2004 XB12S: Cheddarheads Strike Again
Struggling for acceptance, getting it, having it yanked back from time to time... I think I learned more about people, and how things really work, in my year here at MO than in all the other years at other occupations. It was very interesting to go from a big print magazine to MO, with its somewhat checkered past and slightly irreverent editorial policy. When the shiznit hits the rotary oscillator, you find out who your friends are, and I like to think I've learned to recognize the signs for future reference. Look out for people, for example, who have tremendous respect for you. Be wary of those who are doing things to you for your own good, who'd like to help you but whose hands are tied.
Trust people whose actions show respect, and those who actually do things to help you. "No Time for Sergeants" and Catch 22, it turns out, were not farces. If you are starting out in a professional career, study them carefully. When you rock your canoe, it sends ripples out across the lake, ripples that rock other peoples' canoes. My favorite people in this business are the boat-rockers, all of whom are destined mostly to remain upon the lower rungs. Sad? Maybe not. I've had more fun over the years with those people than I ever dreamed possible--riding Hayabusas at Catalunya, R1's at Valencia (and Catalunya too, come to think), Mille R's at Homestead, pursuing lactating Croatian strippers in Rimini, hurling BMW's into rushing mountain streams.
I must've been on a couple hundred bike launches and extended jaunts while the Adults were stuck politicking in smoky backrooms, doing whatever they do to preserve the fiefdom. The internet is a revolutionary medium, period. As a low-tech sort of points and carburetors guy myself, it continues to amaze me how many people don't believe it. Want to see your own work in print? Hell's bells man, write it up, click on News, then Post Article -- and you can be a published author the next day on MO, there to be instantly pilloried and underpaid just like a real magazine writer.
Speaking of which, do you think for a minute that the run-of-the-mill motorcycle magazine writer has got anything on the Aerodynamic Head? On The Highwayman? Two words: Reader Feedback. Who wouldn't pay $11.94 to watch Boehm and Kpaul square off in a battle of wits? Oh well, story of my life, really--big ideas, no execution. I know MO and a hot mug o' Starbucks will be right there beside me in my new cubicle. I hope to continue to do some Cycle World stuff too. A man's got to know his limitations, and maybe I am a better writer than I am an Editor.
All I want is a slice of motorcycle now and then, not the whole damn pie. Say, what sort of retirement speech is this turning into anyway? I'm not sure if I'm retiring or not, really... but in case I am all I want to express is a huge and humble Thank You to all of you who caused my head to swell over the years by liking my "work" and taking the time to say so. Words can't express how cool it's been for a law school dropout seriously considering the US Postal Service to have backed into such a fantastic line of work, Phil Schilling you old dog. So, ah, wish me luck in the ad bizness. I may be back with my tail between my legs in a month or two. Thanks to the internet and MO, when I say I'll be in touch I mean it. Go back to your homes, and if you make as good citizens as you have Morons, you'll all do fine. --
Anyway, does Buell still market these as "Streetfighters" or what? In the typical Californian canyon, I'd wager, the XB12 should be just as excellent a tool and even better than the XB9--particularly the S model. (Personally, I can't think of a reason to buy the R over it.) Right, it only revs to 7000 rpm, but there's probably just as much torque at around 3000 rpm. In the new kink they built following the Carousel at RA, I can't think of a bike that would be easier to turn in, flick back to the right instantly, and whack the gas back on hard, with less fear of disaster. The whole Buell just sort of rotates within its own axis--it's that Buell Trilogy thing in action, low yaw and pitch and all that, achieved by keeping things at the ends exceedingly light--and the low-revving beast just goes Bwaaaa... and spins the tire a little without SPINNING the tire, and off you go down the back straight. At the end of the day, the Buell might not be the fastest way around the track if you're an advanced rider, and the more advanced you are the bigger the gap would grow... but the big But is that if you're not Mat Mladin or somebody, and have no real ambition of being him, the Buell is just easy to ride and hugely forgiving.
Okay, forgiving up to a certain point of stupid, which I managed to exceed. But on the street, where there aren't any high-speed straights--the tighter the road, the more fits this XB12 will give bigger more powerful bikes. Reliability-wise, I refuse to go there with you people again.
The quality of these new Buells, beginning with the Blast, is apparently greatly improved. I have noted, maybe along with you, that scattered among the Buell "Reader Feedbacks" which slam Buell reliability every time the topic comes up, is a near-complete, yawning dearth of complaints from people who actually own new ones. At the end of the day it's just refreshing, after a brat and some beers, to stroll from the lovely Osthoff Resort on the lake to downtown Elkhart Lake and pound some more beers with the ex-college football player types like Tim Osterberg and Dan Grein who built the thing, and who now have excellent raccoon eyes from being in the sun all day in fashion eyewear. Who knew those guys had brains too?
"It's all about the low-rpm and the midrange, and in those departments it'll be tough to top a 1203 Buell..."
Abe Askenazi's of Syrian descent by way of Mexico, but assimilating nicely and, in fact, breeding in the Wisconsin wild. More cheese curds anybody? I remember dancing, even, with a third-grade teacher in a tube top, and after that it all became a blur. In today's corporate climate, the whole Buell attitude is hugely refreshing, and in fact it's that David v. Goliath attitude that made the XB possible. Nobody told Buell they couldn't build this bike. If Honda had tried to build an XB9/12, it would've wound up being a Pacific Coast with fuel and oil stored in an outrigger or something equally watered-down. And the fact that Buell does it with such an anachronistic engine makes it, to me, that much more interesting, and that much more an accomplishment. No doubt there's a liquid-cooled Buell down the road, who knows when? In the meantime, I'm not getting any younger, I've got no time to wait--and anyway I like the air-cooled Ducati Monsters better than the quattrovalvole ones.
Here in the world, it's all about the low-rpm and the midrange, and in those departments it'll be tough to top a 1203 Buell with a few choice aftermarket pieces, of which there are about a million. For those who say an air-cooled engine can't pass emissions, Buell points out this one comes in "substantially below 2004 CARB/Euro II limits without secondary air injection or catalyst." If I picked a Motorcycle of the Year for the Actual World, I have to tell you I think this one would be it. On the other hand, now's the time to get a smokin' deal on an XB9S...