I had several Firebolt test rides and attended a Buell Experience at Mallory Park before I finally got a secondhand 04 XB12 in December 07.
I run a Sprint 1050 ST as well so the 'bolt isn't my main bike but I've still managed about 5000 miles so far (total about 16K).
I've always liked Vtwins and have previously owned several Guzzis, Dukes, a Honda Firestorm, Aprilias and 2 Harley FXR's, so I've experienced a selection of V-engines before I came to the Buell.
I think the Buell delivers the kind of engine performance that I always looked for in the others. That is, a low revving torquey engine with a great sound (on a race can anyway) and with enough performance to excite, and cheap to run too.
I've seen 135 on the clocks and it feels surprisingly good at that speed considering the relatively low-tech design of the engine.
The Buell really does surprise you with how it feels on the road. It's pretty quick off the mark and I've caught out quite a few race rep fours at the lights who've found that they've had to dial in a few more revs than they thought to overhaul me. And when they do fly past and hit the corners, the Buell is not far behind most ordinary riders and can make up ground fast.
The gearbox can be agricultural but is definitely not as bad some Guzzis. I get very few false neutrals and the box is very positive for 95% of the time as long as you have the clutch cable and primary chain coorectly adjusted. Like anything you learn how to use if effectively. You'll notice it more in town as you go up and down the box and it will seem heavier in these situations but it's no worse than many in that respect. You can buy kits to reduce the lever pressure but it's never bothered me that much!
I have not had one single issue with reliability. I put fuel in and it goes. It uses no oil and returns on average 130 miles to reserve. I've kept a fuel log and average 54.08(uk)mpg,(lowest 44.28mpg, best 61.39). I've only done under 50mpg twice in the whole time!!!
Because it's so low revving it's very deceptive at speed and very easy to find yourself doing an indicated 80mph or more when you think you're doing 60. I have got a non-standard Zero Gravity double bubble screen,though, which takes the wind blast down helping the sensation of effortless speed.
The bike also came with an HP (Hot Performance) can which possibly allows it to breathe a little better.The engine may be an old design but whatever Buell do to the engine gives it just about perfect power and torque for real world riding. You can rev it through the gears if you want but it's equally as good changing up and letting the torque work for you. You can often leave it in top top and roll on and off the throttle making use of the huge midrange shove to overtake. Lazy and effortless.
The single rim mounted disc is also very efficient and far better or equal to many twin disc set ups that I've used.
The standard (showa?) rear shock doesn't always deliver the most compliant ride. It's worth spending time to dial in both front and rear as there is a comprehensive guide provided in the handbook for basic settings based on rider weight. I've had a play but never seem to get the bike absolutely right for me. The handling around corners is great but sometimes the rear seems too harsh over bumps.I'm no expert so it could just be me! I can say that I have never felt out of control on the bike so maybe I'm just being fussy - then again British roads are getting much crappier these days so maybe it's that as well!!!!
The seat is very minimal for both rider and pillion. Having said that, I can't ever remember actually feeling any pain or need to stop for a rest because of it (Which I have had on the Sprint when touring). The riding position is pretty good and I've done several 120+ mile journeys without any aches or real discomfort.
One absolutely diabolical part of the bike is the headlights. They really are the crappest lights I have ever sat behind! I won't even think of riding in the dark on an unfamiliar unlit road because it would be dangerous. When I say lights, Well, One side comes on for dip and one for main but they are both poor. It's an arse of a law or regulation that stops bikes having twin headlights.I haven't even tried to improve it - I just take the Sprint if I have to ride at night. If the Buell was your only bike, you would need to look at this area if you regularly ride at night.
I've used BT020 tyres front and rear (same as I have on the Sprint. Just my preference but they seem to work well wet or dry and give good mileage. Both are still good after 5000 miles and should see 7000 or more. I would have expected the torque to punish the rear, but it certainly does not seem to be the case.
The mirrors are so so. Sometimes they're ok but other times at speed, you can't really see what's in them due to the vibration!
The belt drive (a first for me ) is great. No chain to oil, no need to adjust, no fuss, no bother. Another maintenance plus.
The bike is nimble and easy to filter with and pass traffic on the move. The torque just zips you past slower traffic and I often find myself going for overtakes that I wouldn't go for on the Sprint because the Buell is small, light and nippy. The Sprint requires a bit more thought and planning because of it's extra size,weight and power!!
I really really like the Buell, it's grown and grown on me over time. It provides you with a unique experience in biking and really delivers more in so many ways than the stats on paper would suggest. It never fails to put a smile on my face and that's really important for me.
I can only suggest that you try one but don't blame me if it gets under your skin and you end up wanting one. Just don't expect anything like a Jap race rep as it's as far away from that as anything could be. But that is exactly why I love it.