Love Lost and Found

Oct 22, 2013 View Comments by

Love Lost and FoundI can still remember the first time I saw her. Dressed provocatively in Orange. She demanded my attention and got it. That was 2006 and “she” was a Buell XB12X otherwise known as a “Ulysses.” It has been several years since I first got “Uly fever” that day while attending a trade show, but for reasons I can’t explain she has always eluded me. I’ve seen a few bikes come and go in that time but the Uly was never one of them. Until now that is.

Founded in 1983 by Erik Buell (Harley-Davidson entered the picture in 1998,) it is undeniable that Buell made some of the most unique mass-produced motorcycles and the Ulysses was certainly one of them. Targeted directly at the ever-growing “Adventure bike” market the Ulysses had more than just rugged looks going for it. High ground clearance, tall wide handlebar comfortable upright seating position, large fuel tank, auxiliary power outlets front and rear, aggressive tires, and outfitted with the “tour pack” (hard side and topcases), the XB12X was ready to take on the world.

With a race pedigree in tow, she eats up the pavement. Powered by a modified Harley-Davidson 1200cc engine that produces 103 horsepower, twisting the throttle on the Uly is on par with throwing your leg over an angry bull. Be prepared. Weighing in at 450-plus pounds wet, she isn’t exactly a light-weight but with a low(er) center of gravity (achieved by carrying fuel in the frame and oil in the swingarm), the Uly handles quite well on dirt and gravel roads. Perfect for exploring those roads less traveled.

Sure it has its nay-sayers, with the underbelly exhaust and belt driven rear wheel it has some drawbacks for the purists. During her short time in production, a few issues surfaced (as they do with most new models) and Buell dealt with these along the way. Even at the end, the 2010 (final production year) bikes were given new rear wheels and bearings. Switching from two bearings to three to address a problem with premature failure.

When Harley-Davidson announced in the fall of 2009 that it was putting the Buell line out to pasture, I was quite surprised. It seemed to me the XB series bikes, the XB12X in particular, was just getting its footing. Will the Harley-Davidson era Buell bikes go the way of the Yugo and Dodo bird, or will they live on thru the efforts of admirers? Collectable? Who knows. Whatever the future holds I couldn’t be happier adding her to the stable and with every ride, I grow increasingly fond of my Uly. Every so often I hear rumors that Buell will soon be back in business, but even if they do return to producing motorbikes for the masses, it’s most unlikely this will mean the re-birth of the XB12X. But I got mine. Finally.

Editor’s Note: Erik Buell Racing opened shortly after Harley closed the Buell line, but to date EBR has produced only the 1190RS and RX Superbikes.

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About the author

I've been called a "Free-Spirit", "A Lost Soul", and "A Wanderer" for as long as I can remember. I prefer to think of myself as a Traveler. Most at ease when I am in motion, two of my favorite things are arriving somewhere new, and heading off for somewhere yet unexplored.