Test Ride: Buell 1125R

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Words: Bertrand Gahel/CMG Staff Photos:Kevin Wing and Riles & Nelson
Words: Bertrand Gahel/CMG Staff Photos:Kevin Wing and Riles & Nelson
Buell 1125R
Up pops the 1125R!

Just when you thought Buell was caught in its own niche, forever having to produce motorcycles built around a massaged Harley-Davidson Sportster engine, up pops the all-new, Rotax-powered 2008 1125R!

The rumour mill didn’t see this one coming, but it all makes so much sense you’d think some radars should have picked it up.

With Buell having already pushed the Sportster’s air-cooled V-Twin way past what anybody could have thought possible, and with Harley’s V-Rod motor — the only option for progress, engine-wise, within the American company — way too large and heavy to meet Buell’s goals, an outside engine supplier became the obvious way for Buell to keep evolving.

Austrian company Rotax (who already builds high performance V-Twins for Aprilia) was a natural choice, and four years later the146 horsepower, 1125R V-Twin breaks cover.

BUELL STYLE

Buell 1125R
Rear doesn’t quite compliment the front?

With its super wide, super long upper fairing and its bulging lateral scoops forcing air through the side-mounted dual radiators, the 1125R is as strikingly different in the flesh as it is in photos.

The rear end however, (seemingly lifted straight from an XB-R) may look too ordinary in comparison. With a more aggressive design out back the 1125R could send a much stronger visual message, clearly putting it alongside exotics such as Ducati’s 1098 and Aprilia’s RSV1000R, where it belongs.

ON TRACK

On the demanding Laguna Seca course, the 1125R simply shined and proved a very easy bike to ride. Previous generation V-Twin sportbikes like Honda’s RC51 or Ducati’s 999 were kind of heavy to throw around in that environment, but the 1125R behaves with a surprising lightness that’s more reminiscent of what you’d experience on a GSX-R750. It’s not quite 600-like as far as handling goes, but it’s close.

Buell 1125R
Light handler with power.

While the 1125cc V-twin is clearly no match for a powerful 1000 cc inline-four, the Buell’s power delivery is way more accessible and exploitable, producing the kind of wide-spread torque that often gives you the choice of two gears through a turn on the track, and that makes upper revs all but optional on the street. This is also a good thing since it vibrates a bit too much at higher revs, despite being equipped with no less than 3 balancers!

The riding position is compact but not cramped, it places the rider in a sporty yet bearable crouch – perfect for the track, tolerable for the street. Unlike most bikes of this ilk the seat is very good and the wind protection from the large fairing generous.

CONCLUSIONS

Buell 1125R
And affordable too.

Track-ready, high-horsepower, state-of-the-art V-Twin sportbikes have always been a rare and expensive breed. With the introduction of its all-new 1125R, Buell isn’t only offering a welcome addition to that very exclusive class, it’s also putting such machinery within reach for the average sportbike customer

At $13 599.00, the 1125R is surprisingly affordable and considerably less expensive that its direct competition from both Ducati and Aprilia. It also opens up a new and very, very interesting future for Buell motorcycles.

Bertrand Gahel


From the NMBG
by CMG Staff

Buell 1125R

A Buell with a liquid-cooled motor? The new 1125R is powered by the company’s first liquid-cooled, DOHC, V-twin. Outsourced to Austrian engine manufacturer, BRP-Rotax, the “Helicon” motor revs to 10,500 rpm and makes a claimed 146 crankshaft horsepower at 9,800 rpm, with a peak torque of 82 lb-ft at 8,000 rpm.

The new motor is wrapped in a new aluminum frame with rigid spars that hold 21 litres of fuel. Inverted 47 mm forks carry an eight-piston, four-pad front caliper gripping a huge single disc attached to the rim, and a six-speed gearbox is mated to a “slipper effect” clutch that uses engine vacuum to increase lever effect.

Up front, a six-bulb headlight, LED turn-signals in the mirror backs, and a new fairing and radiator cowling designed for aerodynamic effect introduce a model that finally throws a modern, litre-sized engine at Buell’s high-tech chassis design.

Buell 1125R
Does the pipe styling work?

In the cockpit, the rider faces a digital security ignition, with an analog tach, digital speedo, lap timer, thermometer, and fuel consumption indicator among the gauges. Wheelbase is typically short: 1,384 mm (54.5 in) with a claimed dry weight of 170 Kg, or 200Kg with all fluids.

Buell says the 1125R is a distinct line – along with the XB and Blast lines – which suggests there will be more models with the new liquid-cooled 72 degree V-twin to come.

Supermoto, anyone?

The 1125R should be in dealerships in the fall of 2007, with a list price of $13,599.00 Canadian.


COMPARITOR

Specifications
Comments
MSRP
$13,599.00 About a grand up over the XB-R Firebolt, $1,5 above the SV1000, but over $6k less than a 1098 …
Displacement
1125 cc About the right size for a big sporty V-Twin.
Engine type
Liquid-cooled, DOHC, V-Twin, 4-valves per cylinder Liquid cooling … DOHC … 4 valves … Buell get 21st century.
Carburetion
Dual 61 mm down draft throttle bodies, DFI Very good, carry on then.
Final drive
4 mm pitch aramid-reinforced Hibrex® belt Buell stick with the belt which they say is also significantly lighter than a chain without loss of strength.
Tires, front
Diablo Corsa III 120/70 ZR-17 Them be Pirellis by the way.
Tires, rear
Diablo Corsa III 180/55 ZR-17
Brakes, front
375 mm floating rotor with 8-piston, fixed caliper Buell stick with their rim-mounted mother of a front disc.
Brakes, rear
240 mm fixed rotor with 2-piston, fixed caliper
Seat height
775 mm (30.5″) Short-arse friendly
Wheelbase
1387 mm (54.6″) Despite using liquid-cooling (space needed for rads), Buell manage to keep their radically short wheelbase.
Dry weight
(claimed)
170 Kg (375 lbs) Lighter than a 1098 …
Max Horsepower
(claimed)

146 HP @ 9800 RPM

Very usable.
Max Torque
(claimed)
82 ft. lbs. @ 8000 RPM
Ditto.
Colours
Midnight Black; Diamond Blue Frame Any colour you want as long as it’s …
Warranty
24 months (unlimited km)

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