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    Roadmasters: Buell 1125CR


    • Speeding through a citys arteries, few vehicles get your blood pumping like Buells 1125CR. This American sportbike is unlike anything else on the road.

    Speeding through a citys arteries, few vehicles get your blood pumping like Buells 1125CR. With a futuristic design and a frame coddling a heart that bleeds Red, White and Blue, this American sportbike is unlike anything else on the road.

    I step outside from a neighbourhood pub, only to notice an older gentleman poring over my motorcycle. Circling around, his gaze moves from side to side before fixating onto the large disc on the front wheel.

    Upon my approach, he looks up at me, grinning ear-to-ear.

    “Well mister, I’ve never seen anything quite like this in my life,” he says. “Where did this bike come from? Area 51?”

    “It is quite otherworldly, isn’t it?,” I smile.

    But before we can begin to chit-chat, he’s called into the pub by a friend. Cracking open the door, the grin on his face reappears. Before stepping inside, my new friend looks at me, with one more question:

    “So, do you go by Mr. Wayne? Or just Bruce?”

    And that’s Buell 1125CR ownership in a nutshell. Though the bike may stop, the fun doesn’t.

    Cafe Crawler

    1

    Debuting in 2009, the Buell 1125CR was the brand’s interpretation of a ‘cafe racer,’ hence the CR designation. A famous motorcycling subset, ‘cafe racing’ typically traces its roots to the sixties, where Triumph’s and BSA’s volleyed down London’s streets.

    Today, ‘cafe racers’ have become the domain of hipsters, who’ve taken to ratted out Honda CB400’s and Suzuki XS400’s. But the 1125CR doesn't have time for PBR and ill-fitting jeans.

    While parent Harley Davidson always looked to the past, Buell always preferred its own direction - often producing some oddball creations. In this case, the 1125CR is firmly entrenched in the future - one that seems a little dystopian. At home in back alleys and urban decay, the 2009 1125CR’s menacing appearance is almost prescient, channeling America’s frustration with the ‘Great Recession’ and further industrial decline.

    The 1125CR’s polarizing looks begin with the two pods on either side of the bike. Though many people believe these to be intakes for the powertrain, they actually house radiators that cool 1125cc engine. From the side, they create the appearance of muscular haunches, ready to pounce forward.

    The headlight fixture scowls beneath a tiny cowl, glaring ahead at oncoming traffic.

    It all works very well, unless when viewed directly from the front, in which case the bike suffers a case of butterface. But eyes will quickly be drawn to the 1125CR’s other assets, including Buell’s unique ‘zero torsional load’ (ZTL) floating disc brake on the front wheel, a low-slung muffler and of course, the 1125cc engine wrapped by header pipes.

    Holding everything together is a svelte, state-of-the-art aluminum ‘beam frame,’ which doubles as the 1125CR’s fuel tank. Yes, the fuel is in the frame, and the oil is in the swingarm. Science!

    It’s all so ‘Hot Wheels’ and thus, you’ll be getting thumbs-ups from every boy, ages 5 and up. Park it at the gas station, and even Lambo owners will be rubbernecking.

    The Naked Truth

    As it bears the ‘cafe racer’ namesake, the 1125CR bares all its internals, eschewing fairings and plastics that are typical of many sportbikes like Kawasaki’s Ninja. The 1125CR is an unashamed member of the ‘Naked’ category, which is becoming increasingly popular. Ducati’s ‘Monster’ and Triumph’s ‘Triple’ models are well-known examples.

    As the name goes, riders are left with little protection from the elements. The Buell 1125CR is no exception. In ‘Raincouver,’ riding the 1125CR in inclement weather all but guarantees that the rider will be drenched from head to toe. With a popular aftermarket ‘tail chop,’ water will also kick up behind the massive 180/55 rear tire. And without any front fairing, the rider gets to face the wind. Fortunately, the engine runs hot enough to add some warmth.

    For anyone outside of a desert environment, expect the 1125CR to be garaged for at least a quarter of the year.

    Smooth Operator

    Unlike the rip-snorting Buell’s based on Harley Davidson’s V-Twins, the 1125CR is downright sophisticated. A collaboration with Austrian engine-manufacturer Rotax (owned by Bombardier Recreational Products), the 1125cc ‘Helicon’ V-Twin engine boasts 146HP and 82 ft-lbs of torque. Keeping the vibrations in check are three counterbalancing shafts.

    The engine can rev high, but powers through the RPM range in a predictable manner, thanks to a deep well of torque that is on tap. Unlike previous Buell’s, the 1125 series features a six-speed gearbox, a welcome change from the brand’s previous reliance on clunkier, five-speed units. Buell also geared the bike down slightly compared to its track-oriented cousin, resulting in a better city riding experience.

    It all adds up to a big smile when the lights turn green. In gentle hands, the 1125CR will scoot to 100km/h in under four seconds. It won’t outrun a Hayabusa or ZX-10, but it will take on just about everything else. The rush of power to the rear wheel is similar to that of a wooden roller coaster: smooth and sustained.

    Steering the 1125CR is a smooth affair, regardless of whether you’re on the highway or the alleyway. Despite the use of ‘clubman’ style handlebars, the riding position is fairly neutral. Taking corners is always predictable and there’s never any sense of jitteriness that some other bikes are claimed to have.

    This bike is at its best when negotiating gridlock and funneling between cars. Its flickable yet forgiving handling gives the rider the ability to skirt everything from potholes to pedestrians.

