¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltraDork
2/11/18 3:11 p.m.

The Buell 1125 series of bikes, unlike pretty much everything else the company ever made, does not use a Harley engine.  Instead, a 72 degree water cooled Rotax V-Twin is wedged in the middle of the frame, and while that engine is more maintenance intensive than the aircooled engines found in Buell's other fuel in frame bikes, it comes with perks such as the ability to actually make horsepower, and an exhaust note that doesn't serve as a mating call to fat men wearing fringed leather.  

Since Buell doesn't have a maintenance schedule past 43000 miles, and since I've managed to be 5000 miles late for my last valve adjustment, I thought I'd document this winter's maintenance here.  Tools required are a T30 bit, a 10mm wrench, and two sizes of allen key which I've forgotten already.  Seriously, it's like they didn't know other tools even existed.  Here's the bike before:  

Start by stretching your rearstand apart slightly since this thing's swingarm is too wide for it, and removing all of the bodywork and the exhaust:  

Then unplug a thousand wires, remove the battery by snaking it through the rear subframe (cover the terminals with something you WILL short them!), and it should look like the subframe barfed wires everywhere:  

Get distracted and take the airbox apart before you finish that- upon removing the cover, flash back to that time you swore you hit a bird but couldn't tell where it went:  

Have a moment of silence for the bird sad.  Remove the rest of the airbox: 

Be sure to crack the throttle wide open and look through the throttle bodies- Buell specifically picked a 72 degree V angle for this engine so that you (and the incoming air) could get this view:  

Disconnect the throttle cables, then back to the rear subframe- get some sort of stand under the engine and front wheel, because one of the bolts is shared by the rear shock and this bike is about to get all floppy.  Unbolt it, then admire your new Buell bobber:  

Next, unplug every connector you can find as well as this dry break fuel fitting:  

Now unbolt the radiator mandibles, being sure to undo this hidden bracket behind each one:  

Unplug this hidden secret connector that lets you split the bike in half:  

Take the clutch lever off and thread it through the front forks so it  can stay with the engine:  

Strap the swingarm and engine down to the stand because you need them to stay put for the next part:  

Remove the four big allen bolts and, if you removed and disconnected all the right E36 M3, you can yank the entire frame and front suspension off the engine and swingarm:  

Do something berkeleying silly with the other half of the bike, you only get to do this every 18000 miles or so:  

One of the nice things about this bike is that nearly all of the hardware is the same, this bin is all the same bolt:  

Take off the valve covers and check your clearances- yes, that whole mess was just for a valve check:  

Strangely enough, at this bike's last valve check the clearances had tightened out of spec, I guess thanks to the valve stems stretching?  It seems like they're done stretching and things are just wearing instead at this point, since for the first time all of the clearances are on the loose side. 

Take out the follower retainers so you can pull and measure each shim: 

Do math:  

Take one more look at the carnage and go order parts:  

nedc Reader
2/12/18 10:19 a.m.

Wow, that's a lot of work to adjust valves! It's a lot more fun to watch you do it though, so thanks for posting.

Donebrokeit SuperDork
2/12/18 12:28 p.m.

This is good to know as I still want another Buell.



Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
2/12/18 12:35 p.m.

In reply to nedc :

Buell - the inexpensive way to get a taste for Ferrari ownership. 

DaveEstey PowerDork
2/12/18 1:37 p.m.

Jesus. This may be the first time Ducati ownership looks GOOD from a maintenance perspective.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltraDork
2/12/18 1:48 p.m.

Ferrari and Ducati also have the added benefit of their dealer networks still existing!  Compared to my Merkur, this bike is a joy to work on, since Buell at least thought about how to get to everything and which tools you'd need, but I have to admit that the access to the valve covers isn't exactly ideal.  In theory, it's possible to keep the engine in the frame and just unbolt even more E36 M3 to rotate it forward and access the front cylinder that way, but honestly it's easier to just pull the frame off instead.  If I had all of the shims and the other bits I was replacing on hand, I could knock it all out in a weekend.

81cpcamaro Dork
2/12/18 2:01 p.m.

I was thinking how much of a pain it was to change plugs in my Katana, but after seeing this, suddenly it seems really easy. At least you will know everything will be good. Heck you have just about laid eyes and hands on every part of that bike.

imgon Reader
2/12/18 6:58 p.m.

Holy cow, the maintenance on my BWM seems downright simple compared to that. All the newer machines have way too much stuff in the way to do basic service and let's not talk about hiding the battery. It takes an hour of body work removal juat to get to mine, that's just dumb for something that will HAVE to be replaced sooner that later.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltraDork
2/18/18 4:28 p.m.

Time for part two!  

