Buell Ownership Pros & Cons - TwoWheelForum: Motorcycle and Sportbike forums
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post #1 of 52 (permalink) Old 09-23-2006, 12:28 AM Thread Starter
 
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Buell Ownership Pros & Cons

To celebrate my 1 year anniversary of being a "Buelligan," I am offering the pros and cons of owning a Buell. I figured this might be a good topic since some of you have shown interest in the brand. This is in no way comprehensive, as it is just what came to mind. It is also just my opinions after owning a black 2005 XB12R Firebolt for the last year, which encompassed just over 6K mostly spirited and twisty miles and (come Monday) 3 track days. I'll start with the good stuff first:
  • Torque!
  • Steel braided brake lines come standard, as does a 6 piston front caliper.
  • Buell's design is very unique and attractive. They get attention!
  • Mass centralization an engineering priority.
  • The idler pulley (belt tensioner) spins counter to the direction of the wheels. It looks pretty cool when you see one go by!
  • The front and rear brake as well as the shifter controls are all adjustable.
  • There are 2 trip odometers, plus a 3rd one that automatically starts counting up when the low fuel light comes on. (Nice!)
  • The belt drive minimizes driveline lash and requires no lubrication or tensioning - ever. (Which is why you will not see me complain about the lack of a center stand below.)
  • The wheels are very light.
  • The Showa suspension is adjustable 6 ways from Sunday.
  • They are American made!
  • Torque!
  • It has a flash to pass light. If you don't know what this is, there is a trigger at the left index finger that toggles the highbeam.
  • The rear can be cleaned up very nicely providing the look of an aftermarket fender eliminater without having to spend any money.
  • A rear tire hugger comes stock, as does a rear cowl (which covers the passenger pillion).
  • They are fun to ride!
  • They are air cooled, so there is no worry about coolant or coolant leaks.
  • They get good mileage. The factory claims 65mpg, but you can ride it like you stole it and still average 40mpg.
  • The turn signals come stock with smoked lenses.
  • There is plenty of leanover clearance - ~45* before soft touchdown (peg feeler) and ~50* before hard touchdown (chin fairing).
  • MotoGP-like steering geometry.
  • The power delivery is very smooth and friendly.
  • Rock solid chassis. The whole package can be rather confidence inspiring.
  • It is a Sportster engine, so there are tons of aftermarket parts/kits to hop them up if you so desire.
  • They have a lot of character. Think industrial age meets information age.
  • They have trick parts that are not only cool, but functional. Most notably: the underslung muffler, inside-out front brake, oil in swingarm, fuel in frame, and belt drive.
  • The body panels have the color molded throughout, so any light damage can be repaired without requiring any repainting.
  • They are not as heavy as you might think for an air-cooled twin. (I believe the dry weight is 395.)
  • The bike came with a video and some safety manuals in addition to the owners manual. I thought that was pretty cool.
  • Did I mention torque?

Of course, no bike is perfect, so...
  • There is no big top end hit, and I4s will smoke you in the straightaways. (That's right, you will have to pass them in the corner again! )
  • The rev limiter kicks in before 7K.
  • They are expensive - MSRP is $10.5K. Look for deals; they are out there.
  • If you do not work on your own bike, they can be expensive to maintain. I did not have time to do the 5K mile service before a track day and did not want to wait until afterwards, so I brought it in. The invoice listed nothing more than oil, a filter, and an O-ring, and the bill was over $600. I had a fit, but still didn't get out of there for cheaper than $325.
  • You have to buy them from Hardley dealers who often don't know crap about sport bikes. (This can work to your advantage if you find a dealer that has trouble selling them like I did!)
  • Don't expect the same mad props from Harley and jap bike riders that you get from women and kids.
  • They shake like a bitch. Actually it's kind of cool and intimidating (think: muscle car), but it blurs the mirrors under 3K rpm.
  • While it is a plus that the suspension is so adjustable, that will be a big negative if you don't have it dialed in correctly. (I wouldn't trust any recommended settings that were not based on rider weight, and did not also specify the riding style and, in case of track, surface condition.)
  • The stock tires were not top shelf. (Mine came with Dunlop D208.) They just switched to Pirellis, but I think they are still what you might consider 2nd shelf. A better tire can help with the following:
  • They have a tendency to stand up on trail braking.
  • They also have a heavy flywheel, so don't count on a lot of engine braking. Between this and the above, choose your entry speeds wisely!
  • There is no ignition inturrupt if you kick it in gear with the side stand deployed. It is designed to retract when it comes in contact with the ground (and I proved it works on one occasion), but I would rather be prevented from moving until I retracted it.
  • Some people will call it a Harley. You will correct them.
  • While fuel consumption is good, oil consumption sucks. A service bulletin was published stating that consumption of up to a full quart of oil every 1K miles is "normal." I can burn through that in a single track day. The synthetic oil is $10/quart. Still a lot cheaper than gasoline, but kind of ridiculous. Also, the required hot oil check makes it more difficult to get it full without overfilling the resevoir (since you are adding cold oil).
  • There is not much storage capacity to speak of, but it is a sport bike after all.
  • The tank (actually an airbox cover - fuel is in the frame) is plastic, so magnetic bags need not apply.
  • The bike gets hot. Not as bad as an FJR, but it definitely puts out some heat.
  • The clutch lever has a heavy effort. This was improved on more recent models.
  • The transmission is a little clunky, so don't even think about shifting without the clutch. This was also improved on more recent models, but I think the clutch is still required.
  • The front wheel is tricky to remove because of the inside out front brake rotor.
  • The cooling fan that comes on when you shut the bike off is noisy, so if you have trouble hearing something with the engine running, shutting it off won't help any.

