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F451 06-09-2004 10:32 AM

Maytag Man
"Is it supposed to sound like a 30-year-old Maytag?" What's wrong with Maytag now? They're suppose to last thirty years. Good old Erik just keeps putting out the hits in my book.

pdad13 06-09-2004 10:46 AM

Re: Maytag Man
Okay, okay. How 'bout a 50-year-old Maytag?

It was making some weird noises, okay?

And the Maytag in my place can't be more than 10-years old and it's sounding pretty bad. Almost as bad as the XB sounded when I started it.

nokneedragin 06-09-2004 10:49 AM

Re: You asked for it: My Buell experience.
Thanks for the review, real world and well written.

Sorry about the S. Fl. straight roads, been there, dun dat. The 7mile bridge is a cool ride.

Still sounds like a bit of a kludged together bike, but it does have the "don't see one every day" factor.

BMW4VWW 06-09-2004 11:24 AM

Re: Maytag Man
I wouldn't be too concerned about being noticed for leaving half of your food uneaten at Denny's. I'll bet that happens more often that not. I liked your real world take on riding a new and strange motorcycle. It's something that is often lacking in print mag. reviews. VWW

pated 06-09-2004 12:07 PM

Re: You asked for it: My Buell experience.
That was the best review I have read in over a year. It was all about the bike. Great job.

5valvethumper 06-09-2004 12:08 PM

Re: You asked for it: My Buell experience.
Thanks for a real world article. It's hard to filter the bias that seems to seep into XB reviews. I ride a 95 MZ Skorpion Sport - it confuses the hell out of most people. Most riders coming from a 600-whatever sportbike can't get past my redline is about where they start to slip out the clutch. It's all what you're used to. Don't try something might like it.

IceWorm 06-09-2004 01:51 PM

Buell Comfort?
Nice story! I was down that way on a 1993 K11RS a few years ago for the Gator Rally in Marathon, Fl. I rode the 1000 plus miles from Baton Rouge in a day and a half on that bike for the two day rally and then back the other direction the same distance in a day and a half. I have to say comparing the Buell to a Sportster and a Victory in terms of comfort on a massive 200 mile ride at best, ooops sorry, that would be 400 miles round trip, leaves me wondering. I love that Buell, and have considered buying one, possibly soon, but I would need a lot more than laser straight roads and blue water to keep me happy whilst riding it.

pdad13 06-09-2004 02:12 PM

Re: Buell Comfort?
Like I said, results may vary. I was prepared for an unbearable torture rack. The fact that it wasn't exceptionally painful was quite surprising. Don't think I meant that it was like riding a Gold Wing, just far more comfortable than I ever would have expected. After some of the things I read about the Firebolt's ergos, I thought I'd be in traction for a week. I felt fine.

And I don't think I'm even nuts enough to attempt to ride it for 1000 miles a clip. I think a 200 mile ride is more than enough for this type of bike.

I also agree that you really need some twisty roads to really appreciate the Bolt. While I was on it I was thinking what a shame it was that I couldn't bring it somewhere more appropriate to sample its charms.

jstrain 06-09-2004 02:19 PM

Re: You asked for it: My Buell experience.
I've always liked the looks of the XB series. More than that though, I liked this writeup. It is stuff like this that makes my subscription worthwile. Great writing (I laughed out loud in a few spots), and a real world opinion, not just a bunch of numbers and graphs.

Thanks to pdad for the info, and thanks to MO for posting it!

Pholt 06-09-2004 04:10 PM

Re: You asked for it: My Buell experience.
Very pleased to see a real world description like this. Mirrors my own experiences for the first few days of my ownership. I had had many Japanese bikes, mostly Yamahas, and was looking for something other than being a member of the R1 army again. So, made in the USA patriotism, and temporary insanity caused me to make this choice.

I'm glad I did, I may never go back. It turns out that this bike's torque and handling more than make up for any of the technical disadvantages I found when compared to my previously owned masterpieces. And the "WTF is that?" factor is unbeatable. All it needed was some finish work, which, at the price they are selling for shouldn't be needed, but who buys anything and leaves it stock anyway?

First thing done, adjust the suspension. You should have heard the puzzled inquiries about this process from the Harley owners on the dealer floor, "You can adjust the suspension? Why?".

Second things done were cosmetic changes. All the cheesy stickers and warnings were tossed. The heel guards and pegs were changed for more color coordinated pieces (black). Passenger pegs removed.

