Buell XB12R Firebolt


Make Model.

Buell XB12R Firebolt




45° V-Twin, four stroke, pushrod actuated overhead valve. hydraulic self-adjusting lifters, 2 valve per cylinder.


1203 cc / 73 cu in
Bore x Stroke 88.9 x 96.8 mm
Compression Ratio 10.0:1
Cooling System Air cooled
Exhaust Free breathing, 2-into-1 Buell Interactive exhaust system


Ø49 mm downdraft DDFI II fuel injection



Max Power

86.9 kW / 103 hp @ 6800 rpm

Max Torque

114 Nm / 11.6 kgf-m / 84 ft-lbs @ 6000 rpm


5 Speed

Final Drive

Frame Aluminium frame with Uniplanar™ Powertrain vibration isolation system




83 mm / 3.3"

Front Suspension

Showa Ø43 mm inverted forks compression damping, rebound damping and spring preload adjustable

Front Wheel Travel

120 mm / 4.7"

Rear Suspension

Showa coil-over monoshock, remote underseat reservoir and adjustable compression damping, rebound damping and spring preload, 127mm wheel travel

Rear Wheel Travel

127 mm / 5.0"

Front Brakes

ZTL type brake, 6 piston, fixed caliper, Ø375 mm single-sided, inside out, stainless steel, floating rotor

Rear Brakes

Single Ø240 mm disc, 1 piston floating caliper

Front Wheel

3.50 x 17"

Rear Wheel

5.50 x 17"

Front Tyre

120/70 ZR17, Pirelli Diablo

Rear Tyre

180/55 ZR17 Pirelli Diablo


Length: 1924 mm / 75.7"

Width:     768 mm / 30.2"

Height:  1092 mm / 43.0"

Wheelbase 1320 mm / 52.0"
Ground Clearance 127 mm / 5.0"
Seat Height 775 mm / 30.5"

Dry Weight

179 kg / 395 lbs

Fuel Capacity

14 L / 3.7 US gal

Average Fuel Consumption

5.6 L/100 km / 17.9 km/L / 42 US mpg

Standing ¼ Mile

11.4 sec, 182 km/h / 113 mph

Top Speed

249 km/h / 155 mph
Reviews Greg Sanchez

A premium sportfighter motorcycle, the Firebolt XB12R utilizes a compact wheelbase and race-inspired chassis geometry for nimble, intuitive handling. The 1203cc Buell Thunderstorm V-Twin engine makes 103 peak horsepower at 6800 rpm, and 84 ft. lbs. of peak torque at 6000 rpm, with 75 percent of peak torque available at 3500 rpm. The Buell InterActive Exhaust system utilizes a valve in the dual-chamber muffler that is controlled by the ECM and adjusts exhaust flow according to riding conditions to smooth torque delivery and optimize engine power. The Firebolt features clip-on handlebars for optimal control, an aerodynamic quarter-fairing with dual projector-beam headlamps, and a sleek, covered passenger pillion. The suggested retail price of the Firebolt XB12R has been reduced by $500, to $9,995.

In a convergence of American V-Twin muscle and track-inspired chassis dynamics, the 2008 Buell Firebolt XB12R offers sportbike riders an unrivaled riding experience. Powerful, well-balanced, reliable and also easy to own, the Buell Firebolt is a sport motorcycle designed to take its rider to a new level of performance, whether as a track-day champ or as an exhilarating canyon carving tool. A winner of multiple pro and amateur roadracing championships around the world, the Firebolt was also presented with the coveted "Best Cornering Motorcycle of All Time" award by Britain's Bike magazine.

The Firebolt XB12R is powered by the air/oil/fan-cooled 1203cc Thunderstorm V-Twin engine tuned to deliver immediate, usable power over a broad rpm range and launch the Firebolt out of corners and down the road. The Buell Trilogy of Technology principles – frame rigidity, low unsprung weight and mass centralization  are employed to give the Firebolt uncanny, intuitively responsive handling. Styled to reveal its pure, mechanical beauty, the Buell Firebolt looks and performs like no other motorcycle on the road.

 What's New on the Firebolt XB12R for 2008
Modifications enhance the performance of the Thunderstorm 1203 V-Twin powertrain, reduce maintenance costs, and allow a redline of 7100 rpm (see separate Thunderstorm release for details)

The Firebolt is pre-wired for installation of accessory heated hand grips, with 18 watts per side and High and Low heat settings.

The instrument panel styling is refreshed and the tachometer reflects the new 7100-rpm redline.

A commemorative Buell 25th Anniversary graphic with Erik Buell's signature is placed on the upper triple clamp.

Cosmetic frame protectors help reduce damage to the frame in case of a tip-over incident.

A new color choice: Arctic White body panels, Hero Blue Translucid wheels and windscreen, and a Graphite Grey frame.


