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Buell XB12S LIGHTNING Naked Motorbike Review

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Buell XB12S Lightning motorcycle review - Riding
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MCN overall verdict rating is 4

The Buell XB12S Lightning is weird but it works. An antique, character-rich engine in a stubby street-fighter motorcycle chassis dripping technical innovation. Buell motorcycles is a subsidiary of Harley-Davidson set up by employee/ motorcycle racer/visionary Eric Buell. The Buell XB12S Lightning  is a very individual motorcycle and hugely enjoyable to ride. Easy to love if hard to justify.

Engine

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 4.5

1202cc Harley-Davidson air cooled V-twin in the Buell XB12S Lightning has been tuned and lays down fat wads of torque from tick over upwards. The Buell XB12S Lightning's power is plentiful if not excessive. The gearbox is not good though. It needs a firm prod and makes plenty of noise as you swap cogs – but it kind of adds to the experience of taming this motorcycle. Injection somewhat jerky with this particular motorcycle.

Ride and Handling

MCN rating rating is 5
Owners' rating rating is 4.5

Superb handling. Buell were talking about (and using) mass centralisation years before the Japanese motorcycle manufacturers cottoned on. The Buell XB12S Lightning's rim mounted disc brake works well plus lets the wheel be lighter for lower unsprung mass. Fuel in frame and oil in the swing arm aren’t rocket science but help keep the motorcycle's weight where it’s best carried and the Buell XB12S Lightning corners with aplomb.

Equipment

MCN rating rating is 2
Owners' rating rating is 4

Little is expected on streetfighter motorcycles and the Buell XB12S Lightning is particularly minimalist. The motorcycle's seat is barely adequate for one, let alone two and the lack of wind protection makes longer journeys tiring on a Buell XB12S Lightning.  Fuel range poor. Twin trip meters is about as much luxury as you get with this motorcycle. Factory extras include a gel seat, rigid panniers, frame protectors, loads of carbon and dress up parts and more. Compare and buy parts for the Lightning in the MCN Shop.

 

Buell XB12S Lightning (2003-current)

Detail Value
New price £7,745
Used price range View Buell XB12S LIGHTNING bikes for sale to see current asking prices
Engine size 1203 cc
Power 100 bhp
Top speed 150 mph
Insurance group 16 of 17
  MCN ratings Owners' ratings
Overall rating is 4 rating is 4.5
Engine rating is 4 rating is 4.5
Ride & Handling rating is 5 rating is 4.5
Equipment rating is 2 rating is 4
Quality & Reliability rating is 2 rating is 4.5
Value rating is 3 rating is 4

Quality and Reliability

MCN rating rating is 2
Owners' rating rating is 4.5

Buell promise the glitches and niggles of earlier years are sorted with the Buell XB12S Lightning  but owners of the motorcycle report otherwise. Electrical problems and poor finish are more minor than the snapping bolts and drive belts that earlier Buell motorcycles suffered. A local dealer who understands the Buell XB12S Lightning will make ownership easier.

Value

MCN rating rating is 3
Owners' rating rating is 4

Rival motorcycles are available for similar money to the Buell XB12S Lightning. The exciting and dependable Triumph Speed Triple 1050 and the punchy Aprilia Tuono 1000 are both as desirable and capable but with their own character and cachet. You have to really want any of those motorcycles to buy one but if you do, little else will fit the bill. Used Buell XB12S Lightnings can be a mixed bag – be wary of far-out modifications. Find a Buell XB12S Lightning for sale.

Insurance

Insurance group: 16 of 17

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Model History

2002: Buell XB9S Lightning introduced.
2003: Buell XB12S Lightning introduced.
2004: Buell XB9S replaced by Buell XB9S City-X.
2005: Buell XB12Ss Lightning Long introduced.
2005: Buell XB12X Ulysses introduced.

Other Versions

Buell XB9S Lightning: the original Lightning (in 2002) came with a smaller 984cc engine
Beull XB9S City-X: smaller 984cc engine motocross style bars, transparent bodywork.
Buell XB12S Lightning Long: longer wheelbase, more spacious riding position and slower steering geometry for a less manic ride. Other minor mods.
Buell XB12X Ulysses: 'adventure sport' style with enduro bars and bodywork and long travel suspension.

