1999 Buell M2 Cyclone
Definition of Fun?
Los Angeles, May 26, 1999 —
‘sI-“klOn Main Entry: cy-clone
Etymology: modification of Greek kyklOma wheel, coil, from kykloun to go around, from kyklos circle
1 : a storm or system of winds that rotates about a center of low atmospheric pressure, advances at a speed of 20 to 30 miles (about 30 to 50 kilometers) an hour, and often brings heavy rain
2 : a two-wheeled, motorized vehicle that leans around a center of low, tight, asphalt-coated turns, advances at a speed of 20 to 100 miles (about 30 to 160 kilometers) an hour, and often succeeds to entertain.
Why call it a Cyclone anyway? And what is up with Buell’s obsession with atmospheric phenomena? Perhaps someday they’ll branch out into related topical names and release a Harley-powered scooter christened the Buell Breeze. And who wouldn’t want an around-town thumper called the Buell Toto? We will concede, however, that ‘Cyclone’ seems an apt choice for the bike that has become MO’s preferred Buell for 1999.
In addition to the Thunderstorm heads, the new frame allows the header pipes to be routed farther away from the rider’s right leg. While it cuts down the heat, it doesn’t negate it altogether. Slap on some Thunderstorm heads for ’99 — the same ones first found on the White Lightning — and see what those fat valves can do for you. Quite a bit it turns out, which is quickly realized when your arms are straining at their sockets after an uninformed first twist of the throttle. The Cyclone is sick of apologizing for being a standard.
Moreover, shorter-duration cams than those found on other Buells might rob a little hay from the ponies up top but give it back to the chargers at the lower revs, leaving you with seemingly enough torque to crank-start a battleship.
What the Cyclone doesn’t get in 1999 may be its biggest gain. The M2 retains a single, 40 mm Keihin CV carb rather than receiving the new, dynamic digital fuel injection (DDFI) system. This is Buell’s first attempt at EFI and while the system should continue to improve, the present EFI Buells have first-year glitches such as a slight dead spot in the middle of the powerband. Check out the dyno chart to the right and you’ll notice that the M2’s torque band is flat from 3000 rpm to redline.
The M2 is the smoothest Buell in their ’99 line-up. “Translation? Big, fat fun.”
Power feels like it’s mostly everywhere, and if you’re not pouring it on for that last 1000 rpm, well, you’re not having any trouble hanging some obese wheelies either or dusting your Rides-from-the-Rising-Sun-mounted buds at the stoplights. The new Showa rear-shock escapes the recall. The Cyclone’s got a few new suspension tricks, too. Showa is master of ceremonies this year, providing the conventional forks with adjustable pre-load and rebound and a rear shock with adjustable spring pre-load and compression.
It’s hard to get a stiff ride, however, since the whole assembly is designed with all-around performance in mind, not just the twisty stuff. But the bike handles so well, you almost don’t notice it. It turns in easily, smoothly — counter-steering is very responsive — and holds the line with little else on its mind.
Enjoy it: The force is with you. The force is also with your butt, or more appropriately, off it. In between those porky wheel-raisers and peg-dragging moments, you’ll appreciate that Buell has had mercy and increased seat width by three inches while rethinking the foam thickness.
It took them a while, but in 1999 Buell finally got the seat right. Now, instead of wondering just how many Buell engineers are having a good laugh while you’re coming off two hundred miles feeling as though you’ve been wearing some of those sumo panties with the manly butt-strap, you’ll just swing your leg over, grab one of Paco’s Supermex Burritos and then be ready for the next two hundred.
Unless, of course, you’ve really enjoyed that sumo feeling in the past — then you’ll be bummed.
There are some other changes of note. In addition to the redesigned tail section, a new five-gallon gas tank has been fitted, and the styling change is a plus. The ignition key is now up on the dash, where it’s always longed to be. There’s a new, more attractive swingarm.
