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Lightning Long test ride
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Lightning Long test ride - September 29, 2007, 11:22 PM

I've been thinking about something with a bit more torque to eventually replace my Speed Four. I love the looks of my Triumph, but I just haven't clicked with it and the engine (while smooth) doesn't give me the same rush that my FZR600 gave me (unlike the FZR, there's no "hit" when you approach the redline on the Speed Four).

My goal is to get another streetfighter type of bike. And something unique. Figuring that Buells fit those parameters, I took a Buell XB12Ss (Long) for a test ride today. Here's what I found:

Pros:
  • That transmission was surprisingly smooth (probably from the '06 update). Upshifting and downshifting was a joy. Much better than my Triumph.
  • The engine does pull nicely--like the magazines say, there's torque everywhere. I was used to rowing the gears with the Triumph, so it took a while to get used to not needing to do that.
  • Having zero driveline lash (due to the belt) is NICE...
  • The build quality is nice. Felt solid. I liked the styling.
Cons:
  • If I thought that I didn't click with the Speed Four, I really didn't click with the Lightning. In the bike's defense, I've always ridden sportbikes with clip-ons--it was just weird riding with the higher handlebars.
  • I found the engine hard to launch when trying to turn from a standstill (e.g., pulling away at a stoplight and turning left onto a perpendicular street). I don't know if it's the gearing, the fuel injection or what, but there's an odd hesitation that causes the engine to run a bit ragged right in the range where you'd like it to smooth out while entering the turn. I'm sure that this is something that gets better after you get to know the bike, but it was disconcerting during the test ride.
  • I had read that the XB12 engines were rough at idle but then smoothed out while under way. That was true to a degree, but I still felt like I was riding a well-cushioned riding lawn mower at speed.
So the gist of it is that I think that the Buell is a great bike, but from a personal standpoint, the Lightning is not for me. Just couldn't get comfortable on it (in comparison, when I rode an FZR for the first time, I felt like I had been riding it my entire life--maybe I'm just built to ride Japanese bikes with woefully outdated technology).

I probably need to try a Firebolt since it offers the clip-ons that I'm accustomed to--unfortunately, I have yet to find a dealer that demos Firebolts. The ideal would be to try an XB9R Firebolt because I hear that the 9's are smoother at low speeds and are a bit better around town.

It was definitely worth the demo, though. Gotta say thanks to Andy at Battley Cycles for giving me the opportunity to ride the Buell. Much appreciated! I'll definitely give your shop business.
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September 30, 2007, 11:59 PM

nice post
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