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Old 12-16-2008, 06:20 PM   #1
Chuck_V OP
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Buell XB12X Ulysses Review/Riding Impressions

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Old 12-16-2008, 06:38 PM   #2
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Nice work.
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Old 12-16-2008, 06:44 PM   #3
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Well said. I just traded my 03 Road King for an XT. If you want vibration and a loud clunk at shifting, get a King.
I found the XT to be everything I want in a bike (I've owned 3 HD's in the past year and a half). The Sportster was not comfortable, my Low Rider was fantastic and the King was like driving a 72 Buick, which is great if you only want to go straight down the road.
To me, the XT is essentially a crotch rocket with saddlebags that can go off road (dirt, gravel, mud - not single track).
I test rode the XT for an hour and made the deal. Looking to do some serious miles when winter ends.
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Old 12-16-2008, 06:45 PM   #4
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Thumb Buell XB12X Review

EXCELLENT REVIEW = Sold American !!!

Throw in a photo of a Off Road/Street Rally Car and I think you have a motorcycle that looks like a Subaru WRX !!

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Old 12-16-2008, 07:17 PM   #5
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Well done. What a ride it is.
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Old 12-17-2008, 04:12 PM   #6
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Smiles.... I have nothing but smiles.... great review.... LOVE MINE TOO...

Cheers-pete
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Old 12-17-2008, 09:57 PM   #7
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My riding partner aka "the wife" would love to add to your write up. The Uly is a great 2 up handling bike. As you mentioned the suspention setup is key 2 up. I have found it to handle better 2 up than solo. long days can be had on the bike both solo and in the pillion seat. The most we have done together was a 800+ mile day with zore complaints from the back seater. With over 50,000 miles on mine I've had the time to make all the mods you mentioned. I love this bike and will keep it for a while longer.
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Old 12-17-2008, 10:30 PM   #8
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Bluhduh

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuck_V
=

I'm writing this regarding my 2006 XB12X Ulysses, although a lot of the information carries over to other bikes in the XB series.

Ok, to start with, I've only owned my Uly for a few weeks. However, I've owned an XB9 CityX previously, in addition to several dirt and supermoto bikes, a Triumph 1050 S3, and Aprilia Falco (among others). I've also had the opportunity to ride several other bikes in the ADV category (KLR650, Aprilia Caponord, R1200GS).

I suppose we'll begin with the engine/drivetrain. First, let's dispel the myth about it being a "50 year old tractor engine". The Buell shares nothing with a 1950's HD Sportster aside from basic architecture. Cases, cylinders, heads, transmission.... nearly everything except the 45 V angle has been changed.

Once you think you've proven this to someone, you still bound to encounter the following arguments:

1) I'd never own a Hardly-Ableson piece of crap!
Well, that's nice. Good thing this is a Buell, huh? Seriously, people. Sure, the new HD Sportster does have a very similar engine to the Buell XB lineup. However, the modern Sportster engine technology was taken from Buell, NOT the other way around.

In regards to the chassis and suspension, the Buell's frame and swingarm are manufactured by Brembo (yes, that's Italian), and the suspension is handled by top of the line Showa (Japanese) components.

2) Why would you buy anything with such an outdated engine? What does it make, a hundred horsepower (naysayer rolls eyes)?
As I've already mentioned, the Buell engine shares nothing with it's outdated ancestors. If you're looking at this bike, you must realize that, yes, if put on a racetrack against a lineup of modern sportbikes, the engine will be outperformed. However, if you're looking at this bike, you're probably not looking for a racetrack weapon! If you're looking for a long distance adventure machine or an urban assault vehicle, then this engine is exactly what you're looking for.

Having ridden both the XB9 and 12, I will compare them to each other as well as to many other high performance motorcycles. Although the 9 lacks the serious bottom end grunt that I had anticipated, even after some mild modifications, the XB12 delivers even MORE than expected. Compared head-to-head with both an Aprilia Caponord and a BMW R1200GS, the Buell outperforms both without difficulty. Although dyno charts may seem to show otherwise, the Uly feels even quicker off-idle than my 1050 Speed Triple, a bike renowned for it's bottom end power.

