REVIEW: BUELL XB12Ss

I’ve been a distant fan of Buell Motorcycles since the early 1990’s when Harley-Davidson first bought what was then a minority interest in Erik Buell’s line of highly engineered, race inspired, street bikes. I say “distant fan” because while I liked the look and the engineering concepts behind these bikes, I never actually rode one until just few weeks ago when a local dealer (Bumpus Harley-Davidson Buell) hosted the Buell Factory Trailer Tour. While the new 1125R has received all of the buzz lately, my style and tastes are more along the lines of the XB models… so I signed up to ride the bike that has been Buell’s bread & butter for most of the 2000’s. Here is what I found to be true of the Lightning XB12Ss.

THE LOOK: From the Dual headlights to the Translucid (see through) body to the 5.5-inch wide rear tire… this bike continues the Buell tradition of looking fast, furious and fun. Matching cast aluminum rims are a nice touch as well and the under frame exhaust adds to the street fighter, meets racer aura.

ERGOS: My last two sport bikes include a Honda CBR600 and a Suzuki SV650S. While the XB is obviously not as comfortable as my Electra Glide, it’s more upright riding position is far more comfortable than the CBR or SV and after an hour-long test ride I had no issues with comfort or my aging back.


HIGHWAY: A good portion of my test ride was on Interstate 840 in Nashville. To be honest, given its 400lb Dry Weight, I expected the XB to fail miserably in this area… but I was surprised. It tracked very smoothly at 70 MPH and the 1203cc Thunderstorm V-Twin provided more than enough 5th gear roll-on torque to make me feel comfortable about getting out of situations that may call for fast acceleration.

BACKROADS: Overall this bike is quite impressive but frankly, the backroads are where the XB shines. I’ve read over the years how the XB’s low center of gravity makes it a true performer in the curves and now I can tell you… it’s true.  The 53.7-inch wheelbase was designed for leaning into the corners and the 103HP @ 6800 RPM adds to the excitement.

BRAKES: I should mention something about the front break on the XB… because you will notice it immediately… both visually and the first time you grab a handful of it. The 8-piston caliper, 375mm (big) floating rotor combination provides exceptional breaking power. Two fingered gentle squeezes were more than enough to tame the XB in every riding situation I encountered.

PROS: In my mind the Buell XB12Ss is a little like Carrie Underwood before American idol. A Super Star in waiting that only the locals really know about. But just like Carrie, I think once people find out about the XB they will love it. I found the bike to perform great in every riding condition and more importantly, it was pure fun!

CONS: The exhaust gets s a little toasty on your right leg…  a minor issue in the overall scheme of things.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

This review indicates my own personal opinion of this product and should be taken as just that. Yours may vary and you should try this product yourself before drawing any conclusions about it.

© 2009 Biker Swag, All Rights Reserved. No part of this review may be reproduced in any format without express written permission.

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