In The Real World
With its street rubber back on, we ventured out to the hills outside Los Angeles to see if the oddities from the track would show themselves on the street. The suspension changes we made at the track turned out to be almost spot-on for the street, though we decided to ramp up the rear preload one click for good measure. At our spirited pace, turn-in required just one initial input and the 1125R held its line throughout. That said, at the racetrack and on the street the bike likes to be muscled from side to side.
Because engine speeds in street riding aren't as high as they are on the track, we did notice a few niggles. The unstable fueling under 4000 rpm made itself evident on some of the tighter corners of our ride, gurgling and sputtering until the revs picked up. El Jefe pointed out that the flat torque curve of the Buell feels strong up to about 7000 rpm, then tapers off. The drawback of spinning the engine this high is vibration. Despite its three counterbalancers, both The Geek and The Boss felt the buzzing from the bars at anything over 5000 rpm. Not enough to distract from the riding but enough to note its presence. Also, our bike felt like it had a heavy flywheel, as backing out of the throttle produced little to no engine braking. Needless to say, that's a little unsettling when entering a corner hot and in desperate need to scrub some speed. We noticed this on the bikes at the intro as well. Despite these little nuances the motor ripped when given a chance to stretch its legs.
We took a Ducati 1098 and KTM Superduke R along for the ride, and the 1125R held its own among this company-though it never felt as refined as the Ducati or as agile as the KTM. Just as on the track, front brakes are strong but don't offer much feedback. The rear brake, in typical Buell style, feels completely wooden, with the only indication that it's working being the locked rear tire when you stomp it hard enough.
The X Factor
There's no question that the 1125R styling is controversial, to say the least. Its odd shapes and round contours (not to mention that huge front end) are sure to polarize the buying public, most of which have been longing for a liquid-cooled engine in a Buell for quite some time-but surely never expected it to look like this. Aesthetics aside, the more we rode it the more it started to grow on us. It provides excellent torque, handles much better than expected, and has strong brakes and a comfortable seating position for both the track and street. Granted, there are still some things Erik Buell and his team need to sort out (OK, a lot of things), but perfection takes time. For now, Erik and his team should be glad that this bike-a project 20 years in the making, mind you-even exists. And who says dreams never come true?
|'08 BUELL 1125R |
|TEST NOTES |
|+ ||Monster torque |
|+ ||Responds well to suspension adjustments |
|+ ||Finally has sixth gear |
|- ||Fueling still needs to be sorted |
|- ||Engine heat is brutal on a warm day |
|- ||Not exactly the prettiest bike around |
| ||Definitely the best Buell we’ve ridden |
|SUGGESTED SUSPENSION SETTINGS |
|FRONT ||Spring preload: 12 turns out from |
|full stiff; rebound damping: 3 turns |
|out from full stiff; compression |
|damping: 2 turns out from full stiff; |
|ride height: set fork tubes flush with |
| triple clamps |
|REAR ||Spring preload: position 5 from full |
| || soft; rebound damping: 4 turns out |
|from full stiff; compression damping: |
|20 clicks out from full stiff |