BUELL is finally going to make the bikes its founder has always wanted to – full-on, sports bikes.
So far the Buell badge has been standing for grunt-laden bikes which are bags of fun but not quite on the money when it comes to on-the-edge performance. Erik Buell has been keen to take things further and compete with European and Japanese sports bikes.
Buells tuned by American Harley dealer Tilley’s are currently raced in the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) Pro Thunder series and it is these bikes that will form the basis of the new road bike, US sources say.
The engine on the new bike is expected to be totally new, while keeping the familiar 45-degree V-twin layout of today’s bikes. The racer is thought to be running a prototype version of the motor.
The air-cooled 45 degree V-twin format common to Buell range is likely to stay on the new bike, however the displacement of 1200cc looks set to be reduced to just under 1000cc.
This is because the new engine will be based on technology first used on the 492cc single-cylinder Buell Blast. The new bike will effectively use two of these engines mated together giving a displacement of 984cc with a bore and stroke in each cylinder of 88.9 by 79.4mm. This reduction in stroke will give the bike a far revvier engine than current models – allowing it to produce more power.
Fuel injection is likely to be used due to tough emissions laws in both Europe and America.
The chassis on the new bike will be developed from the race bike’s frame. Sources are pointing towards Buell keeping the steel trellis construction familiar to their range but making the geometry more sports biased. Front forks are likely to be upside-down Showa units but the rear shock mounted under the engine will be junked in favour of more conventional monoshock and rising rate suspension linkage.
The whole bike will be cloaked in a full fairing – again similar to that used on the racer. In further developments at the Harley-Davidson factory more information on the water-cooled bikes due to debut soon is starting to emerge. They will be officially launched this summer with a limited number available to the public in early 2002. Full production is not due to start until 2003, when an entire range of water-cooled bikes will be launched to celebrate Harley’s centenary.
The 60 degree V-twin engine, which was revealed in MCN early last year, marks a radical departure from Harley’s traditional design of an air-cooled 45 degree V-twin.
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