Buell Thunderstorm 1203 V-Twin engine
103 peak hp @ 6800 rpm (per SAE J607)
84 ft. lbs. peak torque @ 6000 rpm (per SAE J607)
Buell InterActive Exhaust
New DDFI 3 Electronic Fuel Injection ECM
New eight-row oil cooler with Jiffy-tite fittings
Dry Weight: 395 pounds
Wheelbase: 52 inches
Fully adjustable 43 mm Showa inverted fork
Fully adjustable Showa rear shock absorber
Buell ZTL front brake
Goodyear Hibrex drive belt with Flexten Plus technology
New Cosmetic Frame Protectors
New Pre-Wired for Available Heated Grips
New Instrument Panel Graphics
Pirelli Diablo T tires
New Arctic White/Hero Blue Translucent colors
Commemorative Buell 25th Anniversary badge

II consider myself one of the fortunate journalists that get to test new motorcycles all year round, primarily because of my geographical location – Florida, the sun capital of the world – or should I say, the bike capital of the United States. But, like most of us, I’m not privileged enough to live on a canyon road or near the surroundings that resemble the environment for which some of these sportbikes were created for – that long, winding road that in a word is motorcycle “nirvana.”
For years I rooted for the concept of an American-made sportbike, but after testing some Buell products a few years ago and listening to the constant complaints about quality and service, I sort of put that idea on hold until a few weeks ago, when I finally got to test Buell’s new XB12R for the first time. And boy was I surprised, for this new model mates the intuitive handling and innovative technology of the original Firebolt XB9R with a torque-monster engine - a new 1203cc lightweight 45 degree, air/fan and oil-cooled fuel-injected V-Twin rated at 103 peak horsepower and 84 ft. lbs. of tire-twisting torque. Its entire displacement boost comes through an increase in stroke, from 3.125 inches to 3.812 inches with a compression ratio of 10:1.

Torque comes from the big cylinders, of course, but the linearity of the powerband is due to the fact that this new engine comes equipped with Buell InterActive Exhaust, thus broadening its torque band by way of an electronic actuator that activates a butterfly valve in the muffler to adjust back-pressure by alternating between two exhaust gas flow paths. The engine computer monitors engine speed and throttle position while activating the valve to optimize torque and horsepower for the riding condition. The valve opens at low rpm for the best flow, and then closes in the midrange for optimum torque before opening again at high rpm. As part of the system, header pipe diameter is increased from 1.50 inches to 1.75 inches. The intake throttle body diameter is increased from 45mm to 49mm, and a stiffer clutch spring and new Aramid reinforced Hibrex drive belt are fitted to handle the torque demands of the 1203cc engine. The primary drive ratio is lowered from 1.68:1 to 1.50:1. Gear ratios in the five-speed transmission remain unchanged.

The rigid aluminum frame is a light-weight, multi-functional structure that serves as a solid foundation for the bike as well as a support for the 3.7-gallon fuel tank. Using the frame to carry fuel significantly lowers the center of gravity and reduces the moment of inertia, both of which improve the bike's reaction to rider input. Mass centralization and a low center of gravity are further enhanced by locating the muffler below the Firebolt’s engine. A massive aluminum swingarm doubles as the engine oil reservoir, and is supported by an adjustable Showa shock absorber.

The Buell Zero Torsional Load front brake system feeds braking forces from a six-piston caliper through a 375mm inside-out rotor mounted near the wheel rim to virtually eliminate torsional loads to the front wheel. This permits the use of a light-weight, six-spoke cast aluminum wheel that significantly reduces unsprung weight and steering inertia. The front end is suspended by a fully adjustable 43mm Showa inverted fork.

It surely feels like the best sportbike ever built by Buell; definitely the smoothest drivetrain I’ve experienced on a sportbike, with not a hint of abruptness many other injected bikes have when re-applying the throttle coming out of corners. Simply put, one that will satisfy the needs of most sport riders, and it’s not just the peak horsepower, but the ground-pounding, mid-range torque you can command to accelerate almost instantly in any given situation. I felt comfortable all the time I was riding -- my average 5’7” body wasn’t too crumpled up, and the close-coupled riding position on the new Firebolt didn’t force too much pressure on my wrists, although it might be different for taller riders, who might get cramped from the high pegs that offer plenty of ground clearance.

At speeds of up to 80 mph, it’s a smooth cruise, as the engine turns at just 3800 rpm thanks to a taller primary drive ratio than fitted to the XB9s, but when you go past that 80 mark, vibration becomes an issue and could get intrusive, eventually numbing the rider’s hands. Despite the vibration-isolating engine mounts, vibration sneaks through the solid-mounted clip-on handlebars and the firm seat; a skinny butt will get sore after more than an hour in the saddle.

There are two colors to choose from; either the Racing Red color that I tested, or Midnight Black. The bike features a Graphite Grey frame and swingarm, black-and-amber tail and airbox graphics, magnesium-toned clutch and cam covers, and a wild amber windscreen. The cast aluminum wheels receive an exclusive, high-gloss translucent paint process that produces a beautiful amber color with natural variations and depth. The perforated seat cover completes the premium look.

Though a terrific bike, I would like to see a few changes made or at least addressed -- the unfinished (non-glossy) inner fairing panels look inexpensive, the bar control housing and the plastic turn signal switch looks and feels tacky, the clutch cable rubbed against the plastic lower fairing, and the yellow-tinted windscreen causes the yellow fuel light to appear illuminated in daylight.

There’s plenty to like about the XB12R, starting with the fact that they have totally abandoned the barrel-type key and separate fork lock of previous models in favor of a regular slot key and integrated fork lock. The analog instruments with two tripmeters and a clock are easy to read, and one of my favorites are the wheels with thin spokes and that translucent amber color that glows in sunlight.

I say this bike is worth considering for many reasons, but at $10,995 with the new two-year unlimited warranty (unlike one-year coverage for models prior to 2003), plus the comfort and dynamics, and the uniqueness of riding this proud American bike, makes it worth every penny. And if you ever felt the power was not cutting it for you, there are always plenty of aftermarket parts for the engine to make it DYNOMITE.

All in all, this new Buell XB12R Firebolt is one to think about, for it not only gives you plenty of fun riding, but you’ll look plenty good while riding it!

Source Greg Sanchez