Many consider the Ulysses a good enough motorcycle which would provide confidence on and off the road, but us, here at TopSpeed like to call it the absolute American Adventure Sport motorcycle. It is an awesome performer when you hit the streets on it, but if the planned shortcut takes you through unpaved roads or even woods, there’s no worry. It will perform excellent and show us once again that the Thunderstorm engine is versatility itself.
For 2008, Buell delivers an absolutely great traveler’s bike fitted with fully adjustable Premium Showa front and rear suspension. Comfort was the aiming point so the rear spring preload is adjustable, making the passenger more comfortable and willing to stay longer on the bike. Ground clearance is 6.75 inches and suspension travels is 6.5 inches front and 6.4 inches rear, but these numbers won’t affect much of the road characteristics because the low center of mass will have the bike easily controllable. The only thing for a rider remaining to do is to get the best out of the mighty 103 HP Buell Firestorm 1203cc V-Twin engine.
Buell first introduced the Ulysses in 2006. The bike was practically an XB with long travel suspension and longer frame and swingarm. It stands as Buell’s idea of an Adventure Sport motorcycle, but the engine couldn’t have been other than the 45-degree Thunderstorm V-Twin.
It offered a comfortable riding position due to the seat, handlebars and footpegs arrangement so it was built around the rider. The frame’s fuel capacity was and still is 4.40 gallons.
Stylistically, the first introduction isn’t different at all from the 2008 version. 2006 colors were Midnight Black and Barricade Orange.
In 2007 the Ulysses was only available in Barricade Orange with Magnesium Tone wheels.
New for 2008 is the thrust blue body work.
2008 KTM 990 Adventure
Adventure bikes are usually more off-road oriented, pretty much like the KTM 990 Adventure. The Austrian’s idea on a versatile motorcycle consists in the ability of going not only on unpaved surfaces, but through the desert if you will. For 2008, the bike receives even more displacement, an electronic fuel injection, regulated catalytic converter and an ABS System so the Buell is in for some fierce competition when not on the streets. Engine is a 999cc twin cylinder, 4-stroke, V 75 degree.
2008 BMW R 1200 GS Adventure
You will also find it in that situation when you have it put up against the BMW R 1200 GS Adventure. The Germans have a similar looking motorcycle which is also ready to carry you across the continents and it will also prove competitive on paved streets. The difference between it and the rest of the bikes in this off-road fight is the 105 HP 1170cc air and oil cooled Boxed Twin. Everybody going for a trip around the world will most likely be seen on the BMW R 1200 GS Adventure.
2008 Ducati Multistrada 1100
Probably its most appropriate competitor, given to the fact that it is more familiar with the streets than with the off-road, is the Ducati Multistrada 1100. A sport bike which is capable of proving its point both on and off the road, the V-Twin powered ride offers incredible comfort, something that makes it ideal for day-long rides on all kinds of roads, especially paved ones.
2008 Buell Ulysses XB12X
Usually, people like to buy motorcycles that are not strange looking and supposedly unattractive and some will think that the Ulysses finds itself in that category. But I don’t agree! I simply consider the Ulysses the future of American Adventure motorcycles (and not only; take a look at the R 1200 GS Adventure), a machine with an affinity for the streets, something that reflects on its design too.
First thing are the wheels. They look like being taken right off the Lightning models as they feature 17” and road rubber. Between them, the under-the-motor-exhaust and the 45 degree V-Twin motor itself also remind us of the all-street bikes, but they also make the Ulysses look imposing and ready to leave the competition behind.
The front end is dominated by the headlights (covered with a grill), the small fairing and the windshield which makes things easier on the rider when covering ground at high speeds. Handlebars are highly positioned and feature hand guards having the purpose of protecting the rider’s hands from wind chill (highway) and debris (off-road).
The frame holds the gas so the bike’s wideness is justified. Comfort is offered by the spacious seat which together with the handlebars and footpegs offers a great riding position, ideal for twisty roads and, why not, off-road incursions.
This makes me jump on it again, but let’s see what were the results the first time I did so.