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This has been discussed on many forums. Many BMW-phobic people has been waiting for so called "GS-killer" since 80s when BMW started this niche market till recent today.
But unfortunately that Buell is hardly any killer (though, yanks always have approximation to think "killing" any of it's rivals ). It may look angry, but it hardly bites any motorcycle aknowledged person. No spoked wheels, very high centre of gravity (HD engines are for choppers that have ground clearance few centimetres, remember?), 17" front wheel, vaunerable big front brake disk and vaunerable belt drive hardly deserves the name "endruo" or interfers the raw essence of real 2-cyl travel enduro such as GS, Africa Twin or 950. Also the Buell's reliability lies on the other end in reliability lists surveys, while Honda and BMW are on the top. It may look good (though, it's the main reason it'd probably sell well) and it's probably very good street-hooligan bike, but sure it's marketing is complete mistake selling it as "dual sports", rather stick with it on smooth street than difficult terrain and it may be a problematic bike in reliability terms. I think that market deserves better than this...
That Buell rather competes well with more street oriented bikes having DS-look such as V-Strom, Varadero, etc.
[This message has been edited by Margus (edited 29 July 2005).]
I quite agree with your dissection of the Buell Ulysses, Margus - although I wouldn't even consider it a competitor neither to the Varadero nor the V-Strom. I think they are aiming more at the Ducati DS1000 Multistrada.
I am more looking forward to Hondas GS-killer (...) which rumors says will be displayed in September.
Indu - what rumours are these? On the XRV Forum and FAT there has been talk of how good it would be to have a replacement for the Africa Twin (a real one: not the Varadero), I've not heard any definitive gossip. It sounds like you know something.....
Regarding the Buell, I love this machine, and it might not be as bad for hard packed roads as it would seem. I also broadly agree with you Margus, although you could also add that underslung exhaust to your list of failings for overlanding. That said (and depending on what kind of use you see for it) it might be more capable than it appears. On the plus side, since a company like Buell obviously regards this niche as worth a pop, it might be extra incentive for the Japs to get their finger out and plug the gap they left when the Tenere, Africa Twin, Dominator, XL650L (and the like) bit the dust.
By the way, don't the Triumph twins (and other large British 'scramblers') and XT500 pre-date the GS's somewhat in the large capacity duel sport niche? I wouldn't argue that the air head GS is _the_ classic overlander though.
Ooh, these are exciting times! If only I had some money to spend....
Bmw boxer gs and the Buell seem to have an awfull lot in comon to me.
I welcome this new bike and think its great if only for lively competition.
What is funny to me, is that a sport bike manufacturer can put an extra inch or 2 of travel on the suspension, a high mudgaurd, wide bars, a bit more rake on the forks and equal the GS 'which started this niche market'(crap).
I read the first test report where it compared it to the GS on road and gravel and it came out really well, the writer loved it.
Hats off to Buell for going down this road and hope they sell enough to want to develop it more.
ps. I love my offroad too much to buy either of these bikes but love to see developement.
edit.. Love to see a bit of lively discussion on this but I suppose we should really wait untill there is more info.
[This message has been edited by andygray (edited 03 August 2005).]
LordStig: I picked this up at the International Varadero Forum:
"[...] rumours inform me that a new model, not very different from this one, will be around for 2006. The differents will be 1) the new exhaust system equipped with ''HECS'' system so that complying with Euro 3 emission directive and which will have the two catalysators removed 2) less weight so that Vara be more competative to BMW 1200 GS and 3) a little bit higher HP i.e. 2-3bhp more which will be resulted from the abolishment of the two catalysators. Maybe also one or two points in the external look of the bike will be changed."
Here in the US the September issue of Cycle World (which arrived in my mailbox today) has a long feature article on the Ulysses, as well as a brief article comparing the 1200GS, Ulysses, and Multistrada. If nothing else, the descriptions of the research and development considerations Buell went through make for interesting reading, and answer some of the criticisms made above. In the comparison article they conclude with "Which bike is best depends on your intended use: The BMW is a more capable adventure-tourer, the Ducati a sportier sportbike, while the Buell specializes in not specializing, and therefore offers the broadest appeal. It's a jack of all trails, master of some."
