Buell XB9/12s/r/x

By Enthusiasts for Enthusiasts

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So what is it mister? Where's it come from? How fast does it go? They're questions you just get used to from the non bikers (and many bikers!)

From other bikers.  That front disc's huge, but is it any good with only one? Buell, I've heard of them, what's it like? Buell, never seen one before, where did you get it?

When you buy a Buell, you automatically become part of the great Buell marketing machine! Why? Because you will be asked questions everywhere about it! You'll never experience anything like it on a Jap bike!

So where does it come from then?

XB Models

There are a number of different models, generally based around the 2 engines and 2 frame combinations, combined with 3 different styles of bodywork. All are based around the Buell principles of centralised mass and parts performing multiple functions (eg frame holds engine in bike and holds the fuel!)

I would define the styles of the bikes under three categories, race bike, streetfighter or traillie. Here's the 2007 model range, but some variations eg XB9R are available from earlier years..

Download the Buell official brochure for 2007 here. CARE 3.3Mb

XB12R - Firebolt XB12S - Lightning XB12Scg - Lightning Low
XB12Ss - Lightning Long XB12X - Ulysses XB9SX - City Cross

XB9/12R or Firebolt

The race bike in the range, with possibly the best handling of them all due to the dropped handlebars, plus some wind protection from the front fairing. If you ask on the forum, apparently yellow is a popular colour!

XB9/12S or Lightning

The streetfighter, designed for Buelligans! Available with the 9 engine in the City-X range, or with the brutal torque of the 12. Wide handlebars and an upright riding position are, I believe, more comfortable on longer journeys, particularly in the twisties. The minimal wind protection doesn't offer much protection at higher (illegal) speeds on the motorways though. Then again, who cares? That's not what they're designed for!

XB12Scg - Lightning Low

Effectively the same bike as the XB12S, but with a lower seat height of 726mm from 753mm. This is achieved with a different seat, but also suspension mods to lower the whole bike. A popular compromise for the short rider is to fit an XB12Scg seat to a normal XB12S giving a half way option.

XB12Ss - Lightning Long

Developed for the taller rider, the benefits of the long include more legroom for the rider, but also a bigger seat for the pillion. To achieve this, the frame is bigger, up from 1950mm to 2070mm. One benefit is that it holds more fuel, up from 14.5 to 16.7 litres. The steering angle has been reduce from 21' to 24' making it slightly more comfortable in a straight line, but not quite as responsive as the "Shorter" models. Please note, this is not as responsive as one of the best handling bikes on the market! It is still better than almost everything else on the road!

XB12X - Ulysses

The traillie, which allows you to just do that little bit more! Based on the longer frame from the XB12Ss, but with higher suspension and different styling, The Ulysses is possibly the best all rounder in the fleet. Excellent touring bike, whilst still awesome fun in the twisties!

XB9SX - City Cross

Is it the little brother? Not if you've ridden one! Is it a city only bike? NO WAY! The City Cross is basically a hardened Lightning, designed to take the abuse of the streets. Take a standard Lightning and add frame pucks, hand guards, headlight grills, then cap it all off with the rubber X on the airbox. Almost designed for a fight in the city!

Engines - 9 or 12?

The XB9 engine delivers more response and higher rpm's than the 12. Achieved by using shorter stroke in the same size bore. Some people rate the XB9 as the best engine Buell have produced, others love the torque and power of the 12. The truth is, that they offer a different style of power delivery, but are almost equal on the road.

If you want to rev the engine like a jap bike, definitely buy a 9.

If you want the wall of Torque Buells are renowned for, then the 12 is the way to go.

The 9 can very easily be brought up to similar power to a standard 12, with an exhaust, airbox mods and remapped ECM. However, that is to reach the starting point of the standard 12!

For me, it has to be a 12, but for others, the 9 is the only option. If you get amongst a few Buell owners, ask them which engine is best and stand back!

Which one would suit me?

Possibly the most common question from prospective buyers and the one that nobody can really answer! We can guide you, explain the benefits of each model, but the only way to choose the one that suits you is to go to the dealers and RIDE THEM ALL!

I am 6'2" tall and not the slimmest guy on the planet. If I asked anyone, they would definitely say XB12Ss or Ulysses. I rode the XB12Ss and I didn't fit! My knees were touching the frame dent and I was getting a buzzing through the kneecaps! My initial reaction was what a shame, they feel great to ride, but this is the big one and I don't fit! I then took out an XB12S (the short version) and my kneecaps had a 1 1/2" gap before the frame dent!  This is because the frame on the long model, comes back further, giving the increased length. Had I taken out a Ulysses, the different seat and peg locations, would have given me yet another option!

The other thing to remember is that the older Tube framed Buells are also great bikes and excellent value as they hold their value well. If you get a chance, why not try one of those at the dealers too? I had an X1 for 6 years, loved it, now have an XB and think it is even better, but I still recommend the X1 as a great bike. In my opinion, the best looking of them all is the S1, but they are all great!

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