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4 December 2005

Buell XB9R - road test

Had a chance to test a race-kitted, 2nd-hand Buell XB9R Firebolt last week. It was quite an experience. How can such a fundmentally flawed motorcycle be this much fun?

Sadly, I didn't get to ride one of the white or yellow ones, I had to make do with a dull shade of blue.

The bike I was on had 14,000+kms on the clock, and a broken speedo. The 'race kit' as far as I can tell consists of a very loud pipe and a remap of the injection to suit.

First impressions were good. The footpegs are high-set but the bike is otherwise quite comfy even for someone of my tall, corpulent dimensions. The position of the handlebars seemed spot-on, and the switchgear was easy to use.

Powered by modified version of the Harley Sportster 883 Engine, the XB9R is a seriously schizoid motorcycle. Here we have super-compact, quick-steering sportsbike built around a tall, overweight, crude and laughably underpowered motor.

The first thing I noticed about the engine was how badly it vibrates. Some would call this 'character'. I call it 'shit engineering'. The bike shakes so badly at the lights it's a wonder the mirrors didn't fall off.

Get the bike moving though, and it'll bring a smile to your face. The throttle response is simply brilliant, thanks to some good engine mapping and the belt-drive, though it did have a hiccup in the fueling in 1st gear. It had a nice surge of torque for brisk acceleration, at least until to hit redline, which comes in at a laughable 7,000rpm. You've barely opened the taps before you have to kick it up a gear. Between 5,500 and 7,000, you've got a glorious burst of power, but you'll hardly have time to enjoy it. It would be even worse on the stock bike, with less power and less torque to play with.

The clutch action was surprisingly smooth, though the gearshift was tractor-like. Oh, did I mention how great this bike sounds with a loud pipe on it?

The biggest problem with the bike are the suspenders, which are absolutely dire if this demo bike was any indication. I've read in some overseas reviews that the bike needs some serious suspension tweaking before it will deliver the handling you'd expect from such a compact bike. I'd love to ride an XB9R with an Ohlins kit fitted.

The quality of finish wasn't really up the scratch for such a pricey bike, and as the broken speedo indicates, Buells have a long, long way to go before they catch up to Japanese build quality.

Oh, and the brakes are pretty ordinary too.

That's a lot of faults for a $16,000 sportsbike that will get blown to the weeds by pretty much any Japanese sports tackle. Yet I had an absolute ball riding this bike. Maybe it was the weirdness of a huge, lumpy v-twin in such a tiny frame, or the experience of riding a sportsbike that sounds like a chopper. Maybe it was the handling potential that lies in the super-compact chassis. Riding a Buell is an experience unlike any other on two wheels.

But I can't help but wonder how good it would be with a Japanese powerplant inside. The stock bike puts out a feeble 80+hp. Compare that to the hardly-cutting-edge VTR1000, which puts out 105hp. Despite the fun factor, the fact remains that the XB9R is hobbled in the performance department by a dickless cruiser engine.

The XB9R was a hoot to ride, and I'd love for Santa to bring me one for Christmas, but if I'm gonna buy a Buell, it'll be the XB12R or nothing.


Asking for help from PC geeks

Since getting my new PC, I've been trying unsuccessfully to get my stuff off my old PC hard drive.

I bought an 'R-Driver' USB-to-IDE cable.

Try as I might, I cannot get my current WinXP PC to recognise the thing when I plug it in. It simply doesn't appear as an external drive or device.

- have tried plug-n-play and using the R-Driver drivers.
- have tried running the old drive powered and non-powered.
- have tried different USB ports. No problem using any other USB device.
- my current XP machine simply won't start when the old drive is plugged in at startup. Plug it in later, it just doesn't get recognised.
- no amount of farting around with "add hardware" has achieved anything.

And yes, the old drive is in "slave" mode. I've checked over and over.

Would this be a firewall issue? I use Macafee personal Firewall Plus, with the normal security settings.

Any suggestions? This sucks.


Death to bicycles!

Love it...


Still no Thommy action

Thom Lyons still hasn't sued me or had me arrested, as promised.

He is, however, still huffing with rage about my checking up on his claims of military service. Apparently unaware that anyone can request a D.O.D. record, Thom claims this is breaking privacy laws, and has 'dared' me to go to the US Embassy and request his records, because they'll 'arrest' me.

Oh, and if anyone was in doubt as to just how crazy Thom Lyons really is, check out his explanation as to why he's not willing to answer those pesky questions about his military service:

Thom: Ever heard of eschelon ?

Me: LOL. What does eschelon have to do with your lies?

Thom: Well since I'm not the liar and nutter around here it has to do with the fact they monitor everything including this news group looking for Terrorist and dangerous people like you.

So.....Thom won't explain his contradictory claims of military service, because Eschelon will be spying on his answers. Um, yeah, I can see how letting the US government get publically available info they already have is such a frightening idea.

Remember kids, this is the man described by the Victorian Greens party as:

he is one of the most highly educated Greens and potentially a great asset to the State Government

As what? An organ doner?

Looking for older whackings?

Wanna see my previous rants against lefty, commie, peacenick wankers, plus lots of fun stuff about motorcycles, music and movies?................ Click here for the full past whackings index


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