What kind of bike would you ride if you had the choice, big, big trailbike like the AT's, GS's and tigers of this world? Do you think the Buell would fit into your type of riding.
I can't really see the Buell being any worse than my transalp for what I use it, commuting and 5% of its life on the few gravell roads we have here in Holland (and a few trips around europe).
On the plus side, belt drive, seperate oil for engine and gearbox( a big plus for high mileage I think), those hydraulic valve lifters have just cut maintainance time to nearly nill, no plastic(or engine cylinders) to smash on those gravel slides.
The downside... most important is the wheelbase and rake. It just goes against every feeling I have had from riding gravel roads. I used to add longer chains to my XR 600 to get it to ride better in sand, it just felt soo much better. But as they claim, the Buell isnt a dirt bike. Hmmm, what else, the exhaust. I know they raced motox bikes for years with low exhausts but it just doesnt seem right, not that yamaha seem to mind with their new xt. It is a shame it has an "exup" valve in there tho, otherwise that would be simpler to fix, maybe. Front disc, have to wait and see if it damages easily, but I do remember the coming of discs onto dirt bikes and the same thing was said then, they will get damaged too easily.
All in all, its never going to compete with BMW's real adventure bike, the 650 (those engines seem to be amazingly reliable and way powerfull enough for adventure travell), but I dont read much that makes it less of an adventure bike than the big boxer (topic of the thread). Like I said before, well done, USA enters the stage and seems to have a winner. This bike should sell well, if it can get rid of the Harley davidson image problem.
Its a funny old world, I never thought I would be so keen on a Harley derived bike.
Andy, that's a tough question, especially since I've not ridden most of the bikes in the "big big" adventure bike category (isn't it interesting how this category of motorcycle seems to be increasingly breaking into niches). I would guess I would opt for the R1200GS if price were no major object and the 650 V-Strom if price were important (although only a 650, IMHO the wee Strom performs more like a big bike as judged from my one ride on one). This choice may become a reality for me as my wife and I are considering a two-up ride from Prudhoe Bay to Ushuaia in 2006-7, with the only unpaved roads of any distance being in N. Alaska and S. Argentina, so dirt perfomrance won't be the primary criteria. Up to now all my adventure riding has been solo and I've opted recently for middle size adventure bikes such as the DR650, F650GS, and KLR 650, as well as a R80GS and R100GS between 10 and 20 years ago. But, after some test riding my choice might totally change.
Regarding the Ulysses, obviously I've never ridden one of those either. I would guess from the CW report that for your 95% pavement, 5% gravel road riding it would serve you very well, and would be a very fun, enjoyable ride. As for your concerns about frame geometry, this is an entirely new frame and swingarm, with about 2 inches more rake and 2 inches more trail, and a 2 inch longer swingarm with all of this being more rugged, than the preceding Buell XB series bikes. According to the article the Buell development team considered relocating the exhaust but decided it wasn't necessary, instead using the internally reinforced muffler as a functional skidplate. The CW article says it will withstand banging over logs but might have a problem with sharp rocks.
Buell certainly spent a great deal of develoment time on this bike, including extensive woods rides in Wisconsin and desert riding in Arizona, and according to CW got a lot of things right. One thing they didn't get right is that the steering lock to lock distance is too short. The CW staffers really emphasized what a fun bike this is to ride. Andy, if you haven't seen the articles do try to get them; since you are somewhat intrigued by the bike I'm sure you wiill find it very interesting reading. I do hope Buell is successful with the Ulysses, and I give them credit for the chutzpa to enter the adventure touring market with a Harley engined motorcycle. I'll certainly test ride one when/if I am able to do so.
[This message has been edited by liketoride2 (edited 04 August 2005).]
