BUELL XB12XT ULYSSES (2008-on) Review

Published: 13 January 2009

"Definitely one for Buell aficionados"

Buell Ulysses XB12XT - action

"Definitely one for Buell aficionados"

  • At a glance
  • 1203cc  -  103 bhp
  • 40 mpg  -  240 miles range
  • Medium seat height (780mm)
  • £8,310

Overall Rating 3 out of 5

Reworking an existing model to make an all-together different model can work, as Suzuki’s Bandit and V-Strom range has shown – add panniers, taller screen, other accessories and they become good budget touring bikes. Buell’s take on this is to rework the Ulysses adventure-based bike, add small panniers and top box and hope they can get away with an archaic air-cooled engine to lug its load – along with a top heavy price tag. It nearly works, but it’s definitely one for Buell aficionados.

Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5

The Ulysses model the Buell XB12XT is based on runs with taller suspension for that off-road stance. This version sees the Showa suspension reduced down to normal road bike height, and is very plush. Being fully adjustable there’s a setting available for every riding scenario, from solo to pillion with luggage. Handling is typical Buell: agile, surefooted and manageable for a 211kg bike. 

Engine 3 out of 5

The 1203cc Thunderstorm engine thumps out big torque and is a pleasant, relaxed plodder at 70mph. There are no fuelling issues to talk of because the bike gets a new ECU with much more brain power for a greater range of predetermined fuel/ignition maps. But its the heat from the air-cooled engine that makes congestion riding a warm affair – the noisy electric fan is on constantly and is bloody annoying.

Build Quality & Reliability 3 out of 5

Arguably the biggest bugbear of Buells is the quality of finish eg exhaust coating giving up and engine running niggles. But Buell assures us all past ills are behind them and the future’s on par with other makes. Owners clubs/forums speak volumes…

Value & Running Costs 3 out of 5

With the Ulysses XB12XT Buell has entered the touring segment. Obviously the Buell isn’t aimed at displacing or competing with the likes of BMW and so it’s fighting against bikes like BMW’s F800ST, Honda Deauville and Suzuki’s budget tourers eg Bandit GT-range and even Suzuki GSX650F – bikes either cheaper or more in tune with touring. Find a Buell Ulysses for sale.

Insurance group: 15 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.

Equipment 4 out of 5

Panniers, topbox, useful tall screen, hand protectors and mounting kit are all standard, as is the useful 12v accessory socket. The topbox mount also doubles up as a fold up pillion backrest when the box isn’t used. Arguably the best device is the belt final drive; no lubing, minimalist adjustment and super reliable. Compare and buy products for the Buell Ulysses XB12XT in the MCN Shop.

Owners' Reviews

2 owners have reviewed their BUELL XB12XT ULYSSES (2008-on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

We’re currently improving the way this section works, which means we’ve had to suspend the submission of new owners’ reviews for a short period. Please check back soon.

Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 4.5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4.5 out of 5
Engine 4.5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4.5 out of 5
Equipment 4.5 out of 5
5 out of 5

The Touring Buell for tall ones

30 April 2009 by svens

This is the Buell for tall riders. I am 5"11 and still feel quite comfortable on the S and R but I can imagine being taller and it would be cramped. So there is the Uly a fantastic touring bike if you put on the panniers and a fantastic 2 up bike.... Read more Take the pillion and luggage off and you have a supermoto style superb handling bike. Stand out off the GS crowd and get one.

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
4 out of 5

Great Commuter & Tourer

26 January 2009 by Victor9098

I collected the XT in July. Have wanted a Buell for years, but either height/practicality ruled them out as I only have a motorcycle licence I need a 'most things' motorcycle (100 mile commute each day). XT ticks all the boxes, completely kitted for... Read more touring/commuting in all weather. The big V-twin engine is great fun, the bike is very agile and have never got sore in the saddle. Downside, my fuel pump shorted 2 months in & the exhaust is looking very rusty after 6 months. Other then those two issues I am loving the XT, great all-rounder that I am on everyday in all weather.

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 3 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
Read all 2 owners' reviews in full

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 2008
Year discontinued -
New price £8,310
Warranty term Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 15 of 17
Annual road tax £80
Annual service cost -
Performance
Max power 103 bhp
Max torque 84 ft-lb
Top speed 131 mph
1/4-mile acceleration -
Average fuel consumption 40 mpg
Tank range 240 miles
Specification
Engine size 1203cc
Engine type Air/fan-cooled, 4v, 45° V-twin four-stroke. Five gears
Frame type Aluminium dual beam
Fuel capacity 16.7 litres
Seat height 780mm
Bike weight 211kg
Front suspension Rebound and compression damping, spring preload
Rear suspension Rebound and compression damping, spring preload
Front brake 1 x 375 rim-mounted disc with inverted 6-piston caliper
Rear brake 240mm disc with single-piston caliper
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 180/55 x 17

History & Versions

Model history

2005: Buell XB12X Ulysses – adventure-styled version of XB12 sport range
2008: Buell XB12X Ulysses – minor chassis and engine revisions
2008: Buell XB12XT Ulysses – intro of touring version

Other versions

Buell XB12X Ulysses is the taller adventure-style brother of the new touring bike. Not in same league as BMW GS range but can hack rough roads with ease.

Photo Gallery

  • Buell Ulysses XB12XT - action
  • Buell Ulysses XB12XT - static
  • Buell Ulysses XB12XT - handling is typical Buell
  • Buell Ulysses XB12XT - 1203cc thunderstorm engine
  • Buell Ulysses XB12XT - static
  • Buell Ulysses XB12XT - showa suspension is very plush
  • Buell Ulysses XB12XT - panniers and topbox are standard
  • Buell Ulysses XB12XT - static
  • Buell Ulysses XB12XT - topbox mount doubles as a pillion backrest
  • Buell Ulysses XB12XT - tall suspension gives an off-road stance
  • Buell Ulysses XB12XT - engine
  • Buell Ulysses XB12XT - tall screen and handguards are standard
  • Buell Ulysses XB12XT - clocks will be familiar to Buell riders
  • Buell Ulysses XB12XT - action
  • Buell Ulysses XB12XT - Buell claim build quality is up to scratch
  • Buell Ulysses XB12XT - typical Buell rim-mounted discs
  • Buell Ulysses XB12XT - switch gear
  • Buell Ulysses XB12XT - action
  • Buell Ulysses XB12XT - static
  • Buell Ulysses XB12XT - handling is typical Buell
  • Buell Ulysses XB12XT - 1203cc thunderstorm engine
  • Buell Ulysses XB12XT - static
  • Buell Ulysses XB12XT - showa suspension is very plush
  • Buell Ulysses XB12XT - panniers and topbox are standard
  • Buell Ulysses XB12XT - static
  • Buell Ulysses XB12XT - topbox mount doubles as a pillion backrest
  • Buell Ulysses XB12XT - tall suspension gives an off-road stance
  • Buell Ulysses XB12XT - engine
  • Buell Ulysses XB12XT - tall screen and handguards are standard
  • Buell Ulysses XB12XT - clocks will be familiar to Buell riders
  • Buell Ulysses XB12XT - action
  • Buell Ulysses XB12XT - Buell claim build quality is up to scratch
  • Buell Ulysses XB12XT - typical Buell rim-mounted discs
  • Buell Ulysses XB12XT - switch gear