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Buell 1125CR: MD First Ride

In 2008 Buell Motorcycles introduced their most modern sport bike to date, in the form of the 1125R (see our test of the 1125R, and a discussion of the engine and chassis features common to both bikes here). The 1125R featured a major first for a Buell, a non Harley-Davidson based, liquid cooled engine. After enjoying much success with their race track focused 1125R, Buell wanted a version of the 1125 that appealed to a more street oriented crowd. In comes the 2009 Buell 1125CR café racer, which we recently had the chance to test.

Based on the 1125R platform, the CR features a minimalist approach, with the most notable change being the absence of a large windscreen. The CR also features a “Clubman” style handlebar instead of clip-on style bars, making the change from café racer to all out street fighter as easy as swapping out to the optional high bend bars. The not so noticeable changes include a revised swing arm to accommodate the change in final gearing from the “R” model. There is also a new map for the E.C.U. intended to make any issues with ridability below 6,000rpm and heat a thing of the past.

When we arrived at the Spreewaldring Test Track, just outside of Berlin, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the track or the bike. I was pleasantly surprised on my very first lap around this facility, by both the bike and the track. The track was a good mix of faster sweeping corners and slower more technical sections. This made for an ideal environment to explore the handling characteristics of the bike.

The new Buell was just as surprising. The steering was light and nimble without feeling nervous or twitchy. Changes in direction were met with an eager willingness and required very little effort. Although speeds at this facility were not insane, there were faster sections leading into slow corners that provided an opportunity to test the braking ability of Buell’s ZTL brake system and the vacuum assisted slipper-style clutch. Both performed admirably. The suspension was spot on for our venue. I never felt as though I needed any adjustments to boost my confidence. Although I would have enjoyed a few sessions on race spec rubber, the stock Pirellis did an adequate job of keeping up with the pace.

The street portion of our test would tell us just how well the CR made the switch from track day weapon to a daily utilitarian. The temperature was a little cool and there had been sprinkles of rain here and there, so the roads were a little on the damp side. Once underway, I began to forget about the cooler weather thanks to some beautiful scenery.

Our trip took us through more than a few quaint villages along the way, and it was only then, at lower speeds, that I noticed the “clubman” bars were a little aggressive for daily street use. A switch to a bike equipped with the taller, more traditional (optional) handlebars quickly erased the discomfort felt with the standard bars. The high bar completely changed my attitude while riding. I went from aggressive attack mode to sit-back-and-relax and enjoy-the-scenery mode.

After quite a few miles through the German countryside, it was time to do a top speed run on the Autobahn. With a gearing limited top speed of nearly 160mph, I felt like the king of the road, but instead was gracefully and skillfully humbled by the driver of an extremely fast BMW automobile traveling at a much higher rate of speed. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed my brief experience on the German Autobahn.

Given plenty of time on the flight back to the states to reflect, I was amazed at how well the 1125CR performed. Solid power starts just off idle and continues all the way to the 10,500rpm redline. The fuel injection is very well sorted. The brakes are outstanding. The suspension settings worked well for me in all conditions, and with the optional handlebars the 1125CR is one of the top do-it-all bikes available right now. When asked by a friend about any negative comments, I thought for a few moments and came up empty handed. This bike is that good. U.S. MSRP for the Buell 1125CR is $11,695. For additional details and specifications, visit Buell’s web site here.