The £24,500 Buell 1125RR ignited a firestorm of controversy when it thundered into the Mid-Ohio round of the AMA Pro Road Racing championship last weekend.
Based on the 1125R, the race-only RR was homologated as a separate model, which means it has to be street legal, according to the AMA rulebook.
But the AMA position, as stated by AMA marketing boss Ollie Dean, “is that it's an 1125RR based on the 1125R that went through the homologation process that our rulebook mandates that all bikes would have to go through, and that it's approved to race this weekend.”
Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Mat Mladin countered: “I don’t care if the Buell wins or comes 20th, the bottom line is it’s not legal for superbike racing. It’s a custom-built race bike.
"There’s none registered. Nobody can buy any and register them on the road and isn’t that part of the rules?”
What made it even more nettlesome was that the team was running an illegal rear wheel at Mid Ohio. AMA rules mandate that every non-stock part has to be approved through a homologation process. But on Saturday, rider Taylor Knapp said the bike was transformed by replacing the six-inch rear wheel with a 5.75-inch rim. Since it hadn’t been approved and homologated, it was illegal. The wheel is likely to be approved early this week.
The six-spoke cast mag wheels are among the parts that separate the RR from the R. Others are the ZTL2 reversed rotor front brake with eight-piston Nissin caliper, plus 43mm Showa forks (the R model uses 47mm forks), a Showa fully-adjustable rear shock with remote reservoir, a cast-aluminum swingarm machined with billet axle adjustment system, and titanium exhaust header and mass-centralized muffler.
Despite all that, Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Tommy Hayden wasn’t impressed when he followed the RR in qualifying.
Hayden said it handled and changed direction better than he’d expected, but was slow coming off the corners and was down top speed.
Knapp clocked the 22nd fastest trap speed of 25 riders, his 160.60 mph time more than 16.5 mph slower than Tommy Hayden’s 177.18 mph.
More surprisingly, it was slower than the 1125R ridden by Buell test rider Shawn Higbee.
Knapp finished in 12th, one spot behind Corona Extra Honda’s Neil Hodgson on Saturday.
The RR is a limited production model that will be sold to licensed professional road racers through Buell dealers for $39,995/£24.489. Buell had two ready for sale at Mid-Ohio.