Did your valve shims show up?  Good, swap all eight of those little guys:  

Snap those brown retainer things in so the followers stay where they should:  

Check your clearances again- of course they're all perfect so put the valve covers back on, and change the spark plugs before you forget because accessing that front one when the bike is together is no fun:  

Buell claims the drive belt on these bikes doesn't have a service interval, but you know better because at almost exactly 24000 miles the original belt on this bike snapped, leaving you to push it more than two miles in the rain in the wee hours of the night.  First remove all of these plastic belt covers:  

Then remove a piece of the swingarm.  Seriously.  You berkeleying heard me, do it:  

Now loosen the axle just enough to let the rear wheel move forward half an inch because it's tapered and you can do that:  

Then swap the belts- the old one is nice and flexible, the new one not so much, but it is physically possible to slide it on there:  

Tighten the axle back up and put the slice back into the swingarm because forgetting either of those would be really bad.  Now take the left side cover off the engine, because despite having every cooling mod and improved charging system component available yours burned out again:  

Swap 'em:  

Put the cover back on the engine and hope this one lasts until the next valve adjustment.  Double check that your wiring and stuff is routed properly:  

Pick up the entire frame and fork assembly and just plop that back on:  

Route all the wires and cables and E36 M3 that came with that.  Install the four bolts that keep the bike from splitting in half.  Plug/attach/reinstall everything.  Do an oil change, before you reinstall the kickstand since it always runs all over it.  Take this stupid screen out of the bottom of the engine since you won't be able to when the exhaust is back on:  

Installation is the reverse of removal:  

De-bird your air filter.  Wash it with the K&N filter cleaner.  Let it dry.  Oil it.  Install it after the 20 minutes the K&N instructions recommend.  Kick yourself when you get berkeleying filter oil all over the airbox because you've been burned by this a thousand times and you know it take more like 4 hours for the oil to dry:  

Start the bike without the filter because berkeley it, you need to know if it runs. Make sure you install the exhaust though, because an 1125 with open headers sounds like an Apache gunship flying down your ear canal.

It won't start because the spark plugs are now covered in air filter oil.  Do the spark plug cleaning procedure, which is to turn the ignition on with the throttle held wide open.  Listen to the spark plugs cooking the filter oil off.  Start the bike.  Panic when it doesn't idle properly, before realizing that the IAC valve is full of stupid berkeleying filter oil.

When the air filter finally dries, put the bike the rest of the way back together:  

There's snow on the ground right now, so you're thinking that, being a smart and risk averse person, you probably shouldn't go on a test ride.  Counterpoint- you own this bike.  You are not a smart or risk averse person.  

Oh boy, this thing is not at all like the Honda you've been riding lately- it's fast and not nice about it.  Try not to think about those four bolts that keep it from splitting completely in half.

Some wheelspin pulling away from stop signs on wet pavement is expected, but you should probably go back home before you kill yourself.  Park the bike; celebrate because it runs well, everything works, and you don't have to split it in half again for another 12000 miles.  

pilotbraden UltraDork
2/23/18 3:15 a.m.

Even after reading your tale , I still want one.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltraDork
2/23/18 7:07 a.m.

In reply to pilotbraden :

You should!  Plenty of power, a torque curve that looks like a table, glorious angry exhaust note, short wheelbase, center of gravity down by your feet, comfortable riding position, that giant front brake... nothing I've ridden feels quite like it, and I've tried many of the "equivalent" bikes (Monster S4R, Speed Triple, Tuono Factory).  There are lots of bikes which are just as fast if not faster, and some that ride "better" but nothing I've ridden has the same raw pissed-offness to it- it's almost like it constantly snarls at you and goes "I hope you know what you're doing kid."

Nick Comstock
Nick Comstock MegaDork
2/24/18 10:28 a.m.

And here I am dreading the process of synching the throttle bodies on the FJ-09 and that should only take a couple hours taking my time. 

I admire your dedication.

doc_speeder HalfDork
2/25/18 8:44 p.m.

Every 12,000 miles?  That's enough PITA to make me not want to ride it for fear of actually accumulating the next 12,000 miles.  Still, it looks hot and I'm sure it's a hoot to ride.  Thanks for the pictures and details, very interesting design to say the least.

Slippery SuperDork
3/23/18 7:37 a.m.

Good grief, what a royal pita!

The clearance tightening is not due to the stems stretching but due to the valve seats wearing. 

44Dwarf UltraDork
3/23/18 11:37 a.m.
Nick Comstock said:

And here I am dreading the process of synching the throttle bodies on the FJ-09 and that should only take a couple hours taking my time. 

I admire your dedication.

With todays tech syncing is much easyer. 

Blue tooth TBS

It works with your phone much better then gauges and easier then Mec sticks.  :)


bgkast PowerDork
3/23/18 3:56 p.m.

This reminds me I need to check the valves on my Triumph. Luckily I don't have to split the bike in two (I hope)

pres589 PowerDork
3/23/18 4:11 p.m.

This makes my VFR problems look even more simple and me even more lazy / fearful.  

benzbaronDaryn Dork
4/2/18 3:47 a.m.

Sweet bike, they are super cheap.  I had to pull my blast apart twice for engine trans work, just make sure to get the wires the right way and good to go.  I am wanting an 1125 now thanks. Good luck. 

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