I’ve always been a fan of anything that’s different or sets you apart from the rest of the pack, and it was for this reason I decided many moons ago to buy a Buell. I also grew up in a Harley family, so it was a natural choice. I was 17 when I got my first Buell, a 2003 XB9S. God I loved that bike, and I modified it quite heavily in the following years. After going through and upgrading the motor with higher-compression pistons, a five-angle valve job, porting, polishing, a better-breathing modified air intake, freer-flowing Randy Hawkins exhaust, more aggressive Andrews cams and a remapped ECU, it was cranking out 110 hp to the wheel – it was pretty wicked, and it sounded awesome on the pipe with the throttle pegged. And that’s just what was done to the motor.
For those who’ve lapped up every word, expression, and metaphor of the performance novel that was our 2017 Superbike Track Shootout and Superbike Street Shootout, the heir apparent is as obvious as the bike coming in last place. For those still wallowing in anticipation, unable to decipher our MOrse code, you can take a breath because, without further ado, we give you…
It’s been two years since we summoned together the superpowers of the sportbike world. In that time the Aprilia RSV4 RR, Honda CBR1000RR, Kawasaki ZX-10R, and Suzuki GSX-R1000 have either been heavily revised or completely overhauled. These changes beg a reinspection into the pecking order of world’s premier street-legal superbikes. Can Japan wrest away the literbike crown from the European OEMs, Aprilia and BMW, that have dominated the class since 2010?
We’re getting a little giddy around here as we begin to gather the gamut of new superbikes for our most intensive shootout of the year! We’ve got a fabulous two-day street ride to begin our testing, stringing together some of our favorite twisty roads on an overnight trip to begin our superbike shootout. And then the hardcore performance testing will take place over two days at Auto Club Speedway with our friends at Fastrack Riders. If you can be near Fontana, California, May 26-27, you should sign yourself up for a fun day at the track with us!
Each new naked demands of us another shootout. The catalyst this time around is Yamaha’s R1-powered FZ-10. Introduced in July as a 2017 model, the new FZ-10 stands as the only liter-size Japanese streetfighter offering enough performance and attitude to bring the fight to the currently dominant nakeds. Add to that a rare appearance by an EBR 1190SX, and two stalwarts of the class, Aprilia Tuono V4 1100RR and Triumph Speed Triple R, and we’ve the ingredients for a spicy streetfighter omelette.
As we expected after uncovering trademark filings earlier this month, Erik Buell Racing will debut a new model called the Black Lightning at the Long Beach International Motorcycle Show. Based on the EBR 1190SX, the Black Lightning offers more upright ergonomics and higher torque delivery for urban riding.
Liquid Asset Partners LLC, owners of Erik Buell Racing, have filed a trademark application for the name “Black Lightning” for use on “motorcycles and structural parts therefor.” The application was filed Oct. 27, just over a month EBR sent out a press release promising something “quick, dark and low” this fall. The name “Black Lightning” would certainly fit the descriptors “quick” and “low.”
Soon we’ll be assembling the combatants for our third naked bike shootout this year. Why another one? Because Yamaha’s new FZ-10 is forcing our hand. Our First Ride Review of the FZ-10 was published at the end of July, a mere week before our Naked Sports Six-Way Shootout hit the digital newsstand in early August. Prior to that, our 2016 Ultimate Streetfighter Shootout between the two reigning kings of the naked bike world – Aprilia and KTM – was published all the way back in April. Leaving the FZ-10 as ridden but not juxtaposed.
The road to hell is paved with dead motorcycle companies, and littered with others that despite charismatic leadership, fine product, mergers, venture capital infusions, bankruptcies and other forms of financial (rather than mechanical) engineering, have ended up in the ditch. Some have been saved, some reborn, but when it comes to Erik Buell Racing, all of the above have contributed to a long, wild ride towards a destination and an outcome still unknown.
On display among the high-dollar, high-performance bikes in the Erik Buell Racing booth at the AIMExpo was this 250cc bike from Hero, the HX250R. Hero Motorcorp is a minority stakeholder in EBR, and the HX boasts design and development work from Erik Buell’s engineering group. The HX is built for the global market, and we expect it will eventually be imported to America after production commences in India.
In case you haven’t heard, we here at Motorcycle.com really like the KTM 1290 Super Duke R. I mean, we really like it. Its 1301cc V-Twin is beyond brutish, with a chassis more than capable of supporting that engine both in the canyons and the track. What’s more, its relatively upright ergos are plenty comfy for the daily commute to/from work, school, or a leisurely weekend cruise. So far, it has proved itself as king of the hill in the stacked Super Streetfighter category, as it beat out the BMW S1000R, Ducati Monster 1200S, Kawasaki Z1000 ABS and MV Agusta Brutale in part one of our Streetfighter Shootout. It backed its victory with another win, this time topping the S1000R (again) and nudging the Aprilia Tuono V4R APRC ABS off the top of the Streetfighter hill in part two of our Streetfighter Shootout. The bike’s so good, we named it our 2014 Motorcycle of the year.
The heavyweight Streetfighter category of motorcycles has exploded in popularity lately, with seemingly every manufacturer jumping on the bandwagon for a piece of the pie. Japan’s represented with the Kawasaki Z1000, Honda CB1000R, and even Suzuki is entering the ring in 2015 with the GSX-S1000. Italy’s three representatives include the MV Agusta Brutale 1090RR, Ducati Monster 1200 and Aprilia Tuono V4R. Germany, of course, gives us the BMW S1000R, and we can’t forget BMW’s Austrian neighbors and their contribution to the party: the all-conquering KTM 1290 Super Duke R, Motorcycle.com’s 2014 Motorcycle of the Year.
From rags to riches and back to rags again, the formation of Erik Buell Racing, or EBR, is testament to Erik Buell’s unwavering belief in himself and his quest back toward the path of riches. Although he has experienced the full range of emotions during his career, if there’s one thing Buell is not, it’s a quitter, and the closure of Buell Motorcycle Company wasn’t going to stop him. In the spirit of the American dream, Buell uses setbacks as fuel for the immense fire burning inside him – one with a very clear and singular focus: to create the ultimate sportbike, and to create it in the U.S. of A.