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New Motorcycle/Review

Buell X1 Lightning

Alexis Bachofen

How much fun is it possible to have on two wheels? I thought I knew before I was handed the keys to the throbbing, aggressive and ear shattering X1. An up-grade from the S1 White Lighting for 2000, with new dynamic Digital Fuel Injection. Iíve had the privilege to test many bikes but rarely do I ride something I want to instantly buy. However, within one day I was calling Frasier Motorcycles in Dainella inquiring how much I could own the X1 for. It was love at first ride and I was smitten! Iím still recovering, heartbroken that I had to return the X1 and longing to hear the sound of her engine again - to feel her between my legs. From the amount if time I was spending away from home my fiancťe was beginning to believe that I had another woman - she was right!!

The Buell X1 Lightning is one of those bikes that many wouldnít even consider spending money on. I couldnít begin to tell you how many have stopped me and asked, ďWhatís a Buell?Ē A Buell is the creation of Erik Buell, a long-term employee of Harley-Davidson, whoís burning desire to construct the ultimate race bike lead him to eventually develop and manufacture an American sportbike for the street. From 1982 Harley-Davidson began supplying Buell with engines whilst keeping a watchful eye on Erik and his impressive designs. Holding 49% of the company Harley-Davidson eventually purchased an additional 49% in 1992 leaving Erik Buell retaining 2% and a long term employment contract to ensure continuity of innovation, engineering and styling. Buell Motorcycle Company is now a subsidiary of Harley-Davidson Inc.

To cut to the chase and as Iíve repeated almost fifty times over the past week a Buell is a Harley-Davidson on steroids. Pumping out around 100bhp, from its 1200cc engine, it has so much torque that itís hard to not smile as soon as youíve ridden 50 meters down the road. So this is what a Harley-Davidson engine is really capable of! That smile Iím speaking of stays with you all day and reminds you of wining a race or getting that huge unexpected bonus at the end of the year. How often is it that you feel another manís passion running through your veins?

The Buell is fast and has the styling to make Monster owners look twice, especially those around Cottesloe. The gearbox is very smooth, and complements the riding experience and although the X1 has better brakes than your average Harley, I would personally prefer two discs on the front wheel. Its dials are clear and neatly hidden behind a small, effective wind deflector, front faring piece. Available in blue, black, yellow, orange and red the X1 takes street motorcycling to a new innovative level of enjoyment.

The drawbacks? Well there arenít really any, aside from the occasional exhaust fumes filtering up from between your feet and the need for earplugs. Admittedly the Buell feels a little heavy in corners, but like a Suzuki TLR you soon get used to it. Iím unsure why more people havenít purchased an X1 - itís like a well-kept secret but as word gets around weíre all bound to see more of them.

From a pillions point of viewÖI couldnít tell you as the only person I trust to ride a bike is myself. But, after asking my other half her thoughts, she came up with an interesting response. F****** Scary. Second on the response list was, surprisingly comfortable, even on longer distances as the seat is quite small. If the take off from lights is slow then holding on is no problem, but if you like to try to make it across the other side even before the car next to you has noticed the lights are green, then my best advise is to leave the extra baggage at home.

The Lightning is one of those bikes you should be saving every penny for. $18,550 pennyís to be exact, itís an exclusive club but one to definitely consider being a part of. That ringing you hear in your ears after a blast on the X1 is an intrusive reminder that youíre living your life to the fullest. Look out for a comparison against Ducatiís 900 Monster in a couple of weeks.

ďMany thanks to Fraser Motorcycles for the Buell, please may I have it again Sir?Ē

Engine Type:           Air cooled, four-stroke, 45 degree V-Twin
Bore & Stroke:         3.5 x 3.8 in./88.8 x 96.8mm
Displacement:          1203cc
Compression:           10:1
Carburetion:           Dynamic Fuel Injection
Starter System:        Electric
Lubrication system:    Dry sump
Transmission:          Five-speed, constant mesh
Frame type:            Tubular perimeter chrome-moly
Suspension- Front:     Showa inverted forks fully adjustable rebound / compression damping.
            Rear:      Aluminum arc swingarm, progressive Showa extension type damper, fully adjustable rebound / compression damping, 
Wheels- Front:         3-spoke cast, 3.5 x 17; finishing colour matched to frame
         Back:         3-spoke cast, 5.0 x 17; finishing colour matched to frame
Brakes- Front:         Six piston caliper; 340mm stainless steel floating rotor
         Rear:         single piston caliper; 230mm stainless steel rotor
Tyres- Front:          Dunlop, 120/70 ZR17
        Rear:          Dunlop, 170/60 ZR17
Fuel Tank:             16.3 liters
Wheelbase:             55.5 in./ 141cm
Ground clearance:      4.9in./12.5cm
Dry weight:            200kg
Top Speed:             unavailable
Horse Power:           100bhp

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