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Old 04-19-2012, 09:38 AM   #1
Randy OP
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Why not a Buell??

Can't really explain the attraction but there has just always been something about some of Eric Buell's models that attracted me. First it was the S1 Lightning and then there was the XB12S. I just like the bare bones, stripped down hot-rod nature of the things as well as the sound. Been itching for something new lately and these just keep popping up on my radar screen. I've read random comments about reliability and such but I've never spent any time looking into these machines other than just the random thread or magazine article. I do worry about long term parts support now that Buell is no longer, but other than that is there any reason not to buy either of these machines on the used market. Not looking for the latest greatest repli-racer beater, just a fun to ride and unique hooligan machine.

What say the hive?
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Old 04-19-2012, 10:40 AM   #2
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My friend rode an XB12r for about 5 years. I've put 4 or 500 miles on it myself.

The power is a little underwhelming, but the short wheelbase is wonderful. The transmission is terrible, the clunkiest I've ever had to deal with. And only 5 speeds. It vibrates as much or more than you might imagine, to the point where you'll be loosing hardware (and maybe your plate) pretty often if you don't check regularly.

It's one of those bikes where if you can get past the foibles, it is probably going to be one of your all time favorites. That being said my buddy upgraded to an 1198 this last year.


The last time I rode it, before my buddy got rid of it for the Duc.
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Old 04-19-2012, 10:42 AM   #3
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Oh I'd like to add he had some difficulty getting parts. HD shops here in Denver didn't want to bother with them anymore. He couldn't find a belt locally to save his life.
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Old 04-19-2012, 11:32 AM   #4
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Buells are better, once you get one

Take a look & then ride an 1125 cr or r. These scoots are out there. The EBR team are second to none. Parts & phone support are great.
I see the Buell as the need to have or collect bike, very soon.
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Old 04-19-2012, 12:38 PM   #5
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i am on my third buell now, and I think I will always have one. My 07 XB12STT does not vibrate very much, surely not enough that I will be constantly chasing missing parts and the transmission is not clunky. In fact I think it shifts smoother than my last 2 BMWs. And it was cheap ($5100 with 2000 kms)
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Old 04-19-2012, 04:03 PM   #6
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I also have the irrational urge to get a Buell, just because Erik is such a cool guy and it is so rare that one man's vision defines a motorcycle (even with Harley holding him back at every turn).

I'll never forgive Harley for shutting him down (not that I ever liked them anyway)

I'll probably start with an 1125 Rotax model but the Ulysses has always called to me.....if only they had survived long enough to get a Rotax Uly into production.
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Old 04-19-2012, 05:50 PM   #7
vwone
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I like my Buell

I like my Buell XB12XT, I have had great luck with it and every time I ride that bike I can't wait to ride it again.

You might find this story of interest from Motorcycle Daily,

http://www.motorcycledaily.com/2012/...used-buell-xb/
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Old 04-19-2012, 06:05 PM   #8
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I was where you are at about 3 years ago. Always admired Buells, liked their sound and looks. I bit the bullet and have mixed emotions. If you are looking for a completely sorted bike right out of the box, look elsewhere. If you keep your expectations in check they are great street bikes that handle fantastic and have fine everyday power. If you constantly ride north of 100mph, look elsewhere.
Mine has been flawless but the Ulysses which I own has known problems with rear wheel bearings, belts, ecm's, and front brake rotors. Do your research on the model you are interested in and if you are willing to take the good with the bad you will be rewarded with a bike that has loads of torque, that handles great and is the only sub 6 grand American made sport bike on the market.
FWIW, once past idle, Buells smooth out nicely and I have never had anything vibrate off. Coming from Honda's, the transmission is clunkier but hardly a deal beaker, in fact, I've never missed a gear on my Buell.
The 2 things I'm most disappointed in are the fact that the lifetime belt is not lifetime and the fact that the muffler rusts about as quick as untreated steel left in the rain.
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Old 04-19-2012, 06:36 PM   #9
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Randy, inmate Tom S up here owns both models you menitoned and still likes 'em as far as I know.

