Buell is having a promotion: Test ride one of their bikes and get a free messenger bag. So I thought I'd give this a try. I stopped by Granite Mountain Harley-Davidson, and sure enough, they let me take a Buell XB12STT for a test ride. This one's sort of halfway between a Lightning Long and a Ulysses, with a tall seat height and styling influenced by dirt bikes. I've read about Buells before, and sat on a few at motorcycle shows, but never had the chance to ride on one.
So, how was it? My first impression was that the sitting position was just plain right, a comfortable, upright position with my feet under me but nothing scrunched up. And the exhaust note definitely had that Harley sound to it. Then I let out the clutch - and found it was a bit hard to make this thing just accelerate gradually. I've got enough experience that I could keep it under control, but not enough that I felt comfortable with the kind of power this bike makes. I don't think I ever gave it more than half throttle when following the salesman (who was on a V-Rod) around the set of roads that they use for a demo course.
It's definitely a fun bike. The trouble is, with gobs of power available just off idle, it just wants to go fast, and you have to make an effort to reign the power in. It takes off like a rocket, that rim-mounted front brake can bring it to a stop so hard the salesman warned me about it before the test ride (although I didn't find the brake nearly as hard to manage as the throttle), and yes, it's definitely meant for cornering. For someone with a bit more experience and a steady hand on the throttle, it would make a great real world bike - no uncomfortable riding posture or anything, although you need to be pretty tall to get both feet flat on the ground. For me, it's more bike than I felt ready to handle.
So I thanked the salesman politely for the ride and went home with a new messenger bag. It's a pretty good quality bag, too.