Street Fighter. Café Racer. Sport Custom. Whatever you want to call it, the recipe for hooliganism on two wheels has pretty much stayed the same: start with a sportbike, rip off the front end and slap on some lights, ditch the low-slung clip-ons for a set of handlebars, move the pegs lower and basically personalize to the point where the final product is an abomination of what it started life as. In this world less is more and function doesn't always follow form. And that's cool.
The streetfighter craze started as an underground movement from talented individuals not content with leaving good enough alone. The need for personalization and customization of performance oriented motorcycles is what drove them, and the results spanned the gamut; some were simple, others simply breathtaking. An underlying factor was that despite one's need for customization, these definitely were not cruisers.
It Was Bound To Happen
So it was only a matter of time before the custom sportbike scene went mainstream, and two manufacturers to really latch on to the movement have been Buell and Ducati, with the 1125CR and appropriately named Streetfighter, respectively. Following the debut of the controversial 1125R sportbike from Buell, Erik and team decided to create more of a stir with the 1125CR, or Café Racer. Drawing inspiration (though not much else) from British café racer motorcycles from the 1960's, Buell followed the formula above by taking an 1125R, ditching the now infamously bulbous front bodywork and replacing it with a simple flyscreen and headlight. To keep with the theme, the clip-on bars on the sportbike were nixed in favor of handlebars. These aren't your usual handlebars, however. No, these are bent and angled down and forward from the triple clamp in true café racer style according to Erik Buell. The resulting bar position angle is very similar to that of the 1125R sportbike. Cool looking? Maybe. Comfortable? Not so much. That's why we had our test bike fitted with the optional raised handlebars, resulting in much higher comfort.
Other than the tweaks to the front of the motorcycle the 1125CR is not much changed from its fully faired sibling. Forward motivation comes by way of the 1125cc 72-degree Helicon V-twin engine from Rotax in Austria that put out 132.5 horsepower and 75.5 pound feet of torque on our Superflo dyno. Braking duties are handled by the Zero Torsional Load perimeter-mounted rotor clamped by an eight-piston caliper, while Showa components front and rear handle bumps and keep the rubber on the road. In a slightly different fashion, Ducati's Streetfighter takes its influence from the venerable 1098 superbike of year's past, yet it isn't just the same machine stripped to its core. The Streetfighter is in fact a whole new motorcycle. Powered by the same 1099cc powerplant from the 1098 (not the 1198 from the current superbike), the engine receives the vacuural casting treatment as the rest of the superbike engines, resulting in less cavitation and a slight weight reduction. On our dyno it just edged the Buell with 2.6 more horses (135.1) and is practically level in the torque department (74.1). It's cradled by a completely redesigned frame with minimal bodywork with a front headlight design inspired by, of all things, the number plate from the 1098R. The myriad of changes continues: wheelbase is increased through a longer swingarm compared to the 1098 and front suspension geometry is revised for more rake with the goal of increasing stability. Styling-wise, the tail section of the bodywork has actually been shortened slightly to better accommodate the dimensions from the revised front end.