The Hellbender – Start of a new Era in Buell Customizing

Buell Hellbender

And Hell broke loose. By Hillbilly-Motors.

The bike was launched by Hillbilly-Motors in 2004 and was the first XB based Custom bike on that level and for many it is still one of the nicest. The bike set a trend in many ways, maybe also because it is, even with its major modifications on the first view very clear to identify as a Buell.

When Tom Matzerath and we start to design the bike, a clean logical one-piece look was the focus. Because of that, as most of our Custombikes, the Hellbender got a uni color, no stripes, no airbrush, no bells and whistles, pure bone and muscle.

To show its force, the 240 rear wheel was mandatory, nobody until then had broken the sacrilege to put a 240 in a Buell. Even respected Customizer colleagues were spreading the word around that this is just a mockup and it is technically impossible to have an 240 in an Buell XB with belt. Well, hold my beer….

Indeed it was not an easy job, the complete belt line needed to get an 11mm offset. To make room for the tire we were cutting the swing arm open in the oil tank area and re-welded it. When we looked on it, we decided for the ultimate brute look we must shorten the complete tail section, what was fast said but not easy to do while keeping up the proportions. Cutting, welding, grinding and after a long process the aluminum side rails got their new shape and made together with an extra developed end insert a nice piece. Of course, now the undertray and the seat did not fit anymore. The undertray’s construction was a given product of “form follows function”, but Tom had free hands to shape the rear cowl which lead to an iconic design that inspired many in the following years.

The tank cover was bone stock, the front fender too, just slightly modified. The complete bike was painted, including the engine covers in the same color, if I remember right it was a Fiat tone and depending on what pictures you look the color goes from candy apple to burgundy, depending on the light source.

To show as much as possible of the BKG triples, Tom designed that front lamp setup mounted directly to the frame. The lamp insert we used was a fog / high beam combination turned 90 degree. You can imagine it produced a quite funny light beam, which actually was the only negative comment on the Road Test of German MOTORRAD magazine a year later, where the most of this iconic picture were taken by Jörg Künstle. The bike was ridden by Rolf Henniges.

Over the years, the Hellbender had different engine set-ups, it started as a Turbo charged XB 9, got then an XB12 and finally had a 1430cc M-TeK Motor with all options.

The bike made it, as far as we know, as the only Custom bike ever into an official Buell Brochure. In the later years with the new XB swingarm, specially the long SS style, it was much easier to convert the bikes to the 240 wide rear tire and to get the short tail optic by combining it with the normal long XB tail section. If I remember correctly, we sold 5-6 of the 240 kits worldwide.

After some years on display, when times were difficult, we disassembled the bike and the rear end with the 240 set-up got sold and is still running flawless for more than a decade in Norway far North of the polar circle. All one-of-a-kind Hellbender parts are safely stored and maybe one day, when we have some space, we will put the bike on the wheels again. 



For those who don’t know: before we moved to Sweden, we used to own Hillbilly-Motors – the single largest supplier of Buell after market parts in the world. The company was sold in 2006, the same year we moved from Germany to Sweden. We decided to collect all official project bikes here as well – just for fun really!