CG stands for center of gravity, and the Lightning XB12Scg keeps it low with a reshaped seat and lowered front and rear suspension that reduces the seat height to 28.6 inches. It’s all accomplished with no compromise to handling or performance.
The Buell Lightning series is a family of motorcycles with a strong strain of American Streetfighter DNA. Packing a one-two combination of V-Twin muscle and innovative engineering, the Lightning is a motorcycle designed to excel in the real world, where torque trumps horsepower and credibility is earned on the streets and backroads.
Wide, flat handlebars and athletic ergonomics put the Lightning rider in control of any situation. A broad, V-Twin powerband means thrust is always just a twist of the throttle away. The Thunderstorm 1203 features electronic fuel injection and dry-sump oiling, and is equipped with the Buell InterActive Exhaust system, which 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.
A short wheelbase and stiff chassis – the pure application of the Buell Trilogy of Technology philosophy – produce a motorcycle that is agile and intuitively responsive to rider input. There are five Buell Lightning models for 2008.
BUELL BRIEFING - The History of a Dream
At the heart of any motorcycle purist, resides the soul of a dreamer. No matter how big or small, within each of us is a desire to color outside the lines and to dream the impossible. The difference though between the dreamers and achievers is the added ability to risk it all, and to not only reach your dream, but to never stop dreaming of more.
For most dreamers of the two-wheeled variety, having your namesake emblazoned on the fuel tank of an American built streetfighter motorcycle you spent years creating, massaging, failing, succeeding and more importantly dreaming of, would be reason enough to smile, sit back and call it a day. But for Erik Buell, the man behind this classic American success story, the dream has only just begun.
Case in point. On Feb. 19, 1998, Erik Buell completed the sale of almost all of his interest in the Buell Motorcycle Company to his business partner, Harley-Davidson, Inc. Harley-Davidson had been a minority partner in the Buell Motorcycle Company since 1993, and a behind the scenes player prior. As part of the acquisition, Erik was named Chairman and Chief Technical Officer Buell.
According to Erik, the acquisition was a strong signal of Harley-Davidson’s continued commitment to Buell as a separate and distinct product and brand. "I knew with Harley-Davidson’s expanded level of support, Buell could move forward with plans for growth which were nothing more than mere dreams before," Erik said.
The acquisition was yet another chapter in the remarkable story of Buell Motorcycles. It was major event in the life of company founder, Erik Buell, and a signpost along the ongoing 18 year dream of creating a world-class American sportbike.
BUELLOGRAPHY - It Starts with One
The first motorcycle Erik designed and built under his company name ’Pittsburgh Performance Products,’ was the RW750 in 1983. This 750cc, two-stroke, "square-four," rotary valve racing machine was designed specifically to compete in the AMA Formula One road racing class. The first prototype RW750 hit the track for its debut that same summer in the AMA National at Pocono Speedway. Buell continued extensive testing and development work on the bike throughout the summer and into the fall. His success was measured during testing at Talladega, Alabama, where it was clocked at a top speed of 178 mph.
Development on the RW750 continued through 1984, and a production version was released in the fall. Just one RW750 was sold to the American Machinists Racing Team before the AMA announced that 1985 would be the last year of Formula One racing. Superbike would now occupy the premier race class in 1986, effectively eliminating any market for the RW750.
Crushing news as that may have been to lesser builders, Erik viewed the rule change simply as a setback. He went back to work, refocusing his dream and this time aiming squarely at the goal of creating the first world-class sportbike designed and assembled in the USA. Tapping his knowledge of what works on the racetrack and his experience as a Harley-Davidson engineer, Erik designed his first entry into the sportbike market, the RR1000. Powered by the Harley-Davidson XR1000 engine, the rigid and lightweight chassis incorporated a rubber-mounting design which became a patented engineering feature of Buell sport bikes.
Buell motorcycles also utilized the engine as a fully stressed member of the frame, and the use of a rear suspension mounted beneath the motor with a shock operating in reverse of conventional compression-rebound practice, capped off the first ever all-American sportbike. A total of 50 RR1000 models were produced under the name of Buell Motor Company during the 1987-88 season depleting the remaining XR1000 engines.
Erik saw the new 1203cc Harley-Davidson Evolution engine as an opportunity to continue tuning the performance and handling qualities of his bikes. With this in mind, he began redesigning the chassis to accommodate the 1203. The resulting RR1200 model was introduced during 1988, and 65 were produced for sale through 1989.
