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Thread: Getting a Ulysses to handle like an XB*R

  1. #1
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    Getting a Ulysses to handle like an XB*R

    Hi all
    Just bought an '06 Ulysses with 75k kms (45k mi) on. The handling gave me a few shocks when compared to my Ducati M800. Its way plusher riding, but first time out wallowed alarmingly through a dip on the exit to a bend. Also doesn't like to change direction on the tight twisty stuff that I like (50-80kph, (30-50mph)). Really stood up when I used the back brake too, all of which I'm not used to. A turn on the preload and 1/4turn more rebound damping eased the wallowing but not the unwillingness to turn. Seems to have way less engine braking too (admittedly the Duc has almost too much). Don't believe the shock has every been serviced and its HOT (50C (120F)) in use (from the fan blowing over it I suspect).
    Can you guys comment on some stuff for me:
    1. Can a Ulysses be made handle as well as a XB9/12R (or a Ducati) (I'm not looking for high speed handling as I almost never go over 140kph (80mph))
    2. Given it probably needs a shock service, what special stuff (silicone oil? etc) is needed to get it to work consistently at that temperature?
    3. What other stuff would you be doing to fix the handling?
    4. Is there anything I can do about all that heat?
    5. The 'Comfort kit' would seem to duct even more heat through the shock area - is that so and does it affect the shock/handling?)
    Rgds - jv

  2. #2
    Member LouWambsganss's Avatar
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    It will never handle exactly the same. There is additional height and weight, and the geometry (rake, trail, etc) is different. If you are having resistance to turn-in, it might be a fixable problem. Try increasing rear preload (and/or reducing front) to see if that helps. Also, take a look at your tires. Make sure the pressures are right and that they aren't worn down or have a flat spot down the middle.

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    Thx Lou. Yeah perhaps I overstated it, 'Handle nearly as well' would have been better. Like a Ducati Multistrada compared to a 916.
    Its just that I believed all Buells handled well, Erik was a racer after all, but mine definitely doesn't handle acceptably. Surely you can throw a Ulysses around without having to fight it changing direction.
    I'll experiment with the suspension settings once the shock has been serviced.
    I've heard that Racetech upgrades to the damping are worth trying, can anyone comment?
    Still worried about the heat though - is 50C (120F) really normal? - jv

  4. #4
    Member LouWambsganss's Avatar
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    I have a 2009 Ulysses XT and it handles very well. I'm no racer, but it is definitely the best handling bike I've owned. I have Pirelli Scorpion Trail 2 tires now. I can definitely tell when I've been doing too much straight commuting, the flat spot on center is noticeable.

  5. #5
    Member LouWambsganss's Avatar
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    Also, check your shock and fork part numbers to see if a previous owner may have changed them. Some people find the stock Ulysses too tall and put a shorter rear shock on (like an XT or SS shock) without lowering the front to match. This results in more rake and slower turning.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Cooter's Avatar
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    Your worries about the shock heat are unfounded. It is possible to re-build them at a pro shop, but stock replacements are pretty inexpensive on eBay.

    I have an STT which has the similar long frame and suspension to the ULY, and it handles extremely well on and off road.

    If yours is loose mid corner, Just like Lou said, I would look very closely at the tires and pressure. Even front tires with lots of tread can be 'squared off' and will act exactly like that. If the profile looks like a triangle, just get new tires. They will 'fall' into the lean, then you have to sort of 'catch them' then they wobble around. NOT very confidence inspiring! How old are the tires? Theres a date code on the sidewall.

    Check the steering head bearings by balancing the bike on the rear tire and side stand, have someone pull forward and back on the front wheel to feel for play. AllBalls makes good replacements.

    If they are good, you could add a steering damper for cheap:
    https://www.buellxb.com/forum/showth...teering+damper

    Put the comfort kit on it. The bike, and your leg, will thank you

    Edit: FYI, When I replaced my rear shock at 20K with a new replacement, I did notice my sag height go up quite a bit. There is someone else's thread on here (that I can't find) for the same thing.
    Last edited by Cooter; 03-06-2018 at 03:29 PM.

