Craig Gibbons' Lifeblog lifeblog://tri.eat.net

28Sep/050

Buell Lightning CityX XB9SX Test Ride

Ever since I got my full bike license a few weeks ago I have been wrestling myself into the dirt just about every day agonising over whether to buy a shiny new big bike right away, or do the practical thing and wait until next year before upgrading. Eventually, my impatient excitable half, or rather 9/10's, got the better of me and I booked a test ride on a Buell Lightning CityX XB9SX, one of the main contenders in the ultimate purchase decision. After barely 6 hours sleep and several pints on Friday night, I awoke like a kid on coca cola and a stray diet pill on Saturday morning to make the journey to Warrs Harley Davidson in Chelsea for my test ride. After signing my life away, I was on the road and immediately struck by just how impressive this bike is. At 984CC's producing a formidable 84bhp, this bike is not for children or beginners. The salesman told me warningly before I left the showroom to let her tyres warm up a bit before putting the hammer down. His advice was noted and after about 20 minutes pottering around watching scooters overtake me, I’d had enough and let gravity exert its influence on my right hand, a motion which simultaneously injected about as much adrenalin into my bloodstream as fuel into the cylinders. Talk about letting loose the hounds of hell, I finally understand what all this American Thunder fuss is about. It truly is a machine that commands respect from bikes and cars alike. Rolling up to traffic lights is like being mounted on a great white gliding through a shoal of minnows. Scooters flee in terrified panic, motorists’ eye the new-comer wearily from the safety of their metal cages and bigger bikes make space in a way that shows respect. This bike is raw power and fun and it was with a great feeling of dejectedness that I handed back the keys, remounted my scooter and rode off, mortal and minnowed again. I thought about that experience all weekend and started making calls to arrange insurance on Monday, determined to be back on a Buell by the next weekend. My enthusiasm was short lived though. The Buell, for whatever reason, is classified as category 15 for insurance purposes. This, combined with street parking and a 3 week old full license, ended up securing a premium roughly equivalent to half the purchase price of the bike. I could effectively buy a new one every 2 years. Practically speaking... there's that pesky 1/10th putting in 2c again... the Buell, despite its massive appeal, is not a practical bike in the way a BMW 1200 GS is. There is no possibility of luggage anywhere on the bike and passenger space is severely limited, making biking weekends a virtual impossibility. For now, the jury is out on this one. I have a test ride of a BMW 1200 GS booked for this weekend at BMW Park Lane. Who knows, it might be even more impressive.

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