Alain Bernard is one of the most unpredictable builders in the US: You can never guess what he’ll come up with next. The bread-and-butter of Santiago Chopper’s business is trike conversions, but Bernard also turns out traffic-stopping customs on a regular basis.
This is his latest, nicknamed ‘Bucati.’ Believe it or not, the bike is based on the 1998 Buell S1 Lightning, an oddball roadster with a wheezy 1203cc v-twin. But on the plus side, the S1 had a top speed of just over 125 mph (200 kph).
Bernard and mechanic Mike Lima have boosted the pushrod lump with 38mm Keihin CR carburetion and a Dyna 2000i ignition. They’ve also modified the frame, grafting a Ducati 1098 subframe and tail unit onto the back. (‘Bucati’…geddit?) The original battery box has been removed, and an oil tank fitted to the left-hand side of the bike.
The stock Buell swing arm has been swapped out for a more curvaceous custom-fabricated item. The hand controls are Beringer, and the rearsets are from Chainsickle. But it’s the paint job that jumps out—a monochrome mix of flat and gloss black that speaks softly but carries a big stick.
The blocky styling of the original Buell—a curious mix of Sportster and Aprilia Moto 6.5—has given way to a lithe and insect-like stance, accentuated by tiny LED lighting front and rear.
It’s an acquired taste, but then again, so was the S1. I’ll take this version.