Suiting up for my first ride on the newest creation from Buell I wasn\'t really sure what to expect. I am primarily a racer and even when occasionally riding on the street I am usually on some variation of a supersport track oriented bike. The Buell\'s have always caught my eye however. I\'ve always been drawn to their unique styling and urban warrior look and the Lightning Super TT is no exception.
The Buell ride started out on California \'s Ortega Hwy. a twisty road in Southern California and a good place to see how the SuperTT would handle in the high speed sweeper environment. From the moment you fire up the Buell you can feel the rumble and roar of the Harley motor. There is a slight hiccup off idle when cold but the motor smoothes out into a nice pulsating rhythm soon after ignition.
The new Lightning Super TT is powered by the latest 1203cc Thunderstorm V-Twin power plant and shares the 54-inch wheelbase and 4.7-inch trail figures of its Lightning XB12SS sibling. While not a powerhouse motor, it is a torquey, linear power plant which coupled with the chassis makes for a fun ride around town and on the rough back roads. Blazing through some of the faster sections of Ortega Hwy. however, did have me looking for a few more ponies. The Buell reaches its peak of 103 crank horsepower at 6800 rpm with 84 ft. lbs of torque.
The Lightning Super TT has a fairly high seating position forcing me to tip-toe when maneuvering in parking lots and at intersections. This is mostly due to the increased suspension travel on the SuperTT. Out on the open road the extra suspension travel makes for a plush, comfortable ride.
Despite the high seat height, the center of gravity of the Buell is extremely low, something Buell has worked very hard at creating. The low-slung weight is easy to feel as the SuperTT felt very planted and precise in the fast sweepers.
After getting to the tail end of Ortega Hwy. one of the journalists mentioned he knew of a few secluded “dirty-roads” as he called them so a handful of us went off to ravage the hidden trails. Now I do come from a motocross background but that was many moons ago when it was still stylish to wear hot pink riding gear and open face helmets. So it took me a little while to get comfortable riding this urban streetfighter equipped with Pirelli Scorpion Syncs on the tricky semi-paved fire road complete with small jumps, 6-inch potholes and enough dirt to form berms in the corners.
This type of terrain could easily spell disaster but the Buell and the Pirelli\'s responded excellent to these trying conditions and were actually giving me a little too much confidence. I caught myself charging a few sandy corners and jumps in the road a little too aggressively and had to remind myself this wasn\'t a dirt bike I was riding.
To be honest when I first saw the Buell Lightning Super TT XB12STT I was a little skeptical of the Buell\'s Supermoto abilities due to it\'s largely street biased appearance, but even with street tires fitted to the Buell I was able to do some pretty serious "dirty-road" riding. These back roads proved to be the ultimate test for the Buell and must have been what the company had in mind when it came up with the concept of the SuperTT.
The forgiving suspension on the Super TT saved me from doing a lip-stand on more than one occasion. Every blind corner or hill seemed to hide a new hole in the road or patch of gravel but the Buell remained composed. The fully adjustable 43mm Showa inverted fork and fully adjustable Showa rear shock allow for great versatility. The Super TT also boasts 5.63-inches of suspension travel to swallow up those unseen potholes and provides a 31.4-inch solo seat height with Supermoto-style allowing you to move around freely while pitching the bike into tight corners. A passenger seat is available and can be added provided you have a passenger brave enough.
Come into a corner a little too hot and run out of talent and you\'ll be looking for some help from the brakes. The Buell has a braking system that not only looks sexy but does the job. A ZTL (Zero Torsional Load) front braking system is mounted on the wheel perimeter 375mm rotor and gripped by six-piston caliper allowing for light, six-spoke Designer Black Super TT wheels. There was great feel at the lever allowing me to brake confidently in the constant sandy washed out corners.
Of course the goal is to try to miss the sketchy patches of road and this is where the agility of the Buell came in very useful. This may well be due to "The Buell Trilogy of Technology", which features frame rigidity, mass centralization and low un-sprung weight. With the wide dirt bike style handlebars, narrow frame and long seat you can ride the Lightning Super TT very aggressive and always feel in control. I was tending to ride it more like a dirt bike, leg out in the corners and on the balls of my feet out of the saddle in the rough stuff.
No matter where you ride it, the Lightning Super TT is all about fun. Once the fear of piling Erik Buell\'s latest creation into a hillside had ceased I sat back and realized what a rush this ride was. It\'s been a long time since I\'ve come back from a street ride with that much adrenaline flowing. Buell has done a masterful job in producing a motorcycle that handled everything from inner-city riding to outback fire roads.
The Lightning Super TT forced me to get out of my comfort zone and do some riding I wasn\'t normally accustomed to, which at times can be a little scary.
Fortunately for me the Lightning Super TT is such a fun, forgiving motorcycle it doesn\'t make you pay for your mistakes. Instead it just rewards you with a solid handling, versatile package that just begs for more abuse.