The engine gets some new paint with a silver-bead blast finish and black heads. The total fit and finish of the bike seems to be at a higher standard, which is nice, makes you all the prouder to show the thing off. The odometer and trip meter are digital. And the key is finally where it belongs.
“Styling-wise it’s an attractive bike that gained many compliments around town over the past few months.”
As Buell’s entry-level motorcycle, the Cyclone inherits parts and technology that has been developed and refined on other models and, as such, the 1999 M2 has come away from the recent recall relatively unscathed. Affected are the plate and washer that retains the fuel tank to the chassis, the ball that retains pressure in the fuel tank venting system and the side-stand switch. The engine on the M2, as on all Buells, is not affected.
In any case, the M2 is still a smile machine. There are some day-to-day realities to deal with, though. Like most Harley engines, it takes a few minutes for the motor to catch it’s breath after sitting in the garage overnight. If you’re using a Cyclone as a commuter (a very cool commuter!) and you’re in a hurry in the morning, you’re going to want to make sure to roll the bike out and get it running a few minutes before you hop on.
Also, like all Buells, the bodywork is pure American plastic, so magnetic tankbags and the like won’t do it. Buell does offer a line of tankbags, saddlebags, and totes, however.
New is the bigger, beefier new cast-aluminum swingarm. The older, thinner, steel swingarm is the one being recalled. Wind protection is good, and that little fly screen does more than might be expected, but it’s not like there’s a full fairing. There’s a little head shake from time to time as well, the feel at the bars being very sensitive.
The clutch was a little clunky and neutral was, at times, hard to find. The header pipes collected some rust, but since we haven’t heard of this happening on other Cyclones we aren’t sure whether this is a flaw in the design or materials, whether it is due to MO’s location near the ocean or whether it’s a quirk of our particular press-fleet test bike. Finally, don’t buy this bike with the plans of loading your significant other on the back.
They won’t like it much, the bike is a little under-sprung anyway, and while the seat is vastly improved for you, it’s only a little improved for your better half.
“It’s quirky in some ways, but a wild ride all the same, and we found ourselves enjoying it time and time again despite our jaded selves.”
Seen the latest Star Wars installment yet? If you haven’t, you will soon, you can’t help it. If nothing else, viewing the aggregate sum of all the trailers, cuts, stills, and commercial promos that are flashed continuously on every TV in America will be the same thing as seeing the entire film itself, albeit edited by commerce.
Watching the movie brought back so many good feelings and memories that we began to loathe most of the critics that have reviewed it so far. “It’s too ‘kid’ for adults and too ‘adult’ for kids,” writes one. “It lacks the personality of the first trilogy,” writes another. “Movie critics are parroting, self-absorbed morons,” writes MO. No, it isn’t a perfect movie. Who cares? Some things are so much fun that they defy criticism.
The same goes for the Cyclone. It’s quirky in some ways, but a wild ride all the same, and we found ourselves enjoying it time and time again despite our jaded selves. At $8,599 it’s definitely the bang-for-the-buck Buell as well. If you’re in the market for one of those does-a-bunch-of-things motorcycles then you owe it to yourself to check it out and take a test ride, which Buell always offers. If you’re like us, once you twist that throttle you’ll be saying, “Ah, so that’s why they called it a Cyclone …”
Manufacturer: Buell American Motorcycles
Model: 1999 M2 Cyclone
Price: $8,999 (USD)
Engine: Air-cooled, 4-stroke, 45° V-Twin
Bore and Stroke: 88.8 x 96.8 mm (3.5 x 3.8 in)
Carburetion: 40mm Keihin CV
Transmission: Five-speed, constant mesh
Wheelbase: 55.0 in (1397 mm)
Seat Height: 29.5 in (749 mm)
Rake/Trail: 24.5°, 9.65 cm (3.8 in)
Fuel Capacity: 5.0 gal/0.6 gal. reserve (19 L/2.3 L reserve)
Dry Weight: 435 lbs (197 kg)