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I too worried about the Buell's reliability, and the cooling of the rear cylinder bothers me.



On the other hand, many air cooled motors are actually subject to overcooling. Guzzis in particular seem to run fine in hot weather, idling for as long as you can stand. Probably police bike heritage.



Most of the rationale for liquid cooling on streetbikes is for noise and emissions control. I prefer aircooling because it's one less thing to leak. And most liquid cooled bikes I ride send a LOT more heat to the rider.
 

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I own an XB9R with about 7800 on the odometer and I've had no problems so far. One of my riding buddies just wen't over 10K and with the exception of a blown fuse- so far so good.

I spent a great deal of time and thought over this purchase decision because of Buell's past lack of reliability with traditional HD motors, but I decided to chance it based upon the chasis technology, looks, handling qualities of the XB's and the durability of the Blast motor. I suspect there would loud shouts from Buell owners and more likely, non-owners if reliabilty was again a problem.

I live in NC, it is hot and humid now. I try to avoid being parked in traffic and for the most part I can; but, when I have been left idleing in traffic that rear cyclinder fan just whirls away and the bike continues to do what it does best- put a smile on my face.

Now I like the fact that I don't see my bike on every corner, so all you anti-buell guys out there, no problem, there's plenty of different bikes for us all.
 

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All bikes are liquid cooled.

Oil is a liquid and Buells have two external oil coolers and a thermostatically controlled fan for the rear cylinder. Use the synthetic oil and you are good for an extra 100 degrees of heat at least in terms of the oil's ability to resist breakdown degredation. Remember the oil pulls away alot of heat and it goes to the oil pan where it joins the rest of the oil and evens out in temp.

I don't currently own a Buell but one day I most definitley will. My Harley has 31000 miles on it and I use Mobil 1 15W50 auto oil and change every couple of thousand miles and never have to add. The reason I don't spring for the more expensive Mobil V-Twin oil is because my Harley has a seperate oil supply for the transmission and it costs twice as much. I run the same oil in my wife's 89' YX600 Radian and when it is changed it looks like it was just added, very clean. It is air cooled also. She just averaged 63 mpg on a 1200 mile trip we just took. No problems. I averaged around 50 mpg loaded down and with my son on the back.
 

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Three Buell Owners Speak

Three Buells, two new 2003 XB9R's with about 2,000 miles each and one old style 2001 M2 Cyclone with 23,500 miles on it. The two XB9R’s have the complete Pro-Series race kits installed and the M2 Cyclone is jetted richer. One of the XB9R’s also has a programmable ignition module which after some tuning was able to show 95.1 rear wheel horsepower on the dyno.

All three of us ride in Phoenix Arizona, in the summer with temperatures up to 117°F so far and we ride hard with a broad mix of other types of bikes. Between the group we have owned a BMW, Ducati, Hondas and Kawasaki’s.

With that out of the way here are our experiences so far:

Reliability:

None of the bikes have ever left us walking ever, unlike my friends CBR600F4 that left him walking twice when the battery went. Nothing has gone wrong with either of the 2003 XB9R’s yet. The 2001 M2 Cyclone’s only problems have been oil leaks, see below.

Oil leaks:

The two new 2003 XB9R’s have never leaked a drop.

The older style 2001 M2 Cyclone has had continual oil leak problems since day one, from the base gaskets, rocker box gaskets, and from around the fish bowl intake where the oil return lines are located.

Cooling and Overheating:

Neither of the 2003 XB9R’s have ever had a problem even when caught in traffic jams even on a 117°F day. They just will not overheat. We were about ready to melt even wearing Phoenix jackets and pouring water on ourselves.

However, the older 2001 M2 Cyclone if caught in a traffic jam tends to ping when accelerating strongly after idling through a couple of red lights when the temp is over 100°F. Poring in enough octane booster cures this. This M2 Cyclone has survived two summers in Phoenix with no other problems.

Looks and Comments:

If this is what you want, then this is what you will get, we have never, ever , and I mean never been stopped, talked to, stared at, followed and commented on so much in our lives. What kind of bike is that? What size is it? Where can you get it? Is it made in Italy? They always think it’s smaller then it is and made somewhere else.

