2009 Buell 1125CR

Staffers' Rides

Photography by Joe Neric, Kevin Wing

Ringleader: Marty Estes
MSRP (2009): $11,999
Miles: 8675-11,142
Average Fuel Mileage: 37 mpg
Accessories & Modifications: The Cycle Guys FastPack, Dark Horse Moto axle sliders, K&N air filter

In mid-February, more than a year after I took delivery of my long-term 2009 Buell 1125CR, parent company Harley-Davidson came calling. I dodged them. Would this be the last American sportbike ever? Perhaps-in which case I was going to ride it as long as possible. On February 23rd, though, it was time to say goodbye.

In the months prior, I continued the pursuit of useful aftermarket parts that suited my needs-no simple task, especially after the aftermarket learned there weren't going to be any more Buells. The Cycle Guys provided their FastPack Tail Bag ($69.95; www.thecycleguys.com), a nifty unit that proved useful in transporting my lunch and other miscellany to and from the office. Its water resistance even saved my iPod and cell phone when I got caught in a downpour wearing a jacket with a waterproof liner but no waterproof pockets!


Dark Horse Moto sent a set of their composite axle sliders ($74.95 front/$81.95 rear from www.americansportbike.com) for a little extra crash protection. I held onto these for months before finally putting them on. Call me naive, but I wasn't planning on crashing! (Some at the office found humor in this.) In my last update I covered Continental's excellent Race Attack tires, and I ended up covering far too many miles on them. With the rear finally removed, I was shocked at how thin the rubber had worn in the center from all the freeway miles-an accident waiting to happen. The OE brake pads were well worn at 6000 miles, particularly the rear due to my dirtbike-derived brake-dragging tendencies. I replaced them with another set of stock pads then, but at 11,000 miles they're due again.

I left the suspension alone, as it came from the factory set on the stiff side even for my 200-plus pounds. But Cat borrowed the bike for few days and fine-tuned it a bit. It came back with better overall balance and small-bump compliance, along with a more settled and less "stinkbug" feel. The shock still has plenty of damping, but the fork is in need of fresh fluid. If I were to keep this bike, I wouldn't wait for the 18,600-mile recommended interval to do this. The steering head was loose as well. Who am I to resist wheelying a bike with such a fun hit off the bottom?

Motor-wise, I installed a K&N air filter ($55; www.knfilters.com) to complement the FMF Apex exhaust I'd slipped on previously. I didn't dyno the bike before and after the filter swap so can't comment on whether it adds horsepower. But I like the bonus economics of washing/oiling the reusable pleated cloth filter versus repeatedly buying new paper filters and throwing away the old ones.

The engine never skipped a beat the entire time I had it, though it's almost due for a scheduled service at 12,400 miles that includes valve-clearance inspection, new sparkplugs and crankcase breather, plus the usual oil/filter change. In the end, the only mechanical gremlins I encountered were short-lifespan rear turn-signal assemblies and a broken kickstand spring. Excessive engine heat and cooling weren't the issues I suspected they might be after our introduction to the original R-model, even in summer.

So that's it. The Buell Motorcycle Company is now shuttered and its assets have been sold. Bombardier allegedly made a few failed attempts to purchase Buell from Harley-Davidson. The Barracuda prototype broke cover, showing the world what would have been the next model. Erik himself left Harley to form Erik Buell Racing (www.erikbuellracing.com), focused on producing race-only machines. In February, the fledgling firm unveiled its first new model: the impressive-looking 1190RR, boasting a claimed 185 rear-wheel horsepower.

My personal experience riding the 1125CR was largely positive. I never quite embraced the bike's aesthetics, though some angles were less offensive than others. But the important stuff-engine, suspension, handling and reliability-were all on par with other large-displacement sport-twins. The bike blasted out of turns with authority, kicked ass in the corners and was ergonomically agreeable. I feel lucky to have spent so much time on the "last" Buell. With the introduction and evolution of the Rotax 1125 motor, Buell had undoubtedly arrived as a manufacturer of high-performance sportbikes. I, for one, would like to have seen-and ridden-future offerings from this most unique American motorcycle company.

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