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Firebolt XB 9R

  • Yes buy it and see for yourself

    Votes: 20 34.5%
  • No don't buy it, you know better

    Votes: 7 12.1%
  • Someday Buell will get it right, but not yet

    Votes: 19 32.8%
  • Never buy a Buell

    Votes: 12 20.7%

  • Total voters
    58
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Discussion Starter #1
I've been feeling patriotic lately and looked at the new Buell. It is kind of interesting. They got rid of the breadbox air intake and made quite a few changes on the new liter bike. The engine isn't their usual 1200 cc POS. It got a good write-up in Cycle World, like most bikes do.

But I have seen a couple used bikes sitting on the curb all summer looking for a buyer and don't want to get stuck with a lemon. Anybody have experience with Buells? Any chance the FireFart will be a good bike to own?
 

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Check out the Buell manuf. specific section of the forum in this website..

Those guys are pretty honest about their bikes.

Tell 'em I sent you.
 

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Buell experiences...

I have a 2000 Buell Cyclone, and am very happy with it.

The Cyclone has had more then it's fair share of problems, but if you keep a reasonable perspective on them, they have not been a huge deal. None of the problems left me stranded, and none cost me any riding time.

If you buy an older Buell, I can give you a list of about 5 things you want to do to it right off the bat that will save you trouble down the road. All are simple jobs that can be done with normal hand tools, are very low cost, and don't take too much time.

Historically, reliability is lower then most Japanese bikes, but the Buells are MUCH easier to work on, and parts are MUCH easier to find. If you can do your own work or have a good dealer, I think it ends up a wash. If you are at the mercy of an idiot dealer and can't turn a wrench, you will not be happy.

The non-engine parts of my Cyclone have been great... and you have to cut the engine a little slack. It was designed to produce 45 or so horses, and has been stretched to produce between 91 and 101.

Even with the grief I have had with my Cyclone, I would not trade the bike for anything (except the firebolt). It really is a pleasure to work on... I am by no means an expert wrench, and I can have the heads (including the valves) completely off and on the bench in about half an hour. Complete top end rebuild? New heads with valves in place ready to bolt on from the factory for around $500. About two hours work to put them in. Tranmission problem? I can have the whole thing out and on my bench in about an hour.

The firebolt promises to be the Buell we have all been waiting for. What Erik has managed to do with the existing models is remarkable... he took an old sportster cruiser engine, and managed to create a bike that really is remarkable, and that you really have to ride to appreciate.

Now that he "has the handcuffs off" (his own words), he took the strengths of the sportster engine and eliminated the weaknesses, and really came up with an innovative bike with a LOT of promise.

When you read that it's "just a warmed over sportster engine", don't believe it... it has some very significant changes. It follows a similiar geometry, and is still pushrod air cooled, but just about every part is new and rethought.

Us Buell faithfull have high hopes that the reliability issues will be behind us as well. The Blast (500cc single) has been very reliable, and has had some of the lowest warranty claims in the industry (even compared to the Japanese bikes). The Firebolt engine is much closer to a doubled blast engined then it is to a sportster engine, and Buell knows they are betting the farm on this bike. They have gone out of the way to get it right, and I believe they will make it.

To appreciate the Firebolt in particular (and Buells in general), you have to appreciate their design goals. Erik did not set out to build a pure race bike, he set out to build the best bike for the street.

Take the rotor for example. A single larger rotor (as opposed to two smaller rotors) eliminates one caliper and one rotor. This still gives you 85% or more of the rotor area for breaking, but nearly halves unsprung weight. On the track, this is a drawback, as even the dual rotor systems are prone to overheat and warp, and the pavement is smooooooth and perfect. The lower unsprung weight helps little, and the brakes overheat quicker. But on the street it is a different story.... "Real" streets are a mess of rippled pavement, potholes, and other junk. The lower unsprung weight lets the tire keep contact with the street FAR better. Remember, a tire that is not touching the road has ZERO braking... the single rotor gets you stopped more quickly.

Thats just one example of many why a racebike may suffer on the street, and why Erik is trying to create a new class of bikes... he calls them "streetfighters". Bikes that are designed to give you the best possible performance under real world conditions.