Third, synthetic oils for the engine and transmission. Although I had almost no trouble with my transmission, the synthetic oil did improve tranny feel. And that hot air cooled V-twin is a torch for lesser oils.

Fourth, changed all the lighting to high intensity LEDs, headlights to Raybrig.

Fifth, the big equalizer. The installation of the race kit, "Not For Street Use". The race muffler does away with the "variable valve technology" (read polution control), and drops five pounds in the process, the intake kit opens up the airbox flow and uses a K&N filter, and the race ECM comes with a high performance fuel map, and is reprogrammable to optimize dyno tuning any H-D dealer with a dyno. Even without dyno tuning, power, torque, and sound all increased and improved dramatically. More dramatically than modifications like these did for my previous bikes. That made the difference needed for the road.

Granted, these things did add another 1400$ in cost, not including my highly skilled labor, and one could argue that the higher price of the Buell should include them. And granted, the Engine Control Modual is only accessable by proprietary dealer software and pc interfaces. But modifications like these are often considered part of the ownership process of many bikes, and the H-D dealerships are often very cooperative in helping you get the additional costs covered by whatever financing you might have. I was aware of the need for the extra work going in, so for me, it was a very rewarding process. And is still rewarding every time I ride. Tires next.

Nplateau 06-09-2004 05:53 PM

Re: Excellent Review
Thank the new intern.

pdad13 06-09-2004 06:23 PM

Re: You asked for it: My Buell experience.
That is a cool bike. How'd you get one? I've also read some nice things about it, so some people in the MC press apparently get it.

EbonFlame 06-09-2004 10:43 PM

Compliments and suggestions.
Though I'm not intending to kpaulize, I feel I should congratulate you on the excellent write-up. It was both informative and entertaining.

Many of us, I think, want a lot more real-world experiences from real-world riders on bikes that we're thinking (or dreaming) of buying... while it's wonderful to know who Sean can smoke on the latest and greatest, I'm also very curious to learn more than a sentence or two about how a bike acts on the street.

Two of my favourite things on MO in the past while have been this little thing and "life with the VFR," published a while back. Since I'm looking down the road for another streetbike (6 months to a year, probably,) I'm considering a lot of options in the sporty-street riding segment, and stuff like this goes a long way towards helping me learn about what's out there in a more-than-dyno-numbers way. This would work perhaps better than the occasional "what should I buy?"

I'd love to see MO's staffers write "long-term" street tests, when possible, but I also have a suggestion that seems do-able fairly easily, if we all would contribute.

Could we get a new section in the news archives (or whatever) called "Life with..."? Then, as many of us as possible could write out as much as we had to say about our current rides, using this as a template... how did you like the bike when you bought it, how do you feel after 10,000 miles, what's gone wrong, how is it to live with the thing every day.

Questions I'd love to have answered in these kind of articles are things like :

Do air-cooled Ducatis break all the time? How's maintainance on them? Did you choke on the bill the last time you dropped it in the parking lot and had to replace a fairing panel?

How's the world on a CBR600F4i when it's raining out? Is it somewhat livable as a daily-type rider?

What has the upkeep been like on your YZF-600's carbs? Does it like you in the cold mornings?

Seriously, JB and whom it may concern -- I'd love this kind of thing. Of course, you know the reader/rider feedback is one of the things that makes MO a great place to be.

What's we think?

gceaves 06-09-2004 11:49 PM

Re: You asked for it: My Buell experience.
To pdad13,

You write damn well, especially about motorcycling. You should quit your cubicle job and become a motorcycle writer.

To EbonFlame,

Great idea. A database like that would be a great boon to our MO experience.


ender 06-10-2004 01:22 AM

MO Pay this guy!!!
MO should have posted this as an article, not just a news item. It is as good or better than most of the reviews. Get some pictures and put it where it belongs, on the front page.

nweaver 06-10-2004 02:41 AM

The price is NOT steep...
There are reports of them going for $2k under list price,which makes the price reasonable.

However, having ridden a 600 supersport on the same demo-ride course as I rode the Buell (TT600, two years previous), I can say that the 600 felt so much better.

