Buell Motorcycles, an American motorcycle manufacturer founded by former racer and Harley-Davidson research-and-development staffer Eric Buell, began making racing bikes in 1982. Harley-Davidson acquired a minority interest in the company in 1993 and bought a controlling share five years later; at the end of 2009, Harley-Davidson shut the Buell subsidiary down in response to the global recession, putting an end to the niche motorcycle company’s sport-oriented line. In 2006 Buell introduced its first on-and-off-road machine, the Ulysses XB12X, and in 2008, the company gave it a sibling, the XB12XT, which, though it too was considered an on-and-off-road bike, was primarily designed a touring motorcycle – hence the ""T"" in the name. Both models were carryovers for 2009.
Both Ulysses models use the same Thunderstorm 1203cc, air-and-oil-cooled, V-twin four-stroke engine, which produces 103 horsepower at 7100 rpms and plenty of torque. The engine has a pushrod valve configuration and fuel injection. Its five-speed manual transmission works with a wet multi-plate clutch, and a chain primary drive. The belt final drive, one of Buell’s innovations, requires no adjustments, making it reliable and low maintenance. A Showa inverted fork with adjustable preload and rebound damping in front and a twin-sided swing arm with a single spring preload adjustable shock and rebound damping in the back provide the suspension. Buell’s ZTL hydraulic disc brakes in front and back offer serviceable stopping power.
The suspension in the Ulysses XB12XT is tuned for road use; it is easily adjusted with an under-seat dial to handle changing road conditions or the extra weight of a passenger. It also comes with heated hand grips and a top case and hard side cases, which are optional equipment on the XB12X. Many other options are available, from an assortment of seats to GPS and tinted or clear windshields.
Both models get high marks for maneuverability and nimbleness on winding roads, though a number of riders comment on how hot the bikes get. The touring model’s riding position is comfortable for long hours on the road.