The engine is similiar. It trades a monster power hit at the top end for a broader powerband across the whole RPM range. One of the magazines that got a crack at the Firebolt was talking about how fast the thing went, but that its power delivery was so smooth they did not notice it like a twitchy race tuned 4 banger. They asked Erik if he was concerned that this was going to give people an unfair opinion of the bike, and he replied "We built this bike for great riders, not some geeky kid looking for an adrenelin rush".

Geesh. Enough typing. There are a lot of really cool innovations that are going into this bike that I think will re-write many of the rules of street tuned sportbikes. Some subltle, some obvious. It would take pages to go through them all.

And yes, especially right now, it feels great to be riding to work every day on a bike that says (from the factory) "American Motorcycles" right across the tank in big white letters. Nothing against foreign bikes or other countries. I just like having an American bike better. As an anology, I prefer a black bike over a red bike... Nothing wrong or against red bikes, I just like the black better... Same thing. I ride a motorcycle for pleasure, and I get more of it riding a bike built a few hundred miles away and designed by a guy I have a decent chance of actually meeting someday... and who may be reading this right now.

Bill
 

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From what I gather, Buells are worthy machines. They aren't quite up to speed with the Japanese yet however watching them on the track is quite impressive.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
bargain shopping

Thanks for the info folks. I'm going to check out one of those curb Buells tomorrow. Will see how bad he wants to get rid of it. The Harley dealer gave me a runaround on the Firebolt price. Told him the mag said it was less than $10K. He whined that he wasn't sure they could sell one for that. F him.


BTW-absolutely no thought of trading in the busa.....except maybe for a prettier, younger one :D
 

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Screw the dealer and the likely dealer mark ups if this bike is as hot as it should be........find some dealer in the backwoods where sport bikes aren't big sellers and see what they say. If this doesn't work I'd wait till the next year when the supply has met some of the demand and the price normalizes.

So let's see, TZ250 size (wheel base anyway, wish it weighed that little) and power, air cooled so easy to work on and less maintenance, no heavier than current race rep bikes that are said to be sweet handling, and pretty bad ass looking (subjective I know). I think I'm sold unless it starts to grenade when it gets to the street. It would make a great canyon bike, maybe not Iron Butt material though i'd guess???
 

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Discussion Starter #8
apexismaximus said:
Screw the dealer and the likely dealer mark ups if this bike is as hot as it should be........

I'd wait till the next year when the supply has met some of the demand and the price normalizes.
I think I'm sold unless.....
Yeah, I really like the way it's put together. Harley marketing is at work here too so I will wait and see if it is as good as it looks.

The curb Buell is still there but the "for sale" sign blew off. I'm going to have to wait till it snows and follow the footprints to find the owner :D
 

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If you can get a good deal on the 'curb' buell and you want it go for it. Just don't expect the old lightning bikes to be anything like the Firebolt. Nothing against the older model buells but the firebolt is the ONE I've been waiting for. I always said when eric got the water cooled VR engine that I'd get serious about considering buells. Guess I have to change the criteria because this 'small bore/short stroke' air cooled engine sounds like it'll be quite adequate within the new chassis for the canyons/street. Can't wait to see one.:D :D :D
 

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Yeah, right,

For $10k you'll be able to get a 2002 R1 that will be much more dependable and will have at least double the perfomance envelope.

I couldn't resist pointing that out. It is just a fact.
 
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Re: Yeah, right,

desmo079 said:
For $10k you'll be able to get a 2002 R1 that will be much more dependable and will have at least double the perfomance envelope.

I couldn't resist pointing that out. It is just a fact.
When the Buell is actually released, then I think we can state facts about its dependability.

While I don't think it's on par with the R1, I do think it should be a fun bike to drive.
 

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Re: Re: Yeah, right,

Squidwannabe said:


When the Buell is actually released, then I think we can state facts about its dependability.

While I don't think it's on par with the R1, I do think it should be a fun bike to drive.
As to the reliability, you are right, but based on history, the prognosis is not good.

You are right about it not being on par with the R1, and the new buell does look like it will be fun to ride, but so does the R1.

