Buell 1125R Test Ride

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The ambient air temperature read 87° as I pressed the starter switch on the blue-on-white Buell 1125R, and prepared myself for the slight possibility of fun.

I say “slight possibility”, because the restrictions that Biggs Harley-Davidson in San Marcos, CA had set on the test ride were stacked against any serious test of the motorcycle’s capability.  First, I was restricted to riding a pre-defined route that would prevent any serious test of the bike’s handling.  Second, I was required to ride behind an accompanying Biggs employee, who would be riding a…wait for it…Street Glide.  Now the Street Glide is a beautiful motorcycle, but any casual listing of it’s outstanding characteristics would not include “Sharp, high-speed handling”.

Our Exciting Test Ride Route
Our Exciting Test Ride Route

I was told, however, that I was lucky to be allowed to take a test ride at all, because “the insurance company classifies them as ‘superbikes’, we we were lucky to allow anyone to take a test ride.”

And you can believe as much of that as you please.

Starting up the 1125R rewards you with a decidedly un-Harley-like, yet recognizably V-Twin rumble.  It’s a fairly unique sound, and after thinking about it for a while, I decided that it sounds sort of like a WWII aircraft engine.

The first few minutes I spent in the parking lot, doing a couple of figure-8s, and playing with the low-speed handling of the bike.  For someone like me, who rides at low speed using the techniques from the “Ride Like a Pro” series of DVDs, the 1125R is resistant to the trail-braking techniques.  That’s because the rear brake is essentially useless.  There is no feel whatever, and even a hard stomp on the brake pedal rewards you with…nothing.

This was a recurring feature of the ride, since I tend to use my rear brake a fair amount, and I had to adapt my riding style to essentially ignoring the rear brake and concentrate on two-finger front-braking.  I use my rear brake and engine braking  to scrub off speed when approaching corners, and the 1125R doesn’t reward that technique at all, though the engine-braking is quite acceptable.

Conversely, the front brakes worked very well.  They were grabby, and had plenty of feel.  And the bike didn’t stand up straight under light front-braking.

Getting onto the street, another adjustment I had to make was the use of the clutch.  It takes hardly any squeeze at all on the clutch lever for it to fully engage, and the engagement and disengagement is fairly abrupt, due to the small amount of required travel.  By the end of the ride, I had adapted to it, but it took a bit for me to figure out how to shift smoothly, and not apply to much RPM before the clutch engaged.

Ergonomics are described by Buell as “athletic”.  I’d describe them as fairly comfortable in sportbike terms.  They’re certainly more relaxed than I expected, and you can ride the 1125r without leaning on your wrists, and laying on the tank.  You are crouched forward, and pegs are high, but not so far forward, and not so high that it becomes quickly uncomfortable.  It may be a racing bike, but it is a bike you can ride.

Even at very low speeds, the exceptional balance of the 1125R never gives you the feeling that you’re about to fall over.On the street, the broad torque curve is forgiving, and the engine responds promptly in any gear.  Unlike the long-stroke V-Twins on most cruisers, the high-revving short-stroke Rotax engine rewards throttle inputs with prompt obedience,  the power is linear, and willing to surge higher at the flick of a wrist.  While lofting the front wheel on the 1125R could be done with ridiculous ease, the power is easily tameable.  It doesn’t get out of control, and doesn’t surprise you.  It merely does what you ask, when you ask.

I’ve read several reviews of this bike, and many of them have mentioned buzzing and vibration at certain RPMs.  As far as I could tell, it had typical V-Twin character, with buzzing and vibrations everywhere.  I expected that, and I don’t really understand why anyone would complain about it.  You can drop in as many counter-balancers as you want, but no V-Twin with ever be electric-smooth.  That’s just not the character of the engine type.  As far as I could tell, the Rotax engine really showed off a lot of the character that makes the V-Twin engine so lovable.

Having said that, it’s not a smooth bike.  The vibrations do make the rear-view mirrors essentially useless at speed. But, if a glass-smooth engine and perfectly clear rear-view mirrors are your deal, then a V-Twin bike probably isn’t for you.

Doesn’t make you a bad person.

