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Buell X1 LIGHTNING Naked Motorbike Review

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Buell X1 Lightning motorcycle review - Riding
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MCN overall verdict rating is 3

The Buell X1 Lightning evolved from the M2 Cyclone and features the same short wheelbase chassis, with Showa suspension on the early run base models, then WP kit on the later X1 Lightning, and souped up White Lightning variant. With more grunt than the M2 the X1 feels like more fun and the build quality improved somewhat as time went by, but the Buell X1 Lightning is still an acquired taste.

Engine

MCN rating rating is 3
Owners' rating rating is 2.5

The Buell X1 Lightning has plenty of lowdown grunt and the novelty of fuel injection as opposed to carbs on earlier Buells, but the injection doesn't work that well at low rpm, which is where the motor is definitely happiest. That's a damn shame, as are the other build quality issues which affect the X1 model.

Ride and Handling

MCN rating rating is 3
Owners' rating rating is 2

The early base model Buell X1 Lightnings with their Showa suspension are generally better for mainstream road riders than the models featuring the more solid WP kit, although the Dutch suspension looks trick. There's no ifs or buts, the Buell bikes give you a firm ride and you can feel exactly what's going on with the road surface. If you develop confidence, you can corner reasonably quickly on the X1.

Equipment

MCN rating rating is 3
Owners' rating rating is 2

The Buell X1 Lightning has nicer body parts than the Buells that preceded it, plus fuel injection replacing carbs. Traditional white faced clocks, belt drive and an exhaust the size of an space shuttle booster rocket, complete the Buell X1's mean `n' hungry looks, but using the same brakes, sub-frame and wheels as the older M2 model smacks of cost-cutting a little bit. Compare and buy parts for the Buell Lightning in the MCN Shop.

Buell X1 Lightning (1998-2002)

Detail Value
Used price range View Buell X1 LIGHTNING bikes for sale to see current asking prices
Engine size 1203 cc
Power 95 bhp
Top speed 135 mph
Insurance group 15 of 17
  MCN ratings Owners' ratings
Overall rating is 3 rating is 2
Engine rating is 3 rating is 2.5
Ride & Handling rating is 3 rating is 2
Equipment rating is 3 rating is 2
Quality & Reliability rating is 3 rating is 2
Value rating is 2 rating is 2

Quality and Reliability

MCN rating rating is 3
Owners' rating rating is 2

The Buell X1 Lightning demonstrated that Buell were listening to their customers - and critics - and trying damn hard to improve matters. But it still features details like a battery exposed to the elements under the seat, a crude transmission and a glitchy fuel injection system. The dashboard and switchgear never looked they belonged on a motorcycle costing £7500 new either.

Value

MCN rating rating is 2
Owners' rating rating is 2

If you really want a Buell X1 Lightning, there are a few around, and thankfully most owners seem to be willing to spend cash on solving some of the reliability and performance issues which affected the X1 from new. A `kitted' X1 can feel like a totally different animal from the factory model, so if you can find something well tweaked, good luck. Otherwise, one to avoid. Find a Buell X1 Lightning for sale.

Insurance

Insurance group: 15 of 17

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Model History

1999: Buell X1 Lightning launched.
2002: Buell X1 Lightning replaced by XB9/12 series.

Other Versions

Buell X1 White Lightning: Hopped up version with more power.

Specifications

Top speed 135 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 11.5 secs
Max power 95 bhp
Max torque 86 ft-lb
Weight 200 kg
Seat height 749 mm
Fuel capacity 16.3 litres
Average fuel consumption 40 mpg
Tank range 130 miles
Annual road tax
Insurance group 15 of 17
Engine size 1203 cc
Engine specification V-twin, four stroke, 5 gears
Frame Steel tubular
Front suspension adjustment Preload, rebound, compression
Rear suspension adjustment Preload, rebound, compression
Front brakes Single 340mm disc
Rear brake 230mm disc
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 180/55 x 17

Owners' Overall Rating rating is 2(7 reviews)

  • Amazed!

    anderl

    Average rating rating is 3.5

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    Engine

    After reading these reviews I feel the need to redress the balance. I am absolutely amazed by the experiences of some of the people who have commented on the X1, having bought mine new in 99 I have only had one problem. The problem I had centred around the fuel injection, and a problem with detonation under load, and in particular when the bike got very hot. This was investigated by the dealer that I bought the bike from and could not be solved by them, I contacted Buell UK and they collected my bike leaving a replacement until mine was fixed. I got the bike back a month later, problem solved and never surfaced again, this was the last problem I have had in all the years of ownership.The X1 has character by the truck load and is a joy to own and ride, bags of torque and the fantastic noise never cease to bring a smile to my face. I have been riding for 20 years and owned 12 bikes in that time, the Buell is the one that I just cant part with, I have ridden many others in that time, and friends have tried to tempt me away but the Buell is staying. When I first rode the X1 I was bitten, I had tried the Monster, Bandit and all the other alternatives around at the time but nothing came close to the experience. I have it serviced religiously and ensure that it well maintained, I had the exhaust changed for a Vance and Hines when I first bought it and it was worth it for the noise alone. It is not a refined bike, it spits, pops and vibrates like a jack-hammer, but that is part of the appeal for me, it is not a sanitised soulless sewing machine! If you want a bike that will quietly whisk you from place to place don't buy one, if you want a raw visceral old school bike you will not be disappointed.