I guess my point is that, even if I was a person who had no brand loyalty, and I was interested in these two bikes I would be turned off by the buell if the HD dealer wanted me to pay well over retail, especially if they continue to do it after a reasonable "introductory period".

Think a comparison to an R1 is unfair? Then factor a $8K R6 into the above equation and you have an even more compelling case against the buell.

Nonetheless, I hope they turn out to be good, dependable bikes that sell in vast quantities. After all, the frame is made in Italy and the swing arm/oiltank is made by Brembo. Hey! Maybe they will be dependable!
 

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Re: Yeah, right,

desmo079 said:
For $10k you'll be able to get a 2002 R1 that will be much more dependable and will have at least double the perfomance envelope.

I couldn't resist pointing that out. It is just a fact.
So you think an R1 can outturn/outperform a bike with equal quality suspension, similar weight and 2 inch shorter wheelbase? I'll bet titles on that contest in a street setting and tight roads anyday. For example, the R6 beat the R1 at streets of willow in the Bike of the Year comparo recently (Sportrider). Engine is far from everything in determining performance. If by performance envelope you mean top speed then sure, the R1 will stomp the Buell. But after you get off the interstate onto the good stuff, it'll depend on rider by a long margin.

As far as reliable, we'll see.

See'ya in the twisties
 

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Oh come on people. I am as patriotic as the next guy but that said, Jap. race replicas have been "good" since 1990. They have only gotten better!

When comparing Buells to worthy bikes:

1. The R1's been around since 1998. It's changing this year again for the better. If Buell can come from being COMPLETELY inferior to equal all of a sudden, then they must have fired their engineering staff and rehired a new one (most likely of foreign descent).

2. Buell(385 lbs, 92hp, 68lb-ft) vs R1(385 lbs, 150+hp, 78 lb-ft)

3. Compare it to a GSXR-750!? It's 366 lbs, 140hp!

4. RC51, TL1000R? (yeah they weigh a little more, but they have a lot more power and I would still wager that they would handle better for the same level of rider)

If the Buell was 5 or 6 thousand dollars, I could see getting it for a starter bike... maybe. It's just the inferior quality and Evil Knevil looks that make me not want to spend 10 grand on it.

I just cannot believe they (Buell, HD) can't give the public a bike that performs at levels that we are used to. Spit!

Fact is, American engineering cannot just suddenly bridge a 15 year technology gap for no apparent reason.

Jake
 

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jake.reynolds said:
Oh come on people. I am as patriotic as the next guy but that said, Jap. race replicas have been "good" since 1990. They have only gotten better!

When comparing Buells to worthy bikes:

1. The R1's been around since 1998. It's changing this year again for the better. If Buell can come from being COMPLETELY inferior to equal all of a sudden, then they must have fired their engineering staff and rehired a new one (most likely of foreign descent).

2. Buell(385 lbs, 92hp, 68lb-ft) vs R1(385 lbs, 150+hp, 78 lb-ft)

3. Compare it to a GSXR-750!? It's 366 lbs, 140hp!

4. RC51, TL1000R? (yeah they weigh a little more, but they have a lot more power and I would still wager that they would handle better for the same level of rider)

If the Buell was 5 or 6 thousand dollars, I could see getting it for a starter bike... maybe. It's just the inferior quality and Evil Knevil looks that make me not want to spend 10 grand on it.

I just cannot believe they (Buell, HD) can't give the public a bike that performs at levels that we are used to. Spit!

Fact is, American engineering cannot just suddenly bridge a 15 year technology gap for no apparent reason.

Jake

All this from someone in Kansas, maybe horsepower is all you understand in the performance equasion??? Besides, Eric Buell wasn't trying to take on the current crop of race replicas on the track, just on the street, so your comparison isn't necessarily valid. In THAT setting, the firebolt SOUNDS like it'll be a 10. I'd for one be just as happy taking the Buell to the Gap as an R1. There's no way to use an R1's power in tight stuff unless you feel the need to blast out of every corner just so you can use full braking to set up the next corner. Fun for a 50 mile sprint race but if you want to do 200 miles of the good stuff on the street there's not much point in exceding the next corners entry speed in the preceding straight. You may not get it but I'm sure more than enough people will.
 

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Okay, before you blast me, KC MO, not Kansas. The rest stands:p :D .
 

