2006 Hybrid "XB12XS" Ulysses


Stock Break-in At The "Dragon", Deals Gap, NC

"A bike on the road is worth two in the shed."



Stock Height                         Lowered Height

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2006/2007 Aprilia Tuono Mirror Conversion

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GMD Computrack Technicians Making Precision Chassis Measurements For Suspension Upgrades 

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Lowered 2" With A Custom Penske Shock And Showa GSX-Race Fork Mods

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Engine Rotation For Exhaust Mods

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Drummer Exhaust & Other Mods Completed

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Suspension & Tires

After several decades of riding and some two-dozen bikes of all types (http://www.zenfire.ws/mybikes.htm), I recently settled on a 2006 Uly as my primary bike for solo touring and mountain twisties although I wanted a XB12Ss “Long” (same 54” wheelbase/chassis as the Uly) but factory hard bags were not available for the Ss model. So, the Uly was chosen with one objection—excessive height for my 30” inseam. Since off-road ventures on a heavy bike don’t interest me, I have no need for 6.75” of ground clearance and thus decided to modify the Uly into a hybrid “XB12XS”.

New Pirelli Scorpion Sync tires were mounted along with a 2006 Uly low seat and a complete suspension upgrade (to approximate XB12Ss dimensions) using a custom Penske rear shock and new fork springs with Showa’s GSX Race valving/internals up front. These suspension mods lowered the chassis 2”, expanded suspension adjustability, greatly decreased front end dive during braking, and transformed the handling into something I can only characterize as exceptional. GMD Computrack in Atlanta made the suspension calculations for the Uly with their precision optical chassis analysis machine. They ordered and installed the parts and tuned the suspension to my weight and preferences. The side stand was also sectioned (shortened) to accommodate the lowered chassis. GMD’s work is impeccable and I heartily recommend them (http://www.gmdcomputrack.com/).

The newly-modded Uly went straight from GMD's Atlanta shop to Deal’s Gap for a four day workout on the infamous Dragon and other local roads. I also happen to own an `07 Aprilia Tuono (http://www.zenfire.ws/tuono.htm) that has been well-flogged on the Dragon. The new Tuono is known for its superb handling and it just seemed natural to compare the Uly with the Tuono. The Ulysses did not disappoint...!

Obviously, suspension functions and handling traits are intrinsically related, but after multiple Dragon runs, it became apparent that the Uly's new suspension is superior to the Tuono's high-grade, factory suspension for virtually any street work, and...both feet are now flat on the ground when stopped. In terms of overall handling, the Tuono turns-in just a tad easier than the Uly but that’s the biggest difference between the two and that says a lot for the Buell's handling. Should I choose to do so, the Penske shock will easily adjust to raise the rear .5” to quicken turn-in but, after all, the Uly is not a race bike.

The GMD suspension doesn’t jump out at you and scream “Damn, I’m great”. Rather, it subtly elicits high confidence and smoothness by simply doing whatever is asked of it without any distracting gyrations or misbehavior. In other words, the Uly worked perfectly regardless of what I did during testing to try to upset the chassis. I incrementally increased my lean angles until I was running within 1/8” of the edges of the rear tire and the Scorpions gripped the tarmac tenaciously. Indeed, the bike handled the tight Dragon twisties well enough that I kept running up on sport bikes from behind. The ride is smooth, planted, and supremely compliant without any detectable tuning glitches.

I recognize that these particular suspension mods may not appeal to many Ulysses riders (it's pricey, depending on options chosen), but several Ulysses owners wanted to know how this project developed, so I'm sharing my joy. Fortunately, I actually got what I paid for--a practical ride height and flawless handling! Life is good.

Exhaust & Other Mods

My Uly engine was fired up for the first time since the installation of Kevin Drum's standard Drummer with a black, Jet-Hot header, a billet Catch Can from American Sport Bike, and an `07 Air Box Lid + Denso Iridium Plugs (#IXU24) from Appleton HD-Buell. With the stock air filter and stock ECM (no `07 re-flash…yet), it started instantly and settled into a clean idle around 1000 RPM. I checked everything for leaks and headed out for a shakedown run in the 58 degree Tennessee air. I’m happy to report that these mods work very well and I highly recommend the vendors mentioned. If it were otherwise, I would be bitching instead of smiling. Honest injun!

The Drummer muffler has a deep, low-frequency rumble that becomes a satisfying bark when the throttle is blipped. It is “loudish” but a judicious right hand can modulate the throttle into stealth mode for slipping through traffic without offense to motorists or cops. I like to hear what my engine is doing and the Drummer is certainly not obnoxious in the way that raspy, Sportster drag pipes can be. Best of all though, both throttle response and torque are very clearly improved. It pulls hard throughout the power band without any hesitation, stumble, or other aberrations. Rolling-on the throttle from about 2000 RPM in any gear made me giggle--especially in high gear. Although the ECM is still adjusting to these mods, it runs cleanly, feels “right”, and sounds like a V-Twin should IMHO. Because of that, I’m in no hurry for the `07 ECM re-flash. I’ll arrange some dyno runs soon to see what the air/fuel and power curves are doing.

The catch can is remarkably well designed and easy to install. The location of my small breather filter just behind the catch can is experimental. I want to see when and how much puking will occur and it can be easily monitored in that location. Later, I’ll probably re-route the breather hose and simply eliminate the filter.

I also installed Renthal medium-rise bars with adjustable CRG bar end mirrors. The new riding position is more aggressive for twisty work and tight traffic while remaining comfortable for touring. To complete the “XB12XS” mods, the folding rear backrest and hand rails were removed (for weight savings and cleaner lines) and a Lightning front fender was bolted on. A Velcro pad was temporarily placed on the tail section to cover the grab rail holes until I decide how to fill or otherwise cover them.

With a well-tuned custom suspension and Pirelli Sync tires, the modded Uly handles pavement as well (or better than) any sport bike I've ridden and, although your tastes may differ, it is my interpretation of a stealthy, sport touring bike (with Buell hard bags) that is capable of pure sport bike handling without a highly-strung, stratospheric-revving engine. I won’t be needing a chiropractor either. It’s juussssst right for me.

ECM Remap Update

Although the engine seemed to be running fine as mentioned above, I theorized that "ideal" air/fuel ratios could be achieved under all operating conditions by sending my stock ECM to Al Lighton at American Sport Bike in California to have one of his tried-and-tested custom maps loaded.  He immediately sent the remapped ECM back to me and I wasted no time re-installing it on the bike. This particular map was developed for the Buell 1200 XB parts combination of standard Drummer muffler + open air box + breather reroute. I don't have an open air box but Al and I discussed this slight difference and we concluded that  my freer-breathing `07 air box should be very close to the flow of an open air box. Plus, the ECM has considerable latitude of adjustment in adapting to small air flow differences. So, without a TPS reset, the Uly went for a 30 mile test ride to allow the remapped ECM to "learn" its new operating parameters. It apparently learns fast because it's running stronger and smoother than ever and I am satisfied that all is well with the engine...just in time for multiple Spring and Summer trips.

It's also time for my 1,000 mile service, during which, a TPS reset will be done along with a change to Mobil 1 V-Twin 20W50 fully synthetic engine oil and fresh HD Formula+ oil in the tranny/primary. I had my dealer perform an oil and filter change at 100 miles to eliminate accumulated metal particles because, consistent with my "defiant" break-in philosophy, I ran it hard during the first 100 miles (especially so during the first 50 miles) to assure deep ring/valve seating under real world operating conditions, a technique I have used for engine break-in for several decades with superior performance results.

Happy trails...!   


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