When the 1125cc engine is spinning at track speeds it's an impressive mill. Power is available until nearly redline, though rowing through the gears isn't as precise as its Japanese counterparts. The vacuum-assisted slipper clutch on the 1125CR proved to be a nice feature, but banging down through the gears quickly still caused the rear end to chatter-something a ramp-style unit typically does a better job of controlling.
Speaking of control, the ZTL2 brakes again proved to be extremely strong at the expense of feel and modulation. Getting on the binders was an on/off affair with no middle ground. Great if you're into lofting the rear wheel, not so much otherwise.
The 1125 family really hasn't shown too many hiccups on the racetrack. Its street manners, on the other hand, leave some to be desired. Earlier we mentioned Buell engineers personally meeting with their Rotax partners to determine what was causing the heating issues and poor fueling below four-grand. The result of this meeting is a revised spark map that drastically improves the bike's low-speed fueling. Whereas before the R model would lunge and surge at slow speeds, the CR cruises along. Even deliberate sixth-gear runs at 45 miles per hour didn't get the mill to burble. And wouldn't you know it; now that the air/fuel mixture is being ignited efficiently the engine heat we complained about last year has all but vanished. Even sitting idle at a rest stop, the heat emanating onto my leg was marginal at worst.
Of course, with an engine like this what's the point in keeping it under four grand? With the shorter final-drive gearing, the CR leaps from the line or out of corners much more sprightly than the R. Though top speed runs are downright maniacal on most roads this side of the pond, the German autobahn proved to be about as perfect a setup to really stretch the CR's legs. And stretch'em we (err...I) did-bouncing off the rev limiter in sixth gear showed an indicated top speed of 263 kilometers per hour, which translates to roughly 163 miles per hour. Wind protection is obviously limited on this bike, but it was only at these outrageous speeds where I was starting to wish for a screen.
Buell has a host of accessories available for the CR already, but a must-have for the average street rider is the upright handlebar kit. For $185, it includes the handlebar with extended brake lines and throttle cables. At anything but a track setting, these bars are the way to go for truly comfortable riding.
Hard Work Pays Off
As charming as the city of Berlin proved to be, there weren't many options for twisty roads-the route being set up mainly to experience the improvements made to the engine bay. Initial impressions are that Buell definitely succeeded in righting its wrongs. Complaints are few, but the brakes are on top of that list. Having mind boggling stopping power is nice, but being able to control it would be even better. Also, the addition of a gear indicator is a nice touch, but its small numbers located low on the gauge cluster make it hard to read.
That said, it looks like the Buell 1125CR is ready for the big show-after only one year. Bikes should already be available by the time you read this and MSRP is $11,695. By that time we'll hopefully have our hands on one, as well as the other contenders in the class, for a naked bike free-for-all. Stay tuned.
Type: Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, DOHC V-twin
Bore x Stroke: 103.0 x 67.5mm
Induction: Magneti-Marelli EFI, dual 61mm single-valve throttle bodies, one injector/cyl.
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)
Claimed dry weight: 375 lbs (170kg)
Seat height: 30.50 in. (775mm)
Fuel Capacity: 5.6 gal. (21L)