Here's a gorgeous project of passion worthy of ten minutes of your time. Colorado's Magpul is a company best known for its firearm magazines and accessories. But when unique American sportsbike brand Buell was closed down by Harley-Davidson in 2009, a team of Magpul designers and engineers snapped up 47 of Buell's finest creations – the 1125 series sportsbikes – at runout prices, and set about production of a very limited run of extremely sexy custom bikes. Keeping the 1125's excellent engine, frame and wheels, which the Ronin team considered to be the chief technical standouts of the Buell bikes, they created a girder-forked, naked beast with a wicked-looking front radiator, some 54 lbs lighter than the originals.
Buell motorcycles certainly inspire a certain type of enthusiast – one that sees Erik Buell as a visionary innovator and true American hero. After Buell was shut down, Erik went on to start another company – Erik Buell Racing – to produce extreme sports machines, but the old Buell brand still has a lot of fans.
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The 1125 was an odd-looking bike, that's for sure, with a weird bulbous headlight and enormous fat radiator covers on each side. From there back, it was everything Buell lovers wanted – fuel in the frame, oil in the swingarm, neatly underslung exhaust – and it went and handled brilliantly on the road ... but it had a touch of the fuglies about it that many riders couldn't get past.
When the Magpul team saw Harley was liquidating all stock at fire sale prices, they jumped at the chance and grabbed 47. Why 47? To fit the Japanese legend of the 47 Ronin, Samurai who had lost their masters the way Buell had lost its namesake and creator.
The Ronin team had long thought "the production 1125's most interesting features were hidden under plastic body panels" and the design was ripe for a custom remake. And what a job they have done. Keeping the engine, frame, swingarm, belt drive and Buell's unique rim-mounted front brake disc, the rest of the Ronin is pure custom. Take a look at this beautifully made video:
The Ronin bikes feature a custom-built, single-shock girder-style front end cast in aluminum alloy. As such, the entire end is unsprung weight, including the built-in projector beam headlights and very nasty looking radiator. But the whole assembly weighs around the same as a regular set of forks, the Penske monoshock is highly tuneable, and the visual impact of the front end is unmistakeable.
Ignition is keyless, actuated by individualized RFID chips under the air box cover. LED indicators are built into the bar ends in a fashion that would be thoroughly stomped on by design rules in my country, but that looks amazing.
Bodywork, subframe and seat unit are custom, as is the free-flowing exhaust. Even the bike's electrical system has been rebuilt from the ground up, with a custom electronic dash and a high efficiency stator to replace the (occasionally dodgy) Buell units.
Each Ronin has been dyno-tuned to account for the bike's new airbox and exhaust systems. Mind you, the bikes have been designed without a care in the world for roadworthy certification – they're sold as rolling works of art and registration is strictly the buyer's responsibility.
With production limited to just 47 bikes, the first batch of 12 bikes are sold out at US$38,000 each. Subsequent releases will be differently colored and more expensive, building up to the final five machines, which will be individualized factory customs. Each of the 47 bikes is named after one of the 47 Ronin.
There's no conversion kit for your standard 1125, limited production of spare parts and the custom build likely invalidates the original Buell warranty. But still, these unique beasts look like an awesome ride and a badass visual statement, something a sportier Confederate might look like.
They're the work of true motorcycle fans, and true Buell enthusiasts. Well done lads!
More information: RoninView gallery - 23 images