Founded in 1983 by ex-Harley Davidson engineer Erik Buell, early Buell models were designed for racing use (Buell himself being a successful racer) and employed Harley Davidson V-Twin engines, a feature which would characterise the majority of Buell motorcycles until their demise in 2009. Early production bikes included the Thunderbolt, Lightning and Cyclone models, all with steel tubular frames which employed the engine as a structural member and with rear suspension components mounted underneath, a radical layout even by today’s standards.
The XB range was launched in 2003 featuring beam style frames again with Harley Sportster derived 985 and 1200cc engines. Characterised by a very short wheelbase (longer wheelbase versions were also offered) and very distinctive ‘naked’ styling, a good used XB9 or XB12 is fun to ride and certainly offers a lot of performance for the money. Launched in 2005 and marketed as an ‘adventure sports’ bike, the Ulysses XB12X is a very capable dual purpose machine which found a small if loyal following. Launched in 2007, The XB3 1125R model is a sports bike which utilises the Rotax Helicon 4-valve V-twin motor and which was produced in standard and cafe racer variants until the eventual closure of the company in late 2009.