Erik Buell sure has designed some interesting motorcycles during his career, and the Buell Ulysses XB12X is right up there. The quirky adventure tourer has all the Buell hallmarks: a fuel-in-frame chassis, perimeter disc brakes and a stonking Harley-designed motor. And it makes for a pretty interesting custom donor, too.
This Ulysses has been transformed into a menacing street tracker by brothers Filippo and Giacomo Tagliabue at FTG Moto in Milan. “The Buell Ulysses is a hulking bike,” says Filippo, “a powerful American twin wrapped in an imposing frame.”
FTG’s client picked the Ulysses over the smaller XB9-series Buells for its bigger motor, longer wheelbase and improved comfort. So when he dropped it off at the workshop, he delivered strict instructions for the guys to maintain some level of comfort, and to not alter the rider triangle.
“For the rest, we started with a clean slate,” says Filippo.
FTG opted for a full redesign of the Buell’s bodywork—starting with the airbox cover that sits where a fuel tank normally would. A new cover was hand-formed in aluminum, with a cutout for an oversized K&N filter. The filter itself isn’t a Buell-specific part; FTG fabricated a custom manifold to install it.
The metalwork extends to the front fender, and a redesigned cooling duct on the left side of the bike.
Out back is another custom aluminum piece: a boxed tail unit that bolts straight to the main frame, with no need for a subframe. The suede-covered seat is mounted on a hinge, and can be lifted via a compact hydraulic piston, granting access to the battery and a small storage compartment. There’s no latch—the piston itself ‘locks’ in place when the seat’s all the way down, and will lift with a little encouragement.
There’s a custom-made Plexiglas taillight sunk into the back of the tail, with additional lighting via a pair of turn signal/stoplight combos further down. They’re custom units that use 3D-printed carbon housings, and they’re mounted on a custom-made license plate bracket.
The front lighting’s equally interesting. FTG machined a pair of headlight housings in their signature style, then fitted them with homologated projectors from Highsider. Two vertical LED strips are embedded in the custom-made framework, and serve as turn signals.
The lighting assembly sits between new yokes that FTG designed themselves, then had machined by a supplier. Up top is a custom bracket for a Motogadget dash, along with new risers and bars, fresh grips and bar-end mirrors.
To keep things ultra clean, FTG machined mini switch assemblies that double up as clamps for upgraded Beringer brake and clutch levers.
Filippo and Giacomo left the Buell’s suspension, wheels and brakes alone, but swapped out the tires for Pirelli MT60RS rubber. “Good on tarmac,” says Filippo, “but also trustworthy in case of a little detour.”
FTG settled on a brushed aluminum effect for the Ulysses’ bodywork, covered with a clear coat for protection. The saddle stitching adds a hint of blue, as a callback to the donor’s original paint color. A full exhaust system from Termignoni completes the puzzle.
Now named ‘Ithaca’ after Ulysses’ mythological homeward journey, there’s one more thing we like about this reimagined Buell: it’ll get frequent use.
“The owner is an accountant and a professor,” says Filippo, “but despite that, he is not the boring type. He is a true rider who crunches real miles and actually uses his bikes for more than just going to class.”
“He is one of a kind, like his bike.”