In 1996, Buell introduced the all-new S1 Lightning motorcycle. The original "street fighter," the S1 Lightning defined a whole new class of "hooligan" motorcycles. Featuring minimal bodywork, a racing styled seat, exposed frame and the centralized mass of the 1203cc engine, exhaust system and suspension, the model was named "Hooligan Bike of the Year" by Cycle World Magazine.
Together with the S3 Thunderbolt and the S3T Thunderbolt, the S1 Lightning combined for sales in excess of 2,000 units.
In 1998, the new 101-hp Thunderstorm engine heads were introduced into the Buell line-up as part of the powerplant for the new S1W White Lightning model. Similar in styling to the S1 Lightning, the new bike featured a carbon fiber rear fender, bold colors and the super-high output engine. The S1W was named "Best Standard" by Cycle World Magazine. Sales continued to grow, with more than 5,000 motorcycles sold for the 1998 model year.
A complete redesign of the Lightning model range was in store for 1999. New body, frame, suspension, larger and more comfortable seats and bold new color offerings marked the entrance of the Lightning X1. Dynamic Digital Fuel Injection (DDFI) became another high-tech standard feature on the Lightning. The redesign, refinements and injection of new technology contributed to total sales of approximately 8,000 units worldwide for 1999.
The 2003 Buell XB9S Lightning was created with the Buell philosophy of design in mind: low unsprung weight, mass centralization, and chassis rigidity. The model was crafted with premium components, and has minimalist styling/visually exposed technology, agility, and handling.
For 2005, Buell added a new motorcycle to the streetfighter category it dominates: the Buell Lightning CityX XB9SX (pronounced "Lightning City Cross"), a motorcycle bred to rule the mean streets. The Lightning CityX gives the Buell Lightning platform a tough new profile and offers performance that’s especially suited to urban riding - a combination of agile handling and muscular mid-range power.
A dream world? Perhaps, but in the world of Buell, it’s just another dream come true.
Buell revs up Thunderstorm V-twin engines for 2008.
Buell continues to develop its Thunderstorm V-Twin powertrain in 2008, with significant enhancements that boost engine performance and reduce required maintenance.
The Buell Thunderstorm is a modern air/oil/fan-cooled V-Twin powertrain utilized in the Buell XB motorcycle platform that includes the Firebolt, Lightning and Ulysses model families. Two versions of the engine are offered. The Thunderstorm 1203 displaces 1203cc and produces 103 horsepower at 6800 rpm and 84 ft. lbs. of torque at 6000 rpm. The Thunderstorm 984 displaces 984cc and produces 92 horsepower at 7500 rpm and 70 ft. lbs. of torque at 6000 rpm. Both are tuned to deliver a broad, flat torque curve that makes abundant power available to the rider at almost any speed, reducing the need for downshifting and providing strong acceleration in any situation.
Both engines feature electronic fuel injection and dry-sump oiling. The Thunderstorm 1203 is equipped with the Buell InterActive Exhaust system, which 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.
For 2008 the Thunderstorm 1203 redline is increased to 7100 rpm from 6800 rpm, giving this engine an even broader powerband, and riders the ability to accelerate longer and downshift at a higher rpm. The rpm redline of the Thunderstorm 984 remains 7500 rpm.
For 2008, the following changes have been made to both the Thunderstorm 1203 and the Thunderstorm 984:
New Timing System
The timer cover is eliminated, as the engine is now crank timed from a new crank position sensor, which eliminates the need for manual timing, reducing maintenance costs. The ECM actively monitors and adjusts timing based on driving environment. The new sensor makes 30 reads per revolution, compared to the previous two reads per revolution, for more precise control of fuel mapping and timing to conditions.
More Robust Crankpins
The size of the crankpins is increased to 1.50 inches from 1.25 inches.
Oiling System Upgraded
A higher-output oil pump supports oiling to the new crankpin area. The new pump is driven off of the crank, a design based on the Buell XBRR production racing motorcycle. A new eight-row oil cooler offers enhanced cooling performance. All oil line ends are now equipped with Jiffy-tite fittings.
New DDFI 3 ECM (Engine Control Module)
A new ECM with increased computing capacity. DDFI 3 actively controls and monitors the TPS (throttle position sensor), IAC (idle air control), and timing. DDFI 3 automatically zeros the TPS and adjusts fuel metering for smoother idle, eliminating service intervals and reducing the cost of ownership. A new progressive throttle cam and new throttle cables provide smoother throttle input from stops, and less rotation to full throttle.
