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Endurance test final balance Buell Lightning XB12S

Great thunder

That’s how they are, the Buells: capricious like prima donnas. But the dull rumble of the XB12S inspires many, and the technology makes a great impression after 50,000 kilometers.

Connoisseurs remember: There were times when Buell drivers were happy when

they once managed a few thousand kilometers without the engine exploding. Painful experiences for the customers and difficult times for the company and the unfortunate dealers who had to pay for it. An independent, small manufacturer would probably have collapsed, but survived after the takeover by Harley in 1998 B.uell in the care of the parent company this phase and worked diligently on improvements.
The result was the XB series. Motorcycles whose special aura lives from the contrast between modern, sometimes daring chassis technology and the seemingly antiquated V-Zwo. Antique because to this day every Buell is based on the Harley Sportster unit from dunnemals. So still air-cooled, long-stroke and with only two huge valves, operated via very long bumpers.
Can that last 50,000 kilometers? So much in advance: in the case of the long-term test XB12S, yes. Even without exorbitant signs of wear and tear inside the engine, which fascinates when dismantling because of its simple but well-crafted construction. Classical mechanical engineering, you feel reminded of times when the red pencil did not rule: shift fork made of pure bronze, massive bearing bushes everywhere. Under the right cover a cascade of camshafts, one for each valve. This makes tinkering really fun, apart from the permanent interplay between metric and imperial keys.
However, after examining the individual parts, it remains mysterious how Buell conjures up around 100 hp from this archaic monument. The streams of fresh gas initially squeeze through the individual intake manifold, are then divided in two directions, then each flow through a daring chicane before they reach the two combustion chambers. And there the valves are completely out of date at such a large angle to one another that the combustion chamber looks like it did in the 1950s, when high-compression roof-mounted pistons were all the rage.
Nevertheless, the result convinced the fan base. Not a single Buell buyer who wrote MOTORRAD regrets their purchase. Most drivers are well aware of the concept’s weaknesses. A predominant topic is the tires, practically everyone has swapped the tricky series tires from earlier years of construction, Dunlop D 207, for more comfortable tires. The 2005 model was built on D 208, in 2007 Pirellis will be raised. The US roadsters are screwed a lot anyway, practically no Buell drives around in series production. Other exhaust systems to intensify the thundering sound are widely used. Many admit that the series pot is unsightly painted and not necessarily corrosion-free, but harmonizes well with the two-cylinder in terms of torque.
The processing is not only an issue with the exhaust. The corroding screws in particular are annoying because they can sixteen up within a short time. The paintwork of the rims is not particularly good either, on the test machine it shows ?? but after two years of less gentle treatment with winter operation ?? loads of damage. The overall impression, however, is positive, the surfaces look otherwise flawless, and the engine block, in contrast to earlier, unpainted Harley engines, is completely unimpressed by moisture, salt and dirt.
This also applies, with some restrictions, to the inner workings of the V-Zwo, in which
Despite all prophecies of doom, the 50,000 kilometers were not a battle-
left field. Which deserves special recognition because an air-cooled engine with such huge pistons is subjected to considerably more thermal and mechanical loads than a modern high-performance four-cylinder. Even the loss of oil that occurred in the meantime after two days on the racetrack had no consequences. While the oil consumption was generally inconspicuous, it can obviously rise sharply for a short time due to the high engine speeds on the racetrack. The engine may then also blow oil out through the vent. Incidentally, it makes known on the racetrack that the Lightning is not a big hit by dropping out after heavy braking maneuvers. The reason: the gasoline sloshes
forward in the frame tank, the injection sucks in air. But that never happened on the street.
The bottom line is that the XB12S could look really great if it weren’t for a few unexpected damage and quirks. Like the toothed belt that broke twice. An annoying story. Buell assumes an isolated case, but it has also caught reader machines. Since model year 2006 there has been a qualitatively improved belt that only needs to be replaced when necessary. The old one should be changed every 40,000 kilometers. In any case, careful treatment of the secondary drive is recommended. According to Mike Nägele, head of the contract dealer CPO, mistakes are often made when changing tires. Since the belt is installed under permanent, slight tension, some riders squeeze the rear wheel in during installation, tilting or kinking the belt in the process. Previous damage that has a dramatic effect on durability.
The second annoyance on the long-term test XB were misfires, the cause of which could never be clarified. So candles, ignition coil (with a recognizable crack) and the control motor of the exhaust flap (after an error message from the on-board computer) were replaced. Most likely, however, it was due to the short-haul operation, which in winter led to repeated plug defects, especially on the rear cylinder. Buell recommends warming up a motorcycle that has been started and not putting it down again immediately. Whatever the reason, the symptoms disappeared again with the beginning of spring, the Lightning then ignited like lightning all year round.
All unscheduled damage was repaired on the test machine under warranty. This also applies, for example, to warped or scratching brake discs, which, according to the importer, are usually due to worn out floaters. We the test machine, dealer CPO donated a new window for the first time after 13,000 kilometers, and the second was ready for replacement after almost 40,000 kilometers. Modified floaters with improved material quality should eliminate the problem from 2006 onwards.
Just like in the last two years some things have been revised in detail without the Americans hanging it on the bells. For example the new swing arm with better cover of the belt, an oil pump with more power and hardened pinion, which can easily be retrofitted in old machines at low cost. There were also modifications to the engine management system to improve throttle response and cold start behavior. The frame has been changed and now stores a little more fuel. Whereby more tidy is certainly gratifying, but not a predominant need in view of the low consumption. With an average consumption of 5.5 liters per 100 kilometers, the XB12S is significantly below comparable two- and four-cylinder, only the XT 660 was better. In terms of costs, it is therefore in the best possible position, the loss of value is also limited. In the meantime, word has got around among connoisseurs that Buell drivers are no longer running their engines around the ears.