Money:

How’s 40 to 45 miles per gallon sound? The XB9R’s continually will get you 45 even riding like Satan himself, and the M2 will get 40 to 41. All three will get you 50+ if driven slowly.

Don’t forget insurance, man I’ll tell you the crooks wanted $3,100 a year to insure me on a GSX-R for full coverage (100/300), my price for full coverage on any of the Buells, about $700 a year.

Sport Riding:

In Town:

This is why we bought the bikes, right? When riding in and round town the Pro-Series modified XB9R’s have no problems holding their own with friends on 600cc Japanese sport bikes running from light to light etc. The M2 Cyclone will be left behind some in long straights.

Acceleration:

The Pro-Series modified XB9R’s are very very close to the new Honda 2003 CBR600RR especially the one with the programmable ignition module. With that one it’s a dead heat or whoever comes off the line first. In all fairness our XB9R rider is a very very light 135 pounds and the Honda rider is 195 pounds so that may have some to do with, still it’s a very close race.

The M2 Cyclone isn’t too far off the mark until you hit 2nd gear at around 50 mph and then more so as speed climbs.

My friend Jim who owns a Kawasaki ZX-12R will simply walk all over us at any speed.

Canyon and Twisty Roads:

May the best rider win. Here it’s a lot less clear, and this is not said near enough in any of the magazine articles. The real tight twisty road seems to belong to who ever is the best rider and the craziest rider with the biggest balls. Jim on his big Kaw is simply crazy, passing around blind corners while laying down long dark strips, cutting between cars like no tomorrow. You simply can’t catch him unless you are crazy. The Buells are very different both from each other XB9R vs M2 and the Honda CBR600 in the corners. We found all of them the Kaw included to be comfortable to double the posted corner speeds, I.E. 45 mph corner at 90+. So to say one will out handle the other you would have to be better riders then us and just a little bit crazy or go to a race track.

Top Speed:

The XB9R’s with the programmable ignition module will pull quickly to 148 MPH indicated and that’s it tail wind or not. The other XB9R has a top speed of 142 indicated. The M2 Cyclone pulls pretty hard to 110 indicated and will eventually pull to 124 MPH though I had it to 128 MPH with a tail wind once. If you are after top speed then you shouldn’t be looking here, try the Kawasaki ZX-12R or a Suzuki GSX-1300R Hayabusa.

Brakes:

No problems, all three will do easy stoppies and no sign of fading.

Shifting:

The new XB9R’s are much better then the M2. Still no match for the Jap bikes, but, you get used to it.
 

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Re: Three Buell Owners Speak

Oh geez, now you've done it. Stating that your air-cooled pushrod V-twin is more reliable than a Honda? Shame on you, you should know better- Hondas never break. You must have been hallucinating from the fumes caused by your Buell leaking oil all over your exhuast.
 

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I would say if reliability is your #1 priority, Buell wouldn't be the place to look. I'm sure the new Buells have few problems, and are certainly reliable enough, but I would say they would need to be looked after a bit more than a Japanese bike. If turning a wrench turns your stomach, I would buy a Honda, and just put in the gas and change the oil. Buying a Buell is about being a bit different, and certainly not about being the best, most reliable, or cheapest. It's a priority thing. Only you can decide.
 

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Re: Three Buell Owners Speak

Looks like the XB9's are holding up well, If they can handle serious riding in that kind of heat I don't think they'll have trouble anywhere else.

Your post shows Buell reliability issues are history

What kind of oil are you using? The hottest it gets around here is upper 90's and I use Mobil 1 mx4t 10~40 in my previous a/o cooled Suzuki and my current w/c Triumph.
 

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I have a 99 Buell Lightning X1. I only have about 8,000 miles on it. I have added a K&N filter, and an updated Supertrapp muffler.



Honestly, the bike isn't that fast, but it is fun to ride. I'm really interested in the new XB's for all the same reasons everyone else is. Looks, uniqueness, etc...



I currently work overseas for the U.N. Mission in Kosovo, (remember that little adventure back in '99) so I haven't been able to ride much in the last couple of years. A colleague here said he rode an XB 9R and it was a great handler, fairly smooth and reasonably quick.