5valvethumper 06-10-2004 02:47 AM

Re: You asked for it: My Buell experience.
I live in Philadelphia, PA. There's a dealer here. There's dealers in almost every state..mostly around metro areas. They don't make the Skorpion anymore, but check eBay, I've seen some there. I'm hoping Honda, Yamaha, or someone makes something better next year. I've had mine for 7 years and spending the day to take it in for service gets old. At this point the XB9R is looking like something to check out. A dealer is two miles from my house. I love my MZ though, it's been really great.

Small 06-10-2004 03:01 AM

Re: Buell Comfort?
I rode a XB12 a while back, real fun but not a long distance kind of thing. I ride a R1100S that is great for Sport touring rides over 500 miles. If you are into K bikes and have $$$ sitting around, the new K1200S looks pretty sweet.

rider_md 06-10-2004 03:45 AM

Re: You asked for it: My Buell experience.
2 years ago I sold my '00 Buell X-1, with all the modifications the individual 2-3 posts up described: ECM chip, exhaust, etc.

And went with a '02 Honda VFR ABS.

I did this for pragmatism: didn't have time for the occassional problem*, the ABSOLUTELY mandatory pre-ride and post-ride inspection*, breather oil puking into my nice K&N filter (AGHHHH!!!), wanted hard bags because i commuted, etc. etc.

*note: I had an x-1, not a xb9r so a lot of this stuff was fixed on the newer models so i've heard.

But you know what?

I really REALLY miss my buell. I mean REALLY miss it.

Don't get me wrong. I'm much faster, more agile, can carry stuff in my hard bags way more conveniently, have ZERO maintenance issues, can slice through the 15-20 mph hairpins in the VA backwoods carrying much more speed into the turn...

with all this... I should be happier right?

yes and no.

I got everything I said I wanted: low low maintenance requirements, improved handling and performance, hardbags... so what's the problem you might ask.

The VFR just doesn't stir my blood. Everytime I got on my buell and clunked (yes, CLUNKED) into first and cranked my wrist on that heavy throttle, only one word comes to mind:

"W00T!!!" and a big sh!t-eating grin.

Sure, it could be my memories about the buell are all pleasant ones, and the not-so-pleasant ones I've forgotten like many other memories.... and sure, I do smile everytime I jump on the VFR.

But I certainly don't GRIN. I miss ROARING from 1k- 6k RPM... so its not a 600 with a 13k rev limit. Sure it revs slow, but its like an ol' '60-something mustang...

there are some people who prefer that ol' classic V-8 RIPPPP/ROOOARRRR to the newer high performance RRRRRWWWHEEEE.

I think my next bike purchase will be an air-cooled again... to each his own.

pdad13 06-10-2004 04:12 AM

Re: The price is NOT steep...
Yeah, well not around here. I was in a Harley dealer about a week ago and they didn't even have any XB12Rs left. Had one XB12S and they didn't seem to be dealing. Then again, they still don't seem to be very interested in them at all.

But let's say your theory is correct and I could get one for $9,000. Add the HD sodomy fees and I bet you're still close to 10k.

From what I can tell, the Buell basically fits into the 600 SS class. I understand the paying a premium for uniqueness, but they need to build a customer base. Based on the competition, this bike shouldn't cost more than $8,500. This probably isn't going to happen because of small production numbers and less than favorable economies of scale. (Remeber that H-D is a Wall Street darling, so an agressive pricing program, at a potential loss, to increase sales and production ain't gonna happen. It's a shame.) So for those of you who are willing to pay that much, God bless. It's hard for me to justify it.

Throw in the dealer apathy, which is palpable, and the high service fees, and the Buell experience can become potentially frustrating and quite expensive.

And I still think I want one.

gbrummett 06-10-2004 04:19 AM

Well done from an XB12S Owner
At last some real world comments, well done!

As the owner of a 2004 Buell XB12S I submit the following comments.

1. Sound: Buy the race kit! Goodbye Maytag hello Harley / Ducati sounds with a nice pow pow on throttle roll off, oh and more top end power.

2. Weird Feeling: Buy the XB12S instead of the 12R. I borrowed my friends R model and had the same weird feelings riding it as you mentioned, with the S you have a far more natural stance.

3. Shifting: Break-in does wonders, it and you get used to each other, neutral is a no-brainer after a few thousand miles, and the shifting gets smoother.

4. Enjoy the looks, comments, oohs and awwhs that come with the bike. I have people follow me home, stop at gas stations etc etc all the time to ask what it is, who makes it and where is it made.

