2008 Buell Ulysses XB12XT Road Test Rider Magazine

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Buell Ulysses XB12XT

2008 Buell Ulysses Road Test

The Ulysses tosses aside any pretense of ability and focuses on performing as the adventure/sport/standard it can be.

Photo Credit: Wing

Mark Tuttle Jr.

9, 2008

[This 2008 Ulysses XB12XT Road was originally published in the June issue of Rider magazine]

Buell peeled the covers off the new Ulysses XB12X at its launch in and officially jumped into the category, it was a pleasantly surprising and move. If you ask me, every manufacturer offer a high-and-mighty adventure/sport the Suzuki V-Strom. Triumph 1050. even the Ducati

The Ulysses embodied many of the traits of those bikes, seating, wide handlebar, suspension travel and plenty of for a passenger and bags–and later would prove it even capable onroad than of them.

But then Buell had to go and say it wanted people to think of the as offroad capable to a degree–why, look at these special tires we had made, and how the belt drive can ingest and regurgitate a without damage. Oh, and check out the headlight grille and hand

Now, I’m all for exploring the unpaved, and true that just any motorcycle can be taken down a road…ridden slowly enough. But you actually come out and say that the was designed for same, well, now we to go out and do it, dang it. Looking at the Ulysses’ cast wheels, 95/5 tires and tight steering I was less-than enthusiastic.

Calling the muffler its “bash plate” had me for my thicker gloves.

Seating is and mostly upright, even for and up. Seat tapers toward the to allow shorter legs to get at stops.

Most of us made it through the on-/offroad ride day without but boy, was I happy when the reappeared. I’m sure there are of XB12X owners out there tackling whatever Terra can find–here’s wishing them legs and plenty of body

Just don’t let the dust you to the bike’s onroad, sportbikelike Ulysses XB12X is truly a street bike, and is even since the addition of a lower and more steering sweep for Even more exciting, is that Buell has recognized the true potential for 2008 a second model, the Ulysses tested here, which aside any pretense of offroad (much like Triumph did the Tiger recently) and focuses on as the best adventure/sport/standard it can be.

At the core of the is the same rugged and character- engine and drivetrain from the Though it has a 45-degree cylinder and a bore and … identical to of the Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 (Buell is a division of Harley), the Thunderstorm 1203 is otherwise a design with Buell’s own and heads, exhaust, con rods and and more.

To improve rideability and and reduce service costs, says that for 2008 all of the XB get a larger crank pin, an oiling system, and a new electronic system and ECM that controls DDFI 3 fuel injection. was also increased in the XB12s to rpm from 6,800 rpm to broaden the

Shorter suspension travel new springs, lighter wheels and fork and Pirelli Strada give the XB12XT sharper than the XB12X, and ditch any pretense.

Air/oil-cooled with two hydraulic valves per cylinder (no adjustments and electronic fuel injection, the 1203 lacks in top-end it than makes up for with grunt. No fast-idle control is the XT fires up and settles into a idle that shakes the seat and bike like a Fingers vibrating bed.

As as you accelerate away, though, the Uniplanar isolation-mounting system its job and everything except the mirrors out nicely, yet the engine’s pulse and lusty sound from the muffler remain. Even the higher redline the Thunderstorm to be shifted early, though it has kick in reserve up top for quick of speed, even two-up. On the Tuning Dynojet dyno the cranked out 88 horsepower at 6,700 rpm at the wheel, and 72 lb-ft of torque at about what you’d from Buell’s claim of 103 and 84 lb-ft at the crankshaft.

Power rearward via a five-speed transmission a longish but smooth-shifting throw, to the belt final drive, never needs adjusting to a spring-loaded idler pulley. just a five-cog gearbox we wished for a sixth at speed as the is mellow, throaty and relaxed, around 70-75 mph. The requires premium fuel and just 4.4 gallons in the bike’s frame.

Our average fuel of 39.4 mpg gave it a decent of more than 170 miles, when touring we wished for low-fuel warning light blinked on with less 140 miles on the tripmeter. Oil for the dry sump is carried in the swingarm, and checking it the dipstick is cake.

Triple in cozy backrest mode and on seat.

After examining the Ulysses’ engine and drivetrain the features to the XT model begin to come in to In addition to a low street front the bike has a taller removable for better wind protection on rides. As the XT won’t be tackling any on narrow trails it did not get the increased sweep found on the 2007/2008 X and we sometimes missed that turning ability paddling in parking lots and such.

