2009 Buell Blast: Performance, Price, and Photos

2022-11-07 15:37:29 By : Mr. Ron Luo

With a new-rider friendly package, the Buell Blast certainly lives up to its name

Buell produced its entry-level Blast from the turn of the century through 2009. Built as a naked sportbike, the Blast carries minimal bodywork with a single-cylinder engine and uncomplicated build. Seat height and price are both set fairly low to accommodate a younger/shorter buyer base.

Since the start, Buell used engines built by its parent company, the H-DMC, and the Blast is no exception. Based on the Evolution Sportster drivetrain, the Blast's engine eliminates the rear cylinder to leave just the forward-canted front jug. It remains an air-cooled unit with an integrated chain-type primary drive, clutch pack, and transmission case, all within the same common casting.

Sized and tuned to be un-intimidating, the engine fits in with other parts of the bike. Bore and stroke measure 88.9 mm and 79.4 mm respectively, for a mild 9.2-to-1 compression ratio and 492 cc total displacement.

The Buell Blast produces 34 horsepower with 30 pound-feet of torque with a 399-pound wet weight. A five-speed transmixxer crunches the ratios with a carbon-reinforced belt-and-pulley final drive to put the power to the pavement.

This is a pre-FI platform that relies on a good, old-fashioned soup can. The single Keihin carburetor comes with an automatic choke that replaces the traditional choke. Mileage clocks in somewhere around 64 mpg, though individual results may certainly vary. Buell Blast top speed is 98 mph.

RELATED: Ruthless Engineering: Erik Buell destroying the Blast

There isn't much bodywork on the Buell Blast, but what there is comes in molded Surlyn plastic. This is the same stuff that protects the outside of golf balls, so it's literally tough as balls as our British cousins might say.

A sparse front fender rides between blackout fork sliders with a small, sporty little flyscreen to top the front end. In profile, the Blast's flyline and overall mien help it to disappear in a crowd of Euro/Asian machines. Even the one-lung engine defies identification as a Harley-Davidson product as it lacks that characteristic 45-degree V.

The fuel hump contains 2.8 U.S. gallons ahead of a saddle that comes stock at 27.5 inches off the deck. Seat height can go as low as 25.5 inches tall with the optional low-profile version. It's just another effort to make newer riders more comfortable with their machine.

The handlebar has quite a bit more rise than you find with the typical sport-naked. This unlocks a vertical riding position that is comfortable over the long run.

Footpegs for both pilot and pillion spring from a common root on the subframe. These join with a pillion pad and small J.C. handles to complete the passenger's amenities.

Like most of the rest of the sport-naked genre, the taillight rides in the tip of the tail. The rest of the gear in the rear mounts to a small mudguard appendage with a swingarm-mount hugger to complete the coverage over the rear wheel.

RELATED: Top 10 Most Affordable Sports Bikes in 2022

High-strength/low-alloy steel is the material of choice for the wide-beam backbone frame on the Buell Blast. It comes with Buell's Uniplanar isolation mounts that take some sting out of the thumper's vibration.

Interestingly, Buell decided to lower weight by eliminating the usual remote oil tank and using part of the frame as the two-quart oil reservoir. This is rather like the old frame-tank bikes.

A set of 37 mm Showa forks float the front end on fixed variables. Out back, a non-adjustable Showa shock supports and tames the rear. If that seems lame, I would point out that this is a beginner's bike, so let's not overload them with the finer points just yet, m'kay? Plus, it helps keep the price down.

Rake and trail measure in at 25 degrees and 3.4 inches to give the Blast its sharp and eager handling characteristics and eager nature in the curves. That's just the thing to keep the rides interesting for budding would-be pegdraggers.

A single, twin-pot caliper bites a 320 mm front disc to slow the front wheel and provide roughly 70 percent of the overall braking power. Out back, a 220 mm disc and single-piston binder take care of business, but the brakeage as a whole is plain vanilla with no ABS protection to be had. You can make arguments both ways for and against ABS for beginners, so I'm going to leave it at that.

Cast wheels run with a 16-inch diameter front and back and mount a 100/80 ahead of a 120/80. Sure, the contact patches could stand to be larger, but the 16-inch rims fit with the build of the rest of the bike as it were.

RELATED: Top Naked Streetfighter Motorcycles

The 2009 Buell Blast cost $4,795. That was the MSRP on a new '09 Buell Blast. It rolled in a choice between Sunfire Yellow and Midnight Black. You can find early examples for about half the price today.

Suzuki had a peer for the Blast back in 2009 with its naked GS500 sportbike. Like the Buell, Suzuki wasted not an ounce on superfluous equipment and gratuitous bodywork to place it squarely in naked-sport country.

I'd call the Suzuki a good example of the new Standard model. It's like a new updated version of the old UJM from back in the day.

It's unsurprising that Suzuki billed this bike as a beginner's machine given its light weight and un-threatening power plant. The GS500 doubles down on the brakeage with a four-piston caliper ahead of a twin-pot as opposed to 2/1 from the Buell, but it looks like ABS is a no-go on either of these platforms.

Suzuki gets another little victory with its adjustable spring preload out back that Buell seems to have neglected. Also, its hoops are 17 inchers at both ends for a more-common look and slightly larger contact patches.

As for power, the GS500 produces 51.3 horsepower and 30.4 pound-feet of torque with its 487 cc mill for a significant performance advantage over the Buell with its 34/30, respectively. To make things worse for Buell, the Suzuki rolled for $4,395 new, which is just a hair lower than the Buell with much better performance.

“As a noobie machine, the Buell isn't too bad. Not too powerful, not too fast, but with the same agile nature, we have come to associate with the marque. I maintain that it's more fun to ride a slow bike fast than a fast bike slow, and this definitely applies here with the Blast's mild demeanor and tractable power.”

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, "Buell was Harley's dive into sportbikes back when H-D focused on cruisers and the big tour bikes. At the time, the Blast was the only Buell bike with a single cylinder, and it went into the market against the GS500 and the Ninja 500. It wasn't as powerful as those, but it was a nice enough mid-displacement ride for folks entering the two-wheel culture."

"Unfortunately, it was wildly unpopular, being too small, and too slow. Fearing the motorcycle community would use the Blast to define Buell, the factory not only discontinued it, but they crushed the remaining stock into cubes intended for use as table bases."

TJ got an early start from his father and other family members who owned and rode motorcycles, and by helping with various mechanical repairs throughout childhood. That planted a seed that grew into a well-rounded appreciation of all things mechanical, and eventually, into a formal education of same. Though primarily a Harley rider, he has an appreciation for all sorts of bikes and doesn’t discriminate against any particular brand or region of origin. He currently holds an Associate’s degree in applied mechanical science from his time at the M.M.I.