I'll pm him to see if he wants to add to this thread.

Good luck and have fun, Mark H.
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Old 04-19-2012, 07:04 PM   #10
Randy OP
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vwone,

Thanks for the article link... I think! Sure fuels that fire...

Now I can broaden my search to include the XB9 as well. Probably prefer the XB12 but if I find a good enough deal...



tastroman,

I believe that I have my expectations in check, but then again, I don't really know since I've never had a chance to sample one. I very seldom ever venture into the territory north of 100mph. High horsepower, high speed stuff isn't my forte really. Perhaps it will put things into perspective to say that my current main ride is an '03 R1150GS. I ride it in a spirited fashion and love going to the mountains of N. GA, W. NC area. I love it for it's all day comfort, it's two up capabilities, its long range and luggage carrying ability, as well as it's fun factor in the twisties and I fully intend to ride it into the ground. In fact just yesterday I sampled a new Yamaha Super Tenere and much prefer my GS. But, now I've gotten an itch for a new (to me) something or another. I'm looking for something smaller and lighter. Something playful and agile while still being reasonably comfortable with more upright ergos.

I always loved the sound and visceral feel of my '93 Ducati 900SS too. It was no powerhouse either but it handle reasonably well and I loved the engine. I still have that bike too, but haven't ridden it in years although I do keep saying I need to go through it and put it back on the road because I'm starting to miss the occasional ride on it even though the ergos aren't that forgiving as I've gotten older. In fact, another possibility for my next bike is one of the Monster family... possibly a 696... and I do like the ergos of those

So, in short all I can say is that I think I'd enjoy one of the Buells. They seem to be pretty damn close to what I'm looking for. I just don't know a whole lot about them, their reliability, or their known problems. I guess I do need to start doing more research into issues and what to look out for with the various models, but I guess that's sort of why I started this thread, hoping that the family here would offer up some sage advice or at least point me to some good sources of information.

So, keep the info and advice coming... it gives me something to do between craigslist search sessions.

and thanks to all of those that have replied so far and TIA to those that reply after...

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Old 04-19-2012, 07:24 PM   #11
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http://badweatherbikers.com/ is THE forum for all things Buell. You should be able to answer most of your questions there.
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Old 04-20-2012, 05:44 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teamross View Post
...power is a little underwhelming...The transmission is terrible, the clunkiest I've ever had to deal with. .... It vibrates as much or more than you might imagine ....
I don’t know what was up with your friend’s bike. No they don’t make the power of a UJM liquid cooled 4, but it’s not bad at all with the great torque. BMW GS & KTM 950 rider tried my S1, said it was like driving a car with a big block. My S1 made 79.1 hp & 80.1 ft. lbs of torque on the dyno. Torque number was at 3850 rpm. Better torque on both of my Buells than my 2010 Hypermotard.
The trans on my ‘96 S1 & 2006 Uly work great, real smooth. Yeah, they might vibrate like a paint shaker when sitting at an idle but as the revs go up vibes go down. At 3000 rpm, the vibes are totally gone.
3000 rpm = 60 mph in top gear. If your friends bike still vibrated beyond that there was something wrong with that particular bike.

This is mostly about the tube framed Buells.
I have had my S1 for 13 years & like it much better than the Uly. The S1 is very easy to work on, way lighter, (weighed it twice, 385 pounds with 1/2 tank of gas) & has been damn near dead reliable. Parts dirt cheap too. In all that time I only had two problems with it that were not my fault. Both were easy & cheap fixes.

S1 doesn’t have the irritating noisy fan that comes on every time you shut it off, everything is easy to get to & not enclosed in the big aluminum frame that all the XB models have. The XB engines have some big differences compared to the older models. One thing Is that the cases have to be split to remove the transmission, earlier ones have a cassette trans that just pulls right out the side of the case.
Learned that when the stator died on the Uly. The bike was still under warrantee. When they went to pull the stator & clutch they broke the trans main shaft. WTF? Glad it wasn’t me doing the work. I do my own work so if it wasn’t for the fact that it was still under warrantee a dealer wouldn’t be touching it.

