BUELL IS BACK: After five years, Erik Buell’s unconventional designs are available to the public again. The EBR 1190RX is a direct descendant of Buell’s competition machines. Image: Dries van der Walt
DRIES VAN DER WALTWhen Harley-Davidson pulled the plug on the Buell brand in 2009, industry insiders knew it wouldn’t be the last chapter in the story of maverick engineer Erik Buell.
It turns out they were right – as soon as the inevitable restraint of trade expired, Buell started producing road bikes under the EBR (Erik Buell Racing) brand name.
The good news is that they are available locally through the Cayenne Group, who lent us an EBR 1190 RX to test.
‘NO LESS THAN 21 LEVELS’
My first acquaintance with the 1190RX was a quick explanation of the controls and settings by a Cayenne staffer. The bike sports a single, full-colour TFT display in lieu of a more conventional panel, with an impressive number of functions at hand. Apart from the digital speedo and bar-graph rev counter, it includes menu items for a number of settings, including traction control levels and engine diagnostics.
IMAGE GALLERY: 2014 EBR 1190 RX
The traction control boasts no less than 21 levels, allowing you to fine-tune it to your riding style. I started, as I always do when unfamiliar with a bike, with the traction control in its middle setting (level 9 in this case), gradually decreasing it as I became more comfortable with the bike.
TIRING IN TRAFFIC
I eventually settled on level 3, which allowed me sufficient freedom to explore the EBR’s performance while retaining a bit of a safety net in case I did something monumentally stupid.
The transmission is smooth with positive gear shifts, but the bike has the heaviest clutch action I have ever encountered. This soon became tiring in traffic at revs too low to allow clutchless shifts. However, at mid to higher revs I could shift effortlessly without using the clutch, which extenuated the problem somewhat.
The V-twin engine has its roots in the mill of the Buell 1125S, and shares the latter’s eight-valve DOHC configuration and 72-degree cylinder angle. From that foundation, the capacity was enlarged and the valve timing modified so that one of each cylinder’s titanium inlet valves would open slightly before the other to create a swirl that is claimed to enhance combustion efficiency.
‘PACKS A WALLOP’
Looking at the power and torque figures, I had expected the bike to be brutal, and I was a little surprised to find that it was remarkably well-behaved. It certainly packs a hefty wallop in the mid-to-high range, but the bike feels tractable and composed up to the red line. However, below 5000 rpm it feels as if the engine bogs down if you give it full throttle out of a corner.
The fuelling at low revs is not very smooth, making the bike a little jerky at low speed.
But whatever vices the fuelling may have, the suspension has none. If you have ridden a Buell before, you will know that they handle as if on rails, and the EBR has definitely inherited this trait. Erik Buell is not known for being restrained by conventional thinking, and his unusual ideas – such as the EBR’s fuel being housed it its frame, and the single perimeter brake disk on the front wheel – seem to pay off.
The 1190 RX is an extremely stable bike which encourages you to push it hard with confidence.
My overwhelming impression of the EBR was that if there was a design choice to be made between performance and practicality, performance won out.
In all honesty, if you are looking for a superbike that will double as a commuter, this is not the bike for you. But if you want a no-holds-barred sport bike relishes being ridden hard both on the road and on the track, the 1190 RX should be high up on your short list.
Manufacturer:Erik Buell racing
Model: EBR 1190 RX
Type: ET-V2: 72° V-Twin, Liquid Cooled, Four-stroke
Displacement: 1 190 cm³
Maximum Power: 138 kW @ 10 600 rpm
Maximum Torque: 137.8 Nm @ 8 200 rpm
Fuel supply system: Electronic Fuel injection with 2 port injectors and 2 showerhead injectors
Fuel type: Unleaded
Fuel consumption: 6.4 L/100 km (actual)
Type: 6-speed sequential
Final drive: Chain
Overall length x width x height (mm): 2 040 X 737 X 1 110
Kerb weight: 190 kg
Fuel tank: 17 litres
Front: 386mm single perimeter rotor, 8 piston inside-out calliper
Rear: Single 220mm disc, 2-piston Hayes Performance Brakes calliper
Front: Showa inverted big piston forks
Rear: Showa single shock without linkage
WHEELS & TYRES
Wheel, front: 17 x 3.5 Aluminum
Wheel, rear: 17 x 6.0 Aluminum
Tyre, front: Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa 120/70 ZR-17
Tyre, rear: Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa 190/55 ZR-17
PRICE: R199 900