Again, these are just my observations and opinions from my first year of XB12R ownership. Your results may vary. Overall I am extremely satisfied with my bike, and would repeat the purchase if I had the option to do it over again. Hope this helps!
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post #2 of 52 (permalink) Old 09-23-2006, 07:51 AM
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AWESOME write up! I can agree to almost everything there even with my limited knowledge of the bikes. I love em... I would consider buying one.

Rep Pts to you!

A few things....

Motor Oil.... eating it... well its a S&S designed V-twin so part of the beast. You aren' eating it thru bad piston rings or anything... its acutally coming off you excessive case pressure. Being ingested back into the intake.

Syn alternative.... try Mobil 1 MC v-twin 20W-50 oil. You can even buy it at Murray's Auto. Might save ya some money. But the HD oil line is actually quite good!

Tranny clunk... Have you tried sync tranny oil? I would suggest Redline Shockproof Heavy. Its a sync oil and suggested by many manufactures such as Baker Tranny.

Tires... have you tried the all great Pilot Powers?

Price... 10.5K isn't all that bad.... it is a 1200cc bike!

And yes there is somin to say about it being American Made. I can count on one hand how many pieces on my bike aren't made here!!




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post #3 of 52 (permalink) Old 09-23-2006, 10:26 AM Thread Starter
 
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You aren' eating it thru bad piston rings or anything.
You are correct, Buell says this is just normal consumption. But it is a real pain, particulatly considering how they made the rest of the bike so maintenance free.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gas Man View Post
Syn alternative.... try Mobil 1 MC v-twin 20W-50 oil.
A friend recommended Mobil 1 M1-103. Not sure of the price yet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gas Man View Post
Tranny clunk... Have you tried sync tranny oil?
Yes, but it will never be buttery smooth like the Jap bikes!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gas Man View Post
Tires... have you tried the all great Pilot Powers?
I was going to try them, but found a half-off Bridgestone sale and got some BT014 BattleAx on the cheap. Barring another good deal, I will probably switch to PP next time I need tires.

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Price... 10.5K isn't all that bad.... it is a 1200cc bike!
I suppose you have a point there. I guess it just seems expensive compared to what I paid (free).
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post #4 of 52 (permalink) Old 09-23-2006, 06:46 PM
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free?

When I wake up in the morning I piss excellence.


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post #5 of 52 (permalink) Old 09-23-2006, 07:16 PM Thread Starter
 
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free?
Yeah, pretty close to that. I found a dealer who decided they can't sell Buells and started letting XB12 bikes go out the door for $6K. They had 3 left when I found out, so I bought all 3 and sold the other 2 on E-Bay.
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post #6 of 52 (permalink) Old 09-23-2006, 11:24 PM
 
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This could be a good bike. It has potential. Owned a XB9S Lightening. Biggest reason I got rid of it was the FU attitude at the Harley dealership. If you didn't show up with some expensive Harley cruiser they didn't have time for you, wtf. Parts and service were expensive. For me the bike was too small, not safe on highway and no top end. Good bike for around town, in the city, commuter scooter...
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post #7 of 52 (permalink) Old 09-23-2006, 11:26 PM
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Yeah, pretty close to that. I found a dealer who decided they can't sell Buells and started letting XB12 bikes go out the door for $6K. They had 3 left when I found out, so I bought all 3 and sold the other 2 on E-Bay.
I would choke slam my grandma to find a deal like that...
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post #8 of 52 (permalink) Old 09-24-2006, 10:39 AM
 
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Yeah, pretty close to that. I found a dealer who decided they can't sell Buells and started letting XB12 bikes go out the door for $6K. They had 3 left when I found out, so I bought all 3 and sold the other 2 on E-Bay.
So basically you MADE money BUYING your bike? That is absolutley insane!

Great write up...you have been rewarded in reps.



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post #9 of 52 (permalink) Old 10-23-2006, 04:46 AM
 
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Bumping b/c I test rode a couple buellys this weekend. I LOVE them.



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post #10 of 52 (permalink) Old 10-23-2006, 04:56 AM
 
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Bumping b/c I test rode a couple buellys this weekend. I LOVE them.
Explain.
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post #11 of 52 (permalink) Old 10-23-2006, 05:05 AM
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post #12 of 52 (permalink) Old 10-23-2006, 05:06 AM
 
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I made a thread.



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post #13 of 52 (permalink) Old 10-23-2006, 05:14 AM
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I made a thread.
good for you... you have passed noobe posting chapter 2!




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post #14 of 52 (permalink) Old 10-23-2006, 05:15 AM
 
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good for you... you have passed noobe posting chapter 2!




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post #15 of 52 (permalink) Old 10-23-2006, 05:16 AM
 
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good for you... you have passed noobe posting chapter 2!
Burn
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post #16 of 52 (permalink) Old 10-23-2006, 05:19 AM
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Burn


Now what shall we do for lesson 3? That's right... do you know how to quote?




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post #17 of 52 (permalink) Old 10-23-2006, 05:22 AM
 
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Now what shall we do for lesson 3? That's right... do you know how to quote?
You're killing it.
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post #18 of 52 (permalink) Old 10-23-2006, 05:22 AM
 
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Now what shall we do for lesson 3? That's right... do you know how to quote?




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post #19 of 52 (permalink) Old 10-23-2006, 05:25 AM
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Man you know you're my favorite mod... just don't tell Jeeps!




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post #20 of 52 (permalink) Old 10-23-2006, 05:27 AM
 
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Man you know you're my favorite mod... just don't tell Jeeps!
Thanks.



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