I am looking forward to the reports and test rides to appear over here. The past tests on their road bikes always seem positive, lots of fun factor. I just went to the bike shop to look at the Buells again. No XB12X yet but I cant wait to have a sit on one and try it for size. So it sounds like the exhaust is stongly mounted and a high grade alloy bash plate would fix any rock problems. Take of the belly pan fairing and get a alloy toolbox down there, as is the norm, and its ready to abuse.
Good luck with your trip, sounds like a good ride. I think the two up riding is going to be the deciding factor on the bike decision. Let us know what you think of the Buell when you get a thrash on it.
Perhaps another reason I like the bike is the understatement of the marketing. Not trying to claim its a dirt bike.
I also hope they manage to win over the home market of the USA so we can see this thing getting years of developement in the future.
Its been written in 'which bike' here many times, any bike takes you to the unlimited horizons, just use the one that puts the smile on your face.
The GS boxer and XB12X are brothers in their funky non comformist ways and are in the same class. When it comes to which is the best will be decided on such interesting things as seat padding and windscreens.
Now, put them into the list of bikes used by people here on Grants fine website.
Scooters, Honda c50's
125's, enfield bullets
Jap 250 trailbikes and road bikes
and then all the way up to fireblades, R1's
Oops, just when you thought the list was done, the goldwings and electraglides are there aswell.
All of a sudden the BMW and the Buell seem to be very much in the same class.
As long the bike isnt spitting its valves out between my legs I would go for the Buell. Its all about the smiles, and little to do with marketting the "A" word(adventure).
As for the BMW, I have no problem carrying a spare final drive bearing and popping it in when needed. The bike just doesnt have anything more than the stroms and transalps of this world, only horsepower that I dont need. The Buell has that little something, the smile maker, fun factor.
ps Mike. How about these things. Get ride solo and have lots of money left for other stuff.. http://www.honda50.cc/
Buell look cool, GS look quite impressing and varadero look like a motorised frog on wheels.
I hope I don't hurt anyone and its only my opinion.
I'm not against an ugly looking bike, now, why is the look so important our days?
My ténéré with spoked wheels look quite ugly considering scratches, resprayed tank, duct taped stuff etc, so I guess it looks modern!
Also its quite good technically for the on/off road I do with it as suspension, consumption, weight, 18/21 rims, etc.
Even if I admire the Buell for its design, why would I need it? to go show off in Ethiopia? hey look at me I'm rich!
Instead of bringing spare parts, I would have to bring loads of polish to keep it nice looking.
[This message has been edited by Matt595 (edited 28 August 2005).]
Well Matt, I would go one further and say that a well sorted xt500 would be better for ethiopia than any of these 1000cc road based 'adventure' bikes. Your Tenere would surely out perform the best of them?
They are made for tarmac roads with a bit of gravel road ability thrown in.
I don't know about polish but there is a company selling mud in a spray can which suits them better.
Opinions are why forums exist, nice to hier them all...
(just be carefull your email address doesn't start getting spamed as mine did after the last post I made).
Yeah, you´re right, the thing is that I can´t understand the utility of a fashionable bike in "adventure" riding.
I once saw a picture of a rider in Africa, his bike crossing a deep mud road, he was in trouble, but he looked happy...normal, those situations are the ones making you smile..
Anyway, if we were speaking riding in Europe, then I would be delighted having a Buell, it´s harley engine sounds good, comfortable driving position and plenty of V-twin power.
I would go to Paris, cross those pedestrian bridges, drive the trocadero stairs upwards and to finish a wheelie down the Champs Elysées.
This is a driver from Switzerland, maybe on this forum also!?
He is also in Africa deep into mud:
What I mean is, how do you do those kind of crossings on a Buell with exhaust right under the engine and rubber chain in plastic case?
They say "Ulysses takes a rider everywhere a rider wants to go!"
Ain´t any GS killer there.
[This message has been edited by Matt595 (edited 01 September 2005).]
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