2008 Buell Ulysses XB12XT First Ride Review- Buell Adventure Bike

21 Feb 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on 2008 Buell Ulysses XB12XT First Ride Review- Buell Adventure Bike
Buell Ulysses XB12XT

First Ride: 2008 Buell Ulysses XB12XT Making a good thing better.

After 25 years, it’s clear that Buell is a company that goes its own way. Exhibit A: The XB12X Ulysses, a dirtbike-styled “adventure sportbike” that is part adventure bike, part supermoto and part tourer. It has a massive frame, a big, comfy seat, a 1203cc pushrod V-Twin motor, and 17-inch wheels at the end of long-travel suspension, a bike ready for serious travel on anything from interstates to fireroads.

It was a hit with buyers and journalists alike when it was introduced in 2005. We liked the bike’s versatility, good handling, comfort, flexible power and penchant for mono-wheeling. What we didn’t like was the NBA-calibrated 35-inch seat height, the see-saw feel (caused by strong brakes, soft suspension and torquey mill) and its limited steering lock.

So the announcement of another Ulysses—the XB12XT—got our attention, enough to send our online producer to the press intro to fetch the bike for an extended test.

The XT is more than just an accessorized Ulysses. In addition to touring options from the Buell catalog like locking hard luggage (side and top cases), a 4-inch-higher windscreen, lower seat and heated grips, the XT gets different suspension components. New fork tubes are 4mm smaller than the X model’s and offer 4.92 inches of travel, almost 2 inches less than the XT’s more dirt-oriented brother. The shock is similarly shorter.

This drops center of gravity, and with the inch-lower seat, the Ulysses XT feels more manageable to a 5-foot-6-inch rider like me, though a bit short for lanky folk like our circus bear-like online producer.

On twisty roads, the XT shines. The firmer suspension imparts less of the hobbyhorse experience while accelerating and braking. The lower cg makes the bike feel less like a massive supermoto and more like a big standard. We liked the “attack mode” of the neutral riding position, unchanged from before with the wide handlebar, low, cleated pegs and broad saddle.

Buell Ulysses XB12XT

That lets the rider carve up a bumpy, winding stretch of pavement that would leave a sportbike pilot cursing and short of breath.

As a tourer, the XT works well, too. Luggage capacity is as vast as it is flexible: A wadded-up XL Aerostich suit fits in one of the sidebags, and the top case has more than enough room for a full-face helmet. The taller screen blocks plenty of wind (but is noisier), and heated grips are always welcome, even in summer or spring.

Pirelli Diablo Stradas replace the more-grippy but shorter-lived Pirelli Scorpion Syncs without giving up too much grip or response.

It’s not perfect. The shorter, firmer suspension and still-limited steering lock make the XT less handy off-asphalt, although the Uly is still very much at home on the fireroads for which it was developed. And that useful luggage/bracketry makes it 40 pounds heavier than the 425-pound (dry) X.

The XT is a solid value at $12,995, a fully equipped adventure-tourer that can hang with other bikes in its class on pavement or smooth dirt roads. Add the optional GPS and you won’t get lost, even if you like to go your own way.

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