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Buell XB9SX CITY X Naked Motorbike Review

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Buell XB9SX Lightning
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MCN overall verdict rating is 4

The Buell XB9SX is an oddity. What you get is an old-school v-twin in a high-tech chassis, all wrapped up in a mad-max style urban scrambler. On paper it makes very little sense – a modern naked middleweight out-performs it in every practical way. But it looks great, sounds mean and the handling is sublime. It would be a hard purchase to justify, but everybody should try one.

> Video: Buell XB9SX 2-minute test


MCN rating rating is 3
Owners' rating rating is 0

Unfortunately this is the Buell’s weak point. It’s charming 984cc V-twin motor has character, makes a reasonable 84bhp and pulls hard from very low revs (handy in town). But the XB9SX has very little in the way of top end. It also vibrates heavily (see our video) and the gearbox occasionally rewards undetermined changes with false neutrals. It’s great for squirting out of hairpins on B-roads, not so good on lengthy straights. 

Ride and Handling

MCN rating rating is 5
Owners' rating rating is 0

This is what the Buell XB9SX Lightning is all about. Make no mistake, it’s razor sharp and will fall on its ear like its name suggests. Erik Buell is obsessed with mass centralisation – to keep everything tight and low the exhaust is under the engine, fuel is in the frame and oil is in the swingarm. The rim mounted disc brake has a lot of initial bite and the wide motocross bars make weaving through traffic easy. Oddly though the XB9SX comes fitted with dual-purpose Pirelli Scorpion Sync tyres – probably mostly to fit the urban scrambler styling. They grip well enough and will come in handy if you happen to find yourself on a dirt road, but for most riders some standard sports or sports touring rubber would make more sense.


MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 0

The Buell XB9SX is as simple and uncluttered as its styling and the pillion seat is for ornamental use only. On the plus side the clocks are clear and easy to read and the mirrors are better than you would think. This is the City-X (pronounced ‘city cross’) version of the XB9 so you do get hand-guards, a grill over the dual-headlights and pucks on the frame to protect it in a spill. The overall effect is a stylish-looking urban scrambler. Available in 3 colours: ‘Villain black’, ‘Kick Ash Translucent’ or ‘Cherry Bomb Red Translucent’, but the translucent options are £370 more. Compare and buy parts for the Buell XB9SX in the MCN Shop.

Buell XB9SX Lightning (2004-2009)

Detail Value
New price £5,990
Used price range View Buell XB9SX CITY X bikes for sale to see current asking prices
Engine size 984 cc
Power 84 bhp
Top speed 120 mph
  MCN ratings Owners' ratings
Overall rating is 4 rating is 0
Engine rating is 3 rating is 0
Ride & Handling rating is 5 rating is 0
Equipment rating is 4 rating is 0
Quality & Reliability rating is 3 rating is 0
Value rating is 3 rating is 0

Quality and Reliability

MCN rating rating is 3
Owners' rating rating is 0

Buell have come a long way since their tubular frame models and reliability has improved, but some owners do still have occasional problems. Buell may have closed down now, but Harley are promising a further 10 years of dealer and parts back-up.


MCN rating rating is 3
Owners' rating rating is 0

The hard truth is, many bikes do more for less. Now that Buell has closed down though, there are some great deals on new bikes as dealers try to shift their remaining stock. Harley have promised dealer support for a further 10 years, so if you always wanted a Buell now is the time to grab a bargain – just don’t expect it to hold its value well. Fidn a Buell XB9S Lightning for sale.


Insurance group: n/a

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Model History


Other Versions

Buell XB9S: Original version, replaced by XB9SX version in 2004.


Top speed 120 mph
1/4-mile acceleration secs
Max power 84 bhp
Max torque 60 ft-lb
Weight 177 kg
Seat height 765 mm
Fuel capacity 14.5 litres
Average fuel consumption mpg
Tank range miles
Annual road tax
Insurance group of 17
Engine size 984 cc
Engine specification Thunderstorm air/oil/fan-cooled, 4-stroke, 45° V-Twin, 5 gears
Frame Black aluminium frame with Uniplana powertrain vibration isolation system, fuel in frame
Front suspension adjustment Fully-adjustable
Rear suspension adjustment Fully-adjustable
Front brakes 6-piston fixed calliper with single 375 inside-out floating disc
Rear brake Single piston, floating caliper; stainless steel, fixed 240mm disc
Front tyre size 120/70 ZR-17
Rear tyre size 180/55 ZR-17

Owners' Overall Rating rating is 0(0 reviews)

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the 1200 Firebolt does around 140mph, 0-60mph is as fast as any big sportsbike, around 3.5 secs. the best part is the handling though, with potential for massive corner speed


22 November 2009 23:12


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funny this

i too ave contracted a slight bug for this bike only i have been looking at the xb1200 firebolt but for the life of me i cant find out 0-60 times nor can i find top end speed,i am seriously thinking about selling my ninja and buying 1 of these but will i be cutting my nose off to spight my face? i mean iv had my 12r for about 5 months now and still havnt reached its limits. mmmm tis a mind boggle at best.:unsure:

22 November 2009 18:40

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