Ringleader: Marty Estes
MSRP (2009): $11,999
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.
Small tail bag in use, padded seat cover when not, The Cycle Guys FastPack is a clever-yet
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!
Installation of the Dark Horse Moto composite axle sliders was straightforward. They offer
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?
Proof that the K&N air filter works, and also that the author needs to keep up on his main
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.