2008 Buell Ulysses XB12XT – Wheels.ca

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Buell Ulysses XB12XT

2008 Buell Ulysses XB12XT

Posted on March 29th, 2008

Temecula, Calif.–After the winter we’ve had, the last thing I wanted to see in California was snow. Fortunately, it was only at elevations above 1,980 metres, the roads themselves were clear, the air temperature was in the high teens and I was aboard the 2008 Buell Ulysses XB12XT on some awesome mountain roads.

Introduced a couple of years ago, the “standard” Ulysses XB12X’s comfy ergos (including one of the best seats in motorcycling), responsive torquey engine and supple, well-damped suspension made it one of the best all-round bikes available.

Throw in the optional hard bags and the Ulysses became a very capable adventure tourer with one major knock: the 808 mm seat height made it just too darn tall for many riders. My giraffe-like 37-inch inseam found the chassis and riding position just about perfect, but those with shorter pins just couldn’t balance the thing at stoplights or off-road.

The “standard” Ulysses continues on, but the XT has subtle, yet significant changes. For starters, all dirt bike pretenses have been forcibly removed.

Gone are the headlight guards and high-mounted front fender. Seat height is 28 mm lower, gained mostly by reducing front and rear suspension travel from 165 mm to 125 mm. A significant 455 grams of unsprung weight was lopped off each wheel and front fork diameter is 43 mm, down from 47 mm on the standard Ulysses.

The XT has triple rate front springs and both ends are still fully adjustable for spring preload, rebound and compression damping, including the handy remote rear preload adjuster under the left side of the seat.

Standard on the XT is a 101 mm taller windscreen, hardbags and topbox (all of which easily swallow a full-face lid), two electrical outlets for heated clothing and/or a GPS unit, hand guards to deflect the wind and two-position heated grips.

Like all air/oil cooled Buells for ’08, the XT is powered by the 1203 cc Thunderstorm 45-degree, V-twin engine with all the usual electronic management goodies including a new fuel injection system. A revised crankshaft and oiling system allows the ’08 version to rev to 7,100 rpm, up 300 over the older models.

My route took me up toward 3,302-metre Mount San Jacinto, its snowy visage towering over the surrounding countryside. Starting up into the foothills, I noted a sign guaranteed to bring joy to every motorcyclist” “Winding Road for Next 44 Miles.” Translation: “Now Entering Two-Wheeled Heaven.”

The XT’s rigid chassis inspired confidence and the torquey motor catapulted me from one apex to the next. The Pirelli Diablo Strada tires were a good match for the XT and the steering was light and neutral, with excellent feel and feedback.

The single, perimeter-mounted front disc was up to the task: two fingers on the adjustable lever brought the XT to a safe, controlled stop. Feel was above average with no tendency to stand up when trailbraking deep into corners. On the rare occasion where (ahem) I might’ve been a tad enthusiastic with my corner entry, a gentle push on the inside bar and a smooth squeeze on the lever compressed the forks and initiated the turn.

The snow itself wasn’t a factor but there were many places where melt water rivulets flowed across the road. Caution was the word of the day and the XT never slipped a wheel.

Buell Ulysses XB12XT
Buell Ulysses XB12XT

The Ulysses produces a useable 55 lb.-ft. of torque at 2000 rpm with a whopping 65 lb.-ft. at 3000 – and the power delivery is linear and predictable all through the rev range. Vibration is minimal, just enough to let you know you’re on a functioning motorcycle rather than an appliance completely devoid of personality.

Filling up after spirited mountain riding, fuel consumption was a surprising 57 miles per U.S. gallon, or 4.1 L per 100 km. A short stretch of freeway had the XT loafing along at 3000 rpm at an indicated 62 mph (100 km/h) so highway cruising under our conditions will be effortless as well as economical – expect almost 400 km from the 16.7 L tank between fills. And, both the Ulysses 12X and 12XT meet strict California and Euro emission specs without a catalytic converter.p

The Ulysses does have a few quirks, however. The clutch lever isn’t adjustable and the clutch cable adjustment isn’t on the lever but on the cable halfway down the frame. And for some reason, the ignition switch is still inconveniently buried up on the left side of the headlight pod.

The standard Ulysses X price is $12,379 (down from $13,879 in early 2007) and Canadian pricing for the XT is $13,999 – and that’s with the standard hard bags, topbox and heated grips – and a two-year, unlimited mileage warranty.

All told, the Buell Ulysses XT is a little different from yer run-of-the-mill, everyday motorcycle. Yeah, it’s got some quirks but it’s fun, comfortable and has something we all aspire to – character. I thought the original Ulysses was the best Buell yet, but the XT takes it one step further.

It’s my kind of motorcycle.

Travel was provided freelance writer Steve Bond by the bike maker. stevebond8@yahoo.ca

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Buell Ulysses XB12XT
Buell Ulysses XB12XT
Buell Ulysses XB12XT


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