2009 Buell 1125R
2009 Buell 1125R

As we entered the I-15 from Escondido, I could see my minder from Biggs drop his elbow as he twisted the throttle for all his Street Glide was worth.  With a very slight twist of the throttle, the 1125R stayed right in formation with him.  I did, however, find the mild acceleration amusing.

The 1125R is not only very stable at highway speeds, the way the fairing directs the airflow was perfect for my 5″10″ frame.  There was no buffeting at all, just a nice stream of clean air at the top of my chest and shoulders.  Dropping into a slight tuck made even that go away.  The fairing design on the Buell is quite effective, which would make highway trips far less fatiguing.

While the route we traveled contained no twisties, while we came back on the Old Highway 395, I did do a little playing with the bike’s response to body position.  Putting weight on a footpeg, leaning your upper body, even looking and shifting a butt cheek puts the 1125R in the mood to lean.  there were a couple of turns on our route, and when going through them, the 1125R was composed, and tracked like it was on rails.  It effortlessly took a line inside that of the Biggs minder and his Street Glide, and stayed on that line like it was on rails.  I had wondered whether the relatively steep rake and short trail would make the Buell twitchy in corners, and as far as I can tell from my limited experience, it doesn’t.

The only major drawback to the 1125R was the leaden ineffectiveness of the rear brakes.In fact, it’s very stable at all speeds, and in all conditions–admittedly limited ones–I subjected it to.  Even at very low speeds, the exceptional balance of the 1125R never gives you the feeling that you’re about to fall over.  You can crawl this bike along in city traffic at walking speeds, and never take your feet off the pegs.  You don’t usually think of sportbikes as particularly forgiving or confidence inspiring, but the Buell 1125R is exactly that.  That, combined with the more forgiving ergonomics, make it a joy to ride.

Heat management on the Buell 1125R can be described with one word: Nonexistent.  That bothers some people.  Meh.  I live in the desert.  Everything’s hot.  So, the 1125R has no lower fairing to generate the nasty heat away from you.  Man up and deal with it.

The only major drawback to the 1125R was the leaden ineffectiveness of the rear brakes.  I didn’t like that at all.  As far as other negatives goes, I did notice that the gear shift selector read “Gear: –” for the entire ride.  And, while the analog Tachometer dominates the dashboard display, you tend to have to hunt for the digital speedometer.  On a bike that can cause you to travel at license-losing speeds at the drop of the hat, a more prominent speedometer might be helpful.  Finally, the switchgear on the handlebars look amateurish and clunky, and sport annoyingly bright colors.  They look out of place on an otherwise well-crafted bike.

On the plus side, this is a genuinely fun and–in sportbike terms–comfortable bike to ride.  It’s definitely not a beginner’s bike by any stretch of the imagination, but for an experienced rider, the Buell 1125R is versatile enough to use as a daily commuter at nice, sedate speeds, and a weekend hooligan bike for more…ahem…energetic riding.

I like it a lot.

A Rare Tactical Mistake, an Ongoing Strategic Problem

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Harley-Davidson, whatever the company’s faults may be, have gotten one thing consistently right: Marketing.  They are a marketing powerhouse.  When you buy a Harley-Davidson, you don’t just buy a motorcycle.  You buy a ticket to the “Harley Lifestyle”.  The company’s marketing is ubiquitous and effective.  But not perfect…

H-D’s CEO, Keith Wandell, admitted in an interview with The Business Journal that the company flubbed their forecasts of the recession’s impact on their customers’ buying choices.

[T]he company mistakenly thought the recession would push consumers toward Harley’s Sportster and other less expensive motorcycles.

The company increased production of those types of bikes, but retail sales “didn’t materialize,” he said.

Harley dealers currently have a glut of the mid-priced V-Rod models.

Instead, many consumers who have been buying Harley-Davidson motorcycles have been buying more expensive custom and touring bikes, Wandell said.

“It left us with a bigger imbalance,” he said. “We have a lot of inventory.”

As a result, Harley-Davidson will shut down final assembly operations of the Sportster and V-Rod motorcycles and V-Rod motorcycle powertrain production in Kansas City, and production of Sportster motorcycle powertrains in Wauwatosa, for 14 weeks this year, including all of the fourth quarter.

