Chris Martin of AMA Pro Road Racing took on a seemingly impossible task: ranking the top 10 AMA Superbike champions of all time. And with that kind of responsibility comes an unenviable task — leaving some deserving members off the list. In the near 40-year history of AMA Superbike racing, many great racers — and […]
Top 10 Affordable Modern Classics
6. Buell 1125R
No one ever accused Erik Buell of being an ordinary guy, and, similarly, the motorcycles that bore Erik’s surname were pretty far from the norm. With gas in the frame, oil in the swingarm, a single perimeter front brake disc, sharp geometry and rather impressive handling, the one major knock of all Buells was the archaic, pushrod, air-cooled V-Twin plucked from a Harley Sportster. While fun motorcycles, you almost felt as though Erik should have been allowed more.
Well, ask and you shall receive. Parent company H-D gave the okay to contract Rotax to build a liquid-cooled engine and the resulting motorcycle was the Buell 1125R. While certainly the highest-performing Buell, again, there were questions about the 1125’s identity. It most closely resembled a sportbike, but not exactly. Many enthusiasts weren’t sold on its quirky styling, a condition blamed on decisions handed down from Harley HQ. Further, early models suffered from fuel mapping issues. So while it answered many questions, it raised a few more.
Why is the 1125R significant? Because it symbolizes both a high and a low point for Erik Buell. He finally had a liquid-cooled flagship motorcycle, but as it turned out, H-D would later axe Buell, leaving the moto-visionary out to dry. Erik would later start again with his own company EBR (Erik Buell Racing), and his first model, the 1190RS, was the 1125 he always wanted to build but wasn’t allowed to.