What We Ride - Jay Roche's 1996 Buell S2


Jay Roche is well-known in the industry for his flawless and meticulous metalwork. Some of you might remember his detailed tech articles back in the early days of CC. Jay took a hiatus to move his shop and concentrated on the day-to-day operations at SPCL'79. Jay and I recently started throwing around the idea of him helping us out once again. I’m thrilled to announce that Jay is back on the contributing team (yeah!) and he’ll be creating a few tech articles when time allows. So in the meantime, I thought it would be cool to feature his personal bike so you can get familiar with his attention to detail and craftsmanship. Big thanks to Jay for helping me with this feature. Enjoy!



"You know how it goes. You get an idea and you start putting pencil to paper to begin the process of building a motorcycle in your mind. In this case, the idea started with the Craigslist find of a 1996 Buell S2 that had been built, tuned, and then ran into transmission problems. Van, ramps, road trip, you all know the drill. My plan all along was to strip the bike down and part out all bits worth any money. The bike was nice, but not clean enough to keep it from the chopping block.


Fast forward 2 years and I have a motor and a neck with paper for next to nothing. I’d already done a few sportster-based builds, so I wanted to challenge myself and try something different. I wanted to keep it a swingarm bike since the last time I built a rigid and rode it for a large chunk of miles, I couldn’t feel my toes for 3 months. I had a stock evo sportster frame to start with, so I swapped the neck to retain matching numbers, shaved some bits, and it was ready to get together as a roller. Once the wheels, brakes, and suspension were sorted, the rest involved getting the gas tank, oil tank, tail section, and exhaust fabricated so the wiring could be laid out. Simple turn signals were incorporated to keep the boys in blue happy, but that’s the extent of the fanciness on this build.


Once the electrical was sorted, it was on to the motor. The base gaskets had a decent weep to them so a top end disassembly was in order with a cylinder bead hone and a new set of rings. The previous owner had thrown a set of Andrews N9 cams in this lump, so after a little thought I decided to swap them out for a more streetable set of N2 cams. Trim the cam cover, change some gaskets, and add a set of S&S quickie adjustable pushrods, and it was ready to put the engine back in the frame.



The one part of this whole story that I’ve left out is that this bike was originally being built for Fuel Cleveland 2016, but life decides to throw you a curveball every once in a while. During the build and approximately 2 weeks before the deadline, our 9-year-old pup Wilbur was diagnosed with aggressive liver cancer. I’m no hardened chopper guy, so the news was crushing to my wife and I. I escaped to the shop when I could to work on the bike, but it seemed that spending time with our boy for the last two weeks of his life was more important than anything to us. I thank Mikey Arnold and all the others involved in Fuel Cleveland for being so understanding in me having to withdraw from the show. I hope to get a chance to be involved and make it up to them in the future.


Now that I was starting to get my head straight again, I got the bike plumbed, fluids added, and got this 100hp dirt Buell powered thingy fired up. Fire, cool, fire, cool, check for leaks, tune the CV carb, and take it for the maiden ride. This bike is super fun, stupid fast, and a handful in the dirt until you get a feel for it. I love the dual sport tires but I can imagine a set of nice sticky street tires would be another fun option depending on where this bike really spends most of it’s time. The most important thing to me is that I really like the way this bike turned out… and it was put together to take some abuse.



Thanks to the friends that helped this build become what you see here. Much thanks to…

Kim Boyle - Boyle Custom Moto

Dennis Fauerbach

Bryan Triglia - Grade 8 Cycle and Speed

Jay McPhee - Choppa J Designs

Fab Kevin

Weston Boege - Counterbalance Cycles 

Anthony at Procote Powdercoating


Time to think about the next build already…"



Year: 1996 Buell S2

Motor: 1200cc with Andrews N2 cams and other updated stuff here and there.

Frame: stock dimension mid 90’s sportster swingarm frame built around Buell neck, thus retaining matching numbers for frame/motor.