Let me put on my MBA hat here.  (And yes, I do have one.  An MBA, I mean.  I don’t actually have the hat.  But, I’m thinking of getting one made.)

Harley’s real problem, however, is not the occasional tactical marketing error, but a more fundamental strategic error that the company keeps compounding.I’m kind of stunned that the MoCo would make such a mistake about the buying habits of their customers.  Sportsters certainly have their fans, but general, people buy a Sportster because they want a Sportster. I can see how someone wanting a Softtail might settle for a Dyna, but not a Sportie.  At least with the Dyna they still get the Big Twin engine.  Surely the company must know that the Sportster is called the “baby Harley” and “girls bike”.  They must have some inkling that salesmen at dealerships constantly advise prospective Sportster buyers that they’ll quickly outgrow the bike, and want a Dyna in a year or so, so why not buy a Dyna that you won’t outgrow instead?

People who want a Big Twin–and often they already have a Metric big twin they’re looking to trade off–aren’t interested in scaling down to a smaller motorcycle.  They want one of the big dogs.

And as for the V-Rod…well, I don’t know what they were thinking when they thought they’d see an increase in sales there.  It’s a nice bike but it certainly isn’t the company’s most popular product line.  Not by a long shot.

It’s strange to see the company make such an unusual tactical error, and now the employees are gonna pay for it, as the MoCo cuts production to align inventory with customer demand.

Harley’s real problem, however, is not the occasional tactical marketing error, but a more fundamental strategic error that the company keeps compounding.

The brand is an absolute icon for the baby boomers.  Among the Gen-X set and younger riders…well, not so much.  The MoCo has a serious strategic problem when it comes to marketing, in that younger riders just aren’t attracted by the Harley brand.  Harley obviously knows that their customers are aging, as evidenced by the fact that they’ve started producing factory trikes, so that their customers can keep riding long after the ability to hold up a 750 lb. hunk of steel fades away.

But Harley’s challenge isn’t to figure out how to keep an aging band of retirees buying their products, but rather how to entice younger riders to the brand.  It’s clear that, looking at the advancing average age of H-D customers, they haven’t figured it out.  Or rather, if they have, they’ve declined to implement the obvious solution.

To properly understand the problem, we need to look back at a bit of history.

If you were born in, say, 1980, Harley-Davidson has never been the Big Dog motorcycle.I was born in 1964, so that makes me the very last of the baby boomers.  When we were growing up a “superbike”–the term didn’t really exist back then–was a Norton Commando 800.  A Harley-Davidson was a massive motorcycle with an ungodly large 1200cc engine.  You started riding motorcycles with a Montgomery-Wards 125cc thumper, maybe graduated to a BSA 500cc, then you finally got the money to get one of the Big Dogs, a Harley.

In the 70s, that all started to change.  The Japanese began producing game-changing bikes like the Honda 750Four, and the Kawasaki Z-1.  Performance increased dramatically.  By 1984, when Yamaha introduced the frighteningly powerful (for the time) V-Max, real superbikes were available. The mid-80s explosion of Sportbikes, like the Kawasaki Ninja, raised the bar forever in terms of new motorcycle riders’ perceptions about what a powerful motorcycle was.

Harley’s response was, and continues to be, incremental increases in engine displacement from 1200cc air cooled twins to 1600cc air-cooled twins, along with incremental improvements to frames, suspension, and, thus handling.  But the styling and riding characteristics of the company’s products remained mainly stuck in the 1950s-1960s.

1965 Harley Davidson FLH1200
1965 Harley Davidson FLH1200

Don’t believe me?  OK.  Compare and contrast the two bikes shown here.

Can you think of any other product where so little styling has changed in the past 44 years?

So, if you were born in, say, 1980, Harley-Davidson has never been the Big Dog motorcycle.  It’s been a manufacturer of heavy, slow, low-performance cruisers.  You’ve grown up in a world of 150+HP superbikes–a world that did not exist when the boomers were young.  Younger riders have an entirely different mental impression of how the motorcycling world is put together.

