Nick Zarras | Managing Editor
Eric Buell is a legend in the American motorcycle community. He started out in 1983 when he built the RW750, a race bike for the AMA Formula One series. He is best known for his work with Harley-Davidson (H-D) to create the S2 Thunderbolt in 1994 and subsequent S1 Lightning, Firebolt XB9R, and 1125 R. The Buell 1125R was used for professional racing. He lost H-D support in 2009. But Eric Buell was always a racer first and went into high gear to prove he could produce a world class sport motorcycle. In June 2011 Eric Buell Racing unveiled their first production motorcycle, the 1190S. Production was limited to 100 units, with a 2012 release date. The price tag was $43,000. It was created to showcase his talent and to create a homologated special so he could race. His team has competed in the AMA Superbike Championship since 2011 with the 1190RR and 1190RS. The well known racers on his team are Aaron Yates, Mike Baldwin, Larry Pegram, Cory West, Danny Eslick and Geoff May. EBR’s Larry Pegram became the first American OEM racer to earn World Superbike (WSBK) points at Laguna Seca. EBR’s string of track successes, in the American OEM category, reinforced Eric Buell’s credentials and worldwide credibility. India’s Hero Motors entered the picture with 25 million in cash to purchase a 49.2% stake in EBR. The EBR1190RS was at an upper echelon price point but Eric Buell wanted a sport bike for the masses, so he tasked Tony Stefanelli, Product Development Director to run with it. On October 17, 2013, Eric Buell unveiled the EBR 1190RX, his mainstream affordable sport bike.
I had seen the EBR 1190RX before the road test at Freedom Cycles in Las Vegas. I was very impressed with the overall design, fit and finish. The stock features are competitive with top of the line after market units. This is a world class motorcycle and made here in America. I was eager to test it.
My test bike was painted a stunning Racing Red color. It also comes in Galactic Black and Strike Yellow. The 32.5 inch seat height was perfect for my 31 inch inseam. I was impressed with the ergonomics for a sport bike. The foot pegs are adjustable with the adjustment holes in the back plate to customize their location. The heart of the 1190RX is its 72-degree, 1190 V-twin from the 1190 RS platform. It has been significantly refined for 10 more horsepower (185 at 10,000 rpms) and 5 more foot pounds of torque (102 at 8000 rpms). Bore and stroke has not changed but the compression ratio has been lowered slightly from 13.6:1 to 13.4:1. The cam lobe timing has been altered to provide better fuel air mixture and combustion. The primary and secondary exhaust has been redesigned for increased mid-range torque which was very evident in the road test.
The motorcycle computer display is an EBR TFT (Thin Film Transistor) unit. It has a bar type tachometer on top, a large mph display, Traction Control indicator, small clock, and gear indicator.
The bottom button controls the lower right screen displays trip A, trip B, instantaneous, Key or average overall fuel consumption. The top button selects the lower left screen for odometer, distance to service, trip A, trip B or Key trip mileage. The middle button takes you into the menu which has adjustments for the clock, units (US vs. Metric), maintenance service, screen brightness, traction control, diagnostics and track data. The track data has three screen pages Track Data, Sessions and Lap Data. The data of up to 20 laps can be store. Lap Data screen shows session number chosen and compares two laps with time, split time, max mph and average mph. Track Data screen displays top speed, fastest lap time and a button to turn on the lap timer. The Session Data screen displays the session chosen, the average, fastest, slowest lap time and top speed. The three buttons are glove friendly. Its 4.5 gallon fuel capacity is housed in the 1190RX’s aluminum frame. The engine is used as a stressed member, and the swingarm pivots on the back of its case. Showa provides the suspension with inverted big piston front forks (BPF) and rear single shock without linkage. They are set at the factory for aggressive street riding, and are easily adjustable for the track.
The front brake is Buell’s unique single 386mm perimeter brake disc rotor with 8 piston Nissin caliper. A set of cooling ducts have been added to the front brake to aid in reducing heat at 10/10th track speed. On the back is a Hayes Performance two-piston caliper with a 220mm brake disk. The wheels are lightweight and hubless. This all adds up to a 419 pound (dry) motorcycle. Engine power is linear and you can roll on from 3000 rpms up to redline without protest.