Custom fabricated bits by me:

-one off steel oiltank (thanks Bryan Triglia @ Grade Eight for lending me a helping hand)

-modified 2.2 gallon sportster tank with Buell filler

-handbuilt tail section with led cluster tail/brake

-aluminum headlight shroud



-modified stock 39mm top tree to fit narrowed moto fat bars and steering damper

-swap meet Supertrapp stainless 2-into-1 header with a Cone Engineering shorty reverse

megaphone grafted to it… stainless mounts for good measure.

-hard to describe plate mount rear bumper thing



-primary mounted platform for a LC Fabrications 12 cell Antigravity lithium battery box

-relocated key switch to back of primary

-machined aluminum guard for the solenoid push button starter



Other trick parts:

-Trackerdie mid-mount billet sprocket guard

-Fab Kevin stainless rear brake mount with Tokico caliper

-Speed Merchant radial caliper mount and Tokico radial caliper



-prototype Boyle Custom Moto XL air cleaner for CV carb

-Pangea Speed choke relocation plate for CV carb

-Random Engineering hydraulic clutch



-Counterbalance Cycles seatwork

-Ohlins 14” rear shocks

-Paint and striping by Jay McPhee aka “Choppa J”

-Racetech gold emulators and Speed Merchant preload adjusters to tune the 39mm front end



When Jay’s not riding the piss out of his motorcycle he’s been working on opening a new shop with a few friends. “About three years ago my friend Joe and I started searching for a new shop space that we could both move into. Being that he's a furniture designer/builder, we needed a space that wasn't a firetrap or leaking like a sieve, like most old buildings or rentable spaces in our area do. After a fruitless search to rent 4000 sq ft in our area, we decided to start looking at properties for sale, with the possibility of extra space to rent out to like minded people. We looked at a few properties that all had their pluses and minuses but we just didn't get a good feeling from the few that we found. Then it happened.


With a little luck, good timing, and a handful of people smarter than us, we were able to look at a foreclosed building that had disappeared off the books for a while due to the bank that owned it going under. After jumping through a bunch of hoops, lots of advice and help from kind and knowledgeable people in commercial real estate, we were told that it was a smart (but scary for us!) move to buy the property. Now here we are with a 13,000 sq ft building, split into 2, street-level-access, 6500 sq ft spaces. The lower space is what houses my shop, a shared (with 4 other motorcycle enthusiasts) moto-wrenching space, Joe Weiss's wood shop aka Skana Design, and plans for a retail frontspace that will house a small coffee shop, our friend Josh's barber business, and floorspace for us to carry handmade goods, friend's products, and other bits aimed at enjoying riding, wrenching, building, and camping with motorcycles. It'll basically be a welcoming spot for like-minded people to stop by/gather, have a coffee and possibly a haircut, and get excited about doing fun shit on your motorcycle. This space will be known as the New Tradition Company. People involved in our happy family space: @skanadesign@jayroche79,  @americanbarber, and @theeazyco.



We will be having our first get together, bike, and art show on Saturday, January, 21st 2017 at 7 Jackson St. Worcester, MA 01602. For more information, check out @newtraditoncompany on the Instagram.” Thanks, Jay.


Here are a few of Jay's tech articles for you to enjoy: 

Six Pack: Narrowing a Gas Tank with Special 79

How-To: Making and Using a T-Bar Dolly with Special '79

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Comment with Chopcult (3)

Commented on 1-13-2017 At 02:30 pm

Refreshing to see excellent,original everyday usable rolling art.Superb work would love to have a battery mount like yours.Nothing but love and respect and my condolences on your loss,brother.I am sure your boy is looking down on your work and is smiling and very proud.

Commented on 1-15-2017 At 03:58 pm

What We Sell - Jay Roche' 1996 Buell S2

Commented on 1-17-2017 At 03:58 am

Yup, the wheel goes round and round.

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