Let a friend take a short ride on my S1 several years ago. He got off & says something like “This thing is a beast! ".
He now has 2 very nice ST3s, one here & one in Oregon.
Something you will not miss on any Buell is adjusting valves or adjusting or oiling the chain.
Quote:
Originally Posted by tastroman View Post
Mine has been flawless but the Ulysses which I own has known problems with rear wheel bearings, belts, ecm's, and front brake rotors.
Yup, problems with rear wheel bearings on the Uly. I don’t think it has been a problem with other models.
I think they run the belts too tight on all the XBs.
I ended up buying a 2010 wheel with the two bearings on the drive side. I did not want that problem again. Bought it from ASB, definitely the place to get Buell parts. Great service. http://www.americansportbike.com/sho...ay/splash.html
Don’t know what you mean about the ECM unless it’s the jerky low speed stuff & wanting to cough & or near stall on a low speed quick crack of the throttle. Race ECM cured that. The brake rotor thing is fixed with different pads from ASB. Stock pads left a coating on the disk & it pulsated. Change of pads is all it takes.

2-3 months ago a friend of a friend, Jim, was looking for an older '”Tuber” Buell & ask another friend what the 'weak points' might be. The other friend, Don, sent his mail to me for a reply. Don’s comments followed by my response

Quote:
Originally Posted by Don
Jim, I don't know how you would be able to tell just by looking, but some of the Sportster engines use a lot of oil.
On the tuber Buells, it would be nice if the isolators (rubber/metal engine mounts) were not worn out - the rear ones are not real easy to change.
The rear shock can leak and need to be rebuilt or replaced. Some of the earlier rear shocks can supposedly can fail - as in break in two - which would have a very adverse effect on the handling. There were some shock recalls.
Also, there was an improved front hanger for the muffler. The improved one looks like an unside-down "Y". I think it holds the pipe more securely and helps prevent problems with the exhaust cracking or leaks at the head.
The rear drive belts seem to able to run at least 40 or 50,000 miles sometimes.
There were some improved hold-down plates for the bolt that holds the rear of the gas tank down. Some gas tanks get bubbles under the paint. Apparently this just happens. Or doesn't.

The fuel injection Buells can have two different ECMs - the black box that runs the engine. There is a standard one and a 'race' ECM. The race one is adjustable, the standard one may not be. I would say to stay away from a bike that has Power Commander added to it. The Race ECM can be adjusted for the Harley race exhaust or an after market exhaust. My stateside Buell had a Power Commander when I got it. It ran just great until the PC died and then it would only run on the front cylinder. That bike had a standard ECM with the PC to adjust for the "Race" exhaust and intake.

Make sure the rear drive belt is not too tight - it can be run safely with an amazingly loose adjustment. If it is too tight, you can wreck the rear wheel bearings and probably bearings on the shaft that carries the drive sprocket.
That's all I can think of right off.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom S
Jim, I think Don has hit most of the points. I’ll comment on some of them.
I have a ‘96 S1, which you have seen. It’s been very reliable. Bought it It went thru a shop fire & I expected troubles with it but really had none from that. Bought it in 1999 from a guy that got it back on the road. About 3 days after I bought it Buell came out with a big recall. It has never had any of the factory recalls done. The bike is very easy to work on & many parts are very inexpensive & in some cases a lot more readily available than foreign bike parts. We’re talkin’ about a modified Sportster engine here, could probably keep one running ‘forever’.

The original rocker box gaskets on these bikes were known to leak at some point. Mine never did. I think most of the leakers have been changed by now.

An important thing that wasn’t mentioned was the primary chain tensioner. The original chain tensioner wasn’t very strong & could break & cause some real bad problems. A newer upgraded one can be had cheap @ HD. I think I have an extra because I forgot I had already bought one. I think it was 6-7 bucks.

I put in an upgraded oil pump in 2001. Easy job.

The engine oil will leak down from the “oil bag” into the sump over winter storage, or a long period not running.
I just drain it when I have to put the bike away.

