Buell Super TT
Buell has an enviable skill of making the most of limited resources. The company clearly isn’t set to make each machine completely unique and independent, so they carefully peruse the parts bin to come up with something “new” and interesting. Case in point is the Lightning Super TT, a streetfighter/supermoto hybrid that delivers much more than you might expect at first consideration.
The Super TT is something of a halfway house between the Ulysses adventure bike (nice enough, but not a favorite of mine) and the Lightning Long (which I enjoy quite a bit and reviewed in our December 2006/January 2007 issue). It has the extended chassis of the Lightning Long, suspension travel just an inch short of the Ulysses, tall/wide handlebars that recall the CityX (“city-cross”) and a unique single-person seat with dirt bike styling. Whether or not this sounds like a great idea or a hopeless mess depends on your perspective, but the proof is in the riding.
When I first swung a leg over the Super TT, I noticed the taller seat than the Long’s-it is about an inch taller. That’s fine. I ride plenty of tall-seated bikes. What’s strange is when I leaned forward to grasp the bars. They aren’t where I’d expect with a seat that tall-they’re much lower. This felt awkward (or, at the very least, strange), until I picked up my feet, put them on the pegs and took off. Ahhhh; now I see. It’s a fairly sporty seating position with relatively tall and wide bars. I was immediately comfortable, despite the disconcerting introduction.
Once underway, I enjoyed the standard Buell Lightning experience. The 1203cc Thunderstorm motor is an easy ride. Not blindingly fast, and I mean that in a good way. It accelerates with more than enough authority for reasonable (and some unreasonable) street riding, and power develops shortly after idle is abandoned. Twist-and-go is the name of the game, and shift when the 3.5-inch piston starts to protest that it’s moving too rapidly.
Hitting the twisties, I never really noticed the taller positioning of the bike and rider, except for the fact that I wasn’t too likely to test the Pirelli Scorpion Sync tires enough to see if I could drag the pegs. I’m sure it is possible, but I had no interest in trying-that’s not what this bike is about. Instead, I just dived through the corners and didn’t worry about touching down unexpectedly. Although you’ll see the word “supermoto” bandied about, this bike is not about backing into corners. Just ride it like a traditional upright sport bike and you won’t be the least bit disappointed or startled.
Reactions to Buells are a very personal thing, and for me: I’m a believer. The Super TT is my favorite Buell yet. I took it down some broken-pavement 1.5-lane roads, and it truly felt like it was in its element. It worked better on this terrain that its supposedly more off-roadable brother, the Ulysses, which just seems too tall. The Showa suspension was adequate to deal with potholes and low-altitude (we’re talking inches) jumps on the ragged road. The tires handled gravel on the road, and the extra leverage of the wide bars took care of the rest. I even took it down a dirt road for a mile or so, surprised at its willingness to do feet-up slides and maintain its composure over stutter bumps (no whoops, please, the bike weighs 400 pounds dry). I’ll give credit to the beefy aluminum frame for the solid feel.
In town, the Super TT is a fine commuter. The upright and tall seating position allows you an excellent view of the road ahead, though lane splitting requires extra care due to the wide bars. The torquey motor and superb brakes add to the commutability of the bike. And, of course, be prepared for admiring looks at red lights. The big V-twin is always an attention grabber.
I’d tell you to try not to wheelie away from stop sign, but it won’t be easy so you’ll have to decide that for yourself.
So, Buell has done it again. Without a lot of new engineering, the company managed to devise another model that makes Buell just that much more inviting and interesting to sport riders who remain skeptical about anything powered by a motor built by Harley-Davidson.