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READER MOTORCYCLE REVIEW: 2007 Buell Ulysses

By Kathleen Cudmore, Baltimore, Maryland

Kathleen's height: 5 feet 7 inches
7/15/2009

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Kathleen with her 2007 Buell Ulysses XB12X.
Kathleen with her 2007 Buell Ulysses XB12X.

The Buell motorcycles have come a long way since the late 1990sfrom tubular frames to frames with the gas tank included in the design. Riding a Buell motorcycle is unique in that you are included in the Harley, BMW and metric sportbike crowd. Most of the models look like the metric sportbikes but are actually open standard motorcycles, with the exception of the new 1125R and the Buell Firebolt. 

My latest ride is the 2007 Buell Ulysses XB12X. I chose this motorcycle for a variety of reasons. I have been starting to tour a lot and needed a motorcycle that would be comfortable. However, the height of it kept me away for one long year while riding the shorter Buell City Cross XB9SX with a low seat. I am 5-foot-7 with a 30-inch inseam. I was like a sardine on the XB9SX with over-the-saddle Cortech bags in the back and a Buell tank bag in the front. Buell finally came out with a lower Ulysses, so I decided to buy the 2007 model. Sitting on the bike puts me on the very tips of my toes, so when I come to a stop, I have to shift a little to whatever foot I plan on placing on the ground for more stability.

What brought me to the Ulysses XB12X was the multipurpose style of it. It has a lot of standard features, including two outlet jacks for electronic gadgetsone located on the dash and the other under the seat. I have yet to use the one on the dash, but when traveling, I can plug my phone charger into the one under the seat and ride. Unlike the other late-model Buells, there is a lot of room under the seat. Buell offers an under-the-seat bag you can purchase to carry necessities when traveling, like emergency information, a spare map, flashlight, etc. A cell phone with its charger cord fits there too, with room to spare.

The Ulysses has ample under-the-seat storage, including an outlet jack so you can charge your cell phone.
The Ulysses has ample under-the-seat storage, including an outlet jack so you can charge your cell phone.

The suspension knob on the Ulysses enables the rider to adjust the suspension easily as they add or take off extra weight.
The suspension knob on the Ulysses enables the rider to adjust the suspension easily as they add or take off extra weight.

The Buell has a suspension knob in the rear for adjusting the high and low setting based on the weight you are carrying when riding. No more getting the spanner wrench out, taking the seat off and wrenching to a higher setting on the shock. Instead, simply turn the knob located on the left side of the bike. Next to this is a helmet lock. I purchased an aftermarket helmet lock extension to make it easier to secure a full-face helmet onto the bike. 

The pegs on the Buell Ulysses are big and fatcomfortable for your feet and comfortable on long rides, but they do get slippery while riding in the rain. I switched the rider's pegs out for a set of Touratech off-road pegs that are a little shorter in width, providing more traction. If you have long feet, I wouldn't recommend these off-road pegs because they shorten the space between your controls and the pegs.

The Touring Pack accessory package for the Ulysses comes with three hard cases, each large enough to fit a full-face helmet.
The Touring Pack accessory package for the Ulysses comes with three hard cases, each large enough to fit a full-face helmet.

At the time I purchased the Buell, I also bought the touring pack that includes three lockable hard cases. Each bag is big enough to store a full-face helmet with room to spare. I like the top case for storing stuff that I need to get to while on the road. I also purchased the Buell Quest GPS unit with the hard mount on the handlebars. This comes with the wire you can connect to speakers in your helmet for turn-by-turn directionsa feature I hardly use due to "recalculating" buzzing in my helmet while riding. Having a GPS unit while riding is something I've gotten used to. I love moving maps and have little uncertainty on my whereabouts when traveling now.

The Quest GPS comes with a hard wire that connects to helmet speakers for turn-by-turn directions.
The Quest GPS comes with a hard wire that connects to helmet speakers for turn-by-turn directions.

Kathleen added a taller windshield for better wind protection and a GPS for touring.
Kathleen added a taller windshield for better wind protection and a GPS for touring.

I bought the taller windshieldwhich was a recall productwith improved mounting bolts to reduce the airflow hitting my body while riding. The heated grips were the last Buell product I added. I cannot tell you how great this feature is. It has never been higher than the lowest setting. Heated grips are perfect for riding in unexpected summer rainstorms with light riding gloves. The grips are excellent for riding in the winter months if you don't want to bother with the heated gear connections or harnesses.

The heated handgrips available for the Ulysses are great for late season riding.
The heated handgrips available for the Ulysses are great for late season riding.

The Buell features fuel in the frame on the Ulysses. Capacity is 4.4 gallons, and the bike gets up to 50 miles to the gallon while traveling and about 41 to 45 miles to the gallon while commuting or just riding around town. The oil is housed in the swing arm, which connects to the rear axle. The oil reservoir has a dipstick for easy level check. The Buell is fuel injected so you don't have to fuss with a petcock or fuel supply valve. You also don't have to worry about the bike choking or sputtering while riding in the mountains or at higher attitudes, as the fuel mixture adjusts itself. The Buell is powered by the famous American V-twin 1203cc. This is a powerful bike at low speeds and smooth at high speeds. The tachometer redlines around 7,000 rpm, giving you immediate response from the throttle at start. The Buell has a belt drive for low maintenanceyou don't have to worry about greasing or tightening. 

The fun factor while riding a Buell is the best. Buell "owns the corners." The bike is super in the curves and has the power to blast through and out. The smile factor is automatic. The suspension and tires give you the confidence in sport riding. You feel like carving your line in the asphalt as you go through the turns. The whole bike is solid underneath you. The Buell is a guy magnet as well; I have witnessed this firsthand. I see guys checking out my bike in parking lots, circling it, checking out this and that. I think it's a natural draw for the guys to see genius American engineering. It's a treat pointing out the gas tank and oil reservoir to onlookers.

Kathleen has been an MSF riding instructor for years and was a Rider's Edge instructor in 2001.
Kathleen has been an MSF riding instructor for years and was a Rider's Edge instructor in 2001.

The Ulysses XB12X is not for the vertically challenged or novice riders. Buell has other models out there, including the Buell Blast (500cc), the City Cross XB9SX (984cc) and the Firebolt (984cc). Buell used to make the Lightening 984cc but stopped production of it. These bikes are excellent for confident beginners who desire a more standard and sportier ride. While no longer new, you can certainly find plenty of used Buells on the market these days.

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REVIEW: Buell Ulysses XB12X

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