes in 1982. Harley-Davidson acquired a minority interest in the company in 1993 and bought a controlling share five years later. In 2000, the company introduced the Blast, designing it as a bike for beginning riders. In fact, the Blast was used in Harley-Davidson’s rider-training classes for many years. The model was carried over virtually unchanged through 2009.
The Blast has a 492cc, air-cooled, single-cylinder four-stroke engine, with a pushrod valve configuration, so the valves don’t require regular adjustment. When it was introduced, the engine was newly designed and based on Harley’s Sportster engine. A five-speed manual transmission operates with a wet multi-plate clutch and a belt (made of Kevlar) final drive. It has an automatic choke, which adds to its ease of use for a beginner. A Showa telescopic fork with 4.5 inches of travel and a twin-sided swing arm provide the suspension. Disc brakes in front and back stop the 360-pound (dry) machine.
A simple, basic bike with great fuel economy (64 miles to the gallon for city use), the Blast has barebones instrumentation – just a speedometer and an odometer – so beginners need to learn to listen to the engine for their gear changes. The frame is sheathed in Surlyn, a resin that is virtually impossible to ding, so dropping your bike won’t result in dents. Buell offered saddlebags, a couple of optional seats, and a windshield for riders who wanted to use the bike for city commuting. It is nimble on curves and easy to ride, though it is notorious for vibration.
This was the last year the Blast bore the Buell nameplate, though apparently the bike continued to exist without the nameplate. The company decided that an entry-level all-purpose thumper, as single-cylinder bikes are known, didn’t fit with its overall direction. Eric Buell opted for a fairly flashy way to end the bike’s association with the company: he had a number of Blasts crushed into cubes and sold as furniture – or perhaps the cubes were art. As it happened, the Buell Blast preceded Buell Motorcycles into oblivion by just a few months. Harley-Davidson shut down the subsidiary late in 2009 in response to the worldwide recession that eliminated so many niche motorcycle manufacturers.