5. Smoke unsuspecting cars off the line. Because the bike looks so small especially the black S model you catch cars off guard all the time who think you are riding a much smaller displacement bike. Plus you donÂ’t have to rev the bike at all to really take off from a start.

gbrummett 06-10-2004 04:23 AM

I had to had problems you mentioned on the older bike...
I too had the problems you mentioned on the older bike on my 2001 Buell M2 Cyclone. But I have trashed the living hell out of my XB12S and it has not leaked a drop of oil anywhere! The only thing I have seen is a slight buildup of almost a mist of oil around the drain between at the base of the cylinders. It takes around a 1,000 miles before this builds up so it's really slow.

And yes, it is a hell of a lot of fun, reminds you of a 60's mucsle car for sure.

Buzglyd 06-10-2004 04:35 AM

Re: The price is NOT steep...
You could buy one in California and ride it home. All the dealers here have 'em and they don't seem to be moving that quickly.

I prefer the S model. I really like the dirttrack style bar rather than the clip ons.

okartguy 06-10-2004 04:42 AM

Re: Compliments and suggestions.
Good idea about the "living with..." series. As much as I enjoy the track day and canyon-carving short term tests, they're foregone issues for those of us who live the wide open spaces like the central plains and mostly use our bikes to commute in traffic. I want to know exactly how "liveable" a bike is in the real world.

Oh, and just to answer one of your questions, EbonFlame, I've put a little over 8k on my '99 Ducati Monster 750. In the almost two years I've owned it, I've done NOTHING to it beyond changing the oil, replacing one set of tires, and riding the hell out of it every chance I get. I just had the 12k mile valve adjustment performed, as well as the timing belts replaced. The total for parts and labor was $203.60, which I thought was pretty freakin' reasonable. Granted, I had the service performed by an independant (and Ferracci-certified) Ducati/MV Agusta mech, and not the local dealer. They have the same guy do their work and then mark up the cost! Anyhoo... It's been a GREAT bike that gets lots of attention. Unfortunately, I have a baby on the way and will be selling it shortly... But I guarantee my next bike will be another air-cooled Duc!

pdad13 06-10-2004 04:54 AM

Re: The price is NOT steep...
Um, I might be feeling a little different about the ergos after that trip.

I think I would buy the R model. I've already got a ZRX, so I would want something quite different. Besides, after getting accustomed to the bike, I enjoyed the riding position. Not everyone will, but I did. In some respects it seemed more civilized that many sportbikes.

Not sure I'd be happy about spending the coin for the airfare, taking a five hour flight to FantasyLand, and then being ignored by another Harley salesperson.

It would be a hell of an experience to ride cross country, though. Maybe...

ducatirdr 06-10-2004 05:14 AM

Re: You asked for it: My Buell experience.
There are bikes that get you from point A to point B faster and in more comfort but lack that elusive character that makes you want to take the longest path from A to B. I like a bike that gives you lots of feedback. Vibration at idle that smoothes out at speed is a feature to me. Hit the starter button and it comes alive. If you want electric motor smoothness then you should look elsewhere. This thing shakes and letÂ’s you know its running. Like JB said in one of the Buell reviews there is something to be said about the quality of a motors sound signature. A P51 Mustang flew 100 feet above the water of Cape Cod bay over my head one summer day about 15 years ago. I remember the glorious sound of it to this day. Something about that lazy power pulse of the Buell does the same thing to me. The basso profoundo when rapping the throttle open is F-U-N.

The sad story is IÂ’ve only test rode BuellÂ’s a handful of times. An XB9R stock, XB9R w/race kit and the XB12R stock. The stock XB9R was weak and it really needs the race kit to make me happy. YouÂ’ll find yourself hitting the rev limiter often as its lightweight flywheel letÂ’s you rev the motor easily into the limiter. The XB12R stock made enough power and with its heavier flywheel and more torque I didnÂ’t hit the lower limiter as often as I found myself doing on the XB9R.

I will purchase a Buell XB-R bike one of these days I really love the character of these bikes. IÂ’ve held off waiting to see if the reliability issues got worked out. So far it seems that BuellÂ’s are reliable. Now itÂ’s time to save some money and finally purchase one.

gbrummett 06-10-2004 05:45 AM

$8,995 for a 2004 XB12R or XB12S at Chandler AZ H-D Buell
It's only $8,995 for a 2004 XB12R or XB12S or $6995 for a new 2003 XB9R or S at Chandler Arizona H-D Buell and they have over 20 in stock with all colors ready for delivery.