  7. #7
    Senior Member jl551c's Avatar
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    My Uly handles great. Maybe not as good as my old Ducati 999, but it's no slouch. When I bought the bike the suspension was set up for someone weighing 110 lbs, I weigh over 200. When I test rode it, it was way too plush and handled terribly. The front shocks dipped considerably between shifts. I then got a service manual and set up the entire suspension for someone my weight. 100% improvement. It sounds like you have tried adjusting the preload and damping, but have you set it up according to your weight by the manual?

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    Hello J. Vreed, Is your Uly the X or XT version? Is it stock? I have an 09 XB12X and I rebuilt my rear shock with RaceTec parts and it was behaving the way your Uly sounds. Wanted to stand up all the time and especially in the curves or when braking. It was frustrating because the bike handled perfectly before the rebuild? After some tweaking: Initially on the front end I raised the ride height about 6mm with the pre-load at 3 1/2 turns and had great results. Finally I also added a 15mm spring plate on the rear shock, which Racetec recommends replacing when rebuilding. So now when riding Solo with the rear pre-load all the way down or up to 3 turns It corners nicely. It took a couple hours to get it dialed in, the Uly wheel base is so short that it reacts extremely to any changes you make in ride height. In the winter I crank the front pre-load to about 4 or 4 1/2 turns.

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    Hi Tbone. Read your thread on yr shock rebuild with interest. Mine is a stock XB12X. The rebound was 0.8 turns from full in (should be 2) and preload 18 (yes 18) turns from full out to give the right sag (first 5 did nothing so its lost oil like yours). Probably the tire pressures were low too, as I couldn't read them properly or pump them up at a normal gas station. With the valve stem so close to the cast spokes on the wheels I couldn't get a normal airchuck on (why do they put them there?). Got some 90 degree extensions on them now.
    I'm going to bite the bullet and get both the shock and the front forks serviced and set for my weight etc by Robert Taylor, well known in NZ for his suspension work (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4zPk2e19nDY). That will give me the best chance to know if the bike will meet my needs (sure hope so since I just love the power delivery).
    Will report back when its done - jv

  10. #10
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    Believe me I did not want to get into the suspension adjustments until after it was jacked up. For the Symptoms you are having 18 is too high a pre-load on the rear, 09 owner's manual says 18 is for a 290-320 lb rider? I use a setting of 20 for myself/ pillion/ luggage: 220/150/40 lbs. solo usually have 0 to 3 turns. I would say your Rear ride height is too high, decrease your pre-load and cornering should improve greatly? From my personal experience, you have to absolutely positively get your front and rear ride heights dialed in or you will waste a lot of time. Do whatever you have to do to measure front and rear ride height and find the best center of gravity for how you ride your bike. If you do not get this right, no matter how much money you throw at it, or how many experts work on the suspension, it will not handle well or as best as it can for how you ride your bike. Seems like the video did a lot of measurements with a lot of people to work on it? I measured mine at the turn signal mounts front and rear with the bike in a wheel chock to hold it straight up and under the bike's weight only. I think my rear signals are at about ~29" and the front were at ~35.5". Once I got the ride heights to the COG that worked for me the sweet spot was instantly noticeable!. Then I adjusted the sag on the front forks, which meant raising the fork tubes in the yokes about 6 mm so my pre-load is at 3 1/2 turns and maintained my ride heights. I also found that the ride heights are impacted by the amount of pre-load, maybe this because I work alone and do not have a crew to hold, measure and adjust the bike while I am sitting on it? Once you get it dialed in you can easily tweak it on the fly and adjust for how you want to ride at any moment. So If you want to hammer the throttle through the corners more you can crank up the rear pre-load a little to shift the COG to the front more. Generally throttle shifts the COG to the back and brakes shift it to the front, so you can adjust accordingly after you get it set up. Also if the COG is too far to the front the bike stands up when I brake in the corners, so I then lower the rear pre-load a little to shift the COG to the rear of the bike so I can brake harder in the corners. The Uly reacts to very minor changes, tire pressures, tire sizes, manufactures, etc....

    Just measured my Uly at the top of the turn signal mounts to the ground and I have 29 1/16" at the rear and and 35 3/8" at the front. Measured both left and right sides to make sure the bike was straight up. This is what works for me, a lot to do with personal preference.


    Last edited by Tbone; 03-12-2018 at 05:04 PM.

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