    But if you’re hoping to skirt the oilman, there are better options than the 1125CR. In mixed riding, the bike typically averages 40 mpg. Stuck in the city? You’ll be stuck in the high-20’s. Naturally, 91 octane or higher is recommended.

    Barhopper Bargoon?

    Unlike BMW and Honda, Buell never set out to make motorcycles for everyone. They were driven to be different - it was even in their tagline. The 1125CR is emblematic of this philosophy, and it'd be the final steed out of the 'Pegasus Brand's' stable before the gates shut.

    Fortunately, the 1125 series isn't in limbo. Erik Buell Racing continues to support these bikes with parts, some of which are improved. That’s important, because the 1125’s had their share of gremlins, including issues with charging stators and weepy clutches. Some cursory Googling will enlighten potential buyers.

    Prices for these models are quite low, and they’re often babied by their doting Buell enthusiast owners. Only 3,100 were built.

    If you don't mind being the centre of attention and are comfortable riding something that's a little harder to service, a used Buell 1125CR is a standout option.

    Editor's Note: Jeremy Sally is a long time reader guest posting for us today. Our Roadmasters section is where we put reviews of vehicles that deserve a review, but that don't come to us in the traditional fashion of a manufacturer loan. -DD

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    Very well written. Yes, it is a cafe racer indeed a cross for people who want to have the cake (sport) and eat it (street) too.

     

    The looks were beautiful.The Helicon is a gem and the 8 piston front brake is a bomb. Too bad EB went under. The company would have really challenged the Japanese 4, Italian 2 and German 1 if this hooligan had a chance.

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    Thanks guys! This bike's sights were indeed firmly set on the Italians and English, especially Ducati. The frame is more accommodating for those of us above six feet, than that of the Monster. 

     

    Had parent Harley Davidson given the brand much more room to breathe in terms of engine development (among other things), bikes like the 1125CR would've debuted earlier in the decade, potentially saving the brand. 

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    Thanks for the read, this was a definitely interesting read for me, as I have a friend who is enthusiastic about these types of bikes.

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    It's a great looker and I enjoyed the gallery photos. This seems like a very powerful and responsive bike, yet a bit overpriced to be honest.

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    Over a month has passed since Erik Buell Racing's receivership and nothing illuminating has surfaced.

     

    EBR's 1190RX and 1190SX are already being deeply discounted by retailers, with some going for ~9K. That's ~50% off MSRP. Lots of bike and power for the money, but the huge savings against the likes of Ducati, BMW and Aprilia comes at a cost of no warranty and limited service. 

     

    1190RX - $8,200

     

    1190SX - $9,999

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    and parts availability?

    The main parts source at Erik Buell Racing is not shipping (one item I've ordered is still in the 'processing' stage since mid-April). There could be a chance once (if) the company gets on its feet or is swallowed up that parts may be sold again. But that's an unknown. 

     

    Alternatives such as American Sport Bike and TwinMotorcycles.nl exist, but YMMV.  

     

    The situation isn't absolutely terrible, but I'd no longer recommend the bike given that obtaining parts for gremlins like clutch weep and stator issues has become harder yet. One would need to be an absolute enthusiast to overlook the issue, and not just someone who desires something a little out of the ordinary. 

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    Bummer but at least you have been enjoying it while they were a valid company. :)

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    Erik Buell Racing is slated for auction on August 5th at a Wisconsin court. They're hoping to sell the brand in its entirety - otherwise it'll be parted out. No word on interested buyers. 

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      This past Fri-Mon I had a '15 Malibu LT for a rental, picked it up in Columbus, Ohio and drove to various places in Eastern Ohio and Western Pa, in and around Pittsburgh and east to Monroeville and the PA turnpike a bit.
       
      I'd driven a few of the previous generation Malibus ('08-12), but this was the first of the current generation I'd driven.
       
      Interior impressions: well equipped, all the expected cabin features in a midsize car.  Hard plastics on the doors and dash, but nice to look at--brown and light tan two tone. I like the brown.   Good HVAC controls w/ dual zone climate, etc.   Gauges well positioned and easy to read.  I liked the blue lighting behind the chrome trip strips in the dash. Tire pressure monitoring is a nice touch.  Still has the annoying GM unlocking of doors when you shift to park (never liked that feature). 
       
      Comfortable w/ plenty of legroom and headroom.  Since I didn't sit in the back, the typical complaints I've read about rear seat room in this car didn't matter.  Lots of room back there for empty water bottles and my coat (it was cold Fri/Sat in Ohio and Pa).   
       
      Exterior: familiar, kind of anonymous but pleasingly clean.  Looked very good in the dark red, I like the profile of this car, though the high tail makes for a bit of blind spot in backing up.
       
      I did a lot of freeway driving on I-70, I-77, I-79 etc this weekend as well as stuck in city traffic in Pittsburgh and enjoying the hilly streets and roads around the city, muddy Ohio back roads, etc.  
       
       Generally very quiet around town.  Noticed the start/stop engine shut off.  Some tire and wind noise at 70-75 mph on freeway, but not excessive.  The car felt very solid and tight overall.   Seemed to have more than enough power to get out of it's own way in merging and passing.   Did notice the transmission taking a while to shift up on long hill climbs a couple times, though.
       
      All in all, with the addition of a sunroof (I'd keep the cloth seats), I could live with one of these as a daily driver for a few years.  I'll admit I haven't driven many of it's contemporaries (had a rental Camry and an Avenger in the last 18 months), but it seems like a perfectly fine all around daily driver and road trip car.
       
      I'm looking forward to seeing where Chevy goes w/ the 2016 model.
       

       

       

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