When riding the XB, one of the first things you will notice will probably be the shaking. I wouldn't call it vibration, as it's a bit lower tempo and much less annoying than vibration. Personally, I think the shaking is just evidence that you a riding a real motorcycle, not an appliance.

In any case, once you've reached about 2,500/3,000 RPM, the engine becomes extremely smooth, lacking the annoying buzz of many 3/4 cylinder bikes.

As far as power and power delivery, this bike is seriously quick! It will easily, often unintentionally, loft the front wheel off of idle, and second and third gear wheelies are easily attained (if you like that sort of thing ). Power delivery is linear, with no chain slap (belt drive ) or serious fueling issues. The stock mapping does leave a slight stumble if you really wack the throttle open off idle, although in the real world you will not encounter any issues. Even so, the stumble is very minor, and if it not occur, you would probably be put on your back!

The transmission is very - how shall I put it - firm. There is no doubt that you are moving some serious parts when shifting this bike! Although it doesn't have the light "snick" of a Japanese bike (a very solid "thunk" instead), the transmission is very smooth shifting and I have not encountered any false neutrals or other issues.

The gear ratios allow for 75 MPH cruising at around 3,000 RPM. I have never "topped out" my Ulysses, but I do know that 100 MPH is easily attained.

The torque, horse power, and power delivery are perfect for the "real world", and the power is quite controllable in the dirt, as well.

I believe that shoots down the arguments of those who are not very well informed and/or have never actually ridden an XB, and we haven't even gotten to handling, braking, or comfort! Here goes...

Buells are VERY reliant on proper suspension setup (even more so than many other bikes) to handle to their maximum potential. However, once you have an XB dialed in it is VERY difficult to find anything comparable.

In regards to braking, there are some improvements that can be made. The stock front brake pads have a very "wooden" feel, and will leave a nearly impossible to remove build-up on the rotor which will feel as though it is warped. There are several aftermarket pads are available to cure this issue, although you should do so before the build-up occurs, because, as I said, it is nearly impossible to remove. Moving on to the rear brake, for those of you who heavily rely on the rear brake, you may find it a little underpowered. I've never found it an issue myself, although there are several cures including everything from aftermarket pads to a replacement caliper.

We're getting on to comfort, now. The first "issue" will probably be seat height. Although not an issue for me (6' tall, 32" inseam. I can easily flat foot with one foot), there are several options for those who are vertically challenged. If you buy an '06 Ulysses, you will find yourself with a 35" unladen seat height. Although not an issue for some people, for others is can be quite a problem. If you'd like to modify your seat rather than buy a replacement, there is plenty of foam to be removed without any issues (I would think 3-4"). If modifying is not your thing, the '07 and later seats came from the factory several inches lower and are widely available as replacements. Either way you go, the passenger section of the seat is very spacious, and is often considered one of the best passenger perches out there.

In regards to wind protection, there are many aftermarket windshields and windshield brackets to suit you height and needs. When properly set up, the Ulysses can offer surprising wind and weather protection for a naked bike. The stock handguards do little to protect your hands from wind and weather, although there are aftermarket bolt-on spoilers available from Touratech.

Buell offers two different options for 3 piece luggage, however I only have experience with the "original" style. The cases are easily removed from their mounting brackets with a luggage specific key, and their latches seem to secure as well as BMW GS luggage. Although I have no experience personally, they seem to double as excellent crash protection!

With no maintenance aside from oil changes, higher performance and at least the same comfort as the other bikes in this category, the Ulysses is an excellent value and seem to be often overlooked or disregarded due to their "heritage". On the other hand, I don't think those of us who own them have any problem with the minimal popularity. After all, if I wanted an adventure bike that I'd see all the time, I would've bought a BMW!

