'08 Buell 1125R
MSRP: $11, 995
Type: Liquid-cooled, 72-deg., 4-stroke V-twin, DOHC, 4 valves/cyl.
Bore x stroke: 103.0 x 67.5mm
Compression ratio: 12.3:1
Induction: Magneti Marelli EFI, dual 61mm single-valve throttle bodies, 1 injector/cyl.
Front suspension: 47mm Showa inverted cartridge fork, 4.72 in. travel; adjustments for spring preload, compression and rebound damping
Rear suspension: Single Showa shock absorber, 5.0 in. travel; adjustments for spring preload, compression and rebound damping
Front wheel: 3.50 x 17 in.; cast alloy
Rear wheel: 5.5 x 17 in.; cast alloy
Front tire: 120/70ZR-17 Pirelli Diablo Corsa III
Rear tire: 180/55ZR-17 Pirelli Diablo Corsa III
Rake/trail: 21 deg./3.3 in. (84mm)
Wheelbase: 54.6 in. (1387mm)
Seat height: 30.50 in. (775mm)
Fuel capacity: 5.6 gal. (21.20L)
Weight: 474 lb. (215kg) wet; 440 lb. (200kg) dry
Instruments: Digital speedometer, odometer/tripmeter, temperature gauge, clock, analog tachometer; warning lights for oil pressure, fuel level, ambient temperature, coolant temperature, fuel reserve, trip fuel, average and instantaneous fuel consumption, neutral, high beam, turn signals
Roll-ons: 60-80 mph/3.15 sec.; 80-100 mph/3.27 sec.
Quarter-mile: 10.45 sec. @ 133.9 mph
Top speed: 162.0 mph
Fuel consumption: 24-30 mpg, 27.1 mpg average
I wonder if the design team at Buell watched one of those makeover TV shows while designing this bike. If you've seen these programs, they always tell the subject to wear black if they have any perceived flaws they want to hide. Makes you wonder why the 1125R only comes in black, doesn't it? Looking at the 1125R it's clear that Buell didn't consult with Pininfarina when designing that, um, "interesting" front end.
Looks aside, I was anxious to see how different the production versions would be from the ones Trevitt and I rode at the intro (I was at a different magazine at the time). Overall I was impressed. It goes, it stops and it turns just like a bike should. Sure, the gearbox is a bit clunky, the engine heat can be hard to bear at times, and the cooling fans sound like a steam cleaner long after the bike is turned off, but there's something about cheering for the underdog that keeps me rooting for Team USA.Even if it is ugly.
Since the 1125R's press introduction last year at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, I've been waiting patiently to see how the production version of the bike would turn out. The wait-almost 10 months-was worth it, as our test unit is substantially better than the preproduction models we rode at the intro. For me, the 1125R was a pleasant surprise on both the street and track. The chassis responds well to adjustments, and with those adjustments steering is neutral and quick-a combination unattainable on the XB models. The engine is way more user-friendly than the air-cooled mill, as well as more powerful, with the end result a much nicer overall package that works well over a wider range of uses. While I was hoping for even more refinement from both the chassis and the Rotax powerplant, the new Buell is a huge step in the right direction. The Firebolt models have always been frustrating for me to ride because they promise so much performance yet don't deliver on that promise. The 1125R does, making it less frustrating-and a lot more fun-to ride.
Now that Buell finally has an engine worthy of its innovative design features, the 1125R is a good step closer to realizing at least some of the performance potential promised by the theoretical aspects of its inventive engineering. There were still bugs that needed to be worked out, however, resulting in the long delay before we were finally able to obtain a test unit; and then the Buell still required some careful suspension dial-in before shedding most of the handling quirks that have chafed us since day one of the XB series. But once everything was worked out, the 1125R surprised me with its amiable character that can untangle a canyon road or charge through a racetrack lap a lot quicker than you think. The engine's flat torque curve will appeal to a broader range of riding-skill levels, requiring less shifting (although that's a good thing; the transmission was pretty subpar, with notchy shift action and a decidedly clunky feel), and the handling is agile enough without being so sharp as to cut you if you make a mistake.
For me, however, the ultraflat torque curve can be a bit uninspiring on top after a while in a chassis like this, and the overall steering effort is still higher than with nearly every other sportbike I can think of. While I'm sure the Buell will appeal to a good number of riders' tastes (well, all styling aspects aside . . . ), there are still numerous warts that give me pause at forking out nearly $12K.