2. Buell XB9S/XB12S (2003-2010)

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I’m reluctant to put this one out there because I really want to park one of these in my own garage someday. All the Who’s in Sportbikeville throw up their hands immediately when they hear it’s powered by an H-D Sportster motor, and few listen long enough to ascertain that this Sportster is so modified that it reciprocates in the opposite direction of the H-D original, makes a bunch more power, and is in the words of the original rough rider, Teddy Roosevelt, a DEE-light!

The XB9S got here first, with the small-block Sportster motor; the XB12S a year or two later with the 1200. Buell’s Uniplanar mount lets the big V-Twin shake but not the bike, it carries its gas in the Verlicchi-built frame, and it’s one of the best urban rat racers ever produced by man. Sure you run the risk of having to take your sportbike to an H-D dealer now and then, but at least not for routine maintenance, thanks to the hydraulic lifters, belt final drive, EFI … On second thought, no, you don’t want one of these at all. Forget I said anything. They’re really an acquired taste.