With the 2008 Lightning Super TT, Buell delivers an outstanding Supermoto that is meant to make an awful good impression on the streets. The bike aims towards performance so the Buell Thunderstorm 1203cc V-Twin engine is used. In communion with the impressively versatile chassis and the competition look, the powerplant is extremely well valued so we’re in for an interesting ride.
Buell’s Lightning XB12S can have many faces and the Supermoto approach is marked by the “TT” adding at the model’s name. I’m not quite sure that the machine is built for the track, but I do know that it is one hell of a blast out on the streets where I consider it belongs.
It manages to achieve its initial building purpose: a Supermoto styled motorcycle combined with the performance of a street destined ride.
The Buell Lightning XB12STT was first introduced to the public in November 2006 at the EICMA show in Milan, Italy. But the bike was to be sold as a 2007 model year and guess what? It wasn’t that different from the other Lightning models that have already been produced and marketed until the time.
1996 Buell S1 Lightning
Those models, especially the Buell Lightning XB12S, stood as the starting point for the 2007 new model, but the bike which started it all had been first produced in 1996 and it was called the Buell S1 Lightning. This is also the first Buell to ever feature the 1203cc V-Twin engine which produced 86 horsepower and 107 Nm. Now, the modern XB12STT develops 103 peak hp at 6800 rpm and 84 ft. lbs. peak torque at 6000 rpm so development never stops.
The main difference between the old and the new is huge, but if you take a look at the simple S model and than at the TT you will not find anything else but styling and ergonomic differences.
2008 Buell Lightning XB12STT
Those who have once seen a Buell model will always recognize the rest of the lineup and it is also how the Lightning XB12STT will be recognized.
The radical Supermoto styling is what practically “makes” this bike so it is strongly recommended that we take some walks around it and uncover its every single unique feature that get’s in a viewer’s memory and never gets out.
Starting with the front end, you will notice the 6-spoke wheel and the massive 375mm brake disc being quite close to the Supermoto-type fender while on the forks there is attached Buell’s idea on mudguards (sharp and stylish).
Its two eyes are being protected by a plastic net and the small fairing above the headlights is the one which hides the instruments and makes indeed a small difference when actually riding the thing.
It looks imposing and it does invite to adventure, no doubts about it. Also testimony to that is the supermoto-style crossbar handlebar with deflectors.
On the sides I usually get to speak about the gas tank which is the dominating feature in the case of most motorcycles, but not in this case. In fact, it is, but the idea is that the frame which dominates the area also holds the fuel so it is like talking about the gas tank, only that not the one that everybody expects us to refer.
Underneath the wide frame section, you can spot the engine’s V configuration and the cruiser-like exhaust pipes which gather in an under-the-engine muffler.
Perfectly blended in with the rest of the bike and practically ending it is the solo seat which gives the bike an even sharper appearance while accommodating the rider in complete comfort.
In order to fill up the remaining space in the Lightning’s rear end, Buell designers have applied a good trick without which we wouldn’t have called the bike Supermoto: the side panels.
Colors for the anniversary model (25th anniversary badge) are Baricade Orange and Arctic White.
I would like to say that during my time on the 2008 Buell Lightning XB12STT I tried not to compare it with the model which inspired its creation, but simply take it as it is: a bike of its own.
As I was saying in the introduction, the bike is built for the streets and it is a really impressive performer in its most appropriate environment. The key to its success was mass centralization, frame rigidity and low unsprung weight. Shall I even mention the 1203cc V-Twin engine? Yep, the powerplant is definitely well worth mentioning.
Powerful, responsive and a real torque-provider, the Thunderstorm engine manages to amaze its rider immediately as the throttle begins being twisted. It is a very appropriate bike for commuting even though this was not the purpose of its creation and its massiveness won’t quite help you squeeze between cars in order to be the first to leave behind the stop signs.
Being a V-Twin the engine vibrates pretty strongly, but it also has advantages nowhere else to be found. One of them would be the fact that torque is unsuppressed and you’ll feel like on a rocket going to the moon when you decide to give it a go. The mid-range is also strong and linear the only difference between it and the four-cylinders being the fact that it doesn’t rev that high, feeling a bit limited. But the 103 horses do make their presence felt and by the time you reach the 6800 redline there will be no other bike for you to love.
Due to its lightweight and low center of gravity, handling becomes the easiest thing. Although not as sharp-cornering as the XB12S (23.1 degrees rake instead of 21 degrees), the TT is very easy to ride and to accommodate to. Also, very much to do with the proper accommodations has the wide, flat handlebars, centered foot peg placement and the narrow seat. The Supermoto-like riding position helps the rider feel more in control and be more confident in its riding abilities than ever before. It will still have a fairly demanding riding experience due to the 54-inch wheelbase, but the bike does remain agile.
Outside town, the twisty roads will blink an eye to it and the riding enjoyment will reach the highest levels as you scrap the footpegs on the asphalt proving that this ride was built to go like no other when leaned over. This is also the point when you’ll be passing over virtually any other motorized vehicle on the road and have no regrets to have bought this ride.
2008 Buell Lightning XB12STT
And if the road gets a little bumpy, the fully adjustable 43mm Showa inverted fork and fully adjustable Showa rear shock absorber will have you covered in an instant. The bumps get easily absorbed and although you won’t have it taken to a closed course Supermoto track and jump the hack out of it, the suspensions perform excellent on the street and it seems enough to me.
The Buell Zero Torsional Load (ZTL) front brake system working on a 375mm disc brake provides all of the needed stopping power for this 380 lbs. piece of machinery, and combined with the single piston, floating caliper, 240mm rear brake system, the feel before a corner is secure and totally in control. It will easily pop up front wheelies, but it won’t through you at the ground each time you feel like stopping fast.
Offered for a suggested retail price of only $10,295, the Lightning that everyone desires to strike in its garage is not only a dream, but an easily accomplishable fact.
Bulletproof built, reliable and an easy-handling piece of machinery the subject of today’s review is a uniquely looking and performing piece of machinery. Some will like to criticize it by saying that a Harley engine will never properly power a bike that clams looking and performing as a Supermoto model, but I like to consider that this is actually its highest point. Because it does the job wonderfully!