The fueling for the EBR 1190RX is twin 61mm Dell’Orto throttle bodies designed by the Eric Buell Racing division. This format has 2 port injectors near the intake valve and 2 showerhead injectors. On the road the mapping was flawless and eliminated all the problems of the original Buell 1125R and some reported 1190RS fueling. I saw 38.1 mpg on the test run. That tends to be more fuel efficient that other motorcycles with a similar engine configuration. The 1190RX is not ride by wire but the seamless throttle will make you think it is.
I had been cautioned to watch the back end, for the torque of the EBR 1190RX could surprise you coming off the line or out of a curve. I set the traction control (TC), which has up to 20 settings, at 8. The traction control monitors throttle control and behavior. It will cut fuel or spark depending on level of intervention. The TC indicator light will blink at you for 3 seconds following an event. Coming off the line was well controlled and very easy to manage. While it has no ABS, I saw no need for one in my test conditions.
On the highway I was surprised at how comfortable the 1190RX was to ride. As you get older you don’t care as much for MotoGP ergonomics. But I found it comfortable on the highway trip to and from Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the photo shoot and some track time. Jeremie Elliott was my chase and photographer for the Las Vegas Motor Speedway shoot. Even with the short wheel base and rake it was rock stable on the road. EBR put in a bit more trail on the 54/46 weight biased platform for added stability. Shock damping is excellent for a sport/track bike on the less than forgiving Nevada highway system. It had respectable sport bike wind coverage from the windscreen. The seat and ergonomics were comfortable for a bike that is designed to be competitive with the highest priced track focused machines we mortals can buy.
At Las Vegas Motor Speedway I was able to toss the 1190RX around without drama. The EBR1190 is easy to ride fast and has its own specific character. The 55.5 inch wheelbase and 22.4 degrees of rake, the excellent mid-range torque and the Showa steering damper greatly added to my enjoyment as I navigated the course. The clutch pull, while firm, is perfect for my 210 pound physique. The shifts through the six speed transmission, with slipper clutch, was seamless. The Pirelli Rosso Corsa 120/70ZR-17 front, and 190/55ZR-17 rear tires are well matched to provide a secure footing for this platform. The 1190RX has only one riding mode, fast and manageable. Coming out of turns you can accelerate with enough force that will permanently makes you a “Joker” character impersonator. The EBR 1190RX’s power in the 4000-8000 rpm range out trumps its similar engine configuration competitors. Braking is one finger light and predictable with plenty of easy to manage stopping power. The single front disc may be heavier but the heat dissipation system makes it the right choice for the EBR 1190RX.
Leaving the Las Vegas Motor Speedway we headed out to Red Rock National Conservation Area for some low speed winding turns in beautiful weather and some photo ops. The EBR 1190RX is a dream to ride both on the track and in the winding 50 turn national park area. The heavy mid-range torque allows the rider to leave it in one gear and just enjoy the ride on our version of “Deals Gap.” Everywhere we stopped it drew attention and people wanted to see it and photograph it.
This is one light ride, and for a sport/track bike, comfortable. It will deliver what you ask of it without complaint. I had an “adventure bike” chase vehicle for the photo shoot and I was in no hurry to move to the other platform. I put 100 miles on the EBR 1190RX on the highway, track, and national park test ride profile. At an MSRP price of $18,995 you have a better bike than the $43,000 EBR 1190RS and a real American exotic motorcycle. I would like to thank Craig Knapp, the Sales Manager, at Freedom Cycle Triumph Las Vegas for the use of the EBR1190RX. They also sell MV-Agusta, Triumph, Vespa, and Piaggio motorcycles. They rent Triumph motorcycles and Vespa scooters. Craig Knapp’s contact information: phone: 702-430-3500, web: freedomcycleslasvegas.com, address: 5031 Wagon Trail Avenue, Las Vegas, Nevada 89118 (South Decatur Blvd and I-215).