To thrive as a company Harley needs a product that is connected to the modern era, as well as the past.  That doesn’t mean that Harley should jettison its classic styling completely.  There’ll always be a market for that, because it has a definite appeal to some riders.  But to grab younger riders Harley-Davidson–as a company, not a specific brand–has to have something else.  It has to have a line of motorcycles that appeals to those younger people who want more sport than cruiser.

And, interestingly enough, Harley already has that with Buell motorcycles.  And does almost nothing with them.

2009 Harley Davidson Road King
2009 Harley Davidson Road King

First, until last year, the entire Buell line–except for the now-defunct Blast–was limited to cast-off Sportster Evolution engines.  Erik Buell’s division tweaked them as well as they could be tweaked, but the XB series of bikes has never–and can never, from a technical point of view–compete with 600cc sportbikes like the Yamaha R6.  And I simply can’t believe that an old privateer racer like Erik Buell is satisfied with the performance of the products he’s been allowed to put out by his masters in Milwaukee.

And, to make matters worse, Buell doesn’t even have its own dealership network.  Instead, Buells are relegated to the dark corner of Harley-Davidson dealerships, and the sales staffs often know little about the brand…and care even less.  I’ve personally had sales people intentionally steer me away from Buells, to point me in the direction of a Softtail or Road King.

H-D needs to move beyond the cruiser world if it wants to compete in the future. And that means letting Buell have some more leeway to operate beyond the Harley-Davidson cruiser world.

Companies survive by making products the public wishes to purchase.  They don’t survive on tradition.  They don’t survive on selling lifestyles.They need to break into the younger markets by producing bikes that can compete with the Gixxers and Ninjas. That means giving Buell the go-ahead to dump the Thunderstorm engine in favor of water-cooled twins and V-4 or I-4 engines.  Buell has some fascinating design ideas for sportbikes, but one of the reasons they’ve never been accepted is that, performance-wise, Buells suck compared to the Japanese brands. Buell needs a powerplant to mate with their technical innovations.  The 1125 is a good start.  Now, they need to make the next step.

They need to liberate Buell from the H-D dealership network, and open up dealerships where Buell enthusiasts work.  It doesn’t matter how good the bikes are if their sales network doesn’t want to sell them.  Making the customers force the dealer to sell them a Buell is silly, and it needs to stop.

Harley also has MV Agusta, the venerable maker of Italian sportbikes, including the F4 312RR, the most powerful production motorcycle in the world, as well as its parent company, Cagiva.  Maybe figuring out how to get those Italian brands over here would be helpful as well.

Companies survive by making products the public wishes to purchase.  They don’t survive on tradition.  They don’t survive on selling lifestyles.  The reason the MoCo’s customer base is aging and shrinking is because they aren’t making products the younger generation wants to buy.

But Harley owns the brands, and has the capability to make the bikes that will attract the younger generation of buyers.  It only remains to be seen if Harley will continue to rest on the laurels of the brand’s prestige, or if it will become determined to compete in the new markets that the Japanese currently own.

Decisions, Decisions…

With the money from my insurance settlement coming, I really am trying to figure out what to do.  I know I’ll pay off my FJR, but beyond that, I’m not sure which direction to go.

I rode the R1200RT, and absolutely loved it.  But I’d have to trade in my FJR to buy it outright.  I’m also really interested in a Buell 1125r, and I can get an ’09 white/blue one for a pretty good deal.  Good enough so that I can keep the FJR, and buy an 1125r outright.  I have a test ride scheduled for next Saturday on the 1125r.

Assuming I like the power and handling of the 1125r, I’m really in a quandary about which way to jump.  The Buell is the only sportbike that has ergos comfy enough for me to ride regularly, but, on the other hand, the BMW has all those cool amenities like cruise control, ASC, ESA, etc. that I miss on the FJR.

This may be my only chance to get a new bike with someone else’s money, and it’s a very hard decision to make.

1125r Test Ride Setup

I went back to Biggs Harley today.  I scheduled a test ride on the Buell 1125r for next Saturday.  They did have a sales guy there who is familiar with Buells (he rides a Uly), so I was able to ask him some questions about the bike.