Buell Lightning XB12Scg highlights:
- 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
- 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
- Dry Weight: 395 pounds
- Wheelbase: 52 inches
- Seat height: 28.6 inches
- New Cosmetic Frame Protectors
- New Pre-Wired for Accessory Heated Grips
- New Instrument Panel Graphics
- Pirelli Diablo T tires
- Available with Translucid bodywork
- Commemorative Buell 25th Anniversary badge
Overall Length: 75.70 in. (1922.78 mm)
Overall Width: 29.70 in. (754.38 mm)
Seat Height: 28.60 in. (726.44 mm)
Ground Clearance: 3.55 in. (90.17 mm)
Rake (steering head): 21°
Fork Angle: 21°
- Soft Contact, Right: 42°
- Soft Contact, Left: 42°
- Hard Contact, Right: 50°
- Hard Contact, Left: 48°
Trail: 3.30 in. (83.82 mm)
Wheelbase: 52 in. (1320.80 mm)
- Front: 120/70 ZR-17
- Rear: 180/55 ZR-17
Fuel Capacity: 3.82 gal. (14.46 L)
Reserve Fuel Capacity: 0.75 gal. (2.84 L)
Fuel Economy (EPA urban/highway test): 48/65 mpg (4.90/3.62 L/100 km)
- Dry Weight: 395 lbs. (179.17 kg)
- Gross Vehicle Weight Rating: 850 lbs. (385.55 kg)
Load Capacity: 391 lbs. (177.35 kg)
Engine: Air/oil/fan-cooled, 4-stroke, 45˚ V-Twin
Valve Train: OHV, two valves per cylinder, self-adjusting
Bore x Stroke: 3.50 in. x 3.81 in. (88.90 mm x 96.82 mm)
Displacement: 73.40 cu. in. (1203 cc)
Compression Ratio: 10.0:1
Fuel Delivery: 49 mm down draft DDFI III fuel injection
Intake: Zero-resistance airbox
Exhaust: Tuned, tri-pass resonance chamber with InterActive valve and mass-centralized mounting
Torque(North America per SAE J607): 84 ft. lbs. @ 6000 rpm (113.90 NM @ 6000 rpm)
Horsepower(North America per SAE J607): 103 hp @ 6800 rpm
Lubrication: Dry sump
Oil Capacity: 2.50 qts. (2.37 L)
Oil Filtration: Screw-on disposable element
Primary Drive: Chain, 1.500:1 (57/38) ratio
Final Drive: Constant path, 14 mm pitch aramid-reinforced Goodyear Hibrex® belt with Flexten® Plus technology, 2.407:1 (65/27) ratio
Clutch: Wet, multi-plate, compensated,
Transmission: 5-speed, constant mesh
- 1st 2.648
- 2nd 1.892
- 3rd 1.407
- 4th 1.166
- 5th 1.000
Frame: Aluminum frame with Uniplanar™ powertrain vibration isolation system, fuel in frame
Front Fork: 41 mm Showa® inverted forks with adjustable compression damping, rebound damping and spring preload
Rear Shock: Showa® coil-over monoshock with remote, under-seat reservoir and adjustable compression damping, rebound damping and spring preload
Wheels: Cherry Bomb Translucent or Designer Black Powdercoat
- Front: 6-spoke, ZTL™ cast aluminum, 3.50 in. x 17 in. (88.90 mm x 431.80 mm)
- Rear: 6-spoke, cast aluminum, 5.50 in. x 17 in. (139.70 mm x 431.80 mm)
- Front: ZTL™-type brake, 6-piston, fixed caliper, 375 mm single-sided, inside-out, stainless steel, floating rotor
- Rear: Single-piston, floating caliper; 240 mm stainless steel, fixed rotor
- Front Wheel: 3.12 in. (79.25 mm)
- Rear Wheel: 5.06 in. (128.52 mm)
Battery(per Battery Council International Rating): Sealed lead acid, maintenance-free, 12V, 12 amp/hour, 200 cca
Charging: 30-amp, permanent magnet, single-phase alternator with solid-state regulator (405W @3000 rpm, 405W peak)
Starting: 1.2 kW electric with solenoid shift starter motor engagement
Lights (as per country regulation):
- Headlamp(twin quartz halogen [H7]): 55-watt low beam, 55-W high beam
- Tail / Stop Lights: 5W/21W
- Turn Signal Lights: 10W manual canceling
- License Plate Light: 5W
- Electronic speedometer,
- dual tripmeter;
- high beam,
- low fuel (plus, odometer shows miles traveled on reserve),
- turn signal and engine diagnostic indicator lamps;
- Cherry Bomb Translucid,
- Valencia Orange Translucid,
- Midnight Black
Warranty: 24 months (unlimited mileage)