Buell 1125R

Trevor Hedge

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The Magnetti-Marelli dash greets you with ‘Buell – Wisconsin USA’ before you fire the 1125R into life to remind you of its proud American heritage.

The branding continues with small Buell logos found all over the machine, from the pegs to the engine cases and fork legs.

The traditional Buell theme continues to the unique ZTL (Zero Torsional Load) perimeter mounted front brake rotor, fuel in the frame concept and belt drive system. Even the overall styling of the 1125R is unmistakably Buell.

So what’s different about this new kid on the block compared to previous Buells?

The answer is just about everything else. This Buell’s heart does not pulse to the slow and heavy beats of a Harley-Davidson; instead it races with the heart of a spritely athlete.

Buell designed the 72-degree powerplant and set Austrian based firm Rotax the task of delivering a powerplant that can really do justice to Erik Buell’s unique approach to chassis design. The result is quite brilliant and certainly a few steps above anything offered before by the brand.

Gargantuan 61mm throttle bodies, a 12-litre airbox and two big 103mm slugs present quite a challenge to smooth low speed running, but overall the Buell 1125R fuels quite well.

There is some slight surging and hunting at steady throttle openings between 3000 and 4000rpm but that’s about the only criticism that can be levelled at the 1125R’s motor.

Whack that throttle wide open, however, and there is no hesitation in the response.

In first gear the Buell 1125R lofts its front wheel with ease.

Even in second gear it doesn’t take much to make the Buell 1125R sit up and beg.

It charges fluidly to its 10,500rpm redline and is strong enough to register 250km/h on the digital speedo with ease.

Swapping cogs on the Buell 1125R is an absolute joy.

There are no intermediate linkages to mess with shift quality and this direct action shifter combines with a very well designed gearbox to produce a new benchmark for big twin shift quality. It is that good.

A vacuum assisted hydraulic slipper clutch makes the Buell 1125R feel like a two-stroke under braking.

Eventually I tuned my riding to suit and by late on the first day I had actually begun to like the amount of instant slip provided, even in extremely tight mountain terrain.

The slip afforded by the clutch system ensured the suspension was never upset by rapid acceleration and deceleration changes.

A stark difference from Harley-Davidson-engined Buells where you really need to ride the rear brake in tight terrain to try and reduce the understeer the heavy Harley crank could induce if not slowed.

Buell 1125R

The lack of engine braking does however mean that careful attention needs to be paid to braking technique.

Thankfully the unique ZTL brakes fitted to the Buell 1125R provide smooth and progressive stopping power in all but panic situations.

I did manage to use that big eight-piston caliper enough to get them squealing a little but the braking power never went away.

Unfortunately, however, the lighter 1125R doesn’t prove as rock solid stable in emergency braking conditions as the Harley-engined models and can prove quite a handful in a panic stop if you just grab a handful.

The short wheelbase means the Buell raised its rear end with little provocation and a ham-fisted squeeze on the lever will see the back wheel in the air rapidly.

While Buell certainly likes to be different in most things, on the suspension side of the equation the 1125R follows the traditional package for success.

Showa provide the 47mm fully-adjustable inverted forks and shock. A smooth ride even over rough roads suggests the Buell 1125R is not too stiffly sprung and it gets away with being set up a little soft thanks to excellent damping control.

The initial softness of the fork however does contribute to the excessive diving under panic braking which in turn prematurely lifts the rear tyre clear off the tarmac.

The real ace up its sleeve is an aggressive pricing policy that sees the 1125R sold on road for around $18,000.

That price makes the Buell one of the best value twin-cylinder motorcycles on the market.

It is also quite unique and somewhat of an acquired taste that will not suit all, but if you’re in the market for such a bike it is worth heading down to your local Buell dealer to try one on for size.

Buell 1125R
Buell 1125R
Buell 1125R

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