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The popular narrative that the American sports bike never happened isn’t true. Erik Buell and his namesake company’s latest creations produce triple-digit power figures, sub-450 lb wet weights, and bitey proprietary braking systems. So, when I got the chance to take the Erik Buell Racing EBR 1190RX out for a burn, I couldn’t say no. The Buell motorcycle predecessor to the Hammerhead 1190 is like a Harley-Davidson in the number of cylinders alone.

The Erik Buell Racing 1190RX begged for space to get up to speed

A yellow Buell Hammerhead 1190 shows off its side profile.
Buell Hammerhead 1190 | Buell

Fortunately, I was afforded the opportunity to take one of EBR’s full-fairing sport bikes out for a test. Unfortunately, I had to start the ride on the access road alongside Interstate 35 in Austin, Texas. Not the ideal location to put the eager EBR through its paces.

Nevertheless, I took off on the bike, my riding mate and his Ducati Monster 821 in tow. I had arrived to test the bike on a custom Harley-Davidson Nightster build. As you might expect, the burden of keeping up was mine on my cafe racer build. However, the rolls reversed once I threw a leg over the Erik Buell Racing motorcycle. 

The 1190RX’s 185-horsepower twin revved cheerfully, leaving the Ducati a noir spec in my mirror. What’s more, once we escaped North Austin, we could lean the bikes in their preferred habitat. The EBR’s Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsas gripped like they were being paid to, and the perimeter-mounted front brake bit hard and compliantly. Of course, dialing down the traction control would have resulted in more of a slide-happy ride. However, riding the 1190RX with TC on kept the bike composed and cooperative. 

The Buell motorcycle’s 72-degree twin sings up its rev range

Unlike Harley-Davidson’s chosen V-angle, 45 degrees, the Buell motorcycle’s orientation is wider. Specifically, the 1190RX’s mill is a 72-degree twin, which lends itself to a smoother, less vibrational ride than a 45-degree setup. 

What’s more, the liquid-cooled, high-revving twin is musical with revs. It’s a solid pairing for the bike’s “let’s go” demeanor. Just don’t let it instigate you too much.    

Today, the EBR 1190RX’s DNA lives on in the Hammerhead 1190

More recently, the clean “Buell” name is back along with a new variant of the 72-degree twin sport bike. The latest full-fairing descendant of the 1190RX is the Hammerhead 1190, another high-revving sport bike born of Buell’s racing heritage.

Still, the base model starts at $19,995– a price point that puts the Hammerhead in rarified air among bleeding-edge sport bikes. 

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