    26 February 2011

  • Buy one now!!!

    nallac

    Average rating rating is 5

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    what an absolute blast of a bike to ride, grumpy,vibrates like a biatch shakes bolts loose.....i love it. Sure has a lot more character than any other bike i've owned. Wish i bought one years ago.

    31 October 2009

  • Collector Bike

    EHoen

    Average rating rating is 1

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    Same as the S1 the old Buell's are collector bikes and can fetch quite a good price. Reason for that is the limited production numbers of those. However they are certainly no bikes to ride everyday as the reliability is zero. These bikes are good to drive to ride-outs, shows etc. as they need a service after every ride to not break down. If you need a day by day bike you need a newer XB model. They are also more fun to ride as they handle a million times better.

    31 May 2009

  • Sad but true

    ThomasD

    Average rating rating is 1

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    I work as a mechanic for HD/Buell and drive an X1 for nearly 10 years now. I can only conform the other reviews this is a bike for people who like to fiddle with it. I am in the lucky position to know these bikes in and out and apart from bodywork parts and the frame I cannot think of a part which I did not need to replace on my X1. I now have build a custom chopper from it as it was getting ridiculous to fix it up after every ride. There are not many HD Dealers and only 2 Independent specialists who know how to repair them so you can imagine it will be costly. Also soon some parts for those bikes will not be produced anymore and it will be difficult and expansive to get hold of them. From my experience working for Buell I know how unreliable these bikes are and you need for certain a good breakdown cover. The XB series is much better in all points and tons of more fun to ride. The XB's are also 1000 times more reliable as the tuber bikes. It is said but true and apart you want to build a custom bike or you are a mechanic like myself you have to buy an XB from 2004 onwards.

    30 April 2009

  • You have to be absolutely mad with a lot of money

    svens

    Average rating rating is 1

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    If you have to much money to burn and another bike to ride buy one. Surely they are cheap to buy and insure but you will have to work 2 hour on it for every 2 hours you ride it. Don't let yourself distract by some online forums who praise that pile of metal c*** those are people who spend hundreds of hours fixing it so they would never say frankly hoe bad it is. The engines usually give up before 10000 miles. So if you want something to work on than buy one but if you want a bike to actually ride you have to buy one of the newer XB models.

    29 April 2009

  • Hands of get a XB

    TomRider

    Average rating rating is 1

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    Unless you want to spend more time fixing it or spend even more money getting it fixed buy a XB12S. The old Tubers are absolute rubbish, sure there are some nice looking fighters out there but for normal riders they are just a no no! I rode one for 2 years from new and I never had a bike which was more at the dealer garage than mine. I had my breakdown cover cancelled and could not find any insure who would give me one for an X1 or S1 that says a lot about the reliability of those old Tubers. My one had a fatal engine blow after 5650mls on a nice bendy road nearly killing me! I am now riding an XB12S for 5 years and 56000mls with no problems at all.

    28 April 2009

  • Must have had a bad one

    Jeff Bogue-Collis

    Average rating rating is 2

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    Bought one 2nd hand approx 3 years old,low milage. Took it for a test ride and liked it so bought it. Now I havent made that many mistakes in the past when buying bikes but I must have this time around. The bike was in very fine condition as the previous owner had looked after it and spent lots of money on it. The bike was awsome, i considered it to be akin to a Chenook helicopter on two wheels. But in the short time that I owned it, it blew two sets of rear wheel bearings and I dare not take it out on a damp even misty day. It got so bad that My Breakdown recovery company said that they would not attened to me anymore because of all of the call outs that I had made. The last straw was when I went out for a Sunday morning ride and for no reason at all the gearbox casing cracked. So in summing up. Good looking machines. Awsome power. Poor build quality. Non reliable. If you buy one of these, have a back up bike handy.

    20 June 2008

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sierrafire

sierrafiresays

x1

I've owned my x1 since 2008 and it has never broke down it had 23k on it when I got it. It has always started and yes is a bit of a rough ride and has the hiccup from the fuel injection, but has lots of power. The only thing that has ever bothered me is the lack of a sixth gear, at 80 I'm turnin 4k rpms and with a redline of 7k that doesnt leave much room. My bike will turn better than I'm comfortable with and does sound mean as hell although it is on the heavy side I do have the aluminium swing arm and polished wheels, as for long rides not too much fun due to riding position which I plan on fixing by fabricating a new seat pan for it. So all and all I love my bike and do not plan on ever gettin rid of it.

 

30 June 2011 04:24

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