LET’S BE HONEST: a lot of custom scramblers are more about the show than the go. They look good, but a trip down a muddy forest track would likely result in a thick stripe of mud on the back of your waxed cotton jacket.
This new Buell build from Holland is entirely more practical, though. It’s based on a turn-of-the-century X1 Lightning, so no amount of visual finessing is going to make it as pretty as a classic BSA. But we love the chunky, tank-like vibe, and wouldn’t hesitate to blast this crossmotor down a hardpack trail.
The X1 Lightning comes from Moto Adonis, a small shop run by custom builder Daan Borsje. He’s based in Roosendaal, a town in the southern part of the Netherlands and less than an hour’s drive south of Rotterdam.
“The customer asked us to build the most brutal scrambler we have ever done,” says Daan. “We decided it had to be a Buell, the master of all things brutal!” The 140 mph X1 was the perfect candidate, being equipped with solid components—like 41mm Showa USD forks and proper brakes, with a six-piston setup on the front wheel.
“We chose the X1 for several reasons,” Daan reveals. First it’s got a Sportster heart. And it has a tube frame, which we dig and is a lot stiffer than a Harley frame.”
“We are not big fans of Tupperware, so we deleted all the plastic—which is a lot for such a bike—and started with a new gas tank.” Moto Adonis hand-shaped a sheet of aluminum to combine blend both modern and classic lines. And on top there’s a small covered compartment, big enough to store a selection of lifesavers, such as a Leatherman multi-tool.
Daan then built a new rear subframe to match the gas tank. The turn signals are built in, and it also houses the original electronics, the oil reservoir and a Motogadget m.unit blue control box, which can be accessed via Bluetooth. “This upgraded the 17-year-old Buell into the 19th century!” he jokes.
There’s also a handmade rear fender to keep the mud off the tail unit, and to support a new taillight from Highsider. On top of this well-designed subframe is a custom-made seat and a removable rear seat—so you can either carry a passenger, or ride off alone into the bush with a tent stashed on the back.
At the front, Moto Adonis upgraded the speedo, bars and risers, and made a custom holder for the Motogadget Tiny speedo and indicator lights.
The new scrambler-style bars are now home to Motone push buttons to activate the m.unit, and the LED headlight is fixed via brackets to the front of the frame. (It’s supplemented by a pair of fog lights to blaze through the darkness.)
Just to make life harder, Daan decided that this would be one of the few Buells on earth to have spoked rims. “That turned out to be a real headache,” he admits. “But after a lot of modification, we fixed the problems they look stunning.”
He’s used 17-inch black Excel rims from different KTM bikes, with black spoke sets and nipples. The front wheel was aligned with the stock Showa forks (now anodized in gold), but the rear wheel proved to be trickier to install. “We had to adjust the belt hub, the disk position, the brake caliper and of course the alignment.”
At the same time, Daan got the forks and the Showa shock rebuilt and fine-tuned by a suspension specialist, and upgraded the brakes with Moto-Master discs.
Engine work is minimal: the V-twin punches out 88 horses and a solid 104 Nm of torque, which is plenty enough for a scrambler that weighs less than 200 kilos (440 pounds). So Daan has simply upgraded the breathing with a custom intake and DNA filter, and a one-off exhaust system from Moto Adonis’ sister brand, MAD.
It sits high up, well out of the way, but not so high that it’s going to burn your inner thigh. As Daan wisely points out, “On a scrambler you cannot have your exhaust hanging underneath the engine, waiting to be hit by rocks or stuff you run into.”
The paint is stealthy, with new black coatings on everything—leaving just the gold forks to provide a flash of color.
Daan’s X1 Lightning isn’t the kind of bike we’d use for jumping rocks, especially with that oddball Buell shock placement. But as we all know, the Netherlands is a famously flat country—and Daan’s Buell would be just perfect for blasting down a hardpack dirt road.
Images by Wouter Mertens
Writing thanks to https://www.bikeexif.com/buell-x1-lightning-custom