The Dog's Tits
4 December 2005
Had a chance to test a race-kitted, 2nd-hand Buell XB9R Firebolt last week. It was quite an experience. How can such a fundmentally flawed motorcycle be this much fun?
The bike I was on had 14,000+kms on the clock, and a broken speedo. The 'race kit' as far as I can tell consists of a very loud pipe and a remap of the injection to suit.
First impressions were good. The footpegs are high-set but the bike is otherwise quite comfy even for someone of my tall, corpulent dimensions. The position of the handlebars seemed spot-on, and the switchgear was easy to use.
Powered by modified version of the Harley Sportster 883 Engine, the XB9R is a seriously schizoid motorcycle. Here we have super-compact, quick-steering sportsbike built around a tall, overweight, crude and laughably underpowered motor.
The first thing I noticed about the engine was how badly it vibrates. Some would call this 'character'. I call it 'shit engineering'. The bike shakes so badly at the lights it's a wonder the mirrors didn't fall off.
Get the bike moving though, and it'll bring a smile to your face. The throttle response is simply brilliant, thanks to some good engine mapping and the belt-drive, though it did have a hiccup in the fueling in 1st gear. It had a nice surge of torque for brisk acceleration, at least until to hit redline, which comes in at a laughable 7,000rpm. You've barely opened the taps before you have to kick it up a gear. Between 5,500 and 7,000, you've got a glorious burst of power, but you'll hardly have time to enjoy it. It would be even worse on the stock bike, with less power and less torque to play with.
The clutch action was surprisingly smooth, though the gearshift was tractor-like. Oh, did I mention how great this bike sounds with a loud pipe on it?
The biggest problem with the bike are the suspenders, which are absolutely dire if this demo bike was any indication. I've read in some overseas reviews that the bike needs some serious suspension tweaking before it will deliver the handling you'd expect from such a compact bike. I'd love to ride an XB9R with an Ohlins kit fitted.
The quality of finish wasn't really up the scratch for such a pricey bike, and as the broken speedo indicates, Buells have a long, long way to go before they catch up to Japanese build quality.
Oh, and the brakes are pretty ordinary too.
That's a lot of faults for a $16,000 sportsbike that will get blown to the weeds by pretty much any Japanese sports tackle. Yet I had an absolute ball riding this bike. Maybe it was the weirdness of a huge, lumpy v-twin in such a tiny frame, or the experience of riding a sportsbike that sounds like a chopper. Maybe it was the handling potential that lies in the super-compact chassis. Riding a Buell is an experience unlike any other on two wheels.
But I can't help but wonder how good it would be with a Japanese powerplant inside. The stock bike puts out a feeble 80+hp. Compare that to the hardly-cutting-edge VTR1000, which puts out 105hp. Despite the fun factor, the fact remains that the XB9R is hobbled in the performance department by a dickless cruiser engine.
The XB9R was a hoot to ride, and I'd love for Santa to bring me one for Christmas, but if I'm gonna buy a Buell, it'll be the XB12R or nothing.
Since getting my new PC, I've been trying unsuccessfully to get my stuff off my old PC hard drive.
I bought an 'R-Driver' USB-to-IDE cable.
Try as I might, I cannot get my current WinXP PC to recognise the thing when I plug it in. It simply doesn't appear as an external drive or device.
- have tried plug-n-play and using the R-Driver drivers.
And yes, the old drive is in "slave" mode. I've checked over and over.
Would this be a firewall issue? I use Macafee personal Firewall Plus, with the normal security settings.
Any suggestions? This sucks.
Thom Lyons still hasn't sued me or had me arrested, as promised.
He is, however, still huffing with rage about my checking up on his claims of military service. Apparently unaware that anyone can request a D.O.D. record, Thom claims this is breaking privacy laws, and has 'dared' me to go to the US Embassy and request his records, because they'll 'arrest' me.
Oh, and if anyone was in doubt as to just how crazy Thom Lyons really is, check out his explanation as to why he's not willing to answer those pesky questions about his military service:
So.....Thom won't explain his contradictory claims of military service, because Eschelon will be spying on his answers. Um, yeah, I can see how letting the US government get publically available info they already have is such a frightening idea.
Remember kids, this is the man described by the Victorian Greens party as:
As what? An organ doner?
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