So near yet so far.Yes, for such a clever, innovative chassis the Buell XB-9S came with such a dog of a powertrain. It may have the highest specific output of any air-cooled push-rod twin but when that totals 78bhp it’s time to get a new motor. The gearbox is akin to lucky dip, the overrun fuelling makes as much sense as American Football and it runs out of revs just when you think it’s getting going. The chassis, for all its tiny dimensions on paper, struggles for the want of proper rear ride height instead of using a steering damper to calm things. Consequently it doesn’t turn like it should and needs those wide bars to get it leant over.
We can’t call it too small, there must be a market for shorter riders, but anyone over 5’10” looks ridiculous on it. Having said that, Big Dave loves it’s impressive stunting ability and it can be fun to pootle around on. It ain’t for thrashing though. This is what the Firebolt should have been, but both should have been a lot.
•Buell XB-9S Lightning Price £7,345
•984cc air-cooled, 4v, 45° V-twin
•Dry weight 175kg Insurance group 15
•Measured power 77bhp @ 7,058rpm
•Issue tested: February 2003
•Contact: Buell 0870 8501903