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Buell’s 1190RR: Where Buell Was Headed

Quietly, with little PR fanfare, Erik Buell Racing added a new model to its race-only offerings, the 1190RR. The bike is clearly based on the prototype sportbike Erik Buell was spotted riding last year, shortly after Harley-Davidson announced it was closing down the Buell brand. With 185 rear-wheel horsepower and a feathery dry weight, the bike should be a competitive force in whatever series it appears in.

Although specs for the bike are posted on the Erik Buell Racing website, details are scarce. The engine also gives us a glimpse at what might have been if Buell had lived to sell streetbikes another year. According to the spec sheet, it’s very similar to the 1125RR motor (developed to compete with Japanese liter-bikes in the American Superbike class) with a 3mm-larger cylinder bore and dual showerhead injectors. It’s good for an additional 7 ft.-lbs. of torque and 15 hp at the rear wheel, measured on a Dynojet dynamometer.

The chassis is the same design as the 1125R and 1125RR racebikes (themselves based on Buell’s 1125R streetbikes), with adjustable steering-head angle and wheelbase. Showa’s inverted Big Piston Fork (that we enjoyed testing last year on Kawasaki’s ZX-6R) with 43mm tubes adorns the front end, along with Buell’s ZTL rim-mounted front brake disk and eight-piston caliper. Thanks to the use of a titanium exhaust system and probably other parts, it’s 8 pounds lighter than the 1125R at 360 pounds with an empty tank. It’s wrapped in some very sexy bodywork that hopefully has some Harley-Davidson board members kicking themselves.

The end result is a well-developed bike (the site states a large number of top-level riders test rode it) that will be built in small quantities and sold to mostly foreign buyers, as the bike won’t be raced in AMA Superbike. Buell Racing doubtless has a large supply of motor and chassis components, and although the contractual details of his relationship with Harley-Davidson are secret, producing race-only bikes is obviously permitted. What isn’t are street models, but Erik’s non-compete clause can’t last forever. Will Buell sell streetbikes again in the near future? Now that we’ve seen what he can do, we hope so.

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MD Readers Respond:

  • I admit I have mixed feelings about Buell (not helped by the unceremonious,
    to put it mildly, treatment of the Blast and its demise), but H-D’s
    treatment of the brand, and Mr. Buell, is just despicable. My understanding
    is the situation was pretty flawed from the start – it may have gotten
    Buells out into the hands of riders, but ultimately killed the brand, at
    least for the time being. Why on earth H-D couldn’t let Buell just have the
    brand (his NAME) back…just unbelievable – I hadn’t really looked into
    details there so this article was the first hint I’ve had (“What isn’t are
    street models, but Erik’s non-compete clause can’t last forever”) of what’s
    going on there, but if it truly is a “non-compete” clause…Buell’s bikes
    may have innovations that work and some that don’t, and there are varied
    interpretations on that subject surely, but the idea of H-Ds actually
    COMPETING with them in any real sense is a particularly unfunny joke. Even
    the V-Rod (with help by Porsche…which people think is a good idea but ask
    Mooney how that worked out) is a big disappointment. Needless to say, you
    won’t catch me on a Harley anytime soon….Regards, Tim

  • So tragic. A beautiful bike, like the Firebolt, with the right motor. I want one I can ride on the street. Compared to the 1125 R this bike is a real winner.
  • Erik needs to get over it and himself, Harley did. Kind of reminds me of Craig Vetter; the ship sailed, move on.  Craig
  • Well…It’s bee over 100 years since H-D won at the Isle of Mann, And it appears that it will be a hundred more before they realize some of us care about that sort of thing. Perhaps the guys at Victory will listen?