Just sitting on the bike, though, I really do dig the ergos on the 1125r.  They are about the best sportbike ergos I’ve encountered.  When you sit on an R6, for example, you really are stretched out over the tank, your legs are tucked up into your guts, and you are putting a lot of weight on your wrists.  Not comfy at all for anything other than the trackm or for any extended riding.

On the 1125r, the riding position is still relatively aggressive, but while you are leaned forward, it’s not enough to put any weight on your wrists, so you can keep your elbows bent, and your arms loose.  And your shoulders aren’t hunched up.  The footpegs are also slightly lower so that’s more relaxed as well.  It seems like a sportbike that you can actually use as a commuter without discomfort.

Next week, I’ll see how the bike is for things other than sitting.

OK. We get it.

Somebody at Buell’s marketing department must be so proud of his cleverness.  Buell has gotten the defunct 2010 crushed Blast into the Motorcycle.com specs listing.  They’ve replicated their  Book of Buell dismissal of the blast there.  “cause God knows that buying full-page ads in the mags, and putting up front on their web site wasn’t good enough.  No, they’ve got to show off their cleverness to the world.

Because they’re extreme, maaaan!

Hm.  Maybe for 2011 they should think about dumping their current boring product names, too.  There’s tons of great potential names out there.  The “Moody Loner”  The “Social Misfit”.  The “Outcast”.  The potential’s unlimited.

And, yes, I’m still planning on riding an 1125r.

Another Test Ride?

I‘ve been looking at Buell’s web site since the new models were rolled out, and looking up some information on the 1125R.  I’ve also been watching that young Eslick fellow sweep the Daytona races around the country.

So, I stopped off at Biggs Harley-Davidson today to look at one in person.  All I got to do was sit on the bike–they have a white one on display, as well as a couple of CR variants.  The CR is too much of a naked bike for my taste, but the R model looks sweet.  I know the looks are controversial, but I like them.

Just sitting on the bike, I could tell that the ergos are far more forgiving than the Kawasaki Z-Bikes, and way more comfy than the R1 or R6.  You aren’t forced to lean as far forward, and the pegs aren’t set quite as high, so you aren’t crouched into a full fetal position.  This is a sportbike I might actually be able to ride for more than 30 minutes at a time.

Surprisingly, the Biggs guys are open to letting me take one out for a test ride.  So I’ll probably have a test ride report on the Buell 1125R in the near future.

What is Erik Buell Thinking?

I‘ve spent some time going over the new 2010 Buell Motorcycles web site that was unveiled today. I can’t say as I like it much.  And I don’t think much of the marketing effort they put into one of the main features on the new site, the co-called “Book of Buell“.

Something about the tone of the thing just puts me off.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  The Buell is a fine motorcycle, and Erik Buell really is a fine engineer and racer, who has contributed some fascinating ideas to motorcycle design.  Many of Buell’s design concepts seem spot on.  But the tone of the thing gets right up my nose.

SITTING IS NOT A SPORT

There is no World Champion of sitting.  No governing body to ensure that when two people try to out sit each other, they do it by the rules. Because sitting is not a sport.  Unfortunately, most people who buy sportbikes do just that.  They hit the starter button, raise the kickstand, and sit their asses off…

Actually, most people raise the kickstand, and then hit the starter button, because they have modern bikes with a safety interlock that won’t let you start the bike with the kickstand down.  If the bike isn’t in Neutral, at any rate.

…There’s nothing wrong with these people.  They just bought the wrong bike. A sport bike is not designed to be sat on.  it’s designed to be hung off.  Moved around on.  Constantly manipulated beneath the rider. A self-propelled platform upon which a sport takes place.  Before you buy a Buell, take a moment to think about what you really want to do on it.  If the answer involves sitting, you may want to consider something different.  A porch swing, maybe, or one of those floating pool chairs.

Well.  Aren’t we just a little too cool for the room?  But hey, while we’re on the subject of whether or not we should consider a sportbike, maybe we should also take a moment to consider if the sportbike we want has an air-cooled V-twin engine that was pulled off of a Harley Sportster, and puts out 103 horsepower like the XB12R, or has a water-cooled, I-4 Engine that spits out 178 horses, and is smooth as silk, like a GSX-R1000.  Even the 1125R is only putting out 145 horses.

