Once More Unto The Breach, Dear Buell – 2021 Hammerhead 1190RXArmani Moffatt
Haven’t we met before? We ask, when we gaze upon the admittedly pretty dope looking Hammerhead 1190RX that’s spearheading Buell’s latest return to the limelight. And the answer would be, yes, we have met before, though back then around 2014 you would have called me an EBR!
Indeed, Buell’s last revival was under the EBR banner, when they were even racing in WSB until that particular return to grace went total fudge up. Honestly, Buell has had SO many of these rebirths we’re surprised the first bike off the production line this time isn’t called a Phoenix. But here’s the kicker – the 1190RX may be a few years old now, but it’s actually a pretty good bike.
It’s also a throwback to twins of old, which in sporting parlance don’t really exist any more in larger capacities and, no, the Ducati V2 doesn’t count seeing as it too is quite revvy. Nope, if there’s an engine to compare the Buell to, it’s Ducati’s 1198 line. This means significantly more powerful than something like a KTM RC8 and thus a decent top-end surge, but still with a bulging sack of low-down power and torque to catapult you out of turns with a big grin smeared all over your face.
In the RX’s first iteration, it made nearly 170bhp at the wheel which is more than enough, and plenty of grunty torque. This kind of twin was really the zenith of that style configuration before Ducati went all over-square with its Panigale range, to chase the revs needed to keep up with four-cylinder race bikes. Suffice to say, that when we tested the RX back then, the engine shone bright and there’s no reason why this updated version won’t either.
The bike comes in either their heritage colours, or carbon-fibre, though several colour options are shown on their website. The fuel-injected 1190cc twin is interesting in that it’s not a 60-degree engine, nor a 90-degree a la Ducati, but rather a 72-degree which certainly helps give it a slightly unique character. They claim 185bhp and 138Nm of torque at the crank, which marries up with results at the wheel we saw on the dyno of the EBR.
Of course this bike came from Buell, so expect at least some weirdness, like the single rim-mounted front brake disc bitten by a huge 8-pot caliper. It was the same setup before, and though being a bit wooden in feel provided plenty of stopping power. There was a touch of oddness though, in that when breaking hard you could kind of feel the forces concentrating on the right hand side, which is different to the norm. The rear shock is attached directly to the swingarm, and there a few other differences that set the RX aside from more traditional motorcycles, too.
Buell claims a dry weight of around 190kg, which is fine, while the special wheels look pretty slick, if we don’t say so ourselves. And then there’s the looks which, admit it, are pretty special. It’s a mix of ultra-modern and alternative/steampunk style engineering that comes together to make a very striking, good looking bike.
So, why should you buy one? It’s something unusual for sure, it looks like nothing else and that alone means instant bike-meet kudos. It’s also a genuine alternative to the latest modern bikes, and the fact remains that if you want that thumpy, rorty but still super quick litre-plus capacity V-Twin that nobody else makes nowadays, it’s kind of your only option. They’re also doing a naked version which is called…. wait for it… The Black Mamba! Come on – who doesn’t want to own a bike called that?!
History has shown us that Buell can come then go almost as quickly as it was resuscitated, but there does appear to be a backbone of stability in this latest resurrection. And, truthfully, should they become available in Blighty then we’ll be more than interested in reacquainting ourselves with the RX, and whichever other machines they release in future. Welcome back, Buell, just try to hang around a bit longer this time, eh?
#StaySafe, #StayAlert, #StayPositive and keep washing those hands (yes, it’s still important!).