MANY OF US in the motorcycling world have a male relative to thank for getting us hooked on two wheels. It’s often a father who offered pillion rides, or a grandfather with a workshop full of tools. But in the case of esteemed bike builder Max Hazan, it’s female relatives who must take the blame.
The protagonist in the story is this Buell S1, which Max has owned for two whole decades. “This bike is a little special to me,” he says. “It was my first street bike, and also the first that I tried (unsuccessfully) to make a custom out of.”
“I wanted to buy it in 2001, but was completely broke. I asked my dad for some money but he said no way … so I went to my mother and grandmother, and they helped me out.”
The rest, as most followers of the custom scene will know, is history. Max is now one of the most talented names in our world, with a remarkably original ‘eye’ and sublime fabrication skills.
But back to this Buell, which Max has called ‘HS1’—the Hazan S1. “I rode the bike for a couple of years, doing a little to it here and there,” says Max. “But when I decided to add a nitrous system, things went south fast.”
“I knew you were supposed to spray fuel and nitrous, but I didn’t know that you were supposed to put jets in the nitrous side.”
Max learnt the hard way. He took the S1 Lightning out for its first (and only) test, slotted the V-twin into 5th gear at around 60mph, turned the nitrous system on, and hit The Button. “It wheelied for a second then went Boom! It blew the air cleaner off, let out a massive flame, and rolled to a halt.”
Max took the engine apart, and found cracked pistons and a destroyed top end.
“I had the brilliant idea to rebuild it with a turbo, intercooler, water injection, nitrous, and a pile of other stuff I didn’t know much about,” he says wryly. “The bike barely ran, and ended up sitting in my dad’s woodshop for the next 16 years, dripping oil.”
About a year ago, Max was shipping another bike from New York to L.A., and threw the Buell onto the truck. It was time to work on the S1 again—with the benefit of two extra decades of knowledge.
The Buell has now been rebuilt from the ground up. “The only thing that I kept was the turbo compressor housing, part of the frame, and the bottom end of the motor,” Max reveals. “The rest I made while sneaking into my shop during the COVID shutdown.”
With characteristic understatement, Max describes the engine work as “nothing too wild.” That means bigger bores to lift capacity to 1350cc, bigger cams (with .600 lift), bigger valves, a race clutch, and a lower 8.5:1 compression ratio.
The Buell is now carbureted via a Mikuni HSR42 that’s fed by a pressurized fuel system—and a Garrett dual ball bearing GT25R turbo. “The bike absolutely drinks fuel on the boost, which is set to around 20 psi. But it rides like a regular Harley when cruising. It has a 275 main jet for the fun riding.”
With the engine sorted and unlikely to explode, Max turned his attention to the chassis. He’s kept the main part of the distinctive frame, but ditched the rubber mount system that was designed to reduce vibration.
“It did a decent job of that, but the bike was super flexy,” he explains. “Everything is hard mounted now—and it does vibrate!”
To tighten up the handling, Max has installed 2014-spec CBR1000RR forks, using custom triples machined up by his buddy Mark Atkinson of BMW ‘Alpha’ fame. The wheels are an eBay find: magnesium Marchesinis in F16.5/R17 sizes. And the swingarm is from a different model Buell.
The bodywork is all aluminum. “I shaped the bike in foam first, as usual, to get the lines right. And in doing so, ended up with a tiny seat and tank,” says Max. “It’s pretty but not all that comfortable—and doesn’t have much range if you’re on the gas. But I have other bikes for that: this was purely for fun.”
With the tune that it’s running at the moment, the S1 now makes about 175hp at the wheel and has 160 pound-foot of torque with the rev limiter set to 6000rpm. (“The bike can make more, but having 200 hp at the crank reliably is plenty.”)
Max has weighed the Buell at 415 pounds (188 kg) with a full tank and 3.5L of oil in it. Which is pretty impressive considering the stock bike weighs 440 pounds wet. And this one has a fair bit of extra plumbing surrounding the engine.
“With the super-short wheelbase and very little rake/trail, it’s super sketchy,” says Max.
“But it’s exactly what I wanted to make for myself.”