Check it out...

They were number one in Buell sales world wide last year. Ask to see the little sales trophy.

johnnyb 06-10-2004 05:54 AM

Re: You asked for it: My Buell experience.
Yep the R is okay but if you had ridden the S on that route, wait, just about any route, you would be wanting one badly about now. All that dreck about standing up on the brakes, etc, goes right out the window with the high wide handlebar, and the pegs are lower too which is cool if you're tall i imagine. Far as price goes, I could be just as happy if not more happy with 9S. Slightly less lumpy idle with shorter-stroke clankshaft, higher RPM ceiling, shorter gearing, and doesn't feel like much less power esp. with race kit. I bin riding borrowed Kawa Z1000 and missing Buell too, snif...

ewok1 06-10-2004 06:09 AM

he said kludged
webster needs to be notified. nice.

pdad13 06-10-2004 06:30 AM

Re: You asked for it: My Buell experience.
Hey, man. If you don't already know, there's a nice little mention of you in the most recent Cycle World (letters section). A reader wrote to lament your absense. The Ed. replied with little blurb about how they missed you but you're making too much money writing ad copy so you won't return their calls, yada, yada, yada...

Just thought you'd like to know.

And welcome to the tortured, masochistic creed of advertising copywriters. I know your pain.

XB9: I was considering the 9 because I heard that the race kit makes a big difference. You really feel that strongly? I haven't had a chance to ride a 9.

SRMark 06-10-2004 06:39 AM

Re: You asked for it: My Buell experience.
Thanks for the perspective. You should also be a mystery writer, given the nice head-fake at the beginning of your piece.

It's good to have choices, although I prefer Earl Grey to Orange Peeko.

johnnyb 06-10-2004 06:48 AM

Re: You asked for it: My Buell experience.
yeah man I saw it and parlayed it into passes to laguna seca. It's like E Buell said, diff. between 9 and 12 is kind of like small-block and big-block Vettes. I think the 9 has a lighter feel to it that fits the XB's character better, and the thing runs smoother at part-throttle cruising around cause of smaller power pulses and shorter gearing. I think. as you know, once above 50 mph or so they are both dead smooth cruisers. I am also cheap. Even if I weren't i might rather have the 9. With race kit, 9 has plenty of acceleration and it revs, even without it.

nokneedragin 06-10-2004 07:19 AM

Re: You asked for it: My Buell experience.
You see, this makes the decision harder. The bikes are the same, but ones bored out, with a lower rev limit. Ones revs better, but makes less power. They both weigh about the same, so whats the real difference?

Clarify some more, oh great sage.

I have never complained about reving a bike to get it going, and I don't understand the big deal about having to shift. Its part of the feel of riding a motorcyle. The interaction with the machine, the tactile feel of shifting, turning, moving around on it thats makes it more enjoyable than any other land vehicle.

I guess some people just want an automatic transmission on their bike.

Anyway, what is the practical difference between the 9 and the 12, then whats the gut tell you?

nokneedragin 06-10-2004 07:21 AM

Night on the town.
I've actually left a half a plate of food on the table, then the other half in the bushes outside the front door.

Haird 06-10-2004 07:40 AM

Re: Maytag Man
Oh, c'mon. It's been at least 50 years since a Maytag was driven by a gas engine ...

johnnyb 06-10-2004 07:42 AM

Re: You asked for it: My Buell experience.
12 i think has 1/2-inch longer stroke so it feels thumpier and rougher, and heavier crank (i think?) seems like it doesn't turn so quick and light as the 9 does. 9 revs more cause it's geared shorter... ***** man, ride em both, Buell dealers give test rides do they not?

MrBear44 06-10-2004 07:43 AM

Re: Excellent Review
As opposed to what? The excellent management practices in Italy?

I did enjoy the article. Informative, well written and organized.

I've spent some time on an XB9R, and it's a fun bike, but not so much that I would spend the asking price. It really did stand up under braking, and the front brake feel was somewhat soft. It was also very heavy steering. I left the setup alone, since it was a friendÂ’s bike.

A rear wheel bearing disintegrated at around 8000 miles. It was fixed under warranty even though this was an early XB9R, and was out of warranty.

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