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Preview: Buell Adds Second Ulysses

Second Uly Offers Lower Suspension and Luggage as Standard

When Buell motorcycle company introduced the XB12X, also known as the Ulysses, mid-year 2005 as a 2006 model, the bike had a polarizing effect. Many riders either loved it or hated it based solely on its styling. A few more liked the overall premise but weren't excited by what they were calling a dated engine.

Furthermore, the Uly seemed to muddy the definition of what an adventure-tourer was. It had 17-inch wheels that could carry sportbike rubber, but it also had more than 6 inches of suspension travel and wide, dirtbike-style handlebars. And because of all that spring travel, seat height was bordering on stratospheric. Even the styling of the front fender and subfender looked suspiciously similar to that on the bike that most agree defines adventure-touring: BMW's R1200GS.

The XB12X continued in the line-up and for 2007 it received, among other revisions, a reshaped saddle reducing seat height to a more humane 31.8 inches, and heated grips as standard.

Shortened suspension travel on the XB12XT means a lower seat height and lower center of gravity. Hard luggage and a taller windscreen are standard equipment on the new Uly.

As time passed, the Ulysses gained a growing following thanks to the user-friendly stonk available down low from its 1,203cc air-cooled V-Twin and its forgiving but very capable road manners. For 2008 it has a nearly identical twin.

Buell announced recently the introduction of the XB12XT Ulysses. This second Uly has some revised suspension work that suggests a more pavement-oriented direction, and it carries many goodies as standard that are accessory items on the XB12X Ulysses. Otherwise, the same powerplant remains, as does virtually ever other hardware item found on the first Ulysses.

The fully adjustable 43mm inverted fork isn't as stout as the 47mm legs on the other Uly, and travel has been reduced to 4.92 inches versus 6.51 inches. The same fully adjustable Showa shock with remote reservoir and remote preload dial remains, but it too has travel limited to 4.9 inches where the other Ulysses has 6.38 inches. Additional suspension changes include a new progressive urethane bumper in the shock to spread compression forces while the XB12XT is fully loaded. Ground clearance is 5.9 inches compared to the 6.75 inches of Uly numero uno. But perhaps the most exciting dimensional change is a seat height of a claimed 30.7 inches (Buell likes to state seat heights with a rider’s weight aboard). This is a reduction of more than an inch from the standard Ulysses’ claimed 31.8 inches.  (The original Uly had a claimed laden seat height of 33.1 inches but was closer to 35 inches without a rider aboard.)

Good-natured handling should remain despite a nominal increase in the rake angle of 23.8 degrees versus 23.5 degrees with a similarly minute increase in trail at 4.9 inches compared to 4.8 inches. Wheelbase on the other hand is a tad shorter at 53.9 inches where the original Ulysses is 54.1 inches. The dimensional changes in the new bike should be a wash in terms of any perceptible difference. A final significant note is the new Uly's use of Pirelli's Diablo Strada. The original Ulysses rides on Pirelli Scorpion Syncs.

The new Ulysses comes ready for the long road ahead. It should be a heck of a lot easier to climb aboard, too.

Coming as standard equipment will be a taller windscreen, three pieces of hard luggage (two saddle bags and a rear trunk), heated grips, and a new red paint job.

One strange thing to note, according to Buell spec sheets, the new Ulysses is only expected to get  47 mpg City (or "Urban" as they call it) and 59 mpg Highway where the XB12X Ulysses is looking at 51 mpg City and 64 mpg Highway. Maybe all the luggage is a real (ahem!) drag. Maybe it's also responsible for a gain of 40 pounds; the new bike comes in at 465 lbs. claimed dry weight.

All these suspension changes should equate to a bike that's easier to climb aboard with a lower center of gravity which should make shorter riders more comfortable and keep the Ulysses line full of happy owners.

A commemorative Buell 25th Anniversary graphic with Erik Buell’s signature is placed on the handlebar clamp.

The Ulysses XB12XT is offered in a new color, Racing Red, in addition to Thrust Blue, each with Designer Black wheels. MSRP for the XB12XT will be $12,995 U.S., $1,500 more than the standard XB12X Ulysses.

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