BUELL XB9SX CITY X (2004-2009) Review

Published: 22 November 2009

"An old-school v-twin in a high-tech chassis, all wrapped up as a Mad Max-style urban scrambler"

Buell XB9SX Lightning

"An old-school v-twin in a high-tech chassis, all wrapped up as a Mad Max-style urban scrambler"

  • At a glance
  • 984cc  -  84 bhp
  • 45 mpg  -  171 miles range
  • Medium seat height (765mm)

Overall Rating 4 out of 5

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

Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5

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.

Engine 3 out of 5

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. 

Build Quality & Reliability 3 out of 5

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.

Value & Running Costs 3 out of 5

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.

Equipment 4 out of 5

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.

Owners' Reviews

No owners have yet reviewed the BUELL XB9SX CITY X (2004-2009).

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.

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 2004
Year discontinued 2009
Original price £5,990
Warranty term (when new) Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group -
Annual road tax £80
Annual service cost -
Performance
Max power 84 bhp
Max torque 60 ft-lb
Top speed 120 mph
1/4-mile acceleration -
Average fuel consumption 45 mpg
Tank range 171 miles
Specification
Engine size 984cc
Engine type Thunderstorm air/oil/fan-cooled, 4-stroke, 45° V-Twin, 5 gears
Frame type Black aluminium frame with Uniplana powertrain vibration isolation system, fuel in frame
Fuel capacity 14.5 litres
Seat height 765mm
Bike weight 177kg
Front suspension Fully-adjustable
Rear suspension Fully-adjustable
Front brake 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

History & Versions

Model history

n/a

Other versions

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

Photo Gallery

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