So, let’s be honest.  If you’re looking at a Buell, your prime consideration is probably something other than the raw power of the motorcycle, and the ability to push it past 135 MPH.

The BoB continues:

ERIK BUELL DIDN’T BECOME AN ENGINEER SO HE COULD MEET OTHER ENGINEERS

The truth is, he’s made a career our of alienating them.  But this has never been his aim.  It’s just what happens when someone discards accepted principles in search of a better way.  Put gas in the frame, turn the swingarm into an oil tank, sling the exhaust under the engine, and develop a perimeter-mounted front brake…

…use an engine that was originally designed for a cruiser…

…and all of a sudden your invitation to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers annual golf tournament gets lost in the mail and that one guy from Poltech stops sending a Christmas card.

Because Erik is so extreme, maaaaaan! The Establishment shuns him!

Yes. Erik Buell’s ideas were so disfavored, and he was made such a figure of ridicule that all the other engineers felt  awkward in his presence because of his shunning.  And in his hideous shame, the country’s largest motorcycle manufacturer acquired his company, provided him with capital, manufacturing capability, and parts in order to build his crazy machines.

The next section is entitled, “A Buell Won’t Make You Any Friends”.

Many people buy sportbikes as a way to connect with other people who ride sportbikes.  Equipped with their new sportbike, they gain instant admission to a fun, freewheeling group of like-minded riders…This will not happen to you if you purchase a Buell. No one will understand why you’ve done what you’ve done.  In fact, they may even be disturbed by it…

And often, this includes the sales and service departments of  the local Harley Davidson dealer where you purchase it.

Because we don’t engineer motorcycles for acceptance.  We engineer them for performance. And we engineer them without mercy.

And frankly, because they have to engineer them without mercy, considering that they–the 1125 excepted–use an antiquated motor design that every other manufacturer discarded years ago in order to replace them with engines that deliver 60-70% more power.

Let’s be frank, here.  The Buell Thunderstorm-powered bikes are excellent motorcycles, considering what they are.  But all of the engineering in the world will never deliver the horsepower or anything like the top speed out of an air-cooled V-Twin based on the Harley Evolution motor that a modern I-4 engine of similar displacement will.  That doesn’t mean it’s a bad motor, or that the Buell is a bad bike.  It isn’t.

But let’s not pretend it’s a CBR100RR with a top-gear roll-on from 60-80MPH that’s half a second faster than the XB12R, with a similar gap in quarter mile times, with the Honda moving 15MPH+ faster at the marker.

Anyway, it goes on that way for a bit more.  Then we get to the real kick in the teeth for some Buell customers:  The elimination of the Buell Blast.  You have to see the way they handle that to believe it.

They show a picture of a Blast crushed into a cube, and the text goes:

The Buell Blast was a cute little motorcycle.  It just never made much of a sportbike…Hey, there’s no denying the Blast’s aforementioned cuteness.  But there’s nothing cute about racing or riding a sportbike the way it was meant to be ridden.  And while racing and sportbikes have always been important at Buell, they are now officially the only thing that matters.  So the Blast will not be moving forward.

In other words, we never cared about this bike.  We thought it was dumb, and we are happy to dump it.  And if you are one of the stupid, poser suckers we sold one of these suck-machines to, then you got screwed.  Enjoy your cute little thumper, loser.  Because we’re all about being extreme now. And racing. And flipping off The Man.  The Blast didn’t give off that moody loner vibe we’re cultivating.  We not only don’t care what our competitors think, we don’t even care about what our former Blast customers think.

OK.  It’s a given that they don’t care what I think, then.  But I think, “Nice PR, Ass,” anyway.

Yes, Buell’s have been racing since the very beginning of the company.  They’ve been very successful in Thunderbike.  But when Buell really wanted to compete at the superbike level, they had to design a new bike from scratch, using an outsourced Rotax water-cooled motor.

The Firebolt is great in it’s available range, and in initial acceleration, and it will keep up with most sportbikes stoplight to stoplight.  But at the end of the day, it can’t put out the top speed of almost anyone else’s liter sportbike.  And we won’t even try to compare it to the ‘Busa or ZX-14.