Specifications

Top speed 150 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 11.2 secs
Max power 100 bhp
Max torque 81 ft-lb
Weight 179 kg
Seat height 765 mm
Fuel capacity 14.5 litres
Average fuel consumption 46 mpg
Tank range 145 miles
Annual road tax
Insurance group 16 of 17
Engine size 1203 cc
Engine specification 8v V-twin, 5 gears
Frame Aluminium dual spar
Front suspension adjustment Preload, rebound, compression
Rear suspension adjustment Preload, rebound, compression
Front brakes Single 375mm disc
Rear brake 240mm disc
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 180/55 x 17

Owners' Overall Rating rating is 4.5(16 reviews)

  • FAT FLAT SPOT

    Anonymous

    Average rating rating is 2.5

    Show Details

    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    I had a 2005 XB12s and it was excellent especially the engine,i really loved the responsive punchy power.So buying the 2008 model with its extra tweaks it had gained over the years i new it would be even better. OOOHHHhh dear,how wrong can you be,what the f.c.s happened here.I am so shocked at how bad the power delivery is,twist the throttle and it all bogs down.The engine is fine for poodling along at 1-3thou revs,but crack the throttle open and it's one big flat spot all the way to 5 thousand revs where your met with a big shudder and finally thrust.Yes i had the bike checked over as i really thought there was a problem,but every thing is NORMAL!!!! i test road an 08 xb12scg and it does do the same thing. It is a real shame as the 05 buell was the best bike i ever had but the 08 model is the worst.

    18 November 2008

  • I love riding twins

    Mjollnir

    Average rating rating is 3.5

    Show Details

    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    these bikes are fantastic, they sound great, have fantastic torque, and handle like nothing else. Ok they are down on top end speed, but they are just so much fun to ride, what does that matter?

    15 August 2008

  • buelltiful

    alser

    Average rating rating is 4.5

    Show Details

    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    i have had tl's busas ccms vertematis but nothing comes close to my cherry bomb red buell xb12scg the torque is incredible it actually stopped traffic in middlesbrough the build is superb im used to it coz its all suzuki switchgear and its awsome completely unique and customizable theres a dealer who just does after market parts at trojan -horse.co.uk the engine is a stonker its pricey but worth it

    14 May 2007

  • xb12s2005

    TERRY MAXWELL-SHORT

    MALAGA , GS

    Average rating rating is 4.5

    Show Details

    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    on our ducati club run in 2005 the local dealer for ducati,hd e.t.c. in malaga spain sent a couple of buell on the run a lot of interest was shown my wife who rides 620I i duc monster loved it,as did one of our sons, the next week we went on a test run and it was ace so we ordered 2 for our use and a couple for the tour business, the response to them as been good ,they are so forgiving if you mess it up a bit, and they handle the mountain,twistys, perfectly, the bottem end grunt is brill, and by playing with the chimney a bit they dont half sound good,the only trouble we have had is on one the fuel pump was very loud but it was sorted out by the dealer.

    07 April 2007

  • 07 xb12scg

    joedprf4i

    Average rating rating is 5

    Show Details

    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    I really love it. my last bike, 03r1, I had it for 4 years. Last weekend I took the buell out for the first time to the country. On the Twisties & mountains, I was consistently going 5 to 10 MPH FASTER than the r1. I was simply amazed at how you could become one with the buell so quickly. It feels like you're riding a mountain bike with a great engine and super brakes all wrapped in an egineering masterpiece of a package. Can you tell I relly like it? Thanks Mr. Buell.

    04 April 2007

  • Xb12Ss 2007

    Lightning Boy

    Average rating rating is 5

    Show Details

    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    What a blinding bike. Much improved in the 2007 model year as the gearbox and clutch were brought up to Jap standards. The ride is superb, really lets you know what's going on without blasting you out of the seat when you roll over an ant. The equipment is sparse but that's fine, you dont buy a bike like this to get bells and whistles... you buy it because you specifically cant stand all the tat that other bikes get peppered with. The quality over all is just excellent, apart from the standard exhaust which RUSTS in about 5 minutes. I really do mean 5 minutes. Everything else is beautifully thought out, the engineering solutions are spot on. Frankly, I love it. I've had 2 Firestorms, a Fireblade and countless road based bikes, cutoms and off roaders and this is one of the best things I've chucked a leg over. Bring on the dry roads and roundabouts. Perfect.

    06 March 2007

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cgb123

cgb123says

XB12S

I have a 2004 and am very happy with the bike. I live in a small town of about 35,000 and I am the only one with an XB. Everyone here has a Harley or a crotch rocket, so I like how I stick out. I have had no problems with the bike, very dependable. Looking to purchase the 1125CR some day, but I'm waiting for customer service to get better. The only negative thing about Buell is customer service. You can only buy them at Harley dealers and they never have anything in stock. NO helmets, cables, upgrades, belts, not even a freakin' Buell sticker.

29 November 2008 17:18

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