Motorcycles

Buell's 1125 sportsbike reborn as the 47 Ronin

Buell's 1125 sportsbike reborn...
The gorgeous, imposing Ronin - one of 47 custom bikes to be built from the Buell 1125 platform
The gorgeous, imposing Ronin - one of 47 custom bikes to be built from the Buell 1125 platform
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The Ronin in action
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The Ronin in action
The Ronin in action
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The Ronin in action
The Ronin in action
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The Ronin in action
The Ronin in action
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The Ronin in action
The gorgeous, imposing Ronin - one of 47 custom bikes to be built from the Buell 1125 platform
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The gorgeous, imposing Ronin - one of 47 custom bikes to be built from the Buell 1125 platform
The Ronin's custom subframe and tailpiece
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The Ronin's custom subframe and tailpiece
The Buell 1125 engine
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The Buell 1125 engine
The Ronin's custom battery box
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The Ronin's custom battery box
The Ronin's custom electrical system
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The Ronin's custom electrical system
The Ronin's custom airbox
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The Ronin's custom airbox
The Ronin's custom underslung exhaust, viewed from beneath
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The Ronin's custom underslung exhaust, viewed from beneath
The Ronin's LED tail light assembly
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The Ronin's LED tail light assembly
The Ronin's custom tailpiece
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The Ronin's custom tailpiece
The Ronin's LED bar-mounted indicators
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The Ronin's LED bar-mounted indicators
The Ronin's custom levers
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The Ronin's custom levers
The Ronin's left switchbock
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The Ronin's left switchbock
The Ronin's RFID-keyed ignition
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The Ronin's RFID-keyed ignition
The Ronin's imposing radiator face, with projector beam headlights
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The Ronin's imposing radiator face, with projector beam headlights
The Ronin's aluminium girder-style monoshock front end
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The Ronin's aluminium girder-style monoshock front end
The production Ronin
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The production Ronin
The original Ronin prototype
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The original Ronin prototype
The elements that were kept - engine, frame, wheels, swingarm, belt drive
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The elements that were kept - engine, frame, wheels, swingarm, belt drive
Buell's standard 1125R
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Buell's standard 1125R
The Ronin in action
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The Ronin in action
The Ronin in action
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The Ronin in action
The Ronin in action
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The Ronin in action
The Ronin in action
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The Ronin in action
The gorgeous, imposing Ronin - one of 47 custom bikes to be built from the Buell 1125 platform
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The gorgeous, imposing Ronin - one of 47 custom bikes to be built from the Buell 1125 platform
The Ronin's custom subframe and tailpiece
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The Ronin's custom subframe and tailpiece
The Buell 1125 engine
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The Buell 1125 engine
The Ronin's custom battery box
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The Ronin's custom battery box
The Ronin's custom electrical system
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The Ronin's custom electrical system
The Ronin's custom airbox
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The Ronin's custom airbox
The Ronin's custom underslung exhaust, viewed from beneath
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The Ronin's custom underslung exhaust, viewed from beneath
The Ronin's LED tail light assembly
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The Ronin's LED tail light assembly
The Ronin's custom tailpiece
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The Ronin's custom tailpiece
The Ronin's LED bar-mounted indicators
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The Ronin's LED bar-mounted indicators
The Ronin's custom levers
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The Ronin's custom levers
The Ronin's left switchbock
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The Ronin's left switchbock
The Ronin's RFID-keyed ignition
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The Ronin's RFID-keyed ignition
The Ronin's imposing radiator face, with projector beam headlights
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The Ronin's imposing radiator face, with projector beam headlights
The Ronin's aluminium girder-style monoshock front end
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The Ronin's aluminium girder-style monoshock front end
The production Ronin
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The production Ronin
The original Ronin prototype
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The original Ronin prototype
The elements that were kept - engine, frame, wheels, swingarm, belt drive
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The elements that were kept - engine, frame, wheels, swingarm, belt drive
Buell's standard 1125R
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Buell's standard 1125R

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.

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.

Buell's standard 1125R
Buell's standard 1125R

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:

Ronin Motorworks

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.

The Ronin's imposing radiator face, with projector beam headlights
The Ronin's imposing radiator face, with projector beam headlights

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.

The Ronin's LED bar-mounted indicators
The Ronin's LED bar-mounted indicators

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.

The Ronin in action
The Ronin in action

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: Ronin

10 comments
Ozuzi
Is it just me, or does that rider look very uncomfortable.
Arnold Stonehouse
He do look a bit jammed up, but as the article said "made as works of art without a care in the world to DOT certification....perhaps as well, less than scrupulous care given to rider comfort?
Threesixty
A work of art! Brute is insanely minimised.
BigGoofyGuy
I think the simplicity of the design makes it elegant. It looks nice. It is like many concept cars that wasn't made for the real world. Unlike the concept cars, it seems one can buy one of these.
Buck H
Definitely looks like the monkey found the football!
Jay Finke
Whats the deal with that front end, I can hear the tree cracking in the pictures. this takes butt ugly to a whole new level.. WOW barf ! Whats next a rear wheel steer ?
nutcase
Yeah the front end looks like an elephant's arse and the ergonomics look terrible. Not my idea of a decent penis extension.
Martin Hone
Full points for being able to get that much weight off the front end, but why so fuggly ? A waste of 47 good bikes......
Maikro Durst
Not every bike deserves to be like Anjelina Jolie or Scarlett Johannsen. Some of them are supposed to be 'ugly'. Some bikes are just male by nature.
canderso
it looks like it has 2 of Buells terrible swingarms...