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Endurance test final balance Buell Lightning XB12S
Great thunder

Buell XB12S Lightning (long-term test: 50,000 km) – performance

driving performance

Costs and maintenance

Operating costs over 50,000 km
24.5 oil at 13.68 euros, 335.16 euros
7 oil filters at 9.29 euros 65.03
4 air filters at 37.86 euros each 151.44 euros
12 spark plugs at 4.31 euros each 51.72 euros
3 sets of front brake pads at 96.10 euros each 288.30 euros
Fork oil 25.64 euros
Brake fluid 38.68 euros
Small parts, lubricants 25.54 euros
Seals 79.46 euros
Inspections and repairs 1730.07 euros
Tires (including assembly, balancing and disposal) 3636.50 euros
Fuel 3401.68 euros
Total cost 9829.23 euros
Acquisition cost 11,809.00 euros
Loss of value 4809.00 euros
Estimated price (dealer selling price) 7,000.00 euros
Cost per kilometer (without depreciation) 19.7 cents
Costs per kilometer (with depreciation) 29.3 cents


Cylinder head: All valves are tight, but there are scorch marks on the outlet side, heavy oil carbon deposits on the inlet valves, all cams have contact marks on the hydraulic valve valve rollers, one exhaust cam shows slight pitting, as does the associated rocker arm.
Cylinder / piston: Both cylinders are true to size, the rear one has some grooves and visible tracks. Moderate carbon deposits on the piston crowns, the rear piston shows stronger heat discoloration than the front one, the movement of both pistons is uniform.
Crank drive: The roller-bearing crank drive shows only slight running marks, the same applies to the piston pin and the connecting rod eyes.
Power transmission: The gears are in very good condition, as is the clutch. The shift drum has some locking points, and some wear and tear-
The corners of the guide groove are visible, the shift forks also show
Signs of use.
Frame / chassis: The coating of the frame and the swingarm gives a very good impression, as do levers and other attachments, but the paint on the rims has partially flaked off.

Buell takes a stand…

…to the broken timing belt.
An untypical damage. Since the 2006 model year, the secondary timing belts with an increased Kevlar content installed as part of the product improvement no longer even need to be replaced during the motorcycle’s life cycle. In the case of older models, the fatigue strength of the toothed belt can be reduced by improper installation and removal of the wheel or by kinking the belt across the direction of travel. We refer to the driver’s manual enclosed with the motorcycle, in which the correct procedure is described, or we recommend that you have the wheels installed and removed by your Buell dealer.
…to the defective gearbox output bearing.
This is obviously a matter of material damage to the part installed in the test motorcycle. We are not aware of any other cases of this type. The bearing is a component that has been used in the same way in Sportster and Buell engines for many years and has never shown such damage. In the event of damage, our guarantee or goodwill regulation applies.
…to the misfires.
Frequent short journeys can lead to the spark plugs being damaged, which in this case was one of the causes of the misfires. Even just leaving the engine running for a short time? start and switch off again? supports this process. From the 2007 model year, the engine management system has a modified mapping that counteracts the phenomenon and that can also be transferred to the older models at the authorized dealer.
…to replace the front brake disc twice.
As part of the product improvement from model year 2007, the brake disc holder (floater) was improved. Worn out floaters can damage the brake disc if it is not replaced immediately. In the event of damage, we refer to our goodwill regulation.
…to the carbon build-up on pistons and intake valves.
The deposits on the endurance test motorcycle are not known to us in normal operation on other vehicles with a similar mileage to this extent.
…to the temporarily higher oil consumption.
Under extreme loads (heat development during racetracks and extreme test use), air-cooled engines can lead to slightly increased oil consumption. Careful monitoring is therefore advisable in such cases. In normal, everyday use, however, we are not aware of any excessive oil consumption. We refer to the driver’s manual for the correct measurement procedure.
…to corrosion on
We are having problems with older models in connection with year-round use
known. We therefore recommend the preventive use of care products in such cases. With the 2007 model year, the »coating«, the coating of the exhaust system, was improved.

