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First test: Buell Firebolt

Published: 04 March 2002

Updated: 19 November 2014

We’ve been riding Buell’s radical new Firebolt. It’s an R1-light, quick-steering beam-framed thriller aimed at European sports bike nuts, but does it hit its target?

For our full report, make sure you get hold of a copy of MCN, out on Wednesday, March 6, 2002.

But in the meantime, here’s our all-important first impression, after testing the bike for the first time, on the challenging race track at Valencia, Spain.

(i) The Buell handles well and inspires confidence. It is beautifully balanced, feels composed and encourages you to push hard.

(ii) The motor produces enough grunt to be fun, but not enough to threaten breaking traction through the sticky Dunlop D207 tyres.

(iii) The bike turns sharply, but never gets unstable, the brakes are strong, but not over the top and the bike seems to weigh next to nothing.

(iv) Even at serious lean angles, the Buell is so settled you actually start to wonder if you could get your elbow down as well as your knee.

(v) The XB9R is tiny for a 1000cc bike, but few will find cramped.

(vi) It always drops predictably into corners and feels totally planted.

(vii)In typical Buell fashion, the clutch is quite stiff.

(viii) The radical rim-mounted discs work well. The single six-piston caliper is lacking slightly in initial feel, but there’s loads of power when you need it.

See the link, right, for more on the spec of the bike.

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