I test drove the 2008 XT a few months ago.
I had not been on a bike in 20 years, but had no trouble at all as the Uly felt very comfortable and handled naturally. I was all set to take the plunge, but the better half had a meltdown over the price. Also, she thought it was "ugly".
After the dust settled I bought a 2002 GS for about half the price. ( Poor me, eh? ) I had originally been fixated on the GS, but discovered the XT while fooling around on the net. One of these days when I'm not so whipped I might try one again.
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Old 12-18-2008, 06:19 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by layabout
I test drove the 2008 XT a few months ago.
I had not been on a bike in 20 years, but had no trouble at all as the Uly felt very comfortable and handled naturally. I was all set to take the plunge, but the better half had a meltdown over the price. Also, she thought it was "ugly".
After the dust settled I bought a 2002 GS for about half the price. ( Poor me, eh? ) I had originally been fixated on the GS, but discovered the XT while fooling around on the net. One of these days when I'm not so whipped I might try one again.

Let your wife ride the GS for a few hundred miles on the back and then borrow a XT or even a X. She will change her mind quick enough. My problem now is keeping her awake on the long rides.
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Old 12-18-2008, 07:37 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZRJoe
Let your wife ride the GS for a few hundred miles on the back and then borrow a XT or even a X. She will change her mind quick enough. My problem now is keeping her awake on the long rides.
Going on my wife's opinion (not having ridden on the back myself), I would say that pillion comfort is pretty much equal between the GS and Uly. I rode her around on both and she found both very livable. I also test rode two-up with her the Multi, V-Strom, and 1050 Tiger and she found all but the V-Strom very unpleasant after a very short time.
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Old 12-18-2008, 08:02 AM   #11
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One difference in pillion comfort between the GS and Uly is that the Uly comes standard with a nice backrest should someone choose to use it.
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Old 12-18-2008, 08:04 AM   #12
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Shhhhhh! Let the silly outsiders keep on thinking that Buells suck. The club has a certain exclusiveness that I enjoy.
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Old 12-18-2008, 09:14 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by acav80
Shhhhhh! Let the silly outsiders keep on thinking that Buells suck. The club has a certain exclusiveness that I enjoy.
Exclusivity is nice, but R&D bucks come from bike sales. The more they sell, the more they can refine what they already do pretty well and the more new product they can develop. Growth in sales numbers would also help to remedy the agonizing dealer issues Buell owners seem to struggle with. If Buell became more of a "bread & butter" product for the dealers, they would most likely take the brand a little more seriously and treat Buell customers with a little more respect.
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Old 12-18-2008, 09:36 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hangetsu
Exclusivity is nice, but R&D bucks come from bike sales. The more they sell, the more they can refine what they already do pretty well and the more new product they can develop. Growth in sales numbers would also help to remedy the agonizing dealer issues Buell owners seem to struggle with. If Buell became more of a "bread & butter" product for the dealers, they would most likely take the brand a little more seriously and treat Buell customers with a little more respect.
Good point. I do think they're on their way to the big time, especially now with all the buzz around the rotax bikes. Those of us on board now will just get to brag about how we used to ride a Buell way back in the 2000's before they were the big rage.

My honest opinion having switched from a Kawasaki, is that anybody who comes with an open mind and tries a Buell is probably going to love it. These bikes have got character and soul like very few others, and "real world" performance that is easy to enjoy every time you hit the starter.
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Old 12-19-2008, 07:54 AM   #15
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"Growth in sales numbers would also help to remedy the agonizing dealer issues Buell owners seem to struggle with. If Buell became more of a "bread & butter" product for the dealers, they would most likely take the brand a little more seriously and treat Buell customers with a little more respect."

Buell is growing, but ever so slowly, and moreso overseas than at home. It was late '06 or early '07 when they produced their 100,000th unit and just a month or so ago when they produced their 125,000th. 25 years to get to 100K and only two years to equal a quarter of that production. MCN recently published '07 and projected '08 sales numbers. HD is going to sell 220,000 units in the US to Buells <5,000. I think we'll be able to keep our exclusivity for the near future.
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