Instrument cluster readings...
Instrument cluster readings were difficult to see with the LCD tachometer. This was also made more difficult by the streamlined switchgear controls that were anything but intuitive. Mirrors were surprisingly decent, however.
Great torque in powerband
Engine is lackluster in upper rpm
Form over function throughout
Suggested Suspension Settings
||Spring preload: 2 lines showing; rebound damping: 10 clicks out from full stiff; compression damping: 1.25 turns out from full stiff
||Spring preload: 15mm thread showing; rebound damping: 8 turns out from full stiff; compression damping: 2.5 turns out from full stiff
The cockpit of our 1125CR...
The cockpit of our 1125CR testbike included the optional handlebar kit which provides a more comfortable ride compared to the standard clubman bars. The analog tachometer is easy to read, though the digital displays took a little more effort-especially the gear position indicator.
Brakes lack feel
It sure won't win any beauty contests
Suggested Suspension Settings
||Spring preload: 14mm showing; rebound damping: 3.25 turns out from full stiff; compression damping: 3 turns out from full stiff
||Spring preload: position 5 from full soft; rebound damping: 4 turns out from full stiff; compression damping: 20 clicks out from full stiff
|Real World Romping
Slightly hesitant during initial...
Slightly hesitant during initial turn-in, the Streetfighter is quite a capable canyon carver once leaned over. Some testers still complained about the exhaust heat shield/heel guard protruding too far out and inhibiting natural foot movement during left turns.
More detailed rundowns of each bike can be found in our first ride pieces, the Buell in the January issue ("Retro Cool", Jan. '09) and the Ducati in the July issue ("Turning The Page", Jul. '09). And while the specs look impressive, what we really want to know is which machine will deliver the goods in a real-world environment. To do this we gathered the usual band of misfits. Steve "Hollywood" Mikolas and Jim "Lucky Charms" O'Connor also accompanied Trizzle and El Jefe for thorough floggings of each machine. Going into this comparison all of the testers thought it would be a runaway victory for the Ducati given its superbike heritage. Little did we know the matchup would be a lot closer than any of us expected. For starters, ergonomically the 1125CR is very neutral-no part of the rider triangle is disproportionately out of place. Even with the original clubman bars. The Ducati, however, seems to miss the mark. Saddle position is tall with an odd, downward bend of the handlebar that creates an awkward riding position. To add insult to injury, if you're a male, the tall rise from the fuel tank combined with the downward slope of the saddle means one needs to be especially careful of the, um, "nether region" while riding to avoid speech volume increasing by one octave unexpectedly.
The 1125cc, 72-degree Helicon...
The 1125cc, 72-degree Helicon V-twin engine in the 1125CR remains unchanged from that in the 1125R sportbike, which includes the tremendous heat that radiates from the right foot peg.
No, the Streetfighter is not...
No, the Streetfighter is not powered by a surplus of 1098 engines the company had laying around after the introduction of the 1198. These new engines benefit from the company's Vacuural casting process which allows for more precise and consistent casting while also shedding a few grams.
Both machines are rather docile creatures during normal operation cruising in and around town, with ample torque from either engine to squirt through most any situation. Not too surprising is that both V-twins don't like to be spinning slowly, though the Ducati is especially unhappy below 4000 rpm. To add to its misery, once warm, stoplight to stoplight jaunts wreck havoc on the dry clutch and smooth launches are nearly impossible as the clutch tends to grab. Of course, its tall gearing only exacerbates that sluggish feel down low. Because of this tall gearing we hardly found a need to use sixth gear. Highway cruising at 80 mph in sixth gear had the 1099cc mill spinning at that dreaded 4000 mark. In a way, the engine just seems bored spinning that slow. Further, despite its side-mounted exhaust, some testers noticed excessive under-seat exhaust heat after moderate commuting stints in city traffic.
In contrast to the tall gearing on the Ducati, the Buell is geared even shorter than its 1125R stablemate and that's immediately noticeable after 3000 rpm as the CR leaps out of the gate at the twist of the wrist. We were all pleasantly surprised at just how much grunt the Rotax engine put out, but it seems that the clunky gearbox woes still remain. This is made more apparent when compared with the Italian bike's buttery smooth shifting. Transmission issues aside, with the Buell's shorter gearing, sixth gear roll-on times favor the 1125CR. As our impromptu roll-on test showed, starting in sixth gear at 60 mph, the Ducati was severely hampered by its tall gearing and that allowed the Buell to pull away. By the time the Streetfighter was in its sweet spot (above 5000 rpm) it was already too late-the 1125 had already gapped its Italian counterpart. And this is where our preconceived notions about the Buell being the underdog were beginning to be proved wrong.