BUELL XB12XT ULYSSES (2008 - on) Review

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Annual servicing cost: £120
Power: 103 bhp
Seat height: Low (30.7 in / 780 mm)
Weight: Medium (465 lbs / 211 kg)


New £8,310
Used £5,500

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
3 out of 5 (3/5)

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

Next up: Engine
4 out of 5 (4/5)

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. 


Next up: Reliability
3 out of 5 (3/5)

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.

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
3 out of 5 (3/5)

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 vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
3 out of 5 (3/5)

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.


4 out of 5 (4/5)

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.


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

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 40 mpg
Annual road tax £117
Annual service cost £120
New price £8,310
Used price £5,500
Insurance group 15 of 17
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two year unlimited mileage

Top speed & performance

Max power 103 bhp
Max torque 84 ft-lb
Top speed 131 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 240 miles

Model 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.

Owners' reviews for the BUELL XB12XT ULYSSES (2008 - on)

3 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.

Review your BUELL XB12XT ULYSSES (2008 - on)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 4.7 out of 5 (4.7/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 4.3 out of 5 (4.3/5)
Engine: 4.7 out of 5 (4.7/5)
Reliability & build quality: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Value vs rivals: 4.3 out of 5 (4.3/5)
Equipment: 4.3 out of 5 (4.3/5)
Annual servicing cost: £120
5 out of 5 Don't believe everything you read and hear about buells
07 December 2015 by Pete Sarah

Year: 2008

Annual servicing cost: £120

The best feature is the load carrying ability and rider & pillion comfort. Next comes the motor loads of torque flexible easy to use and a match for any big adventure bike on a fast run. No I would not recommend the buell to a friend as the press had already done that for me by slating it. Ride one properly as intended doing big miles and it's a character filled and rewarding ride.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

Touring Europe, stay off the motorways head for the hills and feel the noise off of the sides of the mountain as you swing through the bends. All day comfort you will need it as it can go miles on its 16ltr tank,example- triumph tiger €15, Honda blackbird €22, ktm 990 €17, GS 1200 €17 buell just about squeezed in €10, group ride in the French alps fill up to fill up,on all our trips the buell always used the least fuel. Pillion comfort is superb,my wife maintains it is the best bike we ever had for our tours. Our tours are always 2000 mile + normaly 2-3 times a year in Europe.

Engine 5 out of 5

Engine is a blast, it's not a Harley sportster engine it out performs the 1200 sportster motor in every dept. i have had both and they are worlds apart. The Buell is far better giving you a really involving ride with buckets of character. But bear in mind this is not a Japanese sewing machine engine you have to use it.

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

Does rust and looks nasty quickly but does not rust through and sounds good. Buy an after market one which are cheap last well look cool an sound glorious. Had a drive belt fail on me in Andorra (belt had 25k on it but had a spare took 30 mins to change at the side of the mountain !! All belt guards were in place so not sure for reason for the fail. Build is not as refined as a ujm but is robust and gives easy access to all service items ie battery 5mins to remove my last BMW r1100 took an hour ??

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

Very easy to service all service items accessible its not a technical bike,self adjusting valves etc,always use a good quality oils and filters.

Equipment 4 out of 5

Engine, handling, suspension you can adjust and make a difference, buell OE Luggage system made by hepco Becker, buy the HB 45ltr top box fits the existing buell rack and takes 2 full face helmets, baglux tank harness and bag, screen adjuster, right hand air duct kit stops the fan coming on all the times. Michelin road 2&3 perfect.

Buying experience: Bought from local dealer £5000 HD Buell dealer could not wait to unload it and was not at all helpfull only interested in the Harley's a shame

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. Take the pillion and luggage off and you have a supermoto style superb handling bike. Stand out off the GS crowd and get one.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 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 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.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 3 out of 5
Value vs rivals 4 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
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