Buell Firebolt XB9R And XB12R Super Streetbike

27 Mar 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Buell Firebolt XB9R And XB12R Super Streetbike
Buell Firebolt XB12R


When the Buell Firebolt XB9R hit the market in 2003 it was the talk of the industry. It was one part revolutionary, one part history, but all together different. Leading the technological front was the unique frame that also doubled as a gas tank. That’s right, you fueled your frame not the tank.

Continuing the tech trend, the swingarm carried the engine oil and a traditional hub-mounted rotor gave way to a perimeter-mounted unit. The giant Zero Torsional Load (ZTL) front rotor was mounted to the lip of the rim. Another defining feature (a trend Buell started) was the mass centralized muffler that exited under the bike.

While the all-new motor was a first for Buell, in no way was it as hi-tech as the rest of the package. In typical Buell fashion the new XB9R used a belt-drive system and a modified version of the Harley Davidson Sportster motor. That’s right, a 984cc pushrod, air cooled 45-degree V-twin powered the new XB9R.

Torque rich but hardly a high-RPM ripper, some loved it, some hated it, but power numbers were still impressive with 92 HP at 7,200 RPM and 68 LB-FT at 5,500 RPM. Though high 11-second quarter mile times were stout, performance lagged behind 600cc sportbikes.

Recognizing the need for more speed, Buell introduced the XB12R in 2004. A punched-up 1200cc version of the 9R, the bigger brother pounded out 103 HP at 6,800 RPM and 84 LB-FT at 6,000 RPM. The new big bruiser was good for mid 11’s in the quarter and had enough torque to move a house.

As hotly debated as the Firebolt’s propulsion was its handling. Some swore by it, some swore at it, but ridden correctly it was wicked fast. Packing the industry’s shortest wheelbase of just 52-inches with an ultra steep 21-degree fork angle led to some interesting handling characteristics.

It was an eager companion on a twisty road if you had the strong-arm to hold the bars, as the Firebolt had a tendency to stand-up while kicked over–an idiosyncrasy that was only magnified while on the brakes.

Though niche-like in its following, Buell fans love their Firebolts. Save for some heat creeping off the back cylinder and a belt problem that was fixed with a pulley upgrade on later models, owners having nothing but praise. Many examples have proven reliable over 30,000 miles and owners use them as track tools, commuter rigs and weekend warriors.

Most owners mark the abundance of torque and deep exhaust note as their favorite characteristics. As such, popular additions include exhaust and fueling upgrades as well as aesthetical bits to bring out the inner beast.

If you’re looking for a sportbike that’s different from the rest and prefer stump-pulling torque over high-RPM power, a Buell Firebolt just might be your rig. Have we mentioned used prices are extremely affordable as well?

2003-2007 XB9R

When the Firebolt hit showrooms in 2003 it was the talk of the town. Technoweenies loved the ZTL front brake, the short 52-inch wheelbase, mass centralized muffler, oil in the swingarm and fuel in the frame. American Muscle fans loved the Sportster-derived, 984cc, air-cooled, 45-degree pushrod V-twin that was good for 92 HP, 68 LB-FT of torque and high 11’s in the quarter.

2004-Present XB12R

Recognizing game, Buell punched the Sporty motor to a full 1200cc. The result was 103 HP, a ground pounding 84 LB-FT of torque and mid 11’s at the strip. Though looks were similar, the 12R always got the dope bits like the famous translucent gold wheels and matching windscreen.

Alberto Barrales

Age: 34

Model Year: 2003 XB9R

Miles done: 1,200 so far this year

Mods: Race Kit (ECM, muffler and air filter)

Best upgrade: Buying this beast of a bike.

Favorite Aspect: The way the V-twin looks, projector headlights, front brake, belt drive and the tons of torque this bike has.

Miles Done: 9,000

Mods: Race exhaust, ECM and air filter, stainless steel brake lines, powdercoated levers and heel guards, carbon fiber air box cover, tailpiece, fenders and belly pan

Best Upgrade: Exhaust. The sound alone is intoxicating plus good power gains.

Favorite Aspect of The Bike: How it sounds and looks different from most streetbikes.

L. A. Canfield

Age: 38

Model Year: 2004

Miles Done: 15,000

Mods: EcmSpy, Voodoo exhaust, Buell Traction grips, Hyperpro springs and rear Buell race spring, removal of unnecessary street components.

Best Upgrade: The exhaust and EcmSpy because it now rumbles down the road and performs better than stock.

Favorite Aspect: Just riding!

**Zach Moody **

Age: 22

Model Year: 2003 XB9R

Miles Done: 9,800

Mods: KN; air filter, Drummer exhaust, EcmSpy, powdercoated wheels, triple tree, shifter, brake lever and rearsets

Best Upgrade: The Drummer exhaust. You can’t beat the sound and power and it’s by a down-to-earth guy.

Favorite Aspect:_ It’s different and doesn’t look like every other sportbike out there._

Joshua Shaw

Age: 19

Model Year: 2006 XB9R

Miles Done: 27,436

Buell Firebolt XB12R

Mods: Polished frame, swing arm and upper triple tree, powdercoated fairing/dash cluster mount, pegs and boot guards, Memphis Shades yellow gradient screen, High Luster Silver Ceramic Coated headers, Lite-eyes 50W HID headlights, LED Wizard underglow lighting system, custom fabricated dual straight pipes that split around the rear tire.

Best Upgrade: This is a hard one but I think I would have to choose my custom straight pipes because they sound absolutely incredible, and when I drive by a group of people their jaws drop when they see a sportbike with the deep growl of a Harley.

Favorite Aspect: The fact it’s just different and it’s not too common to see others cruising around on them. other than my dad.

Michael Herrenbruck

Age: 38

Model Year: 2005 XB9R

Miles Done: 10,100

Mods: DD; slip-on, KN; air filter, ASB right side scoop and metal oil cap, Dark Horse axle sliders and mirror block offs, Buell frame pucks, LSL scalloped black pegs and bases, CRG levers, EcmSpy

Best Upgrade: The CRG levers (less hand fatigue on track days) and the modified fuel maps (better engine response).

Favorite Aspect: I have something different than all the ‘other’ sportbikes.

Miles Done: 22,800

Mods: Carbon fiber headlight bezels, air scoop and oil-cooler scoop, Lindell brake pads, Brembo rear brake mount (hides caliper behind swingarm), scalloped rear brake, steel braided lines, color matched and integrated undertail, license plate relocated, shorty turn signals, smoked windscreen, frame pucks, Pegasus tank protector, ’04 mirrors, chrome wheels, breather reroute, factory Race Kit (ECM, muffler and KN; filter), snorkel removed, XB12 air box

Best Upgrade:_ The Race Kit, that goes without saying._

Favorite Aspect: The engineering.

Paul Girardot

Age: 39

Model Year: 2007 XB9R

Miles Done: 16,086

Mods: KN; air filter, breather reroute, catch can, open air box, Micron exhaust, integrated LED taillight, 1125R rear LED signals, Garmin Zumo 550 GPS, Xoptiinside.com ECM tune, Zero Gravity windscreen, Dual 6,000k HID bulbs, translucent amber wheels

Best Upgrade: I’d have to say the HIDs because I can actually see at night, next to that it would have to be the Micron exhaust.

Favorite Aspect: Probably the trilogy of tech and the looks/questions I get when I pull up, and shut her down.


Do you own a 2000-2006 Honda RC51? Fill in the chart below and send high-res pics to ssbmail@sorc.com.

Buell Firebolt XB12R
Buell Firebolt XB12R
Buell Firebolt XB12R
Buell Firebolt XB12R

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