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Thread: First time Buyer 2003 XB9R, Noises?

  1. #1
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    First time Buyer 2003 XB9R, Noises?

    We looked at a near perfect 2003 XB9R. 13,000 miles. It's not got a nick or scratch on it. No warning lights, Never wet. No leaks. It started fine, sounded good cold and it drove great. Smooth brakes, new dunlops, serviced 300 Miles ago at a Harley dealer with Harley Oil and Filters plugs wires etc. My issue is the engine noise. It started cold with a slight tick. No concerns there. It sounded OK. After it got warm it seemed real noisy. A lot of valve train or lifter noise in my opinion. When my son returned from the ride, I could hear the engine noises from 5-7 car lengths away. It was sort of a sewing machine sound, but seems pretty loud. I do not think he could hear it, it radiated out of the sides and front. It was running smooth but does seem to have a "cammed up" type idle. I have no history to know if it is tuned or Mod'd. It was bought in Massachusetts early in the season. It does have an aftermarket exhaust.

    The "Owner" says the Harley shop said it sounded like a lifter and they would not worry about it, just drive it. It's common. They would only attempt a fix in the winter time as it will take a lot of time if it "bothered" the Owner. Two other local harley repair shops (but not official Harley shops) do not work on Buells or would not touch it. I think the owner may be selling due to the engine noise but I am not certain.

    Should I still consider it or run? It's just South of $1.9K.

    My 1995 EVO has 1/4 of the valve train noise thing thing has, but I understand its a performance motor and they tend to be noisy. I have had new Indian Scouts and they have mild valve train noise louder over time, and currently have an EG and Indian Chief. They all have some noise, worse when hot but not as loud as this. I am mechanically inclined as well so can repair anything that happens but I do not want to get stuck with more in it than I can get out of it. There are no others I can go see for comparison either. It almost sounds like it needs thicker oil!

    I am concerned on the sounds. Definitely not a deep knock of any kind but similar to the noise I have heard on some XB9R "youtube videos" of folks asking what is wrong. Is it just the design of the motor? I have a video of it running (Colder warming up) at an idle. The video sounds pretty loud to me. I do not know if the forum allows links to youtube but here it is.
    https://youtu.be/5R-fCoYqQlU. We are going to look/ride again tomorrow. It looks brand new. My son wants it. I just do not know..... 15 years old, limited parts, kind of an odd bike (all the things that attract us to these bikes). Any advice is appreciated. buell.jpg
    Last edited by nklem; 09-21-2018 at 01:45 PM. Reason: Added Photo

  2. #2
    Senior Member lunaticfringe's Avatar
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    contrary to some BS you've possibly heard and might also hear on here...the 2003 XB was a fine bike with minimal teething problems. only came in the 984cc version that year. i owned 2 of this exact firebolt thru the years and never had a problem with either one of them. IMO it has a slight lifter tap from what i can hear. these are sportster based 4-cam/4-lifter motors and some that have visited redline and beyond too many times tend to generate this "tap" or "tick".....reveals itself as the motor warms up. often times a quality 20wt-50 cycle specific conventional oil such as castrol actevo-----maxima----belray-----PJ1 calms it down. also check for rocker box cover oil leaks....oily residue around the rear fan housing area.....and oily residue atop the rear of the engine case at the box vent. all tell-tale signs that it's been subjected to excessive heat and alot of trips to redline. and for what it's worth these motors inherently noisier than the H-D big-twins you might be used to...plus the fact that the part of the engine being the heads and upper valve train that inherently generate the bulk of the engine noise are housed within the parameters of the frame assembly causing a bit of acoustic resonance and "noise" not heard in other H-D based air-cooled twins.
    Last edited by lunaticfringe; 09-21-2018 at 02:22 PM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member BuellyBagger's Avatar
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    Change the oil and ride to piss out of it. If it's broken it will break. Lol

  4. #4
    Senior Member midway's Avatar
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    Your YT video is all muffler to me, you have to get up close on the engine and try to filter out whatever can that is for exhaust. I would like to have that Buell!

    I thought the same thing with an 06 Thunderstorm 984cc and took the winter to tear down and do a complete top end rebuild and then heard the same tic, tic, tic. Was I disappointed? no, actually was happy with the peace of mind it was normal. These motors are easy to work on (the beauty of owning one) but that might not be your thing. There are folks in here who shim up the lifter noise but I just did it all stock with Buell parts. RedLine 20w-50 was a good choice after 1000 miles of conventional oil dumped a couple times during break-in for the rings. A good winter project if you wanted to do it yourself and pay less than half of the price quoted.
    Last edited by midway; 09-21-2018 at 03:15 PM.

  5. #5
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    Wow! Many thanks for the words of encouragement. I may have to make the "investment" in it. I can tear it down and fix whatever over our long winters, but I was concerned parts (cylinders, pistons especially) are getting harder to find, but I am sure valve train, cams, pumps, bearings, seals and gasket stuff are available. I agree with another type of oil. Right now it has OEM Harley dino oil and whatever the factory specified (I assume 20W50).

    It is just so very superclean which is why I want it. You would think it has 1000 miles on it. It's that nice. Thank you again!

  6. #6
    Senior Member midway's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nklem View Post
    I can tear it down and fix whatever over our long winters, but I was concerned parts (cylinders, pistons especially) are getting harder to find, but I am sure valve train, cams, pumps, bearings, seals and gasket stuff are available.
    New engine parts are not much problem but if I may suggest getting a back up Front Isolator. To rotate this engine you MAY damage the rubber in this mount (there's no way around it if the bolt has become one with the part) Harley only produces these once a year by pre-order in March, something that could spoil your spring ride if you don't have one on hand from a winter tear down. Saint Paul's is NOT offering front and rear mounts in this ad, not sure why it says that but the price is consistent for just the front mount. You won't need a rear mount on that prize anyway. If they ever stop making that part we will have to fashion it ourselves oO which will be like the Jesus nut on a helicopter rotor, if it ever comes loose... OH JESUS!

    https://www.ebay.com/p/Buell-Front-R...7892924&chn=ps
    Last edited by midway; 09-21-2018 at 07:39 PM.

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  8. #8
    Senior Member Chicknstripn's Avatar
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    Drop a magnetic probe/grabber into the oil tank(swing arm). If it comes out sporting an Afro you know there’s an internal engine issue. If comes out clean, you’re good to go.

    If the ticking starts sounding more like a tired John Deere, then an air cooled v-twin, the crank bearing is about to go.
    However, crank bearing issues were symptomatic of post 2003 bikes, and tended to afflict the 1200s more than the 900s.

    Like Lunatic, and others are saying, it’s a Buell. Buells very unique motorcycles in sound and performance compared to anything “similar”. That uniqueness comes with quirks.

    Buy it, let your son buy it, and enjoy!

  9. #9
    Senior Member Cooter's Avatar
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    I concur they are loud in the valve train. You can use a wooden handled screwdriver like a stethoscope to narrow it down (the pointy end goes on the engine )

    If you want a permanent solution to worrying about the valve train noise, this link is all you need.

    http://deanadamsdesigns.com/cart.php...&product_id=15

  10. #10
    Senior Member wickedchop's Avatar
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    I own two 03 9R's......zero problems with either machine. They have been as tough as nails, I don't beat them relentlessly by any means, I own other bikes for beatings, but both of my 9R's have seen the red part of the tach. Buy the machine, you will be happy you did. Every time you ride it you will be grinning from ear to ear.



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