The White Lightning, also known as the Buell S1W, was the one-year-only, cream of the crop edition of the S1 Lightning.
Made only in 1998, the White Lightning took Erik Buell’s concept of what you could build around a Harley engine to an extreme.
It may also end up being one of the most collectible bikes from Buell’s run.
When most riders first encounter the Buell S1 White Lightning, they think it’s something radically new.
But in reality, it’s only the latest of a long line of Harley-Davidson-powered sport machines that former Harley engineer, Erik Buell, has been building since 1987.
Like its predecessors, and unlike traditional American cruisers, the White Lightning is a pure sport bike, one built following Erik Buell’s own unique rules of motorcycle design.
And unique, it is! With its hyper-aggressive, junkyard dog styling, it doesn’t look like anything else on the road.
But rather than distract, its unique lines draw your eyes to the Buell’s rather novel components.
The frame is familiar chrome-moly tubing, but follows unconventional lines and uses the engine itself as part of its structure.
It rides on a set of trick, race-bred inverted forks up front and a fully-adjustable, but horizontally-mounted, rear shock that’s designed to extend over bumps rather than compress.
Primary braking load is carried by a single huge 13.4-inch front disc that’s gripped by a six-piston caliper.
While the all-American drivetrain delivers power to the fat rear Dunlop, by way of a kevlar-reinforced belt.
The air-cooled 1200cc V-twin engine starts life as the same unit found in Harley’s 1200 Sportster but Mr. Buell then adds free flowing heads, a lightened flywheel, recalibrated ignition, and bigger exhaust headers. It inhales through this ungainly-looking, side-mounted airbox and exhales through a stainless steel exhaust system, notable for the sheer size and efficiency of its muffler, as well as funky details like the inconsistent weld quality and hardware store hose clamps attaching the heat shield.
The end result, measured on the dyno is 100 PK and 120 NM of torque. A huge increase over stock.
This not only means serious, wheely-pulling bottom end, but massive midrange. And the power keeps on coming to a very un-Harley-like 7,000 rpm.
Unfortunately, the 90’s Buells suffer from some pretty poor reliability issues.
After the Bike came out so did the recall’s.
If you by a Buell make sure are the recalls are performed.
SAFETY RECALL CODE 0807 - 1997/1998 FRONT BRAKE ROTOR DRIVE PINS
SAFETY RECALL CODE 0808 -TURN SIGNAL FLASHER
SAFETY RECALL CODE 0810 - FRONT ISOLATOR MOUNT SYSTEM
SAFETY RECALL CODE 0811 - S1 AND S1W NEGATIVE BATTERY CABLE
SAFETY RECALL CODE 0815 - FUEL TANK VENT VALVE ASSEMBLY
SAFETY RECALL CODE 0813 - SIDESTAND SWITCH
RECALL CAMPAIGN 0821 - RACE MUFFLER RETENTION KIT
SAFETY RECALL CODE 0820 - NEW SHOCK ABSORBER
PRO SERIES RACE HEADER 2.5”
PRO SERIES EXHAUST
RACING IGNITION MODULE
MIKUNI HSR42 SMOOTHBORE CARBURETOR
FORCE WINDER AIR INTAKE
FRONT PULLEY 37
REAR PULLEY 61
S-1 BATTERY REPLACEMENT KIT
2001 X1 SHIFT LINKAGE KIT
2001 BRAKE LEVER
2001 FOOT PEG KIT
2001 FRONT FORK AND BRAKE SYSTEM
REVISED PRODUCT PROGRAM BP5 - ISOLATOR KIT
PRODUCT PROGRAM BP7 - EXHAUST HEADER MOUNT RETROFIT KIT
SHOCK ABSORBER AND FRONT SHOCK MOUNTUPGRADED PRIMARY CHAIN TENSIONER
If you want to see all the modifications I made on this bike follow this link:MODIFICATION’S BUELL S1W
MODEL YEAR: only 1998
APPROX. NUMBER BUILT: 2,000
The White Lightning Colour name was Ice White Pearl.
Later that model year they make different colours S1W as well.
- 1258 Ice White Pearl
- 378 Carbon Black
- 295 Molton Orange
- 138 Billet Metallic
Link: COMPLETE PRODUCTION HISTORY OF BUELL MOTORCYCLES MODEL YEARS 1983 to 2010
- 138 Billet Metallic