Perhaps the coolest thing about these three motorcycles is that they all bring something a little different to the table. This is why choosing one of these machines comes almost completely down to the type of riding you plan on doing.
If you’re looking for a smooth riding streetbike that can inhale mile after mile then perhaps the $12,999 Aprilia will be your best choice. It’s wide, tall handlebar provides a relaxed seating position and its small fly windscreen actually works. Plus, it’s still a good looking motorcycle, only now in a classical way. Its engine still works well on the street with plenty of power to scoot it down the road. But during an aggressive ride it lacks both performance as well as that exhilarating engine feel that the other bikes in this test have. On the other hand, the powerplant is very easy to manage for riders at any skill level. While its suspension is no longer the best for racetrack duty, on the street it soaks up bumps well and offers the best overall ride quality. Run it hard into a corner and it still serves up decent performance, it’s just not as sharp as the other two bikes.
Both the Streetfighter and the 1125CR were easily the biggest surprises of this comparison, but for different reasons. As we expected, the $14,995 Streetfighter shined around the racetrack where its track-derived chassis and previous generation World Superbike-based engine were engineered. But on the street it’s simply a bit too aggressive. It delivers a rough ride and its handlebar is mounted too low, creating a seating position that is too racetrack oriented. The ultra-high transmission gearing isn’t well suited for full-time life on the streets as well, and it can be more difficult to maneuver in the tight urban confines.
We are, however, absolutely in love with its styling, engine sound, and the way it scares people as we’re wheeling past them, clicking easily through the gearbox down the road. If Ducati could just make the bike a bit more street-able – i.e. higher handlebar, a more relaxed seating position, lower gearing, they’d have a winner without question.
Which leads us to the biggest surprise of this test: the $11,999 Buell 1125CR. Never in a million years did I think the 1125CR could best the Ducati. But it did. And it isn’t because it’s the fastest or prettiest – because it’s not. Not even close. It’s top dog because it delivers the most important intangible sensation when riding: Fun. It handles so perfectly that you feel like the bike is an extension of one’s being. Its ergonomics are well thought out and while its engine isn’t the fastest, it still has character and delivers all the right sensations, albeit at a tad slower speed. In fact, our only real complaints are some very minor styling and fit-and-finish issues. So, if it’s the best handling, most fun, easiest-to-use Streetfighter that you’re looking for, look no further. Say hello to the 2009 Buell 1125CR.
For my Money:
Steve Atlas, Executive Editor:
“This is a tough decision. I like the Buell a lot – it does everything really well and around Horsethief it was easily the quickest by virtue of how easy it is to ride and that awesome chassis. Not to mention it costs several thousand dollars less than the Ducati. But… I’d still have to go with the Ducati. It’s not the easiest bike to ride, or the most comfortable, or even the quickest around the racetrack, but man does it look the part. And that sound, oh that sound! I mean, how do you say no to an Italian Supermodel?”
Adam Waheed, Road Test Editor:
“It’s hard to ignore just how much of a value the $11,999 Buell is. And for someone who’s new to motorcycling or on a budget this bike might just be the one for them. But for my cash, I’d spring for the Streetfighter. Just the way it looks is enough than when you factor in its engine and the way it wakes the neighbors. It’s definitely the bike for me.”
Frankie Garcia, Test Rider:
“Without question, I’d take the Buell. It’s the least expensive and delivers the most performance for my money. It doesn’t look all that great, but with the money I saved I could toss on some pipes, maybe get some accessories for it and I’d have a motorcycle that was all mine.”