The front brake rotor on the early bikes would wear & become very loose. The rotor would rattle back & forth at an Idle. I ran this one that I drilled full of holes until the buttons holding the disk were falling off.




“Some of the earlier rear shocks can supposedly can fail - as in break in two...”
The front shock eye on the first, WP shock, was alleged to be susceptible to corrosion because of crap thrown up by the front wheel. They have an exposed white colored spring. I do not think that there was ever a documented case of this actually happening. Buell recalled them anyway. Then recalled that shock for some reason, (leaking?), and replaced it with another. The recall shocks all have a chrome cover over the spring. Most all of the original shocks were replaced long ago. Just need to made sure a bike has the last recall shock, whatever brand that was.

I was still running the original shock up to a couple years ago but replaced it with a Penske because I thought it was starting to leak, but I only saw a few small drops & then no more. It was still working. The Penske was expensive. I ran over something & slightly tweaked something external on the Penske that I just popped back into place. It eventually started to leak & all the fluid is gone. I ain’t got that fixed that yet.

“...some of the Sportster engines use a lot of oil.”
Some blow quite a bit of oil out thru the breather in the top of the head. Collects in the stock ‘breadbox” air cleaner. Most guys seem to replace those “breadbox” air cleaners but I kept mine. The breather in the top of the head has a part called, I think, an ‘umbrella valve” I think it’s just a little rubber gizmo. My ‘96 hardly blows any oil & uses just about none. I ‘m pretty sure there are upgraded parts for this. A lot of guys add a catch can.

“...improved front hanger for the muffler.”
I have a very light aftermarket pipe & still have the original hanger. Many of the aftermarket mufflers seem to have problems coming loose or causing exhaust pipe studs to bread off in the head.

“‘...improved hold-down plates for the bolt that holds the rear of the gas tank down.”
Big ass knarly washer with teeth on the tank side. Supposed to keep the tank from coming off in a crash.
I still have the original one. I don’t really see the problem.

“Some gas tanks get bubbles under the paint.”
Most all did bubbles under the Buell logo decal. I never had any under the paint on the tank.

“The fuel injection Buells can have two different ECMs”
Same with the carbed bikes, but I think you would plat hell finding the race ECM. You would have to ffind someone selling one on the Bad Weather Bikers site & they seldom come up.
My bikes have carbs. My ‘96 already had the Dynojet Thunderslide Jet Kit in it. Not sure about the ‘98. I have another of these kits, NIB. They come with jets, slide, etc. Dynojet Thunderslide Jet Kit, #8114.001

I’ve only had two problems with my ‘96 that weren’t my fault.
(1) About 14K miles the rear head gasket blew. Turned out that one of the 4 big shouldered nuts had not been torqued down. It was totally loose & I just picked it up from the top of the head.
Easy job to fix. Replaced the rocker box gaskets while I was there. Comtic gaskets.

(2) Had to replace the stator 3 years ago. 140 bucks for the stator. Had to replace the front primary sprocket too as the stator bolts to that & the new stator has 4 bolts & the old has 3.

I also have a ’98 S1. I should sell it, but I should fix it first. First & only ride I broke the casting lug on the front head when I slammed down way, way too hard from a wheelie when I thought a car was gonna run out in front of me. Since then It has sat in the garage & now & then I use a part off of it, like a clutch cable one Sunday afternoon. I then get a replacement part.
I do have a new (used) head but like everything else around here I haven’t got to it yet.
It’s in great shape & has about 7400 miles I think. I paid 6K for the bike & hate to loose my ass when I sell it, that’s why I should fix it first. I’ll still lose a lot of $$$. Unless these things start bringing a lot more money as a collector's item. After all they don’t make them any more & hadn’t made ‘tubers’ for years. They are neat bikes & I like them a lot more than the newer Buells. Definitely much easier to work on. Dirt bike simple.

Here is the busted head. I’ve seen more pix just like this.




Like Don said, this is the place for Buell info. All this & more is in there.
http://badweatherbikers.com/buell/me...623/47623.html
Search in the ‘Old School section for tuber info.