43mm legs vs. the X’s 48s on the Showa fork save weight and are plenty stout for onroad, and travel was shortened slightly to inches front and rear 6.5. The XT doesn’t need the clearance of the X and this helps the seat a little more an inch to 30.7 inches. The XT gets triple-rate fork for a more supple ride on the

Both compression and rebound adjustability, as well as preload, plenty of control up front, and settings makes a noticeable

Out back the Showa rear gets a new dual-rate spring, is fully adjustable and has a remote for preload adjustments. Both of the suspension are some of the best bounced around on, with control and compliance, and adjustability is quickly and easily used to the bike for touring or sport

On the highway the Ulysses XB12XT is the of motorcycle I can ride all day, fill-up to fill-up, with its upright seating position, legroom and smooth running at

Unique in nearly every the XB12XT is both a head and a road burner.

Buell Ulysses XB12XT

For someone my sub-30-inch inseam, the wide, seat that tapers in is just low enough and makes it to slide forward and put both down at stops, then back and spread out once Passengers loved the bike, as it has an rear seat with grabrails and comfortable footpegs, and the Tail makes an excellent The only glitch here is the footpegs are back very to the side cases.

It’s not a problem underway, when passengers have to on, as they can only get the ball of foot on the peg until seated. got the hang of climbing on pretty though, and when it’s to climb off, the rider can do so and let the passenger slide forward and get off the rider’s perch.

In warm removing the windscreen with a screws provides a quieter but when the weather cools or on rides it’s less to have that wind off your chest. I didn’t any buffeting from the screen, the wind noise is louder it installed.

The XT also shines in the bits, especially with the set up a bit firm. The wide bar makes transitions and midcorner corrections play, and sticky Pirelli Strada tires and seemingly cornering clearance give the sportbike-level cornering speed. ridden just playfully in the the XT is easy to manage, has plenty of and holds a line well, you look at the scenery once in a without riding at a crawl.

My gripe is with the front which had too much initial on our test bike. Buell’s Torsional Load design the single front rotor to the rim of the hub, transferring braking over a wider area so the can be lighter overall.

Once it to kick in, the opposed six-piston was strong and had good feel, but have worked a bit better if the had less initial travel–set on the adjustment it could be pulled to the grip. Rear braking on the XT weak and wooden, which can be when you’re riding in the canyons, but is less desirable than one that responds a bit easily.

Engine redline is higher year at 7,100 rpm. are large, clear and easy-to-read, and an LCD display with clock, two and reserve odometer.

A complete set of luggage (the optional set for the X) is on the XT, and though it makes the bike wide when installed and a separate key, it’s of the best I’ve used. and secure, all three bags hold a large full-face and are tough and watertight. Take the off and the mount is still usable as a rack.

Buell’s unique Tail on the Ulysses can only be in the down and up positions, as this rack (and the trunk installed) prevents it from all the way back, but it still makes a passenger backrest when up and a platform for a duffel when on the seat.

Beneath the locking is a toolkit, small storage and the battery, and there’s a separate lock on the left side. A of toasty heated grips two settings are standard, and we loved while riding in the cooler we had during the testing period. The setting was plenty hot on our test in fact–we never used the second and wished for a cooler

Not one but two power outlets are standard for GPS and radar detector and such, one up on the panel and another under the The XT’s twin quartz headlights and bright LED brake and are terrific, and the instrumentation includes tripmeters, a clock, fuel countdown odometer and a tachometer.

Standard luggage set is rugged, and comes off easily, and each of the bags will hold a full-face helmet.

Besides the brake our complete list of includes the fuzzy mirrors, engine heat on the right leg at and how the cooling fan continues to run–often for minutes–after the bike is shut Buell says it’s to the oil from baking, helping it to longer, but the noise takes getting used to.

Although the gas tank is Surlyn plastic golf balls), it’s enough to strap a tankbag on. that and the cases, maybe a duffel on the rear seat, you can enough to full-time it on this Shed the duffel, flip up the Tail and your significant can move in, and the two of you can go riding off into the hopefully with a lot of curves and along the way.

The Buell XB12XT is an adventure sportbike for the road defined, and it’s to go right out of the box.

Buell Ulysses XB12XT
Buell Ulysses XB12XT


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