Still, it’s a very good motorcycle, and personally, I like Buells a lot. Overall, I think Erik Buell outs out a very good product, with competitive street performance at anything less than “Go ahead and take my license and impound my bike, officer” speeds.  And I really think Buell’s whole design philosphy has a lot going for it. And Buell does, in fact, put out an XB-RR race bike with 150 ponies.  I bet if Harley gave him the green light to produce a bike with a modern I-4 powerplant, it’d be an absolute monster.

But the arrogant, too-cool-for-the-room, “I’m a rebel, man!” marketing really turns me off.  And the way they wrote off the Blast like it was some worthless POS just has a total lack of class.

Harley Davidson 2010 Model Line-Up

The MoCo has released their 2010 model year line-up, and an expansive lineup it it is. For 2010, Harley-Davidson will carry 34 motorcycle models, including 9 new  bikes. Below is a little taste of Milwaukee Goodness.

Laura Vecchio at Harley-Davidson wrote to me, to provide some of the MoCo’s talking points for the new models:

The Electra Glide® Ultra Limited model delivers the performance upgrade of a Twin Cam 103™ engine, and features standard equipment items previously offered only as accessories on regular-production Harley-Davidson Touring models.

The new Road Glide® Custom model looks lean and mean, with a slammed suspension, 18-inch front wheel and a new 2-into-1 exhaust system.

The Wide Glide® returns as an all-new Dyna® model done in old-school chopper style, with black laced wheels, a chopped rear fender, black “wire” sissy bar, 2-1-2 Tommy Gun exhaust and an optional flame paint scheme.

The new Street Glide® Trike brings stripped-down, hot-rod styling to the three-wheel category, and joins the Tri Glide™ Ultra Classic® in an all new Trike family for 2010.

The new Fat Boy® Lo presents a darker and lower interpretation of the motorcycle that still defines the fat-custom segment.

Updates to the 2010 Street Glide® model include a larger front wheel, slimmed-down exhaust, and a new tail light assembly.

Harley-Davidson Custom Vehicle Operations™ (CVO™) will offer four new limited-production models for 2010: the CVO Softail® Convertible, CVO Street Glide, CVO Ultra Classic® Electra Glide® and CVO Fat Bob®.

I like what Harley is doing for some of their paint schemes by breaking away from solid colors, and going with factory flame paint jobs.  Very nice.  I’m also really liking what HD has done with the Road Glide, giving it a lowered, meaner look.

Hopefully, Ms. Vecchio will be sending me some more pics of the new models, and I’ll post them here as I get them.  In the meantime, HD’s 2010 model lineup page is here.

Unfortunately, no one at HD is talking about it, and no one at Buell has contacted me, but the new Buell line-up for 2010 is out, too.  They are all up at the Buell web site.  At first glance, I’m not seeing a lot of changes.

Other than the demise of the Buell Blast, of course.

Buell Releases Factory Racer

Buell 1125RR Racing Bike
Buell 1125RR Racing Bike

Buell’s 1125 has been racing for a couple of years now, and not without some success.  The race bike version, the 1125rr has been limited to the various Buell racing teams, though.  Until now.

Buell has announced that the 1125RR is now being released as a factory racer.  It won’t go to the general public, but it will be available to licensed racers.  So, you won’t be seeing it on the street, but you could be taking one out on the track, if you have the appropriate credentials.

How does it differ from the regular 1125?  Well,  according to Buell:

The Buell 1125RR features a modified Helicon 1125cc 103mm bore x 67.5mm stroke liquid-cooled 72-degree V-Twin engine. Power increases come from components including a larger airbox and intake manifold, revised valves and camshafts, a higher compression ratio, titanium exhaust system and other weight-reduced components.

Now, I’m not all that interested in a race bike–most people aren’t, after all, but I really like the looks of that fairing.  It’s about 1,000 times better than the street version’s odd fairing and forward scoops.  That’s not an uncommon complaint, and if you have a Buell 1125, maybe you’re thinking I’d rather have that fairing than the stock one on my bike.

Well, you can. It’s Buell part number M2000B.08AZ.  Apparently it’s some high-quality, lightweight fiberglass deal.  At least it better be high-quality, since it costs $1,499.00.  But if you want it, you can have it on your bike.