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2007 Buell Firebolt XB12R Road Test


by Mark Hacking ,

Flash and Dash

Sometimes, compromise can be a good thing. Witness the 2007 Buell Firebolt XB12R, the big sportbike that offers real-world versatility during the work week and warrior-style fun on the weekends.

Powered by a 1203cc Thunderstorm air/oil/fan-cooled, fuel-injected 45 degree V-twin engine, the Firebolt represents a departure from the typical large sportbike on the market. The Buell features a reasonably relaxed riding position, excellent around-town torque and a responsive chassis for avoiding all those inner-city obstacles.

The XB12R - or if you are looking for something different.

At the same time, should you want to hit the track for some lapping sessions or just seek out a winding country road, the Buell is more than up to the task. While it likely won't be able to keep up with the acknowledged speed merchants in terms of raw speed, with 103 horsepower and 94 lb-ft of torque on tap, it's no slouch either.

Style to Burn
Let's step back, though, and talk about something more subjective: styling.
Although tastes vary, one thing's for sure - the Buell product line has ratcheted up the excitement factor exponentially over the past few model years. The new Firebolt is no exception to the rule; the model tested featured a midnight black paint scheme with new cherry bomb red badging, wheels and translucent windscreen. A definite head-turner.

Of course, the Buell is not all flash and no dash in the styling department. As per company policy, many of the design decisions - the fuel tank integrated into the frame, the oil reservoir placed in the swingarm, the muffler low placed between the wheels - have cosmetic and practical purposes.

A Nimble Chassis
These measures have all been taken to keep the bulk of the bike's weight close to its centre point, an engineering approach called mass centralization. The net result is a big sportbike that doesn't feel big at all. Motoring through the confines of the concrete jungle, it's easy to manoeuvre the Firebolt around and make directional changes at the drop of a hat.

The Firebolt is easy to manoeuvre thanks to mass centralization.
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