If you searched you have probably seen the ‘Show Off Your Buells Here’ thread.
http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=178859
One of my posts in that thread...
‘HD kills Buell’ rant, pix of “dirt bikin’ the S1 to Dawson.....
http://www.advrider.com/forums/showp...&postcount=147
Another from the same thread ....
A little about the S1, weight, etc, pix of some drilled parts. 6 months before I got the Uly.
http://www.advrider.com/forums/showp...6&postcount=92
Another Buell thread...
http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=412252

Whew! I think that’s enough!
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Old 04-20-2012, 08:45 AM   #13
Randy OP
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Tom S,

Thanks for taking the time to post your thoughts and so much useful info.

I have been over to badweatherbikers and if I get one I know I'll be spending a lot of time over there learning more about these bikes and their various issues and solutions. I haven't really learned that site yet, I've been around here for a pretty long time and I've found it to be a good source of general information about a lot of different, non-model specific motorcycle topics. So, I just figured I'd get the condensed lowdown on the Buells here and then decide where to go from there. In general I try not to put too much emphasis on any one post or poster but over the years I've learned to read between the lines and pick up a general vibe about any particular motorcycle that I may have an interest in. I've always admired the Buells from afar on a purely emotional level, but just steered clear because of some concerns with reliability, but honestly, I've never really looked into it enough to form a more educated opinion on them, until now.

I don't want to piss on anyone's choice of machine but I've always been pretty anti-Harley in general and I'm sure that mental association played a factor in my opinions and impressions, well founded or not. But, as I've mellowed in my old age I've started accepting things more and looking at things from a different perspective. I still have NO desire for a cruiser of ANY sort, but a Sportster based bike that actually handles and performs decently? Yeah, I might could go there.

Just LOOKING at them I must admit that the S1 really does it for me more so than the XB's. There is just something visceral and elemental looking about about them that I find appealing from a purely stylistic viewpoint. Shit! Am I turning into a Harley guy?

One thing though is that from an engineering standpoint I think that the XB is more refined and would possibly make a "better" motorcycle to live with. One thing other that the technical/mechanical differences is the comfort factor. Granted, I've never sat on either one for any length of time, but the S1 looks to have a razor for a seat. It looks like my bony ass could maybe take it for half an hour at a time, at most. So, can those with more experience tell me just how bad the seat really is? The XB on the other hand looks like it might not be all that bad by comparison. Any comments or opinions on this?

Thanks again to all that have participated in my little investigation into the world of Buell...


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Old 04-20-2012, 09:58 AM   #14
Tom S
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Randy View Post
...steered clear because of some concerns with reliability ...
If you read my other posts that I linked you may have seen that my S1 was in a shop fire prior to my & PO ownership.
I got it cheap or wouldn’t have bought it. Expected to have problems because of the fire, had none.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Randy
Just LOOKING at them I must admit that the S1 really does it for me more so than the XB's.
Yup. 1st one I saw really caught my eye. Minimalist, no plastic body work, big ass open engine. Looks like I think a bike should.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Randy
Shit! Am I turning into a Harley guy?
It’s a Buell, not a HD. Do they call them BMWs with Rotax engines a Rotax?
I was apprehensive. Never had a bike with a ‘HD’ engine before & didn’t want one since the 1960s Sportsters. Didn’t know shit about those engines. Somewhat like I said elsewhere, with all the HD stuff & support in this country your early Buell engine could outlive you.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Randy
...comfort factor. Granted, I've never sat on either one for any length of time, but the S1 looks to have a razor for a seat.
It is. I stuck a $20 bicycle gel seat cover on it & can ride all day, no problem for my skinny old ass. After my 1st long ride on the S1 I had a lot of pain between my shoulders. I raised the bars 1”, fixed that.
Easy to do on my ‘96 with longer bots & some home built spacers. Newer S1s have a different top tree, still easy to raise the bars with a ~$22 top bar clamp for a Uly, or maybe any XB, just flip it over & add longer bolts & maybe some short tubular spacers under the lower clamp that was the former top clamp. Did the Uly like that.
Randy: “Just LOOKING at them I must admit that the S1 really does it for me...”
Just to stoke the fire a bit more...





Early pic, before the jet-hot coated pipe, tail rack, Aprilla mirrors. Funky bicycle gel seat cover don’t show when you’re sittin’ on it. You can see the stain from the shop fire on the front chrome shock bracket.




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Old 04-20-2012, 04:00 PM   #15
Randy OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom S View Post
If you read my other posts that I linked you may have seen that my S1 was in a shop fire prior to my & PO ownership.
I got it cheap or wouldn’t have bought it. Expected to have problems because of the fire, had none.
Yep, I've been looking over the threads you linked to... thanks for those.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom S View Post
Yup. 1st one I saw really caught my eye. Minimalist, no plastic body work, big ass open engine. Looks like I think a bike should.
Yep, EXACTLY. I love the "just two wheels and a hunk of motor" effect of the S1!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom S View Post
It’s a Buell, not a HD. Do they call them BMWs with Rotax engines a Rotax?
Yeah, I know and that one was a two pronged sarcastic remark on my part... First I was taking a light hearted jab at the HD dudes because they always seem more focused on looks, with function being a secondary consideration, if considered at all. (Sorry guys, but it is true with some HD guys at least ) My remark was directed at my own willingness to say "...them that I find appealing from a purely stylistic viewpoint." in a public forum...

Then of course, while you do have a point about BMW and Rotax, Rotax is more of an engine manufacturer that supplied/supplies engines to a whole host of different machine manufacturers, whereas HD is more of a motorcycle manufacturer. I also see the the link between HD and Buell as being much more than just as an engine supplier. Buell was more of a subsidiary of the "Motor Company" (pun intended ) (in effect regardless of the paper legal/financial arrangements) and took advantage of it's well established dealer and parts network. Without that backing it's doubtful that Buell would have survived as long as it did. Many other upstart companies have tried and failed in this very tough industry.

Of course this is all IMHO and as I see it.... YMMV.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom S View Post
I was apprehensive. Never had a bike with a ‘HD’ engine before & didn’t want one since the 1960s Sportsters. Didn’t know shit about those engines. Somewhat like I said elsewhere, with all the HD stuff & support in this country your early Buell engine could outlive you.
Yeah, I'm pretty much the same way... until now that is... Still considering it but I have been reading and it seems as though the HD engines have a better reputation than my small mind previously was willing to give them credit for... And you do have a point about the availability of parts for the HD engines. There is a huge industry that isn't going away anytime soon so even if you couldn't find an exact part, there is a part somewhere that would work, or someone that could make it for you. Are there any proprietary parts in the engine that are exclusive to Buells?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom S View Post
It is. I stuck a $20 bicycle gel seat cover on it & can ride all day, no problem for my skinny old ass. After my 1st long ride on the S1 I had a lot of pain between my shoulders. I raised the bars 1”, fixed that.
Easy to do on my ‘96 with longer bots & some home built spacers. Newer S1s have a different top tree, still easy to raise the bars with a ~$22 top bar clamp for a Uly, or maybe any XB, just flip it over & add longer bolts & maybe some short tubular spacers under the lower clamp that was the former top clamp. Did the Uly like that.
after posting my question I did google and find that Corbin still list seats for the S1 on their site. So, while rather expensive there is at least an option that could hopefully offer a substantial improvement. I suppose I should pop on over to badweather to find some reviews of the Corbin seats on the S1, huh?

And the bars have tons of options available. That's one of the good things about bikes with "proper" bars instead of clip-ons....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom S View Post
Randy: “Just LOOKING at them I must admit that the S1 really does it for me...”
Just to stoke the fire a bit more...






All I can say to that is






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"some might call it a 'midlife crisis', I prefer to call it a renaissance of thought and action"... "Life is too short to do anything other than that about which you are absolutely passionate."..."Adventure is a frame of mind, set upon by action, not defined by equipment."..."It all boils down to your ability to say "SCREW IT" and really mean it"....Randy

Randy screwed with this post 04-20-2012 at 04:12 PM
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