Launch Report: Buell 1125CR road test

Bertie Simmonds reports back from the launch of Buell's 1125CR

Posted: 3 October 2008
by Visordown News

It’s fair to say that the 1125R has been greeted luke-warmly. A bodged launch last year at Laguna Seca was followed by a ‘band-aid’ launch earlier this year for the water-cooled Buell in Spain. Not a good start for a platform that Buell wanted to use to bring new riders into the marque.

This, then, would be an important launch, and we were sent to Berlin to see if this 1125CR ‘Café Racer’ could cut the mustard, or whether it was just a sauerkraut...

Many of us Brits were hoping that it would be a major improvement, but almost resigned to the fact that it would share the same basic faults of the 1125R – disappointing power delivery, warp-prone brakes, over-sensitive suspension and ugly looks. When we finally rolled out of the pitlane at the small and twisty Spreewaldring circuit, an hour from Berlin, the differences were marked.

The motor benefits from changes to the fuel-injection system with new angle injectors, which beef up mid-range. The bike is also geared down by 8.5%. Out on track and on the road this transforms the motor to something much smoother than the original 1125R. Gutsier, too. Erik himself told us that he didn’t want to ‘dumb-down’ the Helicon motor in the CR, so it’s the full-monty 146-claimed-bhp twin from the racier R, but with a more refined feel, while still retaining a big twin’s character.

The tight last corner at the Spreewaldring would have the ‘old’ 1125R stuttering, but you can be smooth as you like on the CR. It’s a real sleight-of-hand that the gearing seems to have had a major effect on, as has the new calibration of the Rotax-designed Helicon motor.

Suspension again is improved: the test team spent a week working out a basic setting for the 1125CR, which works for all riders across all road surfaces. Much better. Braking is still with the ZTL2 set-up, which I’ve never had a problem with, warp-wise, although some journos have. The bike still has a marked tendency to sit-up with the merest brush of the lever, something that a Jap sportsbike wouldn’t: It’s liveable with though, just call it character.

Looks-wise this is a major improvement over the 1125R – which almost seemed to have a Rickman-esque fairing attached to it. The minimalist cockpit, sits between the massive air-scoops, which – while looking over-done on the R – accentuate the aggressive, hunched looks on the street bike.

Little Buell/Harley things still annoy: the clocks – which feature a gear-position indicator now – are still a little hard to read, the mirrors vibrate so you see little in them and some of the bolts are still a mite agricultural.

But overall this is the bike the 1125R so should have been, and is a fun bike to ride and should compare favourably to the Japanese and European options. I kid you not.

It seems Erik Buell and his team have finally given us a water-cooled Buell worth shouting about. About time too.

The Buell 1125CR will be available later this month in the UK for £7995.

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Discuss this story

Now I know there is a thread about bikes you like but shouldnt, but actually, I quite like this!  Compared to a lot of the WTF bikes coming out for 2009 (Have you seen the ghay pink/red frame on the R1?) This looks purposeful and if the review above is true, could be good fun.  Theres something definetely attractive about it - however wonder how many pidgeons I could plug in those airvents up front.......

Posted: 02/10/2008 at 20:06

I like the 1125R, haven't seen the CR yet, but it sounds like Buell have fixed a lot of the niggles that bike had.

Does that mean it's OK to like them now, and I'm going to have to choose another unsuitable bike?

Posted: 02/10/2008 at 21:46

FOr decent pics check the buell site:

 Thing I like, is its totally differrent - that exhaust is contrarian, that front disc looks sexy (if not effective, dunno).  Its a nice looking bike!

Posted: 02/10/2008 at 22:00

The only trouble with the CR is that Buell aren't offering it in white.

I agree about them being different is part of the appeal.

Reviews seem to have been mixed about the front brake. Some people get on with it, others say that it's too weak.

I've only briefly ridden one Buell (a Blast, not generally available over here), and they carry the weight low. I actually really liked the feel of that bike, and am wondering if the other Buells are similar.

Posted: 02/10/2008 at 23:45

I'd really like Buell to succeed with the 1125 and CR, but I don't see it happening. The bare bones of a really good bike are there, but there are too many rough edges. And they ain't pretty.

Posted: 03/10/2008 at 06:18

After fancying a Buell for years though I took the plunge recently and am hooked. When I now ride a jap bike (my mate's 636, another mate's Z1000, even third mate's 07 blade) they just strike me as very efficient but also very bland and clinical. The Buell feels alive, yes it vibrates like the wife's Ann Summers 'Rabbit', and yes it was obviously built for a dry climate and will take some work to keep it tidy, but for me that just adds to the appeal. Personally I'm hacked off with the endless bhp obsessed titanium this/5 grams lighter that and I just want a bike that I enjoy riding and tinkering with.

With that in mind I think the CR will open up a wider audience to Buells but I still think as a nation of mainly sportsbike-obsessed riders we are a few years off being open-minded enough to entertain something as left-field as Buells in any serious numbers. Plus a lot of people are put right off by the Harley connection, despite the motor now being a Rotax jobbie.

Posted: 04/10/2008 at 23:20

I've got a TL1000s. It's a half-faired litre v-twin. It does everything the Buell can (abeit with maybe 15bhp less), has all the character you need, and doesn't break down.

Buell shot themselves in the foot with the 1125; they released it too soon, before ironing out all the niggles. It was panned by the press almost universally, citing poor brakes, shoddy suspension, excessive heat build-up, and build quality issues. I've not read a road test of the CR yet, so don't know if these issues have been resolved.

The TL, too, was panned by the press, for the rear suspension. But that was easily resolved with a replacement rear damper (Quite why Suzuki didn't do this is beyond me, intead they whacked a steering damper on and reduced the power, which probably cost more in development costs, and lost sales).

Without these problems I'd be very interested in the 1125, but for the meantime I'll stick with the TL. Mine has an Ohlins rear damper and handles beautifully, and at £2000 doesn't owe me much.

And while the TL is no looker, it's nowhere near as offensive as the Buells. Both models are 'kin ugly.

Posted: 05/10/2008 at 05:00

I was fortunate enough to win the VD comp for the Buell Experience and have a blast out on the Buell.  I put a report of the day on here some time ago.

In short, the bike was nice, Fugly at some angles and seemed to handle pretty well (Feel in the front end compared to my Firestorm was noticibly better).  As with the other Buell Models, it rattled and farted when sat at idle, 2K Rpm and things seemed to settle down.  In terms of outright speed, I am positive my Storm would be quicker, but it was no slouch and easy to ride.

Pic below of me over the mountain at cadders.

Would I be tempted ..... err nope, for that money you could pick up a spanking GSXR750 which would be far more rewarding to ride IMO

Posted: 08/10/2008 at 15:16

The Telegraph has a road test of the Buell 1125CR here:

And tech specs are here:

I went to Intermot in Cologne last week, and took a look at the Buells whilst there.

The 1125 was surprisingly comfortable for someone of my height (about 6'4" with long legs). I don't find most sportsbikes that good to sit on, and the R6 was painful. It also looks a lot better than it does in the photos, and I'd suggest getting one in black rather than red.

The downsides are that the fit and finish aren't great. The edge of the fuel tank cover on the white 1125R was noticeably rough, and that's something that two minutes with a file could solve. The switchgear feels cheap too, and not as nice as on something like a BMW.

Anyway, here's a photo.

Posted: 12/10/2008 at 15:14


Posted: 12/10/2008 at 15:37

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