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2007 Buell Lightning XB12Ss Road Test


by Pascal Bastien ,

Introduced last year, the Buell Lightning XB12Ss offers superior comfort and a more relaxed riding experience than its sisters. You'll find all the performance and style of the original Lightnings combined with ergonomics that offer more room.

Thanks to a longer swingarm, the wheelbase has been stretched by 40 millimeters for a total of 1,372. The steering rake has been increased to 23.5 degrees for a trail length of 119 millimeters. These modifications might not seem significant on paper, but once you take the bike out for a spin, you immediately feel a big difference in riding manners and behavior.

Buell motorcycles are known for their originality.

Enhanced comfort

Weighing only 181 kilos, the Buell XB12Ss is just as lively as all the other XB models. From the first moment you straddle this bike, you fall in love with the ergonomics. Overall, comfort is improved thanks in large part to a longer, better shaped rider seat. The passenger will also find an adequate seat, which represents a first for an XB motorcycle. While it still lacks a passenger-specific handle, the XB12Ss has become easier to live with for two people. Riding a Buell on a daily basis is now a reality since the bike is far more user-friendly and comfortable.

However, one does not purchase a Buell primarily to go shopping; it's the impressive sporty dynamics that count. In this regard, the XB12Ss pleasantly convinced me of its abilities.

Since 2001, the engine and drivetrain of the XBs are mounted on a new aluminum frame that integrates the fuel tank. The XB12Ss actually benefits from an extended frame that allows a greater fuel capacity while offering exemplary rigidity and emphasizing Buell's unorthodox styling.

Improved handling and stability
Previewed on the Ulysses model (the brand's adventure-type motorcycle), the frame and swingarm of the XB12Ss proved to be a blessing on the road. First of all, on highways, the bike is more stable. Second, in high-speed corners and tight turns, it's much more docile and maneuverable, attacking the apex point with an easier-to-control approach. Passing speed is also easier to sustain. Clearly, nothing disrupts the poise and stability of the extended XB. Changing your riding angle is just as quick as with the regular model. One of the reasons is the lively steering that hasn't lost a bit of its sharpness.

The exceptionally rigid frame affords superior stability.
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