My Lightning shakes like a prisoner being electrocuted. I would keep this in mind if considering the XB 12, which is basically the same motor as my Lightning. I've have read and been told that the 9's are a lot smoother than the tube framed Buells.



I would buy the XB 9 if I were you.
 

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Yet another XB9R owner....

XB9R with a shade over 7K miles. Daily commuting and a rare sporty ride. East Bay area (temp is around 101 deg. today, typical for this time of year).

My experiences so far:
  • Two recalls -- a sidestand recall and wheel bearings. Neither was a problem for me prior to the recall (but I'm sure someone, somewhere had an issue).
  • No oil drops on the garage floor, no oil level changes on the dipstick, no blue smoke pouring from the canister.
  • Had one mirror begin to loosen up in the first 500 miles. Afer tightening it's been fine.
  • Speedo has gone dead twice. The second time was the week after it got back from the first "fix", so I'm not sure if there is an actual problem or just a sleepy tech at the shop. Doesn't effect the tach or the rest of the cluster, so it would appear to be a loose connector somewhere. [Wheelies or stoppies fix the problem temporarily, though it's not the kind of fix that's CHiP-approved.]

For comparison, I had a Buell Blast that leaked oil, and a friend's X1 that literally burned a qt/week, so I was definitely suspicious of the reliablity that I'd get from the XB9R - especially when I've owned Kaw's and a Honda that were all rock-solid and there are so many other nice bikes that I'd like to own (VRF, SV650, R6, R1150S or RT). And I was very careful during the 500mi break-in. But so far, so good.

Only changes I've made are replacing the pegs with the lower pegs from the S. Cost is something like $25 and it makes the bike much more comfortable for anyone who looks down on JohnnyB. [I'm 6'3", so the lower pegs combined with the longer reach to the R's clip-ons makes for a comfy ride -- the altitude challenged may prefer the stock pegs or the S model.]

Overall, the bike's been great, best I've owned. My comute is 25 miles, about 5 of which are in-town and the rest either interstate or rural. The XB9R has enough beans to easily cruise through higher speed parts, and the low-end torque is great through city traffic (noticably quicker in the 0-30 department than a friends R6, even though the later would soundly spank me at a track). Handling is excellent, and it's narrow enough to lane-split anyplace I can walk. Milage is usually around 50mpg, and there's no valve adjustments, chain futzing, or anything else. Insurance cost is almost nothing. Put in gas and go.

So, yeah, it's a keeper.
 

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Excellent Post

Excellent Post you covered everthing I wanted to know from a real Buell owner

Great to hear that your newer Buells are doing well. I think the additional year on the warranty will go a long way to alleviate reliability fears from possible new customers.

I love the looks of the Firebolt and the new bigger engine makes me drool. But after reading your post I may give the 9 a try as well.

I love the fact maintnance costs and insurance is lower. $400 valve checks etc give bikes like my Ninja a big disadvantage. I would love to have a bike were I could change the oil every 3000 miles and forget about it.

I think I am passing the sophmoric phase of motorcycling where I need the fastest bag for the buck and these new Buells are attractive to me.
 

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Excellent Post

Excellent Post you covered everthing I wanted to know from a real Buell owner

Great to hear that your newer Buells are doing well. I think the additional year on the warranty will go a long way to alleviate reliability fears from possible new customers.

I love the looks of the Firebolt and the new bigger engine makes me drool. But after reading your post I may give the 9 a try as well.

I love the fact maintnance costs and insurance is lower. $400 valve checks etc give bikes like my Ninja a big disadvantage. I would love to have a bike were I could change the oil every 3000 miles and forget about it.

I think I am passing the sophmoric phase of motorcycling where I need the fastest bag for the buck and these new Buells are attractive to me.
 

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Re: Yet another XB9R owner....

Great post. Your commute sounds very much like mine. 20% in-town. Love the looks of the Bolt. You make a great point "Milage is usually around 50mpg, and there's no valve adjustments, chain futzing, or anything else. Insurance cost is almost nothing. Put in gas and go. "

Got go try one.
 
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