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All this from someone in Kansas, maybe horsepower is all you understand in the performance equasion???
Well.. point taken. I am from the midwest so obviously I am a straight-line-driving, torque-loving, truck-driving, trailor-living, camaro-owning, deralect.

, Eric Buell wasn't trying to take on the current crop of race replicas on the track, just on the street, so your comparison isn't necessarily valid.
Obviously he wasn't or the "Firebolt" would be roughly equivalent in power and handling to the RC51 and TL1000R. It isn't even close in power, which obviously you don't care about so let's talk about handling.

Look at all the specs you want and you still won't be able to calculate how this thing will ride; let alone how it will corner with you on it. If you could take into consideration weight, dimensions, rake, the engine's power curve, and rider's position and come up with the fact, "This bike is equivalent to it's Jap counterparts," then you would be building the thing yourself.




There's no way to use an R1's power in tight stuff unless you feel the need to blast out of every corner just so you can use full braking to set up the next corner. Fun for a 50 mile sprint race but if you want to do 200 miles of the good stuff on the street there's not much point in exceding the next corners entry speed in the preceding straight.
You are correct. You cannot open an R1 up in the tight stuff. There isn't any need to. Like you said, there is no use in having to slow down to the entry speed of the next corner on the street. This doesn't mean that the R1's slow in the tight stuff, it just means you cannot give it all it has when exitting a corner when there is another corner 100 meters away. Oh well, no different than any other bike.

I'm a pessimist. I think the "Firebolt" won't be any different than any other Buell I've seen. Even if it did change, the typical Buell demographic will not thus the rider won't be able to take advantage of the bikes performance characteristics. I hope people don't waste too much money on it.

Jake
 

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Trust me, I'm not saying there isn't a place for horse power either. I've spent most of my motorcycling life in Illinois and Texas (the equivalent to hell for a wanna be sport bike rider). Now that I'm in the mountains (thank God, curves finally) if I had the money I'd buy at least one R6/SV650/GSXR600/Hawk650 etc. for the fun of it. The 'bolt would fit into that wish list quite well if it turns out as good as it sounds and as good as it has to be for Buell to have a real future.


As for guessing at it's handling on the fun'o'meter, it's roughly the size of a 250 GP bike and that ought to rip?????????????????


P.S. you probably already know but if no one has told you, try northwest Arkansas on for size. Great curves, lots of roads from nowhere to nowhere so not too heavy traffic, cops have left me alone so far (conflicting reports on whether they look the other way or not but I think they know we bring tourist dollars$$$$$), and light winters so the roads stay in good shape. e-mail me for more info if you havn't been?????????
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Don't make me beg for one....

jake.reynolds said:


Well.. point taken. I am from the midwest so obviously I am a straight-line-driving, torque-loving, truck-driving, trailor-living, camaro-owning, deralect.



I hope people don't waste too much money on it.

Jake
Bro!! A trailor would be a step up for me and I am looking for a camaro-otherwise....

We have LOTS of curves in SW Wis but covered with leftover winter sand in the spring and the trucks drag the shoulder gravel up during the summer. Changes every day so you gotta know the road.

ON MONEY I have seen too many Buells sitting idle all summer long with price tags of $8K on them. Look them over carefully and you'll see problems and mods that just don't belong on them. But the seller still thinks they are worth the price of gold because they are Buells and they got stars in their eyes. I hope Buell is realistic with the Fire Bolt. They know damned well it can't hold a candle to the J bikes but it is something different. Almost all bikes have character but you'll never know what it is if you are laughing so hard at the price that you don't get on it.

If the dealers aren't too cocky with the price/availability BS I'll spend some money and give it a chance but they have to show that they want the bikes out here and running. Not sitting on the curb or in the showroom looking what they call pretty. They should sell the Fire Bolts for cost and nothing more. They owe it to the buyers with all the crap they have sent out over the past few years.
 

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jake.reynolds said:
Well.. point taken. I am from the midwest so obviously I am a straight-line-driving, torque-loving, truck-driving, trailor-living, camaro-owning, deralect.Jake
Yeah, but you are one excellent computer jock. I still haven't figure out how to put multiple quotes in one reply!
 
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