The problem is, all the new ones do is RESTORE the engine stroke, as the XB9R/S engine is the short-stroke blast-version of the sportster-engine design.
But who CARES!?! The engine is one of those abominations which should have been shot 10 years ago: You don't make a real sportbike, or even a good pseudo-sportbike, out of that cruddy, unbalanced, overweight sportster POS!!!
Even HD doesn't use the engine except in the bargan-basement sportsters. The only reason for the funky (and expensive) gas in frame, oil in swingarm, and other funkyness is simply because the bloated sportster engine needs a MASSIVE frame, a gigantic airbox, and a separate oil tank.
Only the Buell "faithful" would ever get one, the same market which have gotten such dismal results in the past: 1.6% of HD's gross revenue ($66 million), a whopping ~10,000 bikes a year (including the wretched Be-last, grossing ~$6.6k/bike,) and the same basic numbers for the past several years.
It always suprises me that HD keeps buell alive. There must be some nasty clauses in the origional buyout agreement which keeps them from closing the line and producing more big bikes, after all, the cost of making a Buell is about the same as making an UltraWideBody747ClassicElectraglide, which can make $5k-10k more for HD, with the same employees and a retooled assembly line.
 Compare this with the HD line, which sells $3.1B gross, on 260k bikes, so about ~$12k/bike. So the HD line gets nearly double the revenue/bike! ANd HD has the sportsters bumping down the value/bike, at ~50k/year sales.
This looks like a fun bike. The price seems reasonable, and it will no doubt appeal to a lot of people. But then that is just my opinion, and I also prefer the Moto-Guzzi philosophy of Simple, Tried, and True. Lucky for us all that the market is full of all kinds of motorcycles so that each can find what they want.
Hate to see you go Johnny, hope things work well for you. Come back around as often as you can. I agree wholly with you about the net, MO, and the reality of real world motorcycling.
IF I HAD FUNCTIONING TEAR DUCTS OR EVEN SOME KIND OF BODY I WOULD FEEL SAD AND CRY BECAUSE YOU ARE LEAVING MR. BURNS. I LIKE YOUR WRITING BECAUSE IT'S THE KIND OF ASS-KICKING SHIZNIT THAT A DISEMBODIED BRAIN FLOATING IN A TANK OF NUTRITIVE FLUID NEEDS TO SURVIVE.
I HOPE YOU SELL THE RUBES LOTS OF TOOTHPASTE OR SALAD DRESSING OR WHATEVER SO YOU CAN MAKE A LOT OF MONEY AND BUY TWO GSXR1000'S, ONE FOR WHEELIES AND ONE WITH A POLISHED FRAME AND SWINGARM FOR PIMPIN' FOR THE *****EZ.
They can't beat other sport bikes or even standards on performance. Compare this XB12 to a Yamaha FZ1. The FZ1 puts 143hp to the crank 120 to the wheel, has a faring (with a better windshield for $85 it actually works). It has a great riding position and it only costs $8500.
I will grant Buell this... props for the under bike exhaust. I wish I could do that cheaply on my bandit... (or in 3 months my new FZ1 I hope).
Now I don't think it is a bad idea for harley to make an upright... but the problem is this... how about an upright bike or even a sport with all the harleyisms. Flames on tank, chrome, chrome and more chrome. There is not a single bike with all american classic Harley style that will conquer the twisties. THAT is what Buell should focus on.
Final Thought: I'm going to give the Buells another look when they move to a liquid cooled engine like the V-RODs
When will it end? When will Buell build the bike everyone has been BEGGING for...for..ummm..let's see....nearly 10 years or so now? Ever year, sportbike riders get duped into thinking "this will be the year!!", and then BAM! We are let down. Again. As usual. The promise of a sportbike (a good one Mr. Buell) has never materialized. Use the V-Rod engine. Too big? Go in the Buell direction (against the grain, that is) and do your own liquid cooled engine. Heck, it can even be a smaller one..say 750..even 650...Geez. Someone pointed out the Buell is neither competitive or effective in the standard or sportbike categories. It's time for Buell to step up, or to throw in the towel. They are just "going through the motions" with every Buell they build. Please, please Buell, build a REAL bike....sigh...
Hey, lots of negativity here, but still, you can't but be intrigued if you ride real roads with real corners. Low mass esp unspung weight etc etc with motor having a bit of torque makes for quick but safe easy riding. I wouldn't mind one in the stable, (but would also play with a repower... something would fit I'm sure).
The Ligthning is not trying to compete with the FZ1. I personally can't wait to see KTM's response. They are suppose to be working on a similar bike (A dirtbike on steroids). One more thing. I expect this bike will eat up an FZ1 in the tight stuff. Torque is king here. It is hard to slide a bike if it only has peaky power. 100hp at the rear wheel is plenty. Yeah, I know, but it shouldn't be all that hard to get that figure from the crank to the wheel. I have the pipe dream of a turbo. It is a simple motor, and with and intercooler and water injection you could probably run some decent boost. Maybe a bad idea, but maybe not.
You don't get it, do you? In design, materials, and finding new ways to do things, Buell is one of the top three manufacturers in the world - the others being Ducati and, wait for it, BMW. This isn't about performance, and it certainly isn't about price; it's about taking the motorcycle forward into the twenty-first century. Some ideas work, some don't, but you don't know until you build 'em. We've been doing this in Europe for years, but in the land of the bland you wouldn't understand that. And BTW, the Sportster is not the bargain basement HD, it's the original big-motor-small-cycle superbike. A Buell is a modern iteration of that idea.
Very nice review, obviously they are much easier to write when you are having fun, and that's a good thing!
I think Buell is just about building the most exciting bikes on the planet, they really stand out. In Europe they seem to have found a niche, and I know this bike (with the extra displacement) is exactly what the Buell adepts have been waiting for.
Having said that, Buells are definitely not for everyone, but I hope to see more of them on the road. I find that torquey engines in combination with decent handling (I have a Triumph RS ;-) make for not only a lot of fun but also for a relaxed way of driving, in a way more suitable for public roads than high-revving sportsbikes.
Ah, and to put a 1200 cc V-twin in a frame that handles! I admire Eric Buell for that, crazy and brilliant at the same time ;-)
I happen to own a Z1300 as well, and the main attraction of that bike for me is the idea that at one point a japanese engineer came up with the idea to build this HUGE mammoth of a 6-cylinder bike, and actually did it, that thought alone makes me smile every time ;-)
Mmm, thinking about it, it was probably some Dilbert executive who ordered the engineering department to build the biggest bike ever ("Just do it!" ;-) and incidentally it worked somehow...