I have a 2004 XB-12S. I have put 13,000 miles on it and am not easy on it. The bike is a blast; the motor seems to be as bulletproof as anything I'd ever hope for. (I grew up on a Honda...) I rode the back to Key West in summer 2005 and was stuck in heavy traffic around Miami in extreme heat. I'm convinced the overheating/reliability problems the past Buells certainly had were completely worked out with the introduction of the XB series. It would seem to me that your chances of getting a "lemon" would be about the same as several other respectable brands so I see no reason to shy away from Buell as a potential playbike; it will be a good decision. For a "sportbike" they are extrememly comfortable - I managed an 1100 mile day on mine.
Congratulations on the R1200RT also! It's a fantastic machine.
No Harley is a reliable as a Japanese unit? Did you ever own a 1997 TL1000? I did. It bucked like a bronco from horrible fuel delivery(needed Power Commander), had two recalls on leaking gas tanks (mine leaked both times), the clutch slipped from day one, and I was told I could put in heavy duty springs to cure that (at my cost of course), and the frame cracked under normal use. All this happened in under 10,000 miles. Oh yeah, It was voted Bike of the Year by some magazine. It's funny how many horribly unreliable motorcycles the Japanese have put out over the years, and people just act like they don't exist.
I currently am the proud owner of the Ulysses - xb12x - and love my ride. I only have 5 k on her, but man it's a lot of fun. I have some issues with her, but when the twisties come up I forget all about them. Anyways I've had 7-8 of Japans products to ride and this has been by far the funest - well except for my 76 Honda 400 four.
The reliability issues went away with the XB series. I've got a Lightning 1200, and have been Flogging it mercilessly since the 500 mile break in was past. For around town, look at the Lightning, not the Firebolt, and if you are really tall or need to haul a passenger, look at the SS.
I picked up a XB12R from a local salvage yard as it was totalled due to a ding in the frame/tank. A set of Buell frame pucks later and you wouldn't know it was in a tip over. Picked it up cheap and I'm having a hoot riding it. The race kit consisting of Buell free flow air cleaner, muffler and ECU were already on the bike.
What's it like to own it? Well two track days and about 5k onto the 3 it had later and all I did was the 5k service interval. With no vlave clearance to worry about (ie Ducati) the maint is very cheap and easy to do yourself. So far no issues other than the front tire has a hard time staying on the pavement.
I love the character of this bike. A freak of a design with the H-D Sportster motor shaking and making noise like it was some hot rod. The gearing makes for really good 0-100 runs but after that is starts to wane. That's perfect for street riding and my local NHIS track layout.
I never want to get rid of this bike. I find it terrible for two up riding so having the BMW for relaxing is perfect. Matter of fact me and the misses and I recently took out a BMW R1200RT on a test ride. That's a good partner to the Buell.
Hate to agree with you but I do. Read the book by Ray E and Cindelyn G Eberts called "The Myths of Japanese Quality". Ray was a professor of mine at Purdue U. Ray and his family lived in Japan for a year or so and has quite the story to tell. He claims that Americans have so bought into the Myth of Jap Quality that they won't even own up to problems with their Jap cars when asked about them. He also writes about the poor treatment of non-Japanese in Japan. Pretty enlightening. Anyways, it looks like the motorcycle print magazines have bought into the voodoo myth of Japanese quality infallibility. I own a Buell Ulysses and it isn't perfect but it is still way better than any Jap bike I've ever owned, hands down. They really stand behind their bikes also when it comes to correcting problems. I have yet to own a Jap bike that doesn't have problems and lots of them and yet I always read these questions from folks worrying about Buell quality. Quit worrying and start having a great time on a Buell.
And why not? I seem to remember a relatvely unreliable Honda in my distant past. Honda led the way and other Japanese makers followed suit to be competetive. So whay can't Buell do the same? Maybe THEY can't .
The Japanese makers worked on reliability diligently and now they are appliance-like in their reliability. Get on start it up, flog the heck out of it, stop ; repeat for years. Don't hand me that BS about Buell's being "unique"; they are just modified tractors. The engine is an ancient design. Sort of like NASCAR saying that they have racing engines - yeah, right! I have an '80's Yamaha that has a more modern engine design that the 2006 Buells.
Yes, I have ridden a Buell. Different for dirfferent's sake is not alwyas better, sometimes just different. It just shows how lame the Buell engine is; it needs 1200 cc to keep up with 600 cc Japanese bikes in Formula extreme (did I just say "Keep up with?" Sorry for that inaccuracy.)
I have a German bike and a Yamaha and they are easy to work on, fun to ride and reliable.
Your 80's Yamaha is NOT more 'modern' than just about *any* 2006. Emission controls ensure that. The 2003 Buells meet 2008 CARB standards; I doubt your Yamaha would.
Further, there is nothing 'antique' about pushrod engines such as the Buell's, just different characteristics than you may prefer. Modern inline four development dates back to at least the 1920's and Harry Miller.
At least the Buell offers hydraulic lifters - valve adjustment is not what I think of when I consider modern, appliance-like designs.
My Firebolt has been a boatload of fun for 5,000 miles, with no trouble more serious than a fouled plug. It's been cheaper per mile than my vintage GoldWing, in fact. The only knock against it that I can come up with is that it isn't a 2007 Ulysses.
Buell continues to suffer for reliability concerns that were mostly fixed by Y2K. I've got a 2000 M2 (tube fame -- still the most elegant design) that has suffered only from a rockerbox leak that was permanently corrected by installation of the newer metal gaskets. Otherwise, no problems. Oh, and its a blast (small b) to ride --
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