Buell Motorcycles, an American motorcycle manufacturer founded by former racer and Harley-Davidson research-and-development staffer Eric Buell, began making racing bikes in 1982. Harley-Davidson acquired an interest in the company in 1993 and bought a controlling share five years later. In 2009, the year Buell won the AMA Daytona Superbike championship – amid considerable controversy – with the Buell 1125R, Harley-Davison closed down the subsidiary company in response to the global recession. However, before Buell disappeared (at least for a few years), the company introduced a companion to the sport bike: the 2009 1125CR, a café racer.
When the 1125R made its debut in 2007, it was the first Buell to use an engine not made by Harley-Davidson. Buell went to Rotax, the Austrian company that makes engines for BMW and Aprilia, for a new 1125cc, liquid-cooled, V-twin, four-stroke engine. Both models have dual overhead cams and fuel injection. The original bike had throttle problems, which were eliminated in the 2009 model with revised EFI mapping; the 1125CR benefitted from the same improvements. Six-speed manual transmissions, with lightweight belt final drives, are operated with wet multi-plate clutches.
A Showa inverted fork with adjustable load and rebound damping provides the front suspension; in the rear is a Showa twin-sided swing arm with a single adjustable, spring preloaded shock and rebound damping. The ride is firm but not jarring. Eight-piston ZTL single-disc brakes in front and back stop the machines.
Lightweight and maneuverable, with predictable power delivery, the 1125R and 1125CR were strong contenders in the sport bike field. Part of its low weight came from the fact that fuel is stored in the frame, adding stability. Buell offered many accessories to expand the bikes’ uses, with a variety of luggage options for those who wished to use them as tourers or for commuting, along with a windshield, heated hand grips, and more comfortable seats. The 1125R’s wide fairing provides plenty of protection from the wind – and took a lot of criticism for its looks at the same time, with one reviewer unkindly comparing it to a deformed alien.