Reading experiences

I currently have 53821 kilometers on my Buell XB12S, built in 2004? there would be more if I had the time.
At around 15,000 kilometers the horn was vibrated off and replaced under guarantee. As a precautionary measure, the oil pump pinion was replaced as a precautionary measure, as it was already showing heavy tracks (kilometers 18,000, guarantee). At 22,000 kilometers there was a minimal oil leak on the shift shaft ?? the Simmerring was exchanged under guarantee. At 31,800 kilometers, the workshop pulled the screw connections
Oil line on the oil pump because they had loosened ??
on goodwill. The belt held, was swapped at 40,000 kilometers as part of the service. Oil consumption still not measurable.
The general problem with the XB are the screws that are prone to corrosion and poorly laid cables, which can quickly become worn. I’ve been riding a motorcycle for 27 years now ?? from one to six-cylinder, two- and four-stroke ?? but the XB is the bike that I’ve had the most fun riding so far.
Thomas wanner
I’ve been driving a Buell XB12Ss since April 2006, the odometer reading is currently around 11500 kilometers. It were during this period
Two inspections carried out and worn tires changed. There were also a few small things, such as two defective license plate lights. There
the plastic just crumbled and fell off, totally brittle. The quality of the exhaust material is poor,
you can watch it rust. I replaced it with a stainless steel exhaust from HSA. Everything else went perfectly so far.
Andreas Woller
I bought the XB12S in April 2005 and have driven around 12,500 kilometers since then. Tank bag on, and nothing stands in the way of Italy for a week. Seven days, 2300 kilometers. Four days in the south of France, 1900 kilometers. Day tours of 700 kilometers are also easy to manage. The motorcycle is the absolute dream. And the 12S runs absolutely reliably. Apart from that, I have a lot of confidence
into the machine. The fuel consumption is between 4.5 and seven liters. I always put on 100 octane fuel. Apart from the wear and tear, I was quite happy with the original tires. At the moment, Metzeler Roadtec Z6 are on it, where I
Will stay until further notice.
I am extremely satisfied with my workshop and Harley Germany. Disadvantages are the somewhat too small tank and the steep workshop prices.
Bernd Kneer
I gave myself the Buell XB12S for my 24th birthday. Lo and behold, not a single reason to regret! For 35,000 kilometers she has been a loyal companion through the Alps, Jura and Black Forest, even with a passenger (afterwards she had rock-hard buttocks). Sound and driving performance chisel a grin on my face. The incomparable driving experience and the repeatedly questioning glances from passers-by and bikers are priceless.
Just a great bike. What bothers is the mess at the exhaust and the still bearable oil consumption. But how do we Swiss say: "Ice hammers no emmer gno !!" Those who take good care of them will also enjoy it for a long time. Thanks, Erik!
Andre Stirnemann
After 25 years of motorcycle experience on a wide variety of mopeds, including the last two years and around
20,000 kilometers on the Buell XB12R, I can only say: It has
never been so fun! Of course it depends what you want. Traveling with a lot of luggage and long distances or a power bike with endless performance. Sorry, wrong moped.
But when you have a full tank of fuel after work
Long angled stretches in the Sauerland quickly on the torque-
want to ride a curve, then you have hours afterwards
a grin on your face. This motorcycle concept also has its charms on the racetrack.
Accessory exhaust systems are more for the optics (the original pot is known to rot quickly) and the improvement-
worthy sound. Unfortunately, corrosion is an issue at all, but you want it with all screw connections
more quality. The fan, which you often criticized, can be almost completely silenced with an enlarged right air inlet, even at high outside temperatures and at a brisk pace. Occurring defects at
a mileage of around 20,000 kilometers: defective steering head bearing at 15,000 kilometers, torn off manifold studs on the front cylinder at 17,000 kilometers, also a defective front wheel bearing. Furthermore can
You can save a lot of money by using consumables from the aftermarket. For example:
front brake pads original 115 euros, Lucas or EBC
35 euros (and they are even better).
Martin Saure
I’ve been the owner of an XB12S since spring.
After running in, I swapped the Dunlop tires for Michelin Pilot Power. Then it went first to the French Maritime Alps. After about 3500 kilometers, it was converted to Metzeler Roadtec Z6. After about 5500 kilometers I replaced the rear one with the new Z3. Current mileage 10,500 kilometers. Despite the speedy driving style, the bike only needs six liters to 100
Kilometer. Repairs
so far none, only at the beginning the engine often just cut out. After removing the ominous white cable, the malfunction was resolved. In the middle of the season I converted to HSA exhaust and Rizoma handlebars. The Buell is a lot of fun to drive, at least on the country road. I still have the purchase
not regretted a second.
Hubert Hock,
Karlstein am Main

Offers and price comparison for used Buell Lightning XB12S

1000PS marketplace app

The Buell Lightning XB12S is considered a real exotic on the used market.

Even during the time when the Buell brand still existed, the Lightning XB12S was considered exotic. This status is also noticeable today in the used market: the number of items is low and the price remains stable. However, the fan base is strong and used Buell Lightning XB12Ss are usually in good condition. Here is a price comparison for used Buell Lightning XB12S: used Buell Lightning XB12S in Germany.

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