Why not a Buell??

Discussion in 'Road Warriors' started by Randy, Apr 19, 2012.

  1. Randy

    Randy Long timer

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    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?
    #1
  2. teamross

    teamross slow enough.

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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.

    [​IMG]
    The last time I rode it, before my buddy got rid of it for the Duc.
    #2
  3. teamross

    teamross slow enough.

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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.
    #3
  4. Wolfgang55

    Wolfgang55 Long timer

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    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.
    #4
  5. waveydavey

    waveydavey happy times!!

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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)
    #5
  6. Mr. Canoehead

    Mr. Canoehead Taste Gunnels!

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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) :rofl

    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.
    #6
  7. vwone

    vwone Been here awhile

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    #7
  8. tastroman

    tastroman Long timer

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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.
    #8
  9. AKDuc

    AKDuc Alaska Born Ducatisti

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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.
    #9
  10. Randy

    Randy Long timer

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    vwone,

    Thanks for the article link... I think! :hmmmmm 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. :clap

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

    :D
    #10
  11. davevv

    davevv One more old rider

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    #11
  12. Tom S

    Tom S Can I ride it?

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    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? :rolleyes 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! :D".
    He now has 2 very nice ST3s, one here & one in Oregon. [​IMG]
    Something you will not miss on any Buell is adjusting valves or adjusting or oiling the chain.
    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/shoponline/ccp0-display/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


    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/showpost.php?p=11135226&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/showpost.php?p=3635196&postcount=92
    Another Buell thread...
    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=412252

    :knary Whew! I think that’s enough!
    #12
  13. Randy

    Randy Long timer

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    Tom S,

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

    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. :D

    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? :eek1:huh:wink::lol3

    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...


    :thumb
    #13
  14. Tom S

    Tom S Can I ride it?

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    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.
    :thumb 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.
    It’s a Buell, not a HD. Do they call them BMWs with Rotax engines a Rotax? :nono
    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.
    It is. I stuck a $20 bicycle gel seat cover on it & can ride all day, no problem for my skinny old ass. :gerg 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... :evil [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    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.

    [​IMG]

    :D

    [​IMG]
    #14
  15. Randy

    Randy Long timer

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    Yep, I've been looking over the threads you linked to... thanks for those. :thumb

    Yep, EXACTLY. I love the "just two wheels and a hunk of motor" effect of the S1! :thumb

    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 :pot :evil) My remark was directed at my own willingness to say "...them that I find appealing from a purely stylistic viewpoint." in a public forum... :D

    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 :D ) (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.

    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? :ear

    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.... :thumb


    All I can say to that is

    :dizave

    :lol3


    .
    #15
  16. goodcat8

    goodcat8 I can pass this guy.....

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    Any non XT owners feel cramped leg room wise on the XB models? :huh

    I had an 09 XB9 (which was stolen) and test road an STT that had the aftermarket drop pegs. I'm 6'1 and continually felt like I was kissing my knees. Other than that and the bikes tendency to stand up while braking mid lean its butter smooth and a good time. I'd definitely go 12 over a 9. I found the 9 to be a considerable dissapoinent in the power department. The 12 was on par with what I was hoping / expecting.

    I know many love the S1 lightning's, but general review isn't kind to them....:eek1
    Borderline "worst motorcycle ever built" pops up a few times.....

    Never rode one so I can't comment. But did a little net snooping after thinkin they were pretty cool looking.
    #16
  17. Randy

    Randy Long timer

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    Thanks for the input on the differences between the 9 and 12. Pretty much what I figured and if I do go the XB route I'd probably stick with the 12 unless I found a screamin' deal on a 9


    Yeah, this was my general feel about them as well, and I shied away from them for that reason. Then again, maybe it has to do with expectations. When comparing it to a finely polished, modern Japanese bike, I'm sure the Lightnings are turds in most areas and ways motorcycles are measured in terms of fit and finish, polish and performance and refinement. For example, a couple of days ago Yamaha had their demo ride truck at a local dealer so I stopped in for the hell of it. I rode a Super Tenere just to see how I liked it compared to my GS, and then I rode the one I really wanted to ride, the FZ8. The FZ8 was a nice ride and I could definitely see myself with one... But, you know what? The whole time I was riding it I kept thinking that it lacked something... some undefined quality that some call "character". Whatever you call it, while a very nice and polished, inexpensive little standard style and sporty bike, it left me a little cold. I could see myself liking it and having fun, but not loving it or developing any sort of special bond with it. Ok, so maybe some people dont' understand that, and maybe some think it's stupid, but for me it is an important part of a motorcycle. One of my all time favorite bikes was my '93 Ducati 900SS. It was not the most polished or best performing bike by any means, but it had that special something and I loved it. And I still have that bike today.


    But, if looking at the S1 as something that is just raw and elemental, maybe, just maybe it's not all that bad as a toy with character. I guess I need to do a little more net snooping myself over the next few days and see if I can learn more than that general and vague idea that I've had about them in the past.

    But, really that's the reason for this thread here. I know that if I want to learn all about the Buells then badweatherbikers is the place to be, but at this point I was hoping to get the unbiased opinions of a bunch of diehard motorcyclists with tons of real world experience either direct or through their fellow riders and friends that had experience with them. I mean, what sort of response am I going to get on a site populated entirely by Buell enthusiast? The guys that had them and hated them probably aren't still spending a lot of time around there, so I'd be more likely to get a skewed and biased opinion there.
    #17
  18. goodcat8

    goodcat8 I can pass this guy.....

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    Regardless of whatever, I still find myself browsing them on craigslist..... late at night..... when no ones looking......
    :D

    My old XB9 someone on the street liked so much they took it for themselves.....

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The buell was actually her favorite to ride the back of out of the 18 motorcycles I've had.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    #18
  19. Randy

    Randy Long timer

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    Sweet bike! Cool chick! Looked pretty hot too form what little I could see... :thumb.

    And yeah, I've been a closet browser myself... :wink:


    .
    #19
  20. BigEasy

    BigEasy Long timer

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    Hi my names Keith and I'm a Buell convert:lol3

    I have an 07 STT and love the thing. I had always had the impression that owners had had a good quaff of bullshit kool aid and raved over them because they bought a turd and didn't want to admit it.

    Then the damnedest thing happened: somebody on here bought an M2 and started tarting it up and it looked pretty damn neat in the stripped down way Randy's thinking. Next thing ya know I'm closet surfing them myself and stumble upon the STT and get an immediate hard on for one but thought I'd never find one. Couple months later I'm in a close by MoCo boutique and they had this demo unit on hand. I took it out and when I returned to the shop I bought it.

    So far I have had no real problems with mine, but I've only put a couple thousand miles on it. They have a certain soul about them: they're raw and unrefined but the thing makes good power for what it is and it handles as though it were on rails. It is not as refined as a Japanese liter bike (or likely the BMW S bike but I have no experience there) but its fun in a in it's way.

